Gardeners Cricket Club
Gardeners Cricket Club

Hall of Fame A-D

Name: Harry Bell

 
Profile: RHB, RMF (often round the wicket)
 
Tweet dis: El Pres, Bharinder Bhell, roisterer-in-chief – Scottish laird with appearance record in inverse proportion to the warmth of his hospitality.
  
Pen portrait: If the tone is set from the top down, the Gardeners owe a debt to their long-time president, one of the club’s founder members. Harry’s enthusiasm, inclusiveness and generosity – of spirit as well as hospitality – have endured long after his return to Scotland and subsequently rare appearances in club colours.
 
Never a natural cricketer on the field, he makes the most of his considerable frame. Barrel chest puffed out, occasional beard bristling, his nagging inswingers – bowled somehow off the wrong foot – can always find an extra five miles an hour with some judicious sledging from his own team (“Batsman says he doesn’t rate you, Baz”), and any misfield brings a roar of frustration loud enough to shake the pavilion.
 
On his company’s website, Harry is introduced as a “genre bender”. Typical that his 50th wicket, achieved in 2009 (a mere 10 years after his best season’s haul yielded 14), came in the sixth over of a maximum five-over spell then. Indeed, the taking his 50th wicket is now an annual tour event: featuring in both his 4-7 against Strathmore in 2010 and his 1-18 against Bamburgh in 2011. No one begrudges him.
 
The bat in his hand is rarely a wand, but the lack of beauty from the flicks, squirts and cuts disguises their effectiveness. His fifty in the Forty40 won the game, but Harry also finds odd ways to lose his wicket, such as stumped on a wander after an lbw appeal during some lower-order resistance against Harpenden. Fierce disgust at the world at getting out is always quickly forgotten amid appreciation for another’s performance, either by his own team-mates or the opposition.
 
Where Harry can rarely be bested is in his spirit, gung-ho and all-round hospitality, before, during or after a game. Equally at home racing off on a tuk-tuk to find some backstreets late-night bar while touring Indian or hosting a pre-match barbecue surrounded by ever-welcoming family, the president ensures everyone enjoys the experience as much as he does. IMR
Jeremy Campbell
 
Profile: RHB, RMF
 
Tweet dis: Camden’s tousled answer to Freddie Flintoff, looks-wise. Devastating outswinger when he gets angles right. His big hits demand drum rolls.
 
Pen portrait: Jeremy “Gamble”, as recent opponents styled him, was GCC’s original youth policy. Even now, 72 wickets and 67 caps later (and counting?), anyone casting Gardeners cricket: the western would need look no further for the Sundance Kid. His hair retains its Redfordesque lustre. That alone might be enough to qualify him for the hall of fame in a club whose age profile is the wrong side of 35, but Jerry is also an extraordinary swinger. Of the ball.
 
An outie to Noel’s innie – the pair of them bewitched Shanklin in 2003 – he curves his deliveries on banana-shaped trajectories after a run-up that includes a low-arm roll seemingly borrowed from the crown green not the cricket square. You can’t teach that. Quite simply, Jez is a bowler who was born not made. When he is on song (or drums), average batsmen can’t get near him: perhaps that’s why his best bowling has come against the finest blades. His 8-2-27-3 versus Stirling in 2009 single-handedly (lbw, bowled, c&b) reduced them to 37-3. It was sufficient to win him bowler of that year. His career PB, 4-29 against Meigle, 1998, included the scalps of current and former Scotland U19 players. If the batters do snick off, as during his 3-8 at OMT in 2007, it is pure cricketing delight.
 
With bat in hand, there is something Botham-like about the younger Campbell, albeit offset by an Eoin Morgan-ish squat at the crease. His only fifty, an 83 from 25 scoring strokes, against Lager Frenzy, 1998, contributed to our then highest team score (305-8). In 2009, he hit 6-4-1-6-6-1 against Pimlico Strollers to lift that total to the heights of 336-4. His tally of sixes for the club is 12. Just don’t tell him to stay in.
 
