1 Top cricketer

1 – Jeremy Frith

THE finest all-round cricketer of modem times and, by a whisker, from the man who had clearly been the finest of the 20th century, Warren Barrett. For more than a decade the Epsom- born ‘Frithers’ was the cornerstone and lynchpin of the Guernsey cricket team, whatever the format.

His playing record was exceptional, but for someone who had played four times for the National youth side, three times for the Gloucestershire 2nds and once for Berkshire, it was always hoped he would be when he arrived on the island at the start of the 2000s. By the time he prematurely ended his representative career in 2014, he had scored 2,626 runs for the Island side at an average of 53.6 and taken 103 wickets with his left-arm spin. With six centuries and 19 half-centuries he often dominated the Guernsey innings, which was based upon impeccable technique, an ability to bide his time and build an innings. Add in the factor that he was an exceptional fielder, quick with the safest of hands, and it adds up to someone Guernsey have got nowhere near replacing.

Nobody has scored more runs in Guernsey colours, although Barrett still heads him in terms of the inter-insular game. Four times he walked away with the man-of-the-match honours against Jersey. The first occasion was in 2002 when he amassed a superb undefeated 88.

Three years later he contributed a further 80 and, for good measure, took 3 for 36. In 2010 it was an undefeated 56 that guided the Sarnians home with an over and a half to spare, this after his l0-over spell had leaked a mere 26. A year later he registered one of the rare centuries scored in the inter-insular, scoring 129 from 139 deliveries, spending 144 minutes at the crease and having found the boundary just seven times, highlighted his outstanding fitness levels.

By now Jersey had become a strong unit, but with Frith in the opposition they regularly came across an immovable and inspirational force. Importantly, his presence lifted the team around him and teammates will recall the time he toyed with the Jersey bowling, first paddle sweeping the ball to the vacant boundary for successive fours and, when the Caesarean bowler and skipper Tony Carlyon responded by plugging that gap, reverse-swept him for four to where the fielder had just been removed. As a spinner, he lacked the turn and flight Anthony had provided so ably for so long, but his control and accuracy was superb, pushing the ball through off a short approach.

As Guernsey entered the ICC World League stage, Frith revelled in the challenge that the club game rarely provided him with. Three times in the World League he scored centuries, two of them coming in the same week on home soil in 2009 against Nigeria and Suriname, the latter also losing five wickets to the man. Later that golden summer, this time in Division Six in Singapore, he took 101 off the Malaysians on his way to being named player of the tournament as leading run-scorer on 374 for the week. A year later, this time on the European 5O-over stage, he hit exactly 100 against Germany and 109 off the Norwegians. In 2011, he was player of the tournament in the unbeaten World Cricket League Six campaign in Malaysia after scoring 80, 82 and 82 in the first three games to set up the successful push for promotion. Jersey, who often found themselves chasing Frith-driven leather, will probably be relieved that his inter-insular appearances were limited to 13, 10 fewer than the joint Guernsey record-holders, Barrett and Ralph Anthony.

But following the European T20 tournament and inter-insular of 2013, he opted to take a complete break from the game. Guernsey lost their batting ballast and have lost six of the seven inter-insulars since. In recent times he has rediscovered some zest for the game and in addition to occasional appearances for the Wanderers-Rovers teams and back with his old Southern Premier League club Sparsholt in Winchester. Domestically, Optimists and largely Cobo benefited hugely from his presence. GCA player of the year four times – 2002, 2008, 2009 and 2010 – he won all the league and cup trophies out there to win. His performances even won him back-to-back Richard Burton Salvers at the Guernsey Sporting Achievement Awards of 2009 and 2010. No other cricketer has ever picked up that individual accolade once, let alone twice. ‘Mr Cricket’, as he was often referred to by his colleagues was, for Guernsey, just that. And if the island ever comes across a player of equal ability and focus, they will enjoy the resulting fruits.

