Gardeners Cricket Club
Gardeners Cricket Club

Hall of Fame M-Z

Name: Will Sutton
 
Profile: RHB, swan-diving cover point
 
Tweet dis: GCC’s own Blondel. Prolific wordsmith. Son of Dunblane’s finest. International opener. Always upright, studious and straight as a die.
 
Pen portrait: Gardener #7, Will is usually found at the top of both order and averages nevertheless. It could all have been so different; his is an inspiring story of overcoming handicaps.
 
Born in Perthshire to rugby-mad Irish-Scottish parents, it may have seemed inevitable that Will should take his place in the Gardeners elite but the path was strewn with obstacles. Denied a truly athletic career by a tragically spindly frame, the young Will turned instead to Scotland’s national obsession, cricket. Young Will was cruelly betrayed, however, by a genetic predisposition to generosity (as all who have enjoyed the near-debilitating hospitality of the Sutton household will testify), leaving him bereft of the selfishness required to become a top-class opener and pathologically unable to keep the strike, making him prized among batting partners such as Dutta (145 vs Strongroom, 2007; 140 vs Rossie Priory, 2005) and Woodhouse (149 vs Highgate Irregulars, 2007).
 
Further tragedy befell Will when diagnosed with CJT (Tavare’s syndrome), leaving him unable to loft shots. This converted many promising centuries into smaller tallies and perhaps explains why Will holds the Gardeners record for number of fifties (23). As part of a range of treatments, Will included a spell on international duty for Brazil, where he was consistent in the manner of Mark Ramprakash, acknowledging his class with respectable twenties while (like a true gentleman) allowing others to make the runs. Like Ramps, Will did not let international form interfere with his domestic accumulation, where he leads GCC with a handsome tally of over 2,700 runs.
 
Happily a course of arts therapy led to an epiphany. Bolstered by the confidence of publication, one fine day the worm (of Euston Square) turned, lifted his head and the ball back over the bowler’s. Since learning to buckle his swash Will has made up lost ground - the straightest of sixes becoming a trademark and leading to two more Batsman of the Year awards. Some have speculated that Tavare’s Syndrome has mutated into Gayle’s Disease; test results are still pending. JLlo

Name: Ian Thomas

 

Profile: RHB, RFM

 

Tweet dis: Smell-the-leather fast bowler and let’s-get-them-in-boundaries batter. Some kind of deity in India and not related to Ian Austin. Honest.

 

Pen portrait: Fast bowlers are supposed to be scary and larger than life. Barrelling in during his early Noughties pomp (any resemblance to Lancashire’s Ian Austin being purely coincidental), Ian Thomas was certainly both. He could put the frighteners on GCC new boys as well as the opposition. Since he always gave 110%, Ian was probably the player a Gardeners debutant most wanted to impress. A “well bowled” from Thommo, said as gruffly as his famous sledge (“It’s red, it’s round; I bowl it, you nick it!”), meant a lot.

 

His 5-15 off nine overs in 2001 against Harrowdene was the club’s best bowling at the time. Characteristically, Ian’s wickets came in a three-over burst when the opposition were on top. Thommo went on to win bowler of the year, with 15 wickets at 19 off 75 overs, taking our only scalp against the mighty Rajasthan Select – surprising, that, given the religious hold he was reputed to have had over the locals; surely they should have sacrificed their wickets to him? He was a raging bullock in 2002, too: 13 wickets at 13, and broken bail against The Gents. 

 

Wearing his sun hat sombrero-fashion, Ian batted like a bandito: he shot from the hip and, swivelling on a pull, it looked as if his arms were caught in a poncho. He was batsman of the year in 2000 – his unbeaten 64 against Flitch including six through the pavilion window in 120-run partnership with Pete Chambers (82). 

 

A contemporary adjunct for Ian’s bowling might be Australia’s Ryan Harris: always at you when he’s firing, but hardly ever on the field. Still, Thommo’s two in two balls against Pretenders in 2010 was a flashback to his glory days, giving us a glimmer of hope in a game that would ultimately slip away. Long ago in 2002, against LNER at Toddington Manor, Ian had taken 3-9 off six overs, prompting Rupert Watson to write “hall of fame stuff” in his match report. And so it was. RC

Name: Rupert Watson
 
Profile: RHB, kept to Chris Cairns, you know…
 
Tweet dis: Big-hitting opener, immobile fielder, co-creator of the Johnstone-Watson batting ratings, the Standard & Poor’s of cricket. Its judgment of his batting? AAA.
 
Pen portrait: A close-fought match on a summer evening a decade ago: tensions rise as the shadows lengthen. A voice rings out: “Come on, Gardeners, they need 7.362 an over. That’s 1.227 a ball.” It’s Rupert Watson, co-creator of the fiendishly complex (and oddly generous to its inventors) Johnstone-Watson Batting Ratings – and our go-to guy for mathematical sledges during nail-biting run chases. Unfortunately, Rupert was rarely present at run chases in his other GCC guise, that of hard-hitting opener, having invariably returned to the pavilion at an earlier stage of proceedings – often after a disastrous deployment of the Watson paddle shot (see below).
 
Alas, our man with the calculator brain is rarely seen in GCC colours these days. In 2007, he apparently retired to the shires, with an average of 16.72 and two 47s to his name. Certain signature shots linger in the mind: the powerful drive down the ground; the slashing cut; and a high-risk, low-return paddle (pre-Dilscoop) that at most brought one run down the leg, and just as often resulted in the ball looping up into the wicketkeeper’s gloves.
 
Rupert’s greatest triumph for the club came at a moment of maximum cricketing adversity, when we toured Barbados in 2004. Our batsmen revealed certain technical deficiencies against high-quality fast bowling – namely an inability to play it. But the bespectacled Watson, channelling the doughty spirit of David Steele, was an exception. One match saw him, helmet-less, swaying in time to the chin music of reputedly the fastest attack the GCC have ever faced. The batsman at the other end implored Rupert to fetch a helmet; even the opposition told him to do so. He waved away the advice, while scoring a fighting 30-odd. At one point, however, he decided to alter his game plan. “I’m in the mood to do some hooking now,” Rupert announced. The helmet was duly fetched; the blade duly flashed. Numerically precise, yes: but there was always a touch of the cavalier to Rupert, too. LHT

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Matt Aked (life)

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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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