22 Top cricketer

22 – Miles Dobson

Guernsey has had faster bowlers than the one they called ‘Dobbo’, but in the post-war game surely there has never been any better, more effective, more miserly quickie. To those attributes you can also perhaps add ‘more nasty’ in terms of the young tearaway who emerged out of Elizabeth College in the mid-1970s. Rovers were the main benefactors of this new-ball speed for several seasons as he and sparring partner Andy Creed put the wind under most local batsmen on the firm, bouncy surface of the Osmond Priaulx Field. Dobson Mk 1 liked to bowl fast, short and his natural in-duckers had the painful habit of following the batsmen, even when they tried to move even further inside the line.

On the Guernsey Touring Cricket Club’s maiden overseas tour – to the Netherlands in 1977 – he loved the bouncy matting wickets and when a highly-rated Dutch left-handed opening batsman took him on, he was well and truly nailed and left spitting teeth and blood over the stained mat.

Two years later, one of his most devastating performances came as Rovers A clinched the Division One title against Cobo A. That evening he took 8 for 24. There was another eight-wicket haul for the GCA side who would play JCL annually – in effect, a secondary inter-insular.

In 1982, after taking the first of two six-wicket hauls in full inter-insulars, GP match reporter Dave Edmonds penned this: ‘Dobson’s hold over the majority of the Jersey players has reached such a level that they are apprehensive about facing him even before they reach the wicket, and when they do get there they are convinced that he is working all sorts of magic with the ball. This is a state of affairs Dobson will do little to discourage, but a lot of his success comes because he bowls straight and keeps the ball up to the bat.’

In 1980, he switched to Optimists and for more than a decade was their spearhead at a time when they challenged Rovers and Pilgrims for the main honours. As he got older he cut his pace and concentrated on choking the opposition with still brisk accuracy and a full length. Add an ability to make the ball swing viciously and he remained Guernsey’s number one until the early 1990s.

In 1991, nine seasons after he had ripped through Jersey at Grainville, he took another 6 for 37, this time off 17 pinpoint overs, this time in front of a home audience. In his 17-year representative career, the 1976 young cricketer of the year took 25 wickets at an average of 17.12, but just as important to his captain was his ability to keep things tight. Even allowing for three less than startling performances at the tail-end of his career, his 162 overs cost no more than 2.6 runs per over.