16 Top cricketer

16 – MCC Webber

With his initials – ‘MCC’ – you could say he was born to play cricket. But initials are one thing, it takes ability and often courage to produce the goods as a top- order batsman, which this Old Elizabethan certainly did time and time again over many years. Keith Howick, his great Elizabeth College mate and scoring machine, beat him to the full Island side by two years, but when Webber got there he remained for a very long time. In 1973 he clinched his place in the team to play Jersey by virtue of a brilliant and timely century against JICC the week before.  In the build-up to the game on his old stomping ground, Webber had been in prolific form for Cobo in domestic cricket.

Apart from the undefeated 119 in the sister isle against JICC, he produced a fine 43 for the GCL in a draw with the strong tourists Purley CC.

Come that first inter-insular Webber celebrated with a half-century, adding 97 stylish runs for the second wicket with Dick Mason. Two years later he scored 32 and added 50 for the fifth wicket with Pierre Le Cocq and in 14 games against the old enemy he also notched a 41 and 43.

Brave to the point where some would argue silliness – who else would shoulder arms to Barry Middleton and let a short ball slam into your side – Webber was the fiercest of competitors. He did not mind a few bruises. Jersey held him in the highest regard and we have not yet spoken about his wicketkeeping, which was always tidy, although not of sufficient quality to take the gloves away from Mike Fooks or Ian Damarell.

He had joined Cobo on leaving the College and, to mark his birthday, hit a ‘beautiful’ match-winning 41 in their 1972 defeat of mighty Rovers A in the GCL KO final that year.

A year later he again contributed significantly in another cup final, but before long he had headed to a resurgent Optimists and was in their side that won the 1978 final, again against Rovers A.

He would win all there was to win with ‘Optis’ but in the twilight of his career he switched back to his former club side and in 1987 scored well in another triumphant Cup final day.

All his skills and great determination had been learned many years earlier under the tutelage of Jack Reddish and, when he retired, Tony Taylor, Reddish described him ‘as a good stroke player’ at the end of the 1969 season when he hit an unbeaten 106 against Victoria College in Jersey to add his name to the College Field honours board.

In the following two years he and Keith Howick were the scourge of schoolboy and senior bowlers.  In two years as captain of the first XI he would total over 1,100 runs, among them a half-century against Victoria and one 63 not out against the MCC.

But given his talent he should have scored more, remarked sports master Taylor, who penned: ‘a batsman of such quality, he has never consistently made runs’. In 1990 it was fitting given his status and respect in the domestic game that he was afforded the captaincy as Guernsey set about winning the first European Cricketer Cup on home territory.       

Notable performances:

1969 –          50 EC v MCC; 52* EC v Principals’ XI

1970 –          87 EC v Forest school; 70 EC v Price’s school; 71 EC v GICC;

1971 –          71 EC v Cobo; 53 EC v Rovers; 71 EC v Principals’ XI; 53 EC v Forest school

1990 –          122 Gsy v Austria; 46* Gsy v Luxembourg