Ricky Mills

1975 mills

Ricky Mills is synonymous with Guernsey cricket. He began playing whilst still at school and quickly progressed to representative cricket. He was voted the Young player-of-the-year in 1961 quickly followed by a cap, #39, in 1964 when he first played for Guernsey in the Inter-Insular. He was nominated the GCA Player-of-the-year in 1987.

He joined Rovers and became captain in their heyday. Having captained Rovers he was the automatic choice to captain the island, which he did a record 10 times. His batting over the 22 appearances amounted to 224 runs with 61 being highest. Together with Warren Barrett he holds the record for any wicket partnership with 151 in 1976.

His bowling was underused as he only bowled 68 overs taking 8 for 202 but this was probably down to not wanting to bowl himself as captain rather than the ability to keep things quiet. He took all 10 wickets in 6.1 overs for Rovers for just 15 runs in a match in 1981.

In 1982 John Le Poidevin selected him in his best XI and Rob Batiste considers him to be probably the best captain in either island. He was always thinking about and analysing the game and was an astute captain against all opposition. One of his memorable phrases epitomised his approach to how the game should be played – “Whack!”

Ricky was a staunch supporter of the Guernsey Touring Cricket Club as well as being well-known for his support of Newcastle United. Another legend of the game who sadly died in September 2013.

Rob Batiste wrote an obituary in the Guernsey Evening Press:

There may never have been a better, more astute, Guernsey cricket captain than Ricky Mills who died this week. Only two men have played more times for the island side against Jersey, but no one has ever skippered the national team more often, with the self-taught left-hand bowler and right-hand batsman leading out Guernsey between 1973 and 1984. He made his 22nd and final Guernsey appearance in 1987, but thereafter served as a selector and Guernsey cricket could not have had a wiser one. Ricky was the lynchpin of the great Rovers sides for more than 20 years from the mid-1960s.

But for much of the past decade he had been suffering a terrible debilitating illness which finally claimed him. On the cricket field he was a heavy run scorer and the canniest of left-arm swing bowlers, before turning to spin in the final years of his career. He once took 10 wickets in an innings at Evening League level and often swung the old two-piece Kookaburra balls like the proverbial banana. But arguably his greatest strength lay in captaincy both at club level, mainly for Rovers but also for the Guernsey Touring Cricket Club with which he toured the world, and the island teams.

He was also a very talented footballer and would tell anyone who would listen how good a euchre player he was also. Not that he was ever boastful about his serious sporting love, cricket, which he learned largely from playing with his fellow Cobo village mates on Cobo beach, or on the nearby commons.

Brian Le Prevost, the former Guernsey Cricket Association president, was one of those young lads, along with the late David ‘Dido’ Mechem, tragically killed in a motor-cycle crash 50 years ago, and Micky ‘Tico’ Mechem. ‘The three of them were brilliant at sport and I was just alright,’ said the father of a latterday island cricket captain, Stuart Le Prevost. ‘The one thing with Millsy was that he was always prepared to learn. ‘He did it all himself too as he did not get the coaching that others got from the College or Grammar.’ In the early days that meant playing among themselves on the beach between the old, long-gone, wooden groynes. ‘It was four if you hit the wall and six and out if you hit it onto the road.’ ‘You would bowl from one groyne to the next and when we weren’t doing that we’d pop up to Saumarez Park to play football. ‘We played together and learned together.’ ‘Millsy’ as many referred to him, and the two Mechems learned so well that they all played island representative youth football, and two of them became island cricketers. ‘The three of them were so natural,’ said Le Prevost, who a few years ago was asked to select his all-time Guernsey XI and had ‘Millsy’ as his captain. You’d have to have gone a long way to find anyone to disagree with that argument. He loved his cricket and seemingly could not get enough of it. Brian Le Prevost again: ‘I always remember John Henry [the late Rovers club secretary] saying to me, “Whenever I asked him to play he was always there. Unlike others he never gave an excuse not to play”.’ Two former island cricket colleagues of his were Ralph Anthony and Henry Davey. Ralph paid this tribute: ‘He was an inspiration to me as someone who hadn’t come through the public school system. ‘I think he was one of the two best captains 1 played under. ‘He was also a very fair person. He always treated everyone in the side as a teammate, young or old. ‘He was an instinctive captain and I’d have to say he was a bit special as a bloke.’  Davey was a colleague of his on both the football and cricket fields. ‘He was a very clever footballerbut as far as cricket was concerned 1 think he was the best captain I ever played with. It was unbelievable. ‘I’d also say he was the best Guernsey-born all-rounder, completely self-taught.  ‘He was a very correct batsman and played everything straight. [Bowling] he was awful to get away.’ Brian Le Prevost will never forget the interest and advice he gave to the small group of youngsters who, during the 80s, would gather in the bottom corner of the KGV during evening games and bat and bowl away their evenings. Stuart Le Prevost, a future island captain in the making, was one, Lee Savident, who went on to play for Hampshire professionally, another. The latter said he owed so much to the man who gave him his chance as a young Rovers player. ‘He had a bit of faith in me when I was 15 and I was picked to play those GCA [inter-island] games, ‘He was always very helpful to me. ‘As a young player coming through and trying to play evening cricket which was then the pinnacle of the local game, it was great to feed off someone like him. He was an inspiration to us all young lads. ‘During games he would always be chatting – full of ideas. ‘He’d never let a game wander. ‘He also did it in a gentlemanly manner. There was never any commotion with him.’ On the football field, he won schoolboy and junior representative honours and after brief spells once out of the juniors with North and Sylvans he created an impression at Belgraves before joining the great St Martin’s side of the era and playing in two Uptons. An elegant footballer, Colin Renouf, a team-mate in those great Saints sides, said: ‘There was a touch of class to him… a really thoughtful player.’ Often overlooked, too, is that Guernsey Darts owes a lot to him as he was one of the founder members of the Super League in the early 1980s, a competition which went a long way to raising standards of play. A handy player himself, he was instrumental in getting the inter-insular started. But it will be forever for his influence on the summer game this legend of island sport will be remembered.

 

Comments are closed.