Lee Savident

 

Lee was born in Guernsey on 22nd October 1976, fittingly the year when England had a scorcher of a summer with outfields the colour of straw.

He was a immense talent even as a schoolboy and after the Guernsey schools’ U15 tour to Hampshire he was taken on by Hampshire CCC. He made his first-class debut for Hampshire in the 1997 County Championship against Yorkshire where he picked up 2 wickets including Michael Vaughan. He played two further first-class matches that season against Kent and Nottinghamshire. He would have to wait two more years before playing another first-class match for Hampshire, between then he played for the Second XI, who he first represented in 1994. In that same season he made his debut in List A cricket against Middlesex. Lee was an irregular feature in the Hampshire one-day side the following season.

In the 1999 season he played a single first-class match against the touring Zimbabweans, which was his final first-class match. Having not played List A cricket in 1999, he appeared three further times for Hampshire in the 2000 season, making his final appearance for the county against Nottinghamshire. Many of his lack of first team opportunities were down to injury which had plagued him since his debut season. At the end of the 2000 season he announced his retirement from competitive cricket. In his four seasons with Hampshire, he played 4 first-class matches. In these he scored 32 runs at a batting average of 8.00, with a high score of 10*. With the ball he took 4 wickets at a bowling average of 71.50, with best figures for 86. In 8 List A matches he scored 94 runs at an average of 18.80, with a high score of 39. With the ball he took 6 wickets at an average of 20.66, with best figures of 3for 41.

Three years later he turned out in a List A match for Dorset in the 1st round of the 2004 Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy against Buckinghamshire which was played in 2003. With the ball he claimed a single wicket in the match, that of future New Zealand international James Marshall. Lee played just the one match for Dorset and did not represent them in Minor counties cricket.

He continued to live in Hampshire and played in the premier division.

Despite being born on Guernsey, he did not represent the island of his birth until 2005 when Guernsey played the Scotland Academy during their tour of Scotland. The following year he represented Guernsey in the 2006 European Cricket Championship Division Twoand in 2008 he played in the same competition. The following year he played in World Cricket League Division Seven, where he played in all of Guernsey’s matches. Guernsey earned promotion to 2009 ICC World Cricket League Division Seven in Singapore. He made his highest score in the competition in Guernsey’s final match against Botswana, scoring 65.Guernsey earned promotion to 2011 Division Six, which Lee also played in, and which saw Guernsey promoted to 2012 Division Five. They maintained their position in this league but Lee wasn’t able to be selected for that tournament as he had undergone a back operation in the weeks leading up to the competition, perhaps in 2014 he will again be fit and eager to show his outstanding ability.

Lee was first selected for an Inter-Insular match in 1993, cap #106, one of eight appearances to date. Lee was also nominated as the GCB Player-of-the-year in 1994, two years after receiving the Young player-of-the-year. In 2010 he was one of the GCB Cricketers-of-the-year. He has scored 201 runs in Inter-Insular matches including a man-of-the-match winning 102* in 2009. As a bowler his figures are 49-7-142-6 at an economy rate of 2.6

In the ICC European matches Lee has scored 567 runs at an average of 43.6 in 15 appearances with 136 being his highest in Scotland against France. He has also scored 98 v Jersey in 2008 and 91 v Gibraltar in 2010. He has taken 21 wickets for 343 at an average of 16.3 and an economy rate of 3. His best bowling was 6-3-8-3 against Norway. In World Cricket Leagues he has scored 499 runs at an average of 33.3 with a best of 82 v Fiji. He has made 18 appearances and taken 16 wickets for 405.

He has represented Guernsey in indoor cricket against England and Pakistan.

Lee was also an excellent basketball player as one might expect from his height advantage. He is 2nd on the all-time average points scored with 1409 in 47 matches. He played for the island in the 1997 inter-insular and helped the team to win 61-53. He was also a good goalkeeper when called upon to play soccer.

 

Lee Savident gave an interview in April 2013 to talk about his life and times, published in the Guernsey Evening Press.

‘The local boy Wisden put up there with Strauss’   by Matt Lihou

AFTER recalling a magazine article from 1998, Lee Savident would be forgiven by many for thinking just what might have been as he made his way in the professional cricketing world. At the time, the young Guernseyman was still only 21 and making his way on the cricketing ladder at Hampshire, having signed professional terms with the county in 1995.

But for those not aware of the potential of the then-youthful batsman, an article printed in the Wisden Cricketer Magazine shows just what was anticipated. It was their annual ‘Five Young Cricketers to Watch’ prediction and while Savident was among that list, it is the other four that lead to the obvious ‘what ifs’. Andrew Strauss, Andrew Flintoff, Steve Harmison and Owais Shah made up that list. All became England internationals who between them would win 248 Test caps, 397 ODI caps, get more than 21,000 international runs and 700 wickets, including a double-winning Ashes captain and seven series wins over Australia in total.

To be in that illustrious company, having played his first of ultimately only four first-class matches the previous summer, is something 36-year-old Savident is proud of but not without having regrets. ‘When you see what those players went on to achieve in the game and that I was considered among them it does make you wonder what you might have achieved,’ he admitted. ‘At the worst, I may have had a strong county career in front of me, but the reality of top-level sport is that not everything works out well and I am not one to dwell on it. ‘I do remember after my time at Hampshire, the second team coach Tony Middleton spoke to Shambles [Jason Shambrook, Guernsey’s cricket development officer] and told him I was the most talented player they had. ‘The trouble was that I was constantly picking up niggly injuries and when I was 23 and offered a new two-year contract, I had to make a big decision to give up my pro career.’

