35-31 Top cricketers

35 – Hilary Rich

A CUNNING off-spinner who was one of the island’s finest cricketers either side of the Occupation years. Back in 2007, Rich’s former Island team-mate Alan Hunter said the all-rounder spun the ball both ways, ‘just enough to have the batsmen in difficulty and also bowled the occasional one that beat the outside of the bat’.

Rich, who lived close by in King’s Road, was a GICC and GCL regular, captaining the former, while also being a mainstay of the champion Pilgrims sides of the 1930s and immediate post-war years. In an article to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Guernsey Cricket League, Bill Druce described Rich ‘as the best all-rounder of his time’. His length was impeccable and after a string of average efforts in the very early inter-island games of the 1950s, Rich destroyed Jersey in the 1957 inter-island clash, taking 6 for 64 in 20 overs, five of his victims bowled. Yet, for some reason – probably advancing years – it was his final game for the full Island side.

Notable performances:

1948 –          6-32 GICC v GCL; 5-56 pilgrims v Pessimists; 5-16 Pilgrims v Rovers; 40 & 4-55 GICC v Cryptics

1950 –          6-25 Pilgrims v EC; 7-16 Pilgrims v EC; 8-45 GICC v Buccaneers; 50* & 3-44 GICC v Cryptics

1953 –          4-6 Pilgrims v Rovers; 4-15 Pilgrims v Post Office; 52 GICC v Pedagogues; 36 & 5-64 GICC v Incogniti

1954 –          6-50 GICC v EC; 6-37 GICC v JICC

1956 –          7-34 V Collenette XI v EC

1958 –          6-22 GICC v Beeches OB

34 – William Watling

WAS there ever a more talented achiever on the Elizabeth College sports fields than this great cricketing all-rounder of the late 1930s. It must be very doubtful, and it just maybe he ranks as one of the five best cricketers the school ever produced. What a tragedy he was dead before his 21st birthday. Watling was the star pupil in his time, outstanding at everything, whether that be cricket, football, boxing, hockey, running very fast and playing the violin. He tore Victoria apart time and again, bowling at express pace while at the same time giving nothing away. In 1938 his figures against the Jersey school were 14.4-7-14-6 and 15-4-30-6.

A top order batsman also, he captained the College in his final season and aside of bowling out Victoria for 35 with another cheap six-wicket haul, destroyed a strong GICC side with figures of 13-7-10-7. In terms of batting his best effort was an undefeated 103 against GICC in his first year in the 1st XI.

Certainly, his opening bowling partnership with the lightning-fast Brian Rose, must be the best in the College’s long history. Rose, too, was killed in action.

Notable performances:

1937 –          7-32 EC v GICC; 103* & 7-29 EC v GICC; 49 & 5-25 EC v Commercial League; 7-32 EC v Bn Sherwood Foresters; 6-17 EC v GICC; 56* & 4-43 EC v Taunton school

1938 –          65* & 5-6 EC v Sherwood Foresters; 83* & 2-9 EC v GICC; 5-53 EC v GICC; 5-41 EC v Commercial League; 50 & 3-35 EC v GICC; 64 & 3-17 EC v King Edward school; 40 & 8-33 EC v Taunton school

1939 –          60 & 6-16 EC v Royal Irish Fuselliers; 57* & 3-14 EC v GICC; 7-10 EC v GICC; 86* & 6-34 EC v Commercial League; 7-21 EC v Commercial League; 6-19 EC v VC

33 – Alan Lewis

ONE of the greatest characters to win a place in the Guernsey side and a very good, technically gifted, opening batsman with it. Jersey discovered that very early on.

Having scored heavily for club side St Martin’s, his inter-insular debut saw him pair up with fellow Englishman Tony Taylor and take Guernsey to a 10-wicket win at FB Fields. Jersey have not been more humbled, before or since. Match reporter John le Poidevin later wrote, ‘We all knew Taylor’s class. We were all a little uncertain about Lewis. But not any more. He looked a damned good batsman in this match.’ Lewis, who once caused much consternation and GCA AGM argument for wearing his white tennis shorts, was someone who played himself in and, when set, could hit with the very best. Forming a fine regular opening partnership with Henry Davey, St Martin’s always had a chance with those two in their side which title chasing Cobo discovered to their cost in the late 70s as the pair made Cobo’s huge score look distinctly ordinary and deprived the latter of the title.

