‘Jersey might not as well even bother to turn up’ Rob Batiste

From an article in the Guernsey Press on Saturday 8th August 2009

HEREWITH is a dramatic statement. The following 11 players would beat Jersey at the King George V Field today and I would put my house on it:

Tony Taylor
Alan Lewis
Keith Howick
Lee Savident
Warren Barrett

Jeremy Frith
Pierre Le Cocq
Ami Banerjee
Glenn Milnes
Mike Webber

Miles Dobson

Pierre Le Cocq tucks the ball to leg GEP

Two of that 11, Savident and Frith, may indeed finish today celebrating a Guernsey victory, but of the current side they are the only two worthy of a place in my all-time Guernsey team to play the sister isle in a mythical 50-overs-per-side contest with all the usual limitations on bowlers.

Six of the side were born outside of these shores and, to satisfy the demands of the more xenophobic of those among you, yours truly has also taken on the task of selecting a best all-Sarnian XI and, while we are at it, a team of non-locals.

Admittedly I’m biased, but what a set of dream teams selected from close on 150 players who have been capped in half-a-century of full inter-island clashes. The teams have been chosen entirely from those of my own lifespan, which coincides with the very first full Guernsey-Jersey game in 1950. There may, of course, be players which pre-date this period and are worth consideration for this side, but such have been the changes in the game, certainly in terms of athleticism and general fitness, I somehow doubt that there are too many from the first half of the 20th century who could have got in the ‘Best XI’ which includes four with first- class cricket experience – Banerjee, Savident, Milnes and Howick – and two others – Barrett and Frith – with county second XI experience.

Four pre-war players perhaps worthy of consideration are E. B. Waite, John Martel and the Stone’s, H.V. and L.L. The latter once took eight for nought for GICC against Elizabeth College in a devastating spell of bowling. H.V. in contrast was a batsman with prolific ability to smash the ball to all parts. In 1938, he cracked 87 for the GICC against JICC and legend has it that he once cleared the top of the College Field pavilion which, if true, is quite amazing. He also played hockey for Scotland and, as a veteran, forced his way into Guernsey’s 1958 game against Jersey. Waite was a ‘redoubtable stalwart’ of the local game, wrote the Evening Press of 1922 the day after he struck 93 in a massive win for the Guernsey side he captained in an unofficial game against Jersey. A few days later he was taking for 16 to wreck the Elizabeth College batting, sending down 29 overs, 14 of them maidens. Martel was simply a great all-round sportsman. True, the ‘Best XI’ is weaker for the lack of a frighteningly quick opening bowler, but Miles Dobson, the only non-batsman in the side, was slippery enough and, of course, dipped the ball in alarmingly to destroy many a Jersey batting line-up.

First game of 1922 and the players undergo a rigorous warm-up and chat GEP

Were Jersey choosing an equivalent side, they might have the upper hand in terms of enjoying an out-and-out quickie, for they have enjoyed several in the past 40 years. Tony Howeson and South African Mervyn Conway were said to be frighteningly quick and the former certainly proved too good for many a Guernsey batsman. When they disappeared from the scene there was Barry Middleton who, thankfully for just a couple of years, was paired with an equally quick Yorkshireman by the name of Richard Allot. But facing quickies was not a problem to the long, long batting line-up in the ‘Best XI’ which has Mike Webber, my keeper-batsman, coming in at 10. One memorable day at the College Field, and in the face of Middleton at his most hostile, he ignored the hook and simply allowed the ball to thud into his side, time and again. Brian Close would have been proud of him. In truth, better glovemen than Webber have been capped, but none has been a better all-rounder than this man with the possible exception of South African Ryan Bishop, who was here for just a season and, for that reason alone, I did not consider above the likes of Webber, Micky Fooks and Bill Robilliard, who have all done so much for the local game.

M C C Webber with trademark headband GEP

As an opening attack, Dobson and Ami Banerjee would have tested the best Caesareans of any era, and when they were in need of a rest and with shine still on the ball, Pierre Le Cocq and Lee Savident would do OK for me as change bowlers. Were a trundler required on a slow, damp wicket, then big Keith Howick could be called on to do a job, while the spin threat is in the hands of Warren Barrett and Jeremy Frith. In a 50-year comparison of Guernsey-Jersey’s best cricketers, it is easy to claim that the Sarnians have won the spin battle hands down. For years, Jersey were scared silly by Barrett and when Ralph Anthony came on the scene to make for a twin-spin attack prior to the limitation on overs, the Caesareans’ unease was no better. There will be many readers alarmed to see Anthony’s omission from the Best XI side, but you simply cannot ignore the spinning all-rounder claims of Jeremy Frith.

Alan Lewis in bowling mode GEP

Sure, not as good a bowler as the Salemites stalwart and holder of record number of Guernsey appearances, but a much better batsman and brilliant all-round fielder. And if a third spinner should be required, the Kiwi Glenn Milnes would suit the role perfectly.

Tony Taylor GEP

The batting order? Thirty-five years after they raced Guernsey to a 10-wicket win at FB Fields, the Taylor- Lewis left-right combination remains the island’s best ever. But, just in case of a fluky early Caesarean breakthrough, then who better than the run-machine Howick to come in at number three, place his size 24 (slight exaggeration) left boot two yards down the pitch, and snuff out any further Jersey threat. The former Oxford University player was a phenomenal compiler of runs, never spectacular, but so dependable.  Savident, another giant of the game and the only Sarnian to forge a professional career, could come in at four and start a sequence of one outstanding all-rounder after the next: Barrett, Frith and Le Cocq.