Other notable performances:

Int Ins    2nd with 516 runs and 25 wickets in 13 matches. Partnerships of 50 nine times, 88*    2002 man of match, 39* & 2-12    2004, 80 & 3-36    2005  man of match, 3-29    2006, 10-2-16-3    2007, 39    2008, 36 & 3-34    2009, 56* & 1-26    2010    man of match, 129 & 4-30    2011    man of match    partnership of 141 for 4th wkt with Le Prevost

Euro 50 overs    491 runs and 25 for 321 in 13 games, 41*    v Germany    2008, 50 & 5-25    v France    2008, 38 & 4-18    v Croatia    2008, 37    v Jsy    2008, 51 & 2-27    v Gib    2010, 100* & 3-37    v Germany    2010, 46 & 3-30    v France    2010, 109 & 2-22    v Norway    2010

Euro T20    399 runs and 18 for 309 in 12 games, 39    v Austria    2011, 3-33    v Italy    2011, 44*    v Gib    2011, 99* & 2-23    v Norway    2013, 87* & 3-12    v Austria    2013, 47 & 2-26    v Sweden    2013

WCL    1234 runs and 37 wkts for 772 in 24 games, Scored 3 hundreds and 11 x 50s, 36 & 2-23    v Gib    2009, 56* & 1-42    v Japan    2009, 65 & 4-67    v Bahrain  2009, 101* & 1-25    v Nigeria    2009, 106 & 5-8    v Suriname    2009, 56 & 1-44    v Bahrain    2009, 79 & 1-49    v Malaysia    2009, 54 & 2-32    v Norway    2009, 59 & 2-29    v Botswana    2009, 101 & 2-44    v Malaysia    2009, 80 & 1-33    v Jsy    2011, 82 & 2-50    v Fiji    2011, 82    v Kuwait    2011, 3-16    v Malaysia    2011, 76    v Singapore    2012, 57 & 1-22    v Cayman    2012

Four nations 50 & 6-30    v IOW    2002, 77    v IOM final    2004, 49*    v IOM    2004

MCC matches          68* & 5-61  2002, 42  2004, 50  2009, 69 & 3-46  2011, 5-20  2013, 55* T20   2011, 54    T20    2013

Friendly 55    v Bermuda    2005, 78    v Namibia    2005, 91    v Norfolk    2005, 73 & 3-27    v Hampshire Maniacs    2001, 59* & 2-4   v Hamp Maniacs    2003

Was No 30 in R Batiste’s Guernsey top 100 sports people.

‘Special days are best memories’ says Guernsey Cricket’s Top 100 No. 1 Frith by Gareth Le Prevost

A HUMBLE Jeremy Frith was some-what surprised when the Guernsey Press briefly interrupted his holiday visiting relatives in England to inform him that he came out on top in our countdown of Guernsey Cricket’s Top 100. After a quick ‘thank you’, he added, ‘I am very proud to be considered among such illustrious people and to have made some sort of contribution to Guernsey cricket.’

Over a l3-year playing career for the Island side which amounted to 66 appearances in inter-insulars and across ICC competition, all-rounder Frith scored a total of 2640 runs including six centuries at an average of 52.80 and claimed 105 wickets at 16.64 apiece. However, in looking back on all he achieved, he emphasised that it was the memories rather than the statistics from his playing days that he will treasure. ‘The best moments for me have been the reactions of other people,’ said Frith before breaking into laughter when recollecting his man-of-the-match performance at Grainville when Guernsey ended their barren run of 10 years without inter-insular victory and he was quoted afterwards saying ‘we played the game, not the occasion – now we are going to enjoy the occasion’. Nineteen years on he reflected, ‘In 2002 seeing people go over to Jersey on boats for the inter-insular and just to play a part in helping them have a great day out is one of my best memories. ‘What a special day that was – I remember Ami [Banerjee] and I got a partnership going then Stu [Le Prevost] came in and smacked it around – and to see how many people had a good day out on the back of what we did playing that game brought me great enjoyment. ‘Those are the moments you remember, when you see people really happy because of what the team have achieved.’