His jokey nature and refusal to take the sport as seriously as most, perhaps held him back in terms of Island selection, because after the heroics of 1974, he only played twice more.

When in 1989, a number of Guernsey aficionados sat down to choose their all-time Evening league XIs, all five chose Lewis. His medium pacers were also a big part of his game, delivering them from a high action. In 1975, they accounted for five Cobo batsmen as St Martin’s won the GCA Cup for the one and only time. His 36 was also the highest score of the match.

After St Martin’s folded, he played for Cobo when his son Ian was also a regular for some years.

32 – Micky Mechem

A COBO boy and an early Cobo legend, being key to their successes as they began to challenge the mighty Rovers in the mid-1960s and, for a while, match them. A compact batsman with a complete array of shots, including his trademark flying cut, the Mechem-le Poidevin partnership batted many a side out of an Evening League game.

Young cricketer of the year in 1962, he forced his way into the Island side a year later, clinching his spot on the back of a fighting effort which enabled the GCL to save face against a strong Incogniti side. He was pushed down to No. 8 in a very powerful Guernsey batting line-up, but he was batting at five a year later and at three in 1966. His inter-insular record did not reflect his capabilities and club record, but when the fearsome Tony Howeson was ripping through the Guernsey batting in 1970, ‘Tico’ stood firm, scoring 41 from his spot at No. 3. There was another 40-plus score two years later.

A row over club direction saw someone who had put his heart and soul into Cobo for the best part of two decades leave for Pilgrims and then onto a fast-emerging St Pierre. After his playing career, which was also notable for being a fine wicket-keeper and a Guernsey Touring Cricket Club stalwart, he became arguably Guernsey’s leading umpire.

Notable performances:

1964 –          84* GCL v GICC

1965 –          54* Cobo v Pessimists; 91* Cobo v Optimists; 40 GCL v Incogniti; 50* GCL v Wine Trade

1966 –          56* Cobo v Pessimists; 48* GICC v Jsy Beeches

1968 –          44* Cobo v Rovers

1969 –          50 Cobo v Rovers B; 59 Cavaliers v Pedagogues

1970 –          53* Cobo v Tektronix; 39* GCL v JCL; 54 Cobo v Rovers B; 50 GCL v Wine Trade

31 – Edward Mockler

SOMETHING of a tearaway fast bowler who, in four years in the Elizabeth College 1st XI, was a scourge of local batsmen and those he encountered at Victoria College.

In eight matches against Victoria he claimed 52 wickets, including two seven-fours in 1907, his final season. The year previously his ‘death-dealing deliveries’ as described by the Elizabethan cricket analyst, had given him 93 wickets. Often he bowled in tandem with his younger brother Frank (No. 88 in the countdown) and they would also open the batting together on occasion. It really was something akin to the Mockler show in those summers of 1906 and 1907.

After joined the Army, he took six wickets against both the MCC and Eton Ramblers, and having survived the Great War he returned to the island and was a mainstay in the GICC sides. Still bowling fast, 20 years after his final golden summer at the College he was claiming five MCC wickets for the GICC.

Notable performances:

1905 –          5-49 EC v Manchester Regiment; 5-49 EC v VC; 5-46 EC v Castel

1906 –          8-40 EC v Beuttler’s XI; 5-40 EC v Rangers; 6-39 EC vAthletics; 5-39 EC v HMS Isis; 7-25 EC v Manchester Regiment; 8-36 EC v VC; 6-65 EC v Grange; 5-46 EC v Grange;6-25 EC v Athletics; 5-56 EC v Artillery; 9-20 EC v VC; 5-49 EC v Grange; 7-30 EC v VC; 6-72 EC v Grange; 47 & 7-19 EC v Athletics; 6-30 EC v RGA Gsy; 43 & 4-48 EC v Rangers; 31 & 7-27 EC v VC