Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Paul Prichard - Essex Legend

Paul Prichard is a man who was renowned as one of cricket's good guys. Having loyally served Essex for nearly two decades, which coincided with the most successful period for the county, he is now the Commercial Manager for the PCA and runs their Masters team. Helping raise money for some fantastic causes, Paul is a cricket man through and through, apart from a soft spot in his heart for West Ham United and we caught up with him recently. Here he tells us all about why Essex were described as lunatics, gives us the lowdown on Allan Border's drinking ability and what it was like to face Sylvester Clarke on relaid pitches!

Paul won virtually every domestic trophy in the game

TMS: Paul, As a man who won virtually every trophy in the game, it must be a huge privilege to be asked by The Middle Stump to do the Q and A?

PP: Well, I must admit my cricket career seems a long time ago now so any interview I am asked to do is a huge privilege and to follow in the footsteps of legends that you have asked to do this before… I feel very honoured.

TMS: You’ve been a fan of ours for a while now on Twitter. Are you enjoying the site?

PP: Thanks! And yes I do enjoy the site, although I tend to dip in and out of it as I haven’t got the social media bug to the extent of others as yet. However when people tweet that they are going to bed and say goodnight to everyone, like a world wide version of the Waltons…………… that I really don’t understand!!!!!

TMS: What are you up to these days with your PCA stuff? What is your role there?

PP: My official role is Commercial Manager which basically means I try and sell Commercial packages to PCA Events, such as International Cricket, Dinners, Lunches, Golf Days and Bespoke Events tailored to the client. My role also involves Managing the PCA Masters team, which incudes former first class and International players who are PCA Members and taking them to Clubs who want to raise money for themselves and Charity. By doing this it helps us to support current player services and also raise money for the PCA Benevolent Fund, which is available to past playing Members who may need help at any time.

TMS: So, what were those years at Essex like? They were pretty successful weren’t they?

PP: Yes, they were incredibly special days. I was lucky, in 1983 that I came into a very successful and well settled team that had tasted success for the first time four years previously. I was well looked after in the early days by Keith Fletcher our captain. He knew where to put me in the order in both codes of the game so that both I and the team benefitted. I certainly gained from having the likes of Gooch, Hardie, Turner, Lever and East around who were all senior players but willing to help younger players based on encouragement and knowledge.

Members of the "travelling circus" - John Lever and Keith Fletcher

TMS: They had a certain reputation for being lunatics, as Mike Gatting told us. What were the likes of Ray East like and is it true?

PP: Yes I suppose we were labelled ‘the lunatics’ or the ‘travelling circus’ on many occasions and I can see why Gatt would say that as I think he enjoyed playing against us! We had a fantastic difference in humour, with the likes of Ray East with his one liners and antics on the field in partnership combined with the dry humour of David Acfield, and their obvious dislike for facing fast bowling. It was a dressing room where everyone was encouraged to chip in with banter which made you feel as though you wanted to go to work every day and knew you would enjoy it. I think that spirit coupled with a ruthless desire to do well and win for each other made us the team we were.

TMS: Has the game changed and do you think the social side has disappeared?

PP: I think the game has changed and quite rightly so. I think every sport should keep improving and thanks to advanced technology and thought process, the technical, physical and personal well being side of sport should enhance performance, but I think as a consequence the social side of the sport has been ‘watered down’ which is fine, as long as players don’t start to feel they are being treated as robots and can’t at the right time relax and socialise to relieve pressure.  

TMS: Ever play with a hangover?

PP: Yes. At Hove against Sussex when my mate Neil Lenham the Sussex batsman spiked my drinks the night before! Luckily I got 200 the next day and he never did it again!!

A right handful!

TMS: Who is the quickest you have ever faced? Have you ever thought “This bloke is going to kill me?”

PP: Although I tried not to think that anyone was ever going to kill me. I think as a young 19 year old I would have to say Sylvester Clarke of Surrey on recently re-laid wickets at the Oval in the mid eighties was a handful! But then Malcolm Marshall, Wayne Daniel, Garth Le Roux, Alan Donald, Waqar and Wasim plus Patrick Patterson at Old Trafford all bring back painful memories, as do many more!

TMS: Who in your career could drink the most and who would fall over after a couple of shandies?

PP: I think my old mate Brian Hardie (Lager) could certainly taste a couple when he was thirsty before a fielding day and Allan Border was purely a half a lager man.

TMS: Best sledge received?

PP: ‘’Someone give this Pommie B……d a F……ng surf board’’ after I had played and missed at my first three balls in Sydney Grade Cricket 1984.

TMS: Who would throw the worst strop when they were out? Ever had to put the tin hat on in the dressing room?

PP: Nasser didn’t like getting out much and Mark Waugh repeatedly said F…ck for at least ten minutes once in the dressing room, which led to certain members of the dressing room to start counting them every time!!

Mark Waugh....Tourette's?

TMS: What were those one day finals like to play in, that Essex were in virtually almost every year?

PP: Amazing, the support we got from our members and fans was brilliant, we always felt we had the majority of the ground with the noise they made. For those of us not fortunate to have played Test Cricket, they were the occasions you really played for, but winning the County Championships were the days for most satisfaction and cherished the most.

TMS: Ever being poleaxed by a Graham Gooch straight drive whilst at the non strikers end?

PP: No, although a few near misses and a lot of backward steps as he advanced down the wicket to a spinner.

TMS: Who has the best banter on the circuit?

PP: I think Surrey were always the loudest (every day was like playing a football match) which I quite enjoyed. The Glamorgan lads were always quite humorous.

TMS: What were you taught about being exposed to long periods of sunshine earlier in your career?

PP: Don’t drink too much and wear a hat.

TMS: What do you think of the charity Factor 50 and the work they do educating young players about the dangers?

PP: Fantastic, all of the health and well being education is extremely valuable and with young cricketers being exposed to sunshine more than the average person, it makes sense.

TMS: Are we going to see you ever make a comeback? J

PP: Ha ha, now that is a stupid question Dan… were going so well until this one!!!!

TMS: Best and worst food on the circuit?

PP: Best has to be Lords, worst was any Kent ground when they were going through a ‘healthy eating to aid performance’ period in the nineties (didn’t do them much good I don’t think!!)

TMS: Best three youngsters coming through the system in your opinion?

PP: Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Ben Stokes. Think Finny will be special and he is still young!

Prichard...big West Ham fan!

TMS: You’re a big West Ham fan I believe? Do you get down to Upton Park much?

PP: Yes massive Hammers fan and no I don’t get there as much as I would like. I used to go with Goochie a lot, but he is away travelling with England most of the time now.

TMS: What does the future hold for you?

PP: Hopefully to stay fit, happy and do a job I like and believe in within sport.

Paul, you've been a top bloke and we'll catch up with you at the PCA Kingfisher event at the Oval this week and have a beer or three.

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