17 Top cricketer

17 – Ian Damarell

IT IS now 45 years ago since the Elizabethan magazine cricket bard wrote of this then future Island player: ‘A perky player, never dull at the crease’. True words indeed to describe a very talented cricketer who invariably entertained and, along with Mike Webber and Matt Oliver, is one of the three finest wicket-keeper batsmen Guernsey has ever produced.

GICC innings

I Damarell    c Billingham  b Ollerenshaw         114

J Wood                             b Searson               14

R Mills          c Robson      b Ollerenshaw         15

P Vidamour c Searson     b Pitman                 15

G Rich          lbw               b Ollerenshaw        0

W Barrett     c de la Haye b Searson               29

M Kinder       not out                                       28

E. Enevoldsen run out                                    2

J Appleyard not out                                       2

Extras                                                             8

Total (7 wkts)                                                 227

Bowling: Searson 15-4-55-2; Robson 3-0-26-0; Breed 8-2-24-0; Ollerenshaw 15-3-59-3; Pitman 19-5-55-1

JICC innings

C Ollerenshaw c Vidamour b O’Hara               21

B Alexander c O’Hara       b Barrett                44

G Mourant    c Damarell    b Kinder                4

D Billingham                     b Barrett                41

B Breuilly     lbw               b Barrett                12

D Breed        not out                                       14

P Robson      st Damarell b Barrett                8

A Pitman      c Wood         b Enevoldsen          1

C Searson    not out                                       5

Extras                                                             2

Total (7 wkts)                                                 152

Bowling: O’Hara 9-1-25-1; Orme 5-2-20-0; Barrett 14-3-31-4; Kinder 7-1-24-1; Appleyard 15-3-42-0; Enevoldsen 3-0-8-1

His school cricket was good without being outstanding, but everyone could see a special player in the making. In 1977, his final year, which brought him 436 runs and an undefeated 116 against GlCC in the Afternoon League, he was praised for a ‘marvellous season and overcame a tendency to throwaway his wicket needlessly at vital stages’.

A year later this young Optimists player was in the full Island side, afforded the chance to open the batting and take the gloves ahead of fierce competition. It was not a great time to open a Guernsey innings, Jersey at that time enjoying the availability of a fearsome spearhead of the dark-haired Barry Middleton and the blond bombshell, Richard Allott, who was equally quick and bowled big in-duckers. Allott got Damarell for four and Jersey won the game comfortably. That same season ‘Dammers’ struck 43 to top score in a winning Optimists side in the prestigious GCA KO final.

In a long club career he enjoyed a full range of trophy successes, always batting with freedom and a yearning to get after the bowling. His only weakness was to hook in the air and it would occasionally be his downfall. In a dozen full inter-insulars he often struggled but, in 1987, he produced a man-of-the-match display in scoring a fighting 38, which saw him add 73 for the eighth wicket with Alastair Tapp. Both men battled their natural instincts that day and Guernsey won as a result.

His inter-insular career stretched almost a quarter of a century, his last game being 2002, 24 years after the first, as he was part of the side that ended a decade of Jersey domination.

One of his finest innings – and there were very many – was an undefeated 114 for GICC in the first innings of their two-day clash with JlCC at the College Field. JlCC fielded a fine all-round attack including Chris Searson, Paul Robson, Derek Breed, Chris Ollerenshaw and Alan Pitman, but they could not keep Damarell quiet. He slammed 16 boundaries in a 90-ball stay and when he was third out he had the bulk of the home side’s 165 runs.

In 1986, he played a big part in Optimists ending Pilgrims’ domination of evening cricket when the short game was as strong as it ever has been.

Optlmists One, Evening Cricket League champions for 1986, Standing, left to right –

John Barker, Steve Kail. Andrew Chambers, Mike O’Hara, Chris Guilbert, lan Damarell.

Front – Paul Redhead, John Hunter, Miles Dobson, Mike Webber and Warren Barrett.

It all came down to a title play-off and triumphed largely thanks to Damarell’s hard-hitting 66 at the top of the order.

As Optimists remained at the pinnacle, or close to it, for many more years, Damarell was a force to contend with and all along he invariably got the nod over some fine glove men when it came to playing the old enemy. Post-career he played a major role in the administration of the game, serving both the GCA and GCB for an extended period, the two organisations utilising the wisdom of his accountancy expertise but also wise counsel in all matters.

Notable scores:

1977 –         70 EC v Rugby Club; 116* EC v GICC

1992 –         60 Gsy v Hampshire Maniacs

1994 –          45 Gsy v Hampshire Maniacs

2002 –          57 Gsy v Hampshire Maniacs