By then, Savident had also featured in nine limited overs List A matches, on top of those first class appearances, having made his debut against Yorkshire in 1997, where he took the wicket of Michael Vaughan. Things had been looking promising for him and with West Indian legends Malcolm Marshall and Desmond Haynes as bowling and batting coaches respectively, he had the right guidance. ‘When I arrived at Hampshire, I was a batter who could bowl a little bit, but by no means anywhere near being an all-rounder. ‘I bowled straight and was much faster than I am now, but couldn’t swing the ball away at all, but after 20 minutes of working with Malcolm in the nets, I was swinging it away at pace. ‘By the time I came to make my first class debut, there is a strong argument that I was chosen as a bowler rather than a batter, so it was certainly a big change around.’

Sharing a dressing room with the likes of Matthew Hayden, Heath· Streak, Shaun Udal and later Shane Warne shows the company he was in, but the truth is that Savident played much of his cricket at second team level. It is something that is a cause of frustration, especially considering that every time he looked close to having a run in the first team, he would break down injured. ‘I would play one or two games in a row, but then be injured for a game or two, so you could never build any kind of rhythm whatsoever. ‘When I was playing, I enjoyed every moment of my career and also captained the second team for a while, although you are also doing that with one hand tied behind your back. ‘Second XI teams in those days were made up of two or three senior pros coming back from injury or needing match practice, six or seven genuine second XI players and a couple of triallists.

‘Even if the triallists weren’t particularly good and you had better options, you still had to give them a bowl or a bat high up the order because, if not, there wasn’t any point in offering them a trial. ‘Therefore, the step up from second XI to first XI cricket was noticeable and you certainly wouldn’t get any freebies at first-class level. ‘Looking back now and with the benefit of hindsight, I should have left Hampshire for another county when I had decent offers in front of me, but it never crossed my mind at the time. ‘After all, Hampshire were the team I had supported as a boy and wanted to play for, so it would have been an incredibly hard moment if I had chosen to leave.’ But at the end of 2000, he did leave and gave up professional cricket for good. ‘Hampshire had just offered me a two-year contract, but with the in- juries I had, I couldn’t be sure as to my fitness and didn’t want them to be wasting their money on me if I couldn’t play.

‘There were so many older players there at Hampshire that were just dwindling down until they retired and that is not something I ever wanted to be doing myself. ‘The other big decision was about finances. Professional sport is not as well paid as people think, unless you are at the elite end and, in those days, Hampshire were the lowest payers on the county circuit. ‘It was a hard enough adjustment for me anyway, but I knew that if I was placed in the same situation a couple of years later at 25 and was trying to compete with graduates in the job market, it would be even tougher.’

That decision was made and he would go on to play at a semi-professional level in the Southern Premier League, before moving back to his home island in 2009. But despite the heights he would reach in the sport, it was far from a glamorous cricketing beginning and Savident can readily recall the day when he first got into the sport. ‘I was probably 13 or 14 and was playing Youth Two football for North at the time and my coach Phil Myers was involved in a cricket team and was a player short one day.

‘That was at La Mare de Carteret and was the first time I had ever really thought about getting involved in cricket. ‘Prior to that, I had played a bit here-and-there when the Test matches were on television in the summer, in the same way that everybody fancies themselves as a tennis player when Wimbledon is on.’

Within a year, though, he had been spotted while playing in a Guernsey U15 schools tour to the UK south coast and was offered an opportunity by Hampshire. Despite making his way through their academy sides and the growing local media interest in the young talent, Savident insists it wasn’t a hard situation to deal with. ‘When it is you making your way and you are in the middle of it, you don’t tend to notice what others are saying. It is your family and friends that notice it more. ‘All you are doing is getting on with your game and trying your best to get noticed and, in cricket, it is good that there is a definitive way to do that – by scoring runs or taking wickets. ‘Making it as a professional sportsman was never something I . had ever dreamt about or anything like that, so while I wanted to succeed, I never put too much pressure on myself.’ With that relaxed mindset, Savident could well have made it to the top of the sport that is far from his only talent, also excelling at local level in basketball and football. Even though it is in the dressing room environment he made his living, he admits that he would have preferred to make it in the far more lonely world of individual sport. . ‘One thing that is important is accountability and that there is nobody else out there to blame but yourself if things go wrong. ‘If you are playing golf and you shank it straight into the trees, it is pointless looking around for excuses because it is your fault and yours alone. ‘Cricket is slightly unique in that there is an individual side to a team sport when you are out in the middle, but you still win and lose games because of others. ‘There was one time where I got a massive rollicking from a coach because we lost, even though I had scored two centuries, which I couldn’t get my head round at the time.

‘Also, in times where I had played badly but the team had won, you enjoy the success because it is a team game, but I would have preferred to make or break purely because of my own strengths or faults.’

Lee was listed 27th by Rob Batiste’s ‘The Big Book of Guernsey Sport’, published in 2016, All time Top 100 Guerney Sporting Heroes.

 

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