Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Characters of Cricket

At the Middle Stump, we love a character and a good bit of cricket banter. Having opened the batting for Middlesex and won County Championship titles with them in the famous side including Gatting, Brearley and company, it is obvious Richard Ellis knows his cricket. However when we caught up with the ex Oxford University, Middlesex and Gloucestershire player recently, we were in stitches at some of the stories he was telling us. Not all of them can be used for such a classy publication such as this, but here Richard gives us the low down on his own touring party and why they would be in the side;

Richard shows us his Movember

Richard Ellis (Tour Manager) - The ex Middlesex opening batsman was named in Simon Hughes book 'A lot of Hard Yakka' as he was having one or two matrimonial problems at the time. Having been lobbed out by the missus he spent three nights in his motor, before managing to find himself accomodation in a tent. Yozzer wrote that he had gone upmarket now, as he was no longer in a Volvo 343 but now had found himself a more salubrious abode. Richard was going to sue for libel and defamation but realised that most judges knew the truth about his ways anyway, and he would have only received a penny in damages!

Another story he tells us is when he was an under graduate at Oxford University whilst also on Middlesex' books. He was playing at Lord's for Oxford, and asked if he was needed for Saturday as he had a big night out planned. Having been told he wasn't, Richard went and got suitably refreshed with his night finishing at 4am. Having woken up at 8am, he was horrified to find out that Wilf Slack and Graham Barlow had gone down ill, and he had been called up to the first team to play Warwickshire at Edgbaston, and "to get there sharpish"!

Slack...ill causing Ellis to get up to Birmingham "sharpish"

Feeling like death, he managed to find a lift off his girlfriend but unfortunately the M1 was closed due to a crash and he arrived at Edgbaston at 3pm for an 11am start, telling the gatekeeper he was playing. The Brummie replied, "I've heard some stories to get in for nothing but that one takes the biscuit" and refused him entry to the ground. After some furious phone calls he managed to get in, and discovered Middlesex had bowled the hosts out and he was required to bat. Within minutes, he was on his way back to the pavilion for a duck and the well known heckles from the Edgbaston crowd piped up,

"Are you sponsored by A to Z" and "I bet you aren't reading Geography at Oxford". Richard responded with a thumbs up to the crowd and one wag retorted with, "Was that how you got here, by hitch hiking up the M1"!

Believe it or not, they were playing guess who the next day back at Lord's in the Sunday League? Warwickshire, so he had to drive all the way back to London again.

Here is Richard's ideal touring party;


Wilf Slack (Middlesex and England) - sadly no longer with us, but worked so hard to get where he did. I remember Ricky Ellcock on his debut for Worcestershire bowling at him, Wilf wasn't the quickest and after an hour had 8 or 9 not out. Ricky asked to see his bat, and Wilf being the lovely bloke he was showed it to him. Ricky responded with, "Nice bat, but you want to get one that works"! RIP

Wayne Larkins (Northamptonshire and England) - Ned loved a drink. Very under rated player who was brutal. He hit it so hard.

Chris Smith (Hampshire and England) - a lovely guy who I stayed with in South Africa. Had a net in his back garden and that is where I first met Robin too. I played in his first game in England for Middlesex Twos against Hampshire Twos, where Phil Edmonds played too as he had the yips at the time. We never thought Chris would make it, as he had this habit of letting the ball hit him, and had stitches everywhere!

Kippy...stitches everywhere

Brian Davison (leicestershire and Gloucestershire) - shared a house with Davo at Gloucester. Ex Rhodesian army, he would stand at silly point and not move. When I was at Oxford, John Steele once got 60 odd off about 65 overs against a poor attack. Me and Davo went looking for him in a churchyard that night after a few beers!

Frank Hayes (Lancashire and England) - the strongest forearms ever seen, the beer went straight to them. He picked me up once by one hand and removed me from the pub when I failed to keep up with him on a drinking session!

Mike Llewellyn (Glamorgan) - big left hander who is famous for putting one into the top tier of the Lord's pavilion in the Gillette Cup final. Had some great times down in Swansea with all the Glamorgan boys.

Ted Hemsley (Worcestershire) - he was also a great footballer and played for Sheffield United. Worcester had a great dressing room at the time with Ted at the heart of it. He loved his horses and loved a bet. He also had this habit of nipping off the field quite a bit, and I was once 12th man for Middlesex although ended up fielding for Worcs. I think Ted may have had a bet on...

Andy Needham (Middlesex) - his nickname was Porn, which says it all. A talented player who was under valued, he was always great value off the pitch. Very naughty! Played with him at Stanmore as well.


Andy Brassington (Gloucestershire) - Loved by anyone and everyone, Brassy organises the Gloucestershire reunions. Loves a chat, and was unlucky his time coincided with Jack Russell.

Gunner...do leopards change their spots?

Ian Gould (Middlesex, Sussex and England) - loved a drink and his women equally, I think the drink helped him get the ladies. Not sure what Gunner is like these days, but leopards don't change their spots that easily!


