7 Top cricketer

7 – Pierre Le Cocq

Pierre Le Cocq

A BIG-GAME player whose 22 Island appearances are only surpassed by two men.

From 1961 to 1985, when he departed the inter-insular scene by captaining Guernsey to a terrific win at the College Field, the seam-bowling all-rounder was a virtual ever-present in the Island side. Virtually every ‘Jersey’ match he played saw him produce a telling bowling spell- invariably long and very accurate – or a significant innings, even though he probably suffered from being shuffled around the batting order like a deck of cards. Vernon Collenette, who he would play alongside in 1961 on his Island debut while three months shy of his 17th birthday, noted in the Elizabethan of the period: ‘an accomplished bat who plays fast bowling better than spin. Can be relied upon for a sound innings when one is most needed. A very useful pace bowler who moves the ball both ways.’

Pierre Le Cocq at College Field v Jersey

That was ‘PL Le Cocq’ in a nutshell and Guernsey and Rovers benefitted mightily for the best part of a quarter of a century. At the College where the team Jack Reddish had pieced together was arguably stronger than any XI before or since, his performances were strong without being exceptional. In 1962 he topped the batting averages but there was no three- figure score against Victoria and often Philip Sarre or DJ Bowen stole the limelight. Against Jersey he was initially most utilised for his pace bowling which, when he wanted to, could be slippery. His first two inter-insulars brought him two ‘three-fors’, but in 1965 he was pushed up the order and produced the goods with a superb 85 which included a glorious hour in tandem with fellow College schoolmaster Robin Roussel, the pair scoring 112 in the period. Le Cocq was out in the last over before lunch.

Eight years later he was scoring 44 at No. 7 and bowling five overs for just six runs in one of the regular draws that blighted the fixture in the first quarter-century of the annual clash, and when Guernsey romped to the 10-wicket win at FB Fields in 1974, the all-rounder’s contribution was the wickets of both openers in a 12-over spell that leaked just six runs. In 1975 he stroked an undefeated 51 at No. 6 and bowled a 20-over spell in a three-wicket victory. Two years later he reeled off 16 more overs in taking 4 for 31 as Guernsey triumphed in a low- scoring affair. His final game came in 1985 and, honoured with the captaincy, he went out on a winning note, steering a largely young and experimental side. In club cricket, Rovers benefitted from his consistent excellence, playing a leading role in two trophy-laden decades. In an early GCA KO final his 42 got Rovers A over the line by three wickets against Optimists. A typical Le Cocq batting display would be to play himself in slowly, build and then explode in the latter overs. Only rarely would he give his wicket away.

There was many a century scored and although his game was better suited to the longer game, in the 1980s he smashed an unbeaten Evening League 124 out of Rovers’ 181 for 5 against Centrals.

In the grand scheme of Guernsey cricket history undoubtedly there have been more exciting, audacious stroke-players and faster bowlers, but when it comes to dependability on a big stage, Pierre Le Cocq is not surpassed.

He was No. 91 in Rob Batiste’s 100 top sports people

Other notable scores:

1961 – 52 & 6-56 EC v Rovers; 1962 – 74* EC v GCL, 74 EC v Optimists, 77* EC v OE, 7-26 Pilgrims B v Harlequins, 6-9 Pilgrims B v Cobo; 1963 – 78* EC v GICC, 6-22 OE v OV, 73 GICC v JICC; 1965 – 6-19 Vale Rec v Rovers, 80 GICC v Incogniti; 1967 – 6-15 GICC v Pessimists; 1969 – 7-77 Rovers v GICC; 1970 – 82* GICC v Builth Wells, 68 OE v OV