A sporting tribute to Ralph Anthony   

by Gareth Le Prevost       Guernsey Press     Wed 6th March 2019

Ralph in 1982 at Grainville

He had this natural instinct to bring out the best in you’

Ralph Anthony’s outstanding contribution to Guernsey cricket went so much further than the runs he scored and the wickets he took in becoming the joint record holder for Inter-Insular caps. The overriding consensus from the tributes that have been pouring in for the former island captain, who died last week aged 67, is that it was the intangibles which made the Salemite’s stalwart such an icon of the sport here. ‘Ralph was special, there’s no other way you can put it,’ said his long-time Salemite teammate Martin Gray. ‘He was obviously a huge talent in his own right, but his contribution to Guernsey cricket cannot be underestimated, especially with regard to youngsters. You saw it at Salemites; he brought so many youngsters through. When I first went to Salemites I would say I was on the fringe of being able to play to a decent level, but Ralph put the finishing touches to my ability and knowledge of the game. He also gave me an extra buzz that came from just listening to Ralph talk about the game. People perhaps don’t understand how much Ralph put into other people’s game – such a huge contribution, The big thing with him was that he was not about making good players better, he would say to guys who could not play, “come and have a go, we will learn the game together”, and Salemites was built on that. There were players who, when they started could not hold a bat, but Ralph could turn someone like that into a decent player and get the best out of them – that was where he was so good.’

At representative level Anthony’s longevity as a left-arm spin bowler and a batsman capable of playing anywhere in the order won him a remarkable 23 consecutive caps from his debut in 1976. He took 35 wickets in those games at an excellent average of 19.89 with a miserly economy rate of 3.21 (runs per over). He also captained Guernsey in five of those matches – following in the footsteps of his elder brother Brian who had been island skipper in 1965 – something that he called the highlight of his career when he was featured in a Sporting Profile series for the Guernsey Press in the lead up to his final Inter-Insular in 1998. ‘I don’t think people appreciate what it’s like to be given the responsibility of leading your island at anything. It is the highest you can do locally and it is a great honour.’

Ralph as captain of Guernsey receives the Inter Insular Trophy in 1989

Someone who later went on to match that achievement of captaining Guernsey in five Inter-Insulars was Andy Biggins, who made his debut under Anthony. ‘Ralph was a man of principle and a true gentleman,’ said his fellow left-hander. ‘He was an inspired leader and put you totally at ease. I remember making my Guernsey debut as a nervous teenager and Ralph made me feel so involved and so deserving of selection. He had this natural instinct to bring out the best in you.’ Another former Guernsey captain, Peter Vidamour, echoed those sentiments, calling Anthony a “terrific cricketer who helped and inspired many”. He was a tough opponent and a great teammate of mine for many, many years. I liked him very much and he helped and encouraged me enormously in my early days in the island side,’ Vidamour said. ‘He always spoke good sense and had a dry sense of humour. I’ll always remember him striding out onto the Kensington Oval, Barbados, on a Guernsey Touring Cricket Club tour there, proudly wearing his Guernsey cap and sweater and a cravat in about 30 degree heat – and he wore them all game.’ Dave Nussbaumer, the Guernsey Cricket Board chairman, recalled enjoying the test of playing against Anthony and also all he did for sport locally. ‘After Eric Waldron, Ralph was Mr Salemites. He was a very loyal servant to Guernsey cricket as a player, an umpire and an administrator. I enjoyed talking to him about cricket – he was very knowledgeable and also very constructive. He is gone far too soon.’

