About Me

I am sometimes surprised that I managed to play in the lower echelons of club and village cricket for thirty years as, until the age of 10, I could see nothing remotely of interest in the game and yet seven years later I suspect that I was considered to be the cricket tragic at my school, Blundell's in Tiverton. When I was first forced onto the cricket field at Prep School, I would stand on the boundary making daisy chains but everything changed whilst watching the 1975 World Cup final and the sight of Lillee and Thomson had me out in the back garden bowling as fast as I could trying to demolish the fence.

 
Andrew Roberts
As it happened I ended up bowling slowly and made a bit of a name for myself at Blundell's by taking plenty of wickets in house cricket at the age of 13 and then being picked for one of the lower sides and taking seven wickets on my debut but the opposition wasn't strong. Our 3rd XI in the latter days was a tremendous side to play in and we had a lot of fun. We did our best to impress the school captain, Hugh Morris, who, as I am sure readers will know, went onto a very distinguished career. He was a prolific cricketer and as impressive a player and person then as he is now but, sadly, I wasn't good enough to play in the same side as Hugh.
We were delighted to be taught by Vic Marks, a genial and unfailingly polite man who put up with our childish behaviour by looking ever so slightly witheringly at us and saying " Gentlefolk, please " Everyone liked Vic and we were delighted when he made his ODI debut against the West Indies in 1980 and naturally illicit radios were stored in our jackets listening to how he was getting on during lessons. A few years later we had more fun on the radio but more of that later.
My first main club was Swindon C.C in Wiltshire where I spent twelve enjoyable years and ran a Wednesday afternoon side for seven years after the previous incumbent, a splendid man called Bryn Castle who did so much for me in the early years, retired. Early closing around Swindon still existed when I first played for the Wednesdays but, by the end, it was becoming a thing of the past and it couldn't be assumed that people would take holiday time to play cricket. I was lucky that a large nucleus of people did take the time off and I am very grateful to them as it was a wonderful atmosphere, we played excellent cricket and felt able to make two overseas tours to Corfu and Malta where we won five of our six matches.
One Gloucestershire stalwart, Jon Lewis, played at Swindon C.C and would turn out on a Wednesday afternoon for me but would very politely only agree if, for example, he could bat at No 3 and not bowl. Once I left him to skipper as I was inconvenienced by work and, as the eternal No 11, I told him that I wasn't much help if we bowled first. I duly turned up after tea to find us batting, Jon in - at No 3 - and later telling me that he had lost the toss a fact disputed by other team members! Like all good bowlers, Jon counted runs whilst bowling and, as I discovered, not just for himself. After one particularly galling over of mine - very possibly my worst ever - he ambled past me from mid-on and said:
"Bad luck, Wob (my nickname from school as my Rs came out as Ws apparently otherwise I would have been known as Rob, I suppose), that was 24 in the over."
Cheers, Jon. I was painfully aware of it.
I spent a further twelve years at Shrivenham C.C in Oxfordshire but accept that I wasn't as much use there as I might have been having become distracted by watching cricket, motor-racing and holidays. I did, though, score at most of the matches in which I played, mostly all the way through unless being called upon to bat. My ambition of going throughout a season without batting never sadly materialised. I had found that, in playing in the lower sides and being one of the less young, the umpiring, scoring and driving responsibilities fell upon such players and I hated umpiring so scoring suited me.
In the winter of 1992 Westbury Cricket Club invited some players from Swindon to their annual dinner and I went along and listened to the legendary scorer and statistician, Bill Frindall, talk and bought one of his books at the end. Within the book was a flyer advertising scoresheets of his Tests which he had scored and, as a small Christmas present, my mother bought me the one of Bob Massie's match at Lord's in 1972. I may have been bamboozled by the scoring method but this £6.99 present was a life-changing gift.
  Scoring for Bill Frindall at Thoiry near Paris 1996

With my mentor and close friend, Bill Frindall
On board Concorde in 1997 - a magnificent office prize and a fantastic day
 
