65-61 Top cricketers

65 – Lucas Barker

GIVEN his Island debut in 2014 by Nic Pothas who believed in his ability and backed him to face the new ball. Guernsey’s new national coach was a good judge and no matter how quick the opposition pacemen were Barker was never ruffled and was quick to make an impression in Island colours on tour. That was not the case, though, on his Island bow when he went for just one and when, after a spell back in the UK, he reappeared in the team, he failed again. Fully restored to the local scene, Barker has been a consistent scorer of big runs and in the current season seems to have overcome an old tendency to get out in the 30s. A useful medium pacer who also takes the gloves on occasion, he is the current Wanderers captain in both forms of the game. It seems unlikely that when inter-insular cricket eventually returns that he will be left watching from the sidelines.

64 – Justin Ferbrache

IN terms of glovework few in the history of the local game have matched the skills of the virtually self-taught former La Mare de Carteret student who was spotted by teacher Victor Lane and developed from there. For a long spell he played and learned under the guidance of Salemites’ legendary Ralph Anthony who gave him important tips as the young ‘Ferby’ moved from the club’s juniors into the first team which, ultimately, he captained for a couple of years. Then he moved to Cobo where he won everything available in the domestic game, including five Island caps, the first arriving in 1997.

Had it been down to simple keeping skills, there would have been several more, but throughout his career this relative non-batsman was battling against the likes of Gary Kimber, lan Damarell, Matt Oliver and the South African Ryan Bishop for the spot, and all were superior batsmen. His batting was very sound and one of his finest knocks was during the period he opened the innings as captain. But it was simply he did not possess the range of shots and power that his rivals enjoyed and once at Cobo he seldom batted, which, fairly or not, counted against him when it came to Island selection.

63 – Mark Clapham

DURING Optimists’ most recent golden spell in the game, at the start of the 2000s, one batsman proved the glue to the glory. Mark Clapham was a consistent scorer in all forms of the game but such was his style, he was often barely noticed. As one expert observer said recently of him, ‘he went quietly about his business and while never looked like dominating you would suddenly discover he had 40 or 50 on the board’.

Possessed of a great defence and equally impressive temperament and patience, the long-serving Optimists captain worked the ball around effectively. One year – 2002 – when the Island selectors were searching to fill a problem opening berth they looked at the team full of quality batsmen and plumped to give Clapham the job. His response was to get his head down for a vital 24 in an opening stand of 52 with the New Zealander Glen Milnes to lay the platform for a first win in 11 years.

Only once in five inter-insular appearances did he fail. On the four other occasions he always scored 20 or 30-odd. In 1996 his superb 86 and captaincy skills won him the man of the match award as Optis beat St Saviour’s in the GCA KO final at KGV.

One of his best seasons was 1995 when limpet-like qualities earned him quality centuries against JICC and Cobo.

62 – Bryan Preston

Yorkshire Rhodes and Sutcliffe. Pessimists of the late 1960s and into the 70s, had Bryan Preston and Colin Amer. Of the two, Preston, who had bolstered Pessimists from the mid-60s, was the big danger, the potential match-winner.

For years the popular Les Beaucamps PE master never quite got the best out of himself and a frustration to both his club and Island selectors was that as every summer term ended, he was soon off to the continent for an extended family holiday. But in the latter years of his career he tightened his technique and the runs flowed and flowed. In 1979 his tally of 564 Division One runs tied with Ralph Anthony the runs aggregate and the year Peter Vidamour topped the charts with 518, Preston was a mere 17 adrift. One of his very finest innings came in 1984 when against a five-man quality Rovers A attack that would not have looked out of place representing the Island, he scored an undefeated 103 (three sixes and 13 fours) from the 123 to chase down their opponents. His winning six came off the Island skipper Ricky Mills. His Island debut had come fully 17 summers earlier when he batted second wicket down and scored 44 in a draw at the College Field.

But due to his self-imposed limitation on his availability, he added just two more caps to his total and that was a shame for both himself and the Island because he upped his game significantly in the early 80s. Pessimists won little for much of his local career, but his 28 was important as the club won the 1976 GCA KO final (Chris Day’s day for his 94).

When, in 1989, a handful of Island cricket aficionados sat down to choose their ‘Best Evening League XI’ of the previous quarter-of-a-century, they were unanimous in including the consistent Preston who also had one of the outstanding arms in the game. A useful trundler on occasion too and in his day-job encouraged many a Beaucamps boy to succeed on the cricket fields.

61 – Richard Veillard

ONE of three brothers who plumped to join St Saviour’s in the 80s, the public school educated Richard was the most talented and over many years proved it.

A lynch pin of the St Saviour’s batting for many years, he was to earn nine Island caps and after a forgettable start with a duck in 1988, settled down to regularly produce the goods. There were a string of 30s from his stylish bat, but the most telling innings was his 55 batting at No. 6 which saved Guernsey from a terrible home humbling in 1995. Veillard played some glorious off drives and pulls that day on a day when the Press match reporter Dave Marshall noted ‘if the Guernsey side had been an animal they would have been put down’. In club colours, Veillard was at the heart of Evening League triumphs in both 1991 and 1993 in the face of strong opposition, He led Saints to a league and GCA KO double in the first of those years when his astute captaincy and reliable batting in the middle order was telling.