Arnie Sidebottom (Yorkshire and England) - another footballer this time at Manchester United. Arnie was a great guy who tried his heart out, and was a ray of light in a dour Yorkshire dressing room. Geoff Boycott and Chris Old were in that dressing room, and once I made the mistake of asking Old how he was? Big mistake as he just moaned for the next half an hour!

Nick Kemp (Middlesex and Kent) - the man known as Jazzer. A great bloke, full of life and champagne! He was a groundsman at Newcastle in New South Wales and was known to roll the pitch wearing a cravat.


Vince van der Bijl (Natal, Transvaal and Middlesex) - came to Lord's at 34 years of age and took 89 wickets at 14 apiece. He transformed our dressing room and not a racist bone in his body.

Malcolm Marshall (Barbados, West Indies and Hampshire) - not only a fearsome bowler but would seam and swing it when needed. When he knocked your block off it was done with a big smile. A lovely bloke off the pitch. RIP.

Would try and knock your block off, but at least do it with a big smile!

Courtney Walsh (Jamaica, West Indies and Gloucestershire) - A great trier and loved by fans not only in Bristol but all over the country, even the world. I know some Gloucester fans who went on an England tour to the Windies and Courtney looked after them in Jamaica, that went well beyond the call of duty. A top man.

Wayne Daniel (Barbados, West Indies, Middlesex and Western Australia) - simply the best ever overseas player. Wayne was another loved by all, unless you were a husband of one of his "lady friends". Known as Diamond and that says it all.

Bill Merry (Middlesex) - my golf partner and a fantastic bloke. Unlucky at Middlesex as we had so many good bowlers around.

Steve Malone (Essex and Hampshire) - Piggy would come in off forty paces with the steam coming out of his ears. A fearsome bowler and sledger!

John Inchmore (Worcestershire) - A big man in many senses, he loved his beer. Would love to talk cricket over a few pints after the stumps had been drawn.

UMPIRES - David Shepherd and Mervyn Kitchen. It would have been Barry Dudleston but he gave me out on 99 just before lunch off Piggy Malone. I missed it by miles but we're still good mates.

At Gloucester once we were playing Leicester in the Sunday League at Cheltenham and it had been pissing down for two days, so both sides made themselves useful by entering the sponsors tent, safe in the knowledge there would be no play. At 5pm, in walks Merv and says the ground is fit for a ten over slog! We told him to pull the other one but since we had been inside a sponsors tent drinking for two hours we hadn't realised the sun had been shining. Cue major panic...

Gower...fell over pissed, first ball

We did some fielding practice to see who was sober, and Bill Athey got hit on the head trying to catch one, whilst Paul "Human" Romaines was just on the floor giggling non stop. The batting order was decided on who was most capable so we dragged Andy Stovold out of the crowd who had turned up to watch with his family, and he opened with me. I'd had a few but was more used to it than most, and Leicestershire's Ian Butcher was injured by someone swinging a bat around. Gower opened and tried to reverse sweep the first ball and fell over. We were just told not to get out as the rest were struggling to bat. We lost by four runs in the end!

MASSEUSES - Sally and Grace. Enough said, and will be known to all 70's and 80's players. Apparently they were known as Lay Down Sally and Amazing Grace.

COACH DRIVER - The bloke who drove the Glamorgan team bus. Just ask Sally!


  1. Surely this can't be written by the same bloke who played for Stanmore in the Middlesex league? He was a terrible sledger who unfortunately veered towards spite rather than humour. Oh well, perhaps young Dicky finally grew up.

  2. I can only speak as I found him when we wrote the piece and I found him charming and amusing. I'm sure we have all played against people who were a pain on the pitch but good guys when the stumps were drawn. Sometimes guys who you play against you'd love in your own side as well. I don't know, but all I can do is take people as I find them, and found him a good guy.

    Thanks for your comment anyway.

  3. Great bloke Richard,liked batting in his Haileybury stripey cap in county cricket as I remember.
    Once gave me a lift home from Liverpool to London after playing in a Lanky v Middlesex match,insisted on taking me straight to my front door although well out of his way and way past midnight,and wouldn't take a penny

  4. Dan - on your note I remember getting a load from David Ligertwood V Berko (ex of Surrey and Durham) mind you my batting was so bad I don't blame him. Anyway in the bar after I had a good chat with him when he said he had embarrassed himself thoroughly when getting consecutive 1st ballers the 2 previous weeks, which was rather poor for an ex pro playing in Herts Div 1. After that I thought he was quite a nice guy. Whilst I never eally like sledging of a nasty nature it must be separated from bar talk and antics.

  5. I remember playing against him and he wasn't short of a word or two I recall. What goes on on the pitch, stays on the pitch. Too many sides now don't sort things out in the bar afterwards, leading to friction.

  6. I agree Dan - see "oppo speak"... Incidentally I think you should add the on to Richard Ellis and interview the afro'd movembered Kent boomeranger!

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