21 Top cricketer

21 – Stuart Mackay

Not since the Keith Howick-Mike Mike Webber team of the early 1970s had Elizabeth College seen a better, more successful batsman than Stuart Mackay. And in 1989, it all came together for the older of the talented Mackay brothers. Two centuries for Elizabeth College, including a ton in the home game against Victoria, 793 runs in total for the school and, to cap it all, an undefeated century in a man-of-the-match performance for the full Guernsey side on debut. Not even Howick could pull that one off.

A talented all-rounder who batted right-handed and bowled left-arm seamers, Mackay had his fair share of fortune in scoring the 100 to get his name on the College Field honours board. He was dropped three times, including three runs short of his century. Mind you, he was happy to get out onto the field. That day he was suffering badly from hay fever and it required a pre-match injection from his father, Dr Bruce Mackay, to combat it.

A month later and on the same ground against the full Jersey senior side, Barry Middleton and all, he added a second 100 not out to his cricketing CV. ‘The wickets were baking hard and it was a phenomenal year,’ he recalled on a visit back to the island some years later. He recalled a second-ball duck at the hands of Salemites’ Ralph Anthony the day previously, but on the big day he did not have to wait long for his chance at the crease. ‘I got in early that day and I had plenty of time to play myself in. ‘I remember their bowling attack being pretty tough with the likes of Colin Graham and Barry Middleton. It was a rough grind before lunch and I remember being bounced by Middleton and having to take a couple off my nose.’

By the next summer he was playing at Oxford University and while he won three blues – at hockey, football (in goal) and skiing – he got no further than the cricket second XI known as the Authentics. ‘In my last year I got in the blues’ squad but the batting we had was very good. It was a tough year to be a batsman,’ he recalled of rivals ranging from Aussie Jason Gallian to Richard Montgomerie, lain Sutcliffe and Gregor Macmillan, who all went on to forge county careers.

His links with Guernsey cricket remained for a few years yet. In 1990 he was part of the Guernsey team that won the European Cricketer Cup on home soil and in 1991, while playing for Optimists in the summer holidays, he smashed an undefeated 147 off the St Saviour’s attack in the local Afternoon League. In 1992 he returned to the full Island team for a second time and, again, did not disappoint. Batting first wicket down, he scrapped away for 107 minutes in scoring 46, only bettered by opener Vince Kenny (63). He did his best to underpin the challenge which fell agonisingly short by four runs, but some criticised him for failing to up the tempo and placing too much pressure on the batting to come. In truth, Mackay was, like Howick, an accumulator with great concentration. He did not have a fifth gear like some. Post university this terrifically talented all-round sportsman remained in the UK working in the City and playing cricket for the Free Foresters club.