6 Top cricketer

6 – Ricky Mills

GUERNSEY cricket’s greatest captain? Certainly the best Rovers had and, in their shortish existence, Tortevites. This totally self-taught cricketer, who played the game endlessly on the Cobo beach using the long-gone groynes as a wicket, was obsessed by the summer game and gave it everything and more.

Deeply thoughtful and tactically very astute, Mills was a very fine all-rounder without being spectacular. More of a multi-skilled left-arm bowler who could, and did, bat very well as a right-hander, ‘Millsy’ played whenever and wherever he could. lf it was not for Rovers, Tortevites and, very briefly, as an Independent and Gasco man while in his teens, you would find him wearing the colours of GlCC in midweek, or the Guernsey Touring Cricket Club. Of his 22 inter-insulars, half of them were as captain, and while he never played a match-winning hand in any of them, he was invariably influential in some manner. In domestic cricket he was the cornerstone of the mighty Rovers A team who dominated the game for two decades from the early 1960s.

As a swing bowler he bowled impeccable lines, and with Bill Robilliard behind the timbers, he would tie most batsmen down as the ball curled like a banana into their pads. On one Evening League occasion he took all 10 wickets against Tortevites. He would also bowl very tidy spinners and with a bat in hand was difficult to prise from the crease. Seldom a spectacular hitter, he improved as a batsman as he got older and there were many a weekend century. His batting played a major part in Rovers winning the 1972 GCA Cup final against big rivals Cobo, the 1983 final against Pilgrims and the 1986 showdown for Tortevites. Nobody played more games for the Guernsey Cricket League in their annual clash with the Jersey Cricket League, the all- rounder appearing 18 times. In this secondary inter-island game he regularly chipped in with vital runs and his 54 in the 1970 victory was crucial. Ten years later, it was his bowling, in tandem with fellow leftie John Appleyard, which undid the JCL. In many ways his representative career is very ‘Brearley-ish’.

Seldom did he make a telling score or produce a vital bowling spell, but his value to the team is borne out by the fact he could lead, and from 1973 through to 1984, with the exception of the year John Appleyard took charge, he ran the operation. Although he book-ended his inter-insular career with ducks, there was a fine 61 batting at No. 4 in 1976 and an undefeated 35 down the order in 1983.

His final game as captain saw him notch 20 in 1984 and, after missing out on selection in the following two seasons, his golden player of the year summer of 1987 brought about a recall. It was such a shame that it ended disappointingly with another nought, but the team won and that would have been his priority.

Those failures were a far cry from the many fine innings he produced over more than a quarter of a century at the top end of the Island game. Among them was a superb evening century for the GCL in a defeat at the hands of a strong Queen’s University of Belfast in 1969. A very shrewd judge of a player’s ability, for many years he was an Island selector. Nobody knew the local game and its players better.

The 1976 Inter-insular scorecard:

Jersey innings

+J Holmes              st Fooks       b Le Lievre             62

D R Billingham       c Mountford b Creed                  2

D E Faux                lbw               b Le Cocq               57

N Fage                   lbw               b Le Cocq               4

D C Hunt                c Fooks        b Le Cocq               39

*M J Weaver          not out                                       84

R T G Pollard          not out                                       18

P Le Cras, R Hill, R Allott, B Middleton dnb

Extras           (b2, lb2, w0, nb3)                                7

Total            (for 5 wickets declared in 65 overs)     273

Guernsey bowling

Le Cocq 17-4-43-3, Creed 10-2-49-1, Anthony 9-0-48-0, Barrett 19-0-90-0, Le Lievre 10-0-36-1

Guernsey innings

H J M Davey           c Holmes      b Allott                   23 – 37 3 0

A Lewis                  c Allott         b Middleton            6 – 25 0 0

W E R Barrett                             b Fage                    75 – 105 10 1

*R W Mills              lbw               b Fage                    61 – 97 9 0

M C C Webber        not out                                       10 – 34 0 0

P L Le Cocq            not out                                       12 – 29 1 0

H A J Mountford, J R Le Lievre, +M A Fooks, R E H Anthony, A R Creed  dnb

Extras          (b10, lb12, w1, nb4)                            27

Total            (for 4 wickets in 48 overs)                   214

Jersey bowling

Middleton 9-3-41-1, Allott 13-2-52-1, Hill 11-0-38-0, Le Cras 6-0-18-0, Fage 8-1-34-2, Weaver 1-0-4-0

Other notable performances:

1962 – 56* & 3-46 Gasco v Pessimists, 5-30 Gasco v Rovers, 39 & 3-63 Gasco v Optimists, 36 & 3-36 Gasco v Harlequins, 7-56 Presidents XI v Gsy trial

1963 – 5-9 Rovers v Vale Rec; 1964 – 6-12 Rovers v Harlequins, 9-24 Rovers v Vale Rec; 1965 – 7-15 all bowled Rovers v Optimists, 5-17 Rovers V Cobo; 1966 – 5-28 GCL v Wine Trade; 1967 – 5-15 Rovers v Vale Rec, 5-29 rovers v St Saviours, 5-13 Rovers v Harlequins, 50* & 3-9 GICC v Hampshire Maniacs; 1968 – 44 & 4-43 Rovers v Pilgrims, 62 GCL v Purley,5-34 Rest v Presidents XI, 62 Rovers v GICC; 1969 – 5-22 Rovers v Optimists, 7-19 Nomads v Centurians, 28 & 4-17 Rovers v Optimists, 29 & 2-3 Nomads v Pedagogues, 73* GICC v Pessimists, 48 & 2-38 Rovers v GICC, 30 & 4-41 Nomads v Cavaliers; 1970 – 6-12 Rovers A v Rovers B, 75 & 3-4 Rovers v Pilgrims,5-33 Rovers v St Martins, 50 Rovers v EC, 53 GCL v Queens College, 54 & 2-25 GCL v JCL, 23 & 4-36 Rovers v Pessimists, 83 & 2-17 Rovers v Tektronix; 1981 – 10-15 Rovers v Taverners