C Gervaise-Brazier

Guernsey’s oldest cricketer Colin Gervaise-Brazier relives a career now into its seventh decade.             By Harry Jones       Guernsey Press      12 July 2021

MORE than 50 years have passed since Colin Gervaise-Brazier made his inter-insular cricket debut for Guernsey, but the playing career of the legendary local sportsman still lives on. ‘Gerve’ is a renowned name across the island for a multitude of reasons, from his famed checked cap which he donned during his incredible goalkeeping career to his numerous powerboat racing successes. But the sport which has served him for the longest period of time, and still continues to give him pleasure, is cricket. At 78, he is the oldest active player of the sport in the island, edging out fellow veteran Geoff Martel by just two years. He is not slowing down either – he is still bowling for St Saviour’s and in 2018, aged 75, he took nine wickets over the course of his 10 appearances. Brazier says the reason for his continued involvement in the sport is down to how much he enjoys taking part, and says he wishes to play for as long as he is physically able to. ‘I would like to keep playing for a few more years,’ with fellow super-veteran Martel at Port Soif. ‘I don’t see the ball as quickly as I once did and I don’t move about quite as fast,’ said the sporting all-rounder, describing how he finds competing more difficult year on year. But he feels that staying actively involved in cricket helps him to stay fit.

Geoff Martel and Gerve at Port Soif

As a familiar face in Guernsey cricket since the early 1960s, Gerve has some fantastic stories to tell from over the years, having being fortunate enough to face some of cricket’s greatest ever players, including Sir Garfield Sobers, Dennis Lillee and Derek Underwood. One of his greatest memories in the sport was his significant part in Guernsey’s win over a Hampshire county side containing West Indies legend Gordan Greenidge. After a spell of heavy rain the Osmond Priaulx pitch was ‘unsuitable for rugby, let alone cricket,’ said GICC team-mate that day Rob Batiste, but nonetheless a shortened game went ahead after an early and extended lunch at the Rockmount. GICC needed seven to win from the last ball with Brazier facing. Off-spinner Nigel Cowley bowled a wide to make a game of it, and to the bemusement of the now first-class umpire, the next ball he bowled saw Brazier’s swing the ball over mid-wicket fence for a six to win the game for the hosts.

Brazier went on to describe another encounter with a professional cricketer, however on this occasion, he was on the receiving end. Many years prior to his batting heroics, he faced a very different Hampshire side, this time containing one of the greatest South Africans to ever play the game – opening batsman Barry Richards. Brazier chuckles to himself as he outlines his unsuccessful attempts to dismiss the legendary player that led to him being brutally dispatched two balls in a row. ‘I charged in to bowl as fast as I possibly could and with the edge of his bat he hit it straight over my head for six.’ It got worse for the bowler from there. ‘The next ball I decided to charge in and bowl even faster and this time he hit it even further over my head for another six.’ He still recalls the exchange he had with the opener following these two deliveries. ‘That was a bit unkind,’ Brazier said. ‘I know – but I did enjoy it.’ replied Richards. These are just a select few of Gerve’s tales from his cricketing career which has now spanned seven decades, and he says that he has ‘met some great people’ over the years. His career began at the now-defunct Harlequins in the early 1960s, and in 1968 he took part in the inter-insular for the first time and took a very espectable 2-40 in a game that was eventually abandoned due to rain.

Four years later he made his second and final inter-insular appearance, and once again picked up two wickets at the expense of 48 runs in a drawn match. His next move in local cricket was to St Martin’s, where he also played his football in a star-studded successful side, and gained a reputation as the best goalkeeper in Guernsey’s history. Following the collapse of St Martin’s cricket club, he moved to St Saviour’s, and he estimates he has spent more than 30 years playing for the club and looks set to continue to do so until he turns 80 and possibly even beyond.