Warren Barrett watched by John Poynton and umpire Ken Clayton GEP

Which leaves one puzzle to overcome – who should captain the side? While Ricky Mills may stake a claim to be the best ever Guernsey skipper, I prefer to take the Australian route to picking a ‘Best XI’ side and choose the skipper from the Best XI players. It leaves few choices, but I’m sure Pierre Le Cocq could have filled the role admirably and, indeed, led Guernsey to a memorable 26-run win over Jersey in 1985. Note: In last week’s Sporting Nostalgia piece it mentioned the name of the College groundsman as Mac Allen. It should have been, of course, Bill Allen.


WE ALL enjoy the role of selector when the buck does not stop with yourself, and LOOKback asked three noted and experienced men of Channel Islands cricket to come up with an XI of themselves. Chris Minty, the sister isle’s director of cricket and former player, was asked to drum up a best Jersey XI of the past 50 years and you can see his suggestions below.

As for alternative sides, Warren Barrett’s representative career stretched for close to 30 years from 1961 and was given the green light to choose himself, while Guernsey Cricket Board chairman David Piesing and capped player No. 88, has kindly put forward his own best XI.

Dave Piesing XI:

  1. Warren Barrett
  2. Ricky Mills (captain)
  3. Jeremy Frith
  4. Ami Banerjee
  5. Paul Wakeford
  6. Stuart Le Prevost
  7. Pierre Le Cocq
  8. Mark Wright (wk)
  9. Gary Rich (pictured)
  10. Miles Dobson
  11. Andy Creed
  12. 12th man: Stuart Mackay

Notes: Frith just edges out Anthony as left-arm spinner due to greater batting ability.

Wright edges Webber, Fooks or Damarell as keeper, simply by being the best keeper I have seen over here, possibly even better than Bishop, who only played in one inter-insular. Mackay misses out through not having played enough. Ditto Savident. Several other players very much ‘in the mix’, notably Kinder, Vidamour and Burkhardt.

Warren Barrett XI:

  1. Philip Sarre (pictured)
  2. Tony Taylor
  3. Keith Howick
  4. Stuart Mackay
  5. Lee Savident
  6. Pierre Le Cocq
  7. Mike Webber (wk)
  8. Warren Barrett
  9. Ralph Anthony
  10. Mike Kinder
  11. Miles Dobson

Selection notes: the side was chosen under the condition that all players must either be Guernsey born or have lived and worked in the island for five years. Webber gets the nod from the very skilful Micky Fooks on the basis of his batting qualities, Kinder the other opening bowler slot ahead of the likes of Martin Hart.

Rob Batiste’s All-Time ‘Pure’ Guernsey XI

1, Keith Howick; 2, Lee Savident; 3, Stuart Mackay; 4, John Martel; 5, Ricky Mills (captain); 6, Mike Webber (wk); 7, Pierre Le Cocq; 8, Gary Rich; 9, Ralph Anthony; 10, Andy Creed; 11, Miles Dobson.

Rob Batiste’s All-Time ‘Non-Local’ Guernsey XI

1, Tony Taylor; 2, Alan Lewis; 3, Ward Jenner; 4, Julian Wood; 5, Warren Barrett; 6, Jeremy Frith; 7, Ryan Bishop (wk); 8, Ami Banerjee; 9, John Beasley; 10, Glenn Milnes; 11, Mark Culverwell

Chris Minty’s Jersey XI

Steve Carlyon and Peter Gough to open the batting – a classy partnership that could run most teams ragged with their shot selection and running between the wickets, as demonstrated when they played the USA in 2008. Both can also bowl but would probably not be required and their fielding can be absolutely amazing.

At three would be one of my favourite players, David (DC) Hunt, a great servant of Jersey cricket and no mean all-round cricketer. Philip Le Cras at no. 4 would provide some superb stroke play, particularly through the off side, a real gentleman cricketer who learnt his cricket at Radley would also be a ‘mystery’ spin bowling option if required. At five would be the dour Harry Jones (father of Chris Jones, who is unlucky not to make this team) – who could make life very uncomfortable for the fielders in the covers and would also provide some economical off break bowling if required.

Mike Weaver would be captain and bat at six – a good leader and a very destructive batsman on his day – he would also (with DC Hunt) ensure that the after-match entertainment was well worth attending. At seven, would be all-rounder Paul Robson – a very effective medium quick bowler and powerful left-hand bat and who would be able to advise on any hot tips at the races. Mervyn Conway at no. 8 – a good batsman who also bowled very quickly indeed – the South African (who now plays bowls) was not averse to dropping the ball short on a helpful pitch and could be extremely intimidating.

Simon Short would keep wicket and bat nine a class ‘keeper with a talent that could have seen him become a professional? – probably the best wicket-keeper produced in the Channel Islands? At 10 would be Richard Allott – blonde locks flowing in the wind as he bowled very fast and big inswingers – his yorker was not something that batters enjoyed. Barry Middleton, at no 11, the scourge of Guernsey batting over many years would open the bowling with Allott – a very quick and mean fast bowler with a ‘reputation’ – he is still fit and bowling for the Over 50s – if he did
not get you Allott or Conway would.

My 12th man would be Colin Graham – he of the very short run up but good pace, outstanding fielder with probably the best throwing arm seen in Jersey and classy batsman who could pretty much fill any place in this team should there be any injury issues.