Four years later Bill's wife, Debbie, wrote to me saying that, as I had bought Bill's score sheets and as I lived close by, would I be in a position to score as Debbie was looking after their six month old daughter, Alice. I still had no idea how to use Bill's scoring method but naturally I couldn't turn down the chance and I learnt. I scored for Bill for the first time at Devizes and one thing after another came my way. I became Bill's scorer - think of that: THE scorer's scorer - when he commentated, his travel agent through my day job, helped him for the last two years of his life with Playfair, became an M.C.C Member, scored for the B.B.C at Nat West quarter-final matches at Lord's, The Oval and Blackpool and compiled the statistics for The Lord's Taverners for their 60th Anniversary in 2010. It was a roller-coaster ride and, in Bill, there was no better mentor and host and we became very close friends and shared the same principles. I am sure that I was not the only one devastated at his sudden death in January 2009 but was pleased to follow in his footsteps as the next scorer and commentator at the annual Lord's Taverners trip to Dubai which is so generously funded by Emirates Airline.
The B.B.C commentary box in the Lord's Media Centre for the NatWest quarter-final between Middlesex and Hampshire in 2000 for
My B.B.C debut at Lord's had Vic Marks summarising and, in my pre-match nervousness, let on to Simon Mann that Vic had taught me Latin. After half an hour and, whilst on air, Simon gave Vic some Latin to translate amid much mirth from all around - including Frindall in Birmingham at the other quarter-final - and excuses from Vic and I wondered what on earth I had let myself in for.
The B.B.C commentary box at The Oval after the NatWest quarter-final between Surrey and Lancashire in 2000
I had my come-uppance later from Vic but both Simon and I remember this episode ten years later and I would be surprised if Vic doesn't either. Another appearance at The Oval the next day followed - without such drama - when Flintoff made a name for himself with a dazzling unbeaten 135 and I was sent to Blackpool the following year.
With my friend and well-known statistician and journalist, Rajesh Kumar
With my friend, Sanjeev Sharma, at Delhi's Feroz Shah Kotla
At a Competition Success Review function at Delhi's Taj Palace Hotel in 2006 for now Indian captain, M.S. Dhoni
 
One other great favour Bill did for me was to put me in touch with a Delhi-based statistician, Rajesh Kumar, who has not only become my best friend in India but who has made the more recent of my 31 trips to India even more enjoyable. He has not only arranged tickets for me but has got me onto one of India's premier cricket programmes, NDTV's Cricket Controversies, with Navjot Sidhu and hosted by the delightful Sonali Chander, as well as giving me palpitations by making me make my maiden speech - televised also - for M.S Dhoni at a Competition Success Review function to honour Dhoni and also acting as a statistician at the India and England ODI at Delhi's Feroz Shah Kotla ground in 2006. All three events took place within six days of each other. Through Rajesh, I have made many friends in the cricketing world including Sanjeev Sharma, the unlucky bowler who had Gooch dropped at Lord's 36 runs into his monumental 333. Sanjeev is a thoroughly decent and nice person.
Deep in conversation with NDTV's well-known presenter, Sonali Chander. The curry somehow survived...
The champagne's on Dhoni after my first public and televised speech for Dhoni
With England Lady cricketer, Isa Guha, at Taunton in 2010
Cricket statistics have always fascinated me and, whilst I have scored for the Lord's Taverners and their county event in Guernsey for many years, I enjoyed updating records for Bill for Playfair. After all, I had to keep the master on his toes! I believe that he was impressed and grateful and so, with the 2011 World Cup event nearly upon us, I hope that you will enjoy the statistics on this site and I will be updating these regularly for international cricket.
 
Another pastime. Bell ringing at the local church...   The church concerned. All Saints at Lydiard Millicent in Wiltshire.   The best spectator view in Test cricket? From the Pavilion concourse at Lord's 2011   With former prime minister, Sir John Major, at Wormsley.   The Old India XI at Sheffield Park, Sussex
                 
England vs India at Lord's, The 2000th Test and 100th between England and India saw a parade of former England and Indian players. Derek Underwood and Geoffrey Boycott are pictured.   Keith Fletcher, Michael Atherton and David Gower at the same parade.   Was this Sachin Tendulkar's last Test innings at Lord's? Lets hope not.   The England Ladies XI at Wormsley in their match against The Lords and Commons.   The glorious Grand Western canal at Tiverton.
                 
With the bride but sadly not the lucky bridegroom. With my friend, now Karen Rolfe.   With the bride but sadly not the lucky bridegroom. With my friend, now Karen Rolfe.   With the bride but sadly not the lucky bridegroom. With my friend, now Karen Rolfe.   My grandmother on her 100th birthday   With the Golden Girl of the 1964 Olympics, Mary Rand. We are cousins, albeit fairly distant ones...