Pre-Fatty Naked, Jeremy was one of our most popular tourists with locals, especially at the Spyglass, sources say. Now that he has settled into the walking-the-dog years, it is to be hoped we haven’t seen the last of this blond bombshell in the field. RC

Name: Shomit Dutta

 
Profile: RHB, LG
 
Tweet dis: The Compleat gentleman & Scholar. Versatile bowler. Princely batting excuses capricious running. Poetry at the crease: indeed, epic poetry.
 
Pen portrait: “Quite individual and distinctive in style, he possessed exceptional keenness of eye, besides such power and flexibility of wrist, that on a fast wicket he could do almost anything in the way of scoring. Thanks to his special gifts he could – and did – take the good length ball off the middle-stump and glance it to leg with a measure of certainty no one else has ever equalled or even approached. In this way he was no safe model for any player of average skill, for the attempt to bring off many of his strokes must have been fatal to most people.”
 
Thus quoth Wisden of the wizard KS Ranjitsinhji, and the same might be said of our finest batsman. With 19 fifties and two tons in 30 innings, he soars over all in Bradmanesque style, his average of 80.14 twice that of the next best [warranting the double-length entry here, Ed]. No wonder Shomit’s is the name on the team sheet most likely to dismay the opposition. His elegant batting is a joy to watch, especially close up (though better as umpire than non-striker, with his idiosyncratic calling, lackadaisical running and princely command of the strike; a fuller portrait of his running/calling requires a separate article – or, perhaps, a complaints forum).
 
In attack, he can be domineering, destructive, dismissive; as with Viv Richards, oppositions often sigh with relief if he allows them to dismiss him for a mere 50. In defence, he can be doggedly determined, like Sachin Tendulkar; he hates to lose, and is as dedicated in rescuing us from a crisis (putting on 120 for 7th wicket against St Hugh’s, 1996) as in dictating the game (his club record 126 not out, against Rossie Priory, 2006: his second Gardeners ton). This measured temperament makes the most of his vast appetite for runs; when he can be bothered to run singles, the opposition get nervous. His perspicuous understanding of tempo has more than once seen him rescue a lost cause with majestic aplomb (witness the nail-biting victory against Meigle in 1999) or accelerate spectacularly from a necessarily cautious, even crabby start (his unbeaten 76, out of a total of 118-6, against Calthorpe in 2005). Happily for GCC, he has been less successful when batting against us, notably caught at mid-on off Angus while playing for Crathie in 2003.
 
Shomit’s bowling has undergone transformations as multifarious as Sobers. The languid medium-pacer of GCC’s early years gave way first to finger-spinning and, nowadays, wrist spin. Always dangerous at our level, he is never reticent to take the ball (nor to murmur a word or two of advice to team-mates). He bamboozled Ockley in 2004, alongside spin twins Clayton R and Johnstone H, reducing them from match-winning 110-1 to desultory 152 all out with 6-16, a club best at the time. Bowlers confidently rely upon his slip fielding while remaining rather more sceptical of his pace across the outfield.
 
One of the founders of University College Oxford’s women’s cricket side, Shomit likes to lurk, like Achilles, amongst the ladies. Nothing gave him more pleasure than his wife Melissa’s exquisite cover drive in the six-asides: “It was like a dream,” he reported. In a later six-aside competition, having declared that our Swiss-Serb bowling newbie, Mirko Sekulić, would never bowl him in 1000 deliveries in the nets, Shomit was obliged to eat his words. But words were always Shomit’s forte: Sunday mornings on tour offered a forum for discussion of Greek particles (remember, for example, his phonological discourse in Kirriemuir on the link between Greek p and Latin q, eg penta/quinque); inevitably, it fell to him to extemporise a reply to the balladeer of Ballater’s hectic hexameters, relishing particularly Anton’s subjunctive: “Though I be not Shakespeare.”
 
Duties for Beaconsfield and, latterly, as captain of Pinter’s Gaieties have limited his appearances (club rules, alas, placing him in Also Batted), but Shomit’s scoring has nonetheless delighted: by turns, scintillating, merciless, heroic. May umpires’ knees continue to quake at his thunderous straight drive and his lightning leg glance. WS

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Caveat lector

All our match reports and player profiles are written by third parties,

and may involve some poetic licence. GCC cannot be held liable for any misrepresentation in these articles.

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