4 Top cricketer

4 – Ralph Anthony

PERHAPS inspired by the Island exploits of his elder brother Brian, the younger Anthony was a slow-burner who rose to the top heights of Channel Islands cricket through sheer love of cricket, dedication and a good dollop of talent.

Ultimately, it realised 23 Island caps, individual awards and huge respect within the game. But he was not always destined for the top. Had he not taken the advice to quit useful medium-pace to try his hand as a left-arm spinner, the career would not have taken off in the way it did. Another piece of advice key to his development was listening to Ted Enevoldsen on the night he made his Optimists debut as a youngster. ‘That day I got a duck batting at eight or nine and, being a youngster, I thought the world had come to an end,’ he recalled in the autumn days of his career. ‘Ted and Len Martel came to me in the dressing room, put their arms around my shoulder and said, “you will get a lot more noughts in the game, but you will also get a lot more pleasure”. I never forgot that.’ Many will raise an eyebrow at Ralph being an Optimist, but his brother being a regular for them, that is hardly surprising.

But he did not stay with them long and after a spell with Rovers, most of it spent in the B team, he left to become the heartbeat, driving force and mentor for a long list of novice cricketers who wore the colours of Salemites CC.

The titles may have largely eluded him, but his reputation as a top performer grew from the moment he turned to spin. In 1976 he won the first of a record-equalling number of Guernsey appearances, having booked his spot with some fine bowling against the visiting Northamptonshire county side who arrived on island as part of Mushtaq Mohammed’s benefit year.

Like many, his first taste of the ‘big time’ was inglorious, in his case nine wicket-less and fairly expensive overs and not batting. Nine years later he was man of the match against Jersey. His important 22 in the middle order helped rescue a dodgy situation for Pierre Le Cocq’s side and as he came on first change, he delivered 12 accurate overs to take 2 for 22.

In 1989 he was elected captain, leading the side to victory in what was ‘Mackay’s game’. The new skipper bowled 20 overs at the College Field that afternoon, taking 3 for 31 on a day Jersey died at the hands of spin – 37 overs of them from Guernsey’s complementary spin-twins, Anthony and Barrett.

For much of the remaining years of his Island career he would be the man who led the side, often wearing his trademark white cravat and always the GCA cap, and while he was immensely proud of his Island achievements, perhaps his greatest joy was the day, in 1989, Salemites won the Afternoon League title. They had gone close to glory previously, reaching GCA KO finals only to be heavily beaten.

In the 1977 final against Cobo, had it not been for his 39 in a total of 78, Salemites would have been severely embarrassed.

As a player-coach, he made otherwise ordinary players good ones and, in the odd case, Island-level performers. Beyond his Island career he threw himself fully into the Cl Over 50s side, where he was a stalwart for several years until 2008.

Only one man has taken more inter-insular wickets for Guernsey and three times he was voted GCA Cricketer of the Year, as well as landing the weekend league award in 2000.

In 1984 he led the way in terms of most runs and most wickets taken in the top flight of the Evening League and with his best playing days over he took to umpiring with similar zeal to playing and, quite simply, there was no better ‘ump’.

Other notable perfornances:

Int Ins 10-5-9-2 in 1982, 30 & 3-60 in 1983, 11 & 4-39 in 1987, 8 & 4-27 in 1995, 26 & 3-76 in 1996

CI 50 overs 9-2-11-3 v Cornwall in 2004, 9-1-16-4 v Cornwall in 2008, 22 & 4-36 v Cornwall in 2008

Cricketer Cup  5-0-9-2 v Greece in 1990

Friendly  4-24 v Hampshire Maniacs in 1993, 4-30 v MCC in 1993, 5-56 v MCC in 1995, 4-38 v MCC in 1996