Ralph Anthony

1987 anthony

Left handed Ralph Anthony

Guernsey Press on Saturday 1st August

‘Ralph Anthony’

At the age of 47 Ralph Anthony claimed his 41st inter-insular cap (Ed – this includes GCA games) when he was called into the GCA side as a late replacement for Richard Headington. It was the latest in a long line of honours for the veteran of the Guernsey side. Ralph first became interested in cricket because of his elder brother. ‘My brother was at Elizabeth College and I used to go up and score at the College Field while watching him play.’ Since then he has developed into a stalwart of Guernsey cricket, listing Geoff Boycott and Ricky Mills as his greatest influences in his development in the game.

Ralph played for Optimists and Rovers before joining his current team, Salemites, in the early 1070’s (sic). In his time at Salemites he became one of the longest serving captains in Evening League history, completing 23 years before he handed the job over at the end of last season. Although Ralph enjoyed this he says, without any hesitation, that the highlights of his career were the five times he has captained Guernsey against Jersey. ‘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.’

In his time, Ralph has been Young Cricket of the Year in 1970 and twice GCA Cricketer of the Year. The type of performances that have gained him these accolades have also seen him claim 22 consecutive Guernsey appearances, a run Ralph believes can continue for a little time yet. ‘You know it is going to come to an end but I try to set myself a standard that makes them (the selectors) drop me rather than not be good enough. I want it to for as long as I think I can justify it. I’ve said before that I don’t want to play in the Over 40’s until I’m Over 50,’ he adds.

One problem Ralph foresees is that there is a lack of youngsters coming through to take the place of players such as himself. ‘There are not many players in, for example, Stuart Le Prevost’s age group who are grabbing the attention of the selectors and saying “take a look at me”. I wish there were more because we need them for the long term. At the moment I’m a little bit worried for the first 10 years or so of the next century. It would be a shame, having got the facilities right, to lose the interest of the people.’

Ralph has his own ideas on ways to combat the problem. ‘I would like to see clubs limited to three teams so we can try to get more clubs set up with more administrators, rather than five or six big clubs, so that each club has a strong first team so that kids can be pulled in to make strong sides rather than make up the numbers.’

Away from cricket Ralph has also represented Guernsey at both bowls and football, sports which he has now given up. He has played for Guernsey in two indoor bowls Test matches, against Wales and Ireland, as well as five inter-insulars and an outdoor Le Quesne match. ‘To get to play international bowls at Test level was tremendous and I am eternally grateful to the guys at the Bowls Stadium for helping me get to that level.’

In football Ralph spent 12 years in Bels’ Priaulx side, winning everything bar the Priaulx itself and the Jeremie Cup. But football did bring one low point in his career. After being selected several representative games against professional and top amateur sides, he played in the Muratti semi-final against Alderney and was substituted. However, he did not even make it into the squad to face Jersey. ‘I couldn’t understand why I didn’t get in the squad as there was no explanation. I was a little bit sad about that because even if they turned around and said “We don’t feel your style of play is right for the Muratti” then I could have understood, but there was nothing.’ But Ralph concludes, ‘That’s the only low I’ve had – I’ve led a charmed life. I have been very, very lucky.’

Surprisingly and perhaps unluckily Ralph does not feature in Rob Batiste’s list of 100 best sportspeople. As related above Ralph played top level soccer for many years and then over two decades of cricket at the top as well as representing the island at indoor bowls. He later captained the Channel Islands at Over 50 cricket. In all a career spanning about 40 years at a not inconsiderable level.