Ralph bowling for the CI team at Grainville

The one man to have captained both Jersey and Guernsey in Inter-Insulars, Ward Jenner, said Anthony garnered huge respect in the sister island and called him the Sarnian bowler he ‘disliked facing the most’. We all knew exactly what sort of character he was – rugged, determined, massively competitive and extremely proud of his Guernsey background. What I admired about him was that, although he was really trenchant in his beliefs and feeling towards Guernsey and it took him more time than some others to realise there was life beyond Guernsey cricket, he was a big enough man to realise that and he made some great friendships and relationships once he took the plunge to reconcile himself to play with some guys from ‘the enemy camp’ and play some Channel Islands Over 50s cricket. I’m so lad he did because it was better for people from Jersey to see just what a great guy he was and how passionate he was about cricket. He also had a great sense of humour.’ Jenner also emotionally recalled the letter he received from Anthony in the aftermath of the dramatic last-ball defeat to Jersey in the 1998 Inter-Insular at Grainville when Jenner had led Guernsey for the first time. ‘It would have probably been my proudest moment to have won that game and I feel immensely proud of the way we played that day as massive underdogs. But we got a bit of slagging off in the Press to which I wrote a reply that was printed in the paper and because I wrote that letter, that was when I received Ralph’s letter which said “I really appreciate how much it meant to you and how much you put into it”. That letter is genuinely a treasured possession. He was a man of principle and he had been totally against me (as a Jerseyman) being captain, but he was prepared to change his point of view.’

Anthony’s sporting talents were not restricted to the cricket field. He was a good enough footballer with Bels to earn a Muratti cap in a semi-final with Alderney and he later described not even making the squad for the final as ‘the only low I’ve had – I’ve led a charmed life.’ He made 249 appearances for Bels, scoring 39 goals, and played nine representative games in total. In bowls, he played two indoor test matches for Guernsey, against Ireland ad Wales, as well as five Inter-Insulars and an outdoor Le Quesne match. But cricket was where he shone brightest for so long and where he will be fondly remembered. As Martin Gray concluded: ‘His contribution will go on – his club legacy will be there for years to come.’

GCB website 5th March 2019

R E H Anthony

For those either involved in Inter-Island cricket or team-mates and competitors in domestic island cricket Ralph was always a formidable force. He served both Guernsey and Salemites CC loyally over the years and his 23 caps for Guernsey in Inter Insular matches was only equalled by Warren Barrett. More recently Ralph had played Channel Island Over 50’s cricket.
Even when his playing career slowed Ralph was a regular attendee at the (as then) annual GCA meetings and ensured all on the top table were kept on their toes.
Ralph played his cricket hard but fair and was very much a traditionalist often heard grumbling about the introduction of white balls to local cricket, and even pink ones! 
He will be very sadly missed by all, and a suitable recognition of his service to local cricket will be forthcoming.


Debut Runs Inns NO Av’ge Hi Score 50 100 Overs Mdns Runs Wkts Run/Wkt Run/Over Ct  App

 1976  267    21   2    14.05     32    0     0   217    49    696    35      19.89     3.21     12   23

Ralph is one of the 10 players who have so far been named as the all time best Guernsey cricketers. Each has a named bench at KGV together with plaque.

BBC website – Guernsey 4th March 2019

Ralph Anthony: Guernsey sporting legend dies aged 67

Ralph Anthony, described as one of Guernsey’s greatest-ever sportsmen, has died at the age of 67. Best known as a cricketer and revered as the island’s best spin bowler, he also played football and bowls for Guernsey. He played in one Muratti football match against Jersey and international games against Wales and Ireland at bowls.

“As a cricketer he was inspirational. He led from the front,” former teammate Dave Piesing told BBC Radio Guernsey. He played most of his cricket for unfashionable island club Salemites, and also nurtured young talent. “He was Salemites, he built them up, he went out, found and developed very young cricketers in their mid-teens who perhaps didn’t come from a cricketing background and he turned them into a competitive unit with players really realising their potential,” Piesing added.

Former player Mike Webber described Anthony as a “really gifted cricketer”. He continued: “He was a true all-rounder. He was a fierce competitor, particularly when we played against Jersey. “But even though he was a fierce competitor, he always wanted things to be done the right way and he was always very fair, he was never one who tried anything on, he just wanted things to be done the right way.”
As a footballer, Anthony spent more than a decade playing for Belgrave Wanderers in the Priaulx League as an inside forward. “He was a very talented passer of the ball, he wasn’t overly physical,” former team-mate Mike Vaudin told BBC Guernsey.
“Everything Ralph did in life sporting-wise was always conducted with great enthusiasm.”