Dec 012011

This has come about as a bit of fun, but we have some fabulous professionals at Heywood Cricket Club from as far back as records begin and we thought it would be apt to select an All-Time Heywood Pro XI.

We had such greats as Frank Watson – a sometime amateur too – LL Cranfield, T Simpson and Freddie Slater in the years from 1900 to the Second World War. Conditions were different then, of course, and in general it was a bowler’s game. But there were some great feats of batsmanship that stand the test of time too, all of which can be found in our records.

Our first major overseas pro was Ellis Achong, the originator of the ‘Chinaman’, who came to England at the same time as the legendary Lord Learie Constantine and his fellow West Indians.

Ellis 'Puss' Achong

John Reid

SP 'Fergie' Gupte

Geoff Lawson






Curtly Ambrose

John Abrahams

Andy Flower






Johan Louw

Johan Botha

Sherwin Campbelll







We went through Heywood’s record wicket-taker for a season – George Pope – to the first man to do the double for Heywood, New Zealand great John Reid.

We’ve had Subhashchandra Pandharinath ’Fergie’ Gupte, Keith Slater, Clairmonte Depeiza and the ultimate pro – Colin Lever.

In later years we had Geoff Lawson, Cheshire’s Bob Cooke – a brilliant league pro – Steve Wundke and Curtly Ambrose. You may even want a skipper in the team in John Abrahams. And in recent times we have had England coach Andy Flower, long-standing pro Alan Badenhorst, one-time South Africa skipper Johan Botha and West Indian star Sherwin Campbell.

The links to their ‘promanship’ are below.

All-time pro stats


All-time runs


All-time wickets

So this is our challenge:

Who would make your all time Heywood Professional Team?

At Heywood we have been lucky enough to see some of the finest cricketers of all time, but which of them would make your all time team? Would it be the pace and bounce of a young Curtly Ambrose or Geoff Lawson, the stroke play of an Andy Flower or Sherwin Campbell, the all round skill of Steve Wundke or Johan Botha?

Many of the younger readers will not have had chance to see some of the players concerned but to help out the link below will give you the statistics over the years. But remember that the earlier batsmen had to bat on uncovered wickets and it is generally agreed that league cricket was stronger in the 70′s and 80′s than it is now.

There is obviously no right or wrong answer and for some it will be one particular memory that defines whether a particular player makes your team. You may select your side on the strength of what the player did for Heywood, but some people will prefer to look at how a player did in international cricket, it is entirely your choice.

The only criteria is that we ask for a balanced side. There is no need to select a wicket-keeper unless you wish to, but there should be a fair balance of batsmen and bowlers.

Feel free to post your side below and if you feel like it you can explain your choices or give us some of your memories of a player that you enjoyed watching. It is just a bit of fun and we look forward to seeing your teams.

Look through the stats and enjoy picking a team that would compete against any team of all time. And don’t be afraid to use the stats. Some of the early pros’ records are astounding, so why not pick them?

The stats are available on the links above. Get involved, Heywood supporters or not, and give us your thoughts.

Although they don’t know it yet, an all-time team will be selected by Bob Cross, David Fare and Bobby Cross, an almost unbroken link that goes back 60 years.

It’s just for fun but I will shortly post my all-time team. And remember, this team has to be good in the field, so there may be some names from above that have been left out.

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  11 Responses to “Name Your All-Time Heywood Cricket Club Pro XI!”

  1. I will start off with my all-time XI. I’ve seen a few, can’t remember some, and have never seen many.

    1. Sherwin Campbell
    Most runs in a season and pro during one of our best ever periods

    2. Andy Flower (captain)
    International legend, great fielder, top pro.

    3. John Reid
    First man to do the double for Heywood. A stand-out all-rounder at the highest level and still a New Zealand hero

    4. Steve Wundke
    Made the best ever century I have seen at Heywood, against Ezra and Dave Schofield in 1985 (I think). Wickets and runs

    5. Johan Botha
    1,000 runs, 100 wickets in 2003. Quick/ slow. Our trump card

    6. LL Cranfield
    100 wickets in four successive seasons from 1911-1914. And runs too in a batsman friendly game

    7. Colin Lever
    What can you say? Pro for nine years, runs, wickets and a gentleman.

    8. Ellis ‘Puss’ Achong
    The Chinaman. From 1937-1939, took 40 five wicket hauls and scored a century. 100 wickets in all three seasons. Plus my grandad, Harold Stott, took a club record 23 stumpings from mostly him in 1937.

    9. George Pope
    Our first great post WWII pro. Took an incredible 148 wickets in 1949 (is that a league record) at 9.99. 43 five-wicket hauls and holds the club record figures of 10-9 against Crompton in 1950.

    10. Curtly Ambrose
    Menace, aggression, although hated the cold at Heywood. One of best bowlers ever

    11. Subhashchandra Pandharinath “Fergie” Gupte
    Described by many as the greatest leggie of all time. Some, notably Garfield Sobers, say he was unsurpassed. Just one season but a legend of the game.

    I don’t know if this team would have been slow in the field, but it wouldn’t matter. I’ve gone spin heavy at the end as we have many great bowlers higher up the order.

  2. LL Cranfield should have been in a bowler friendly era!

  3. This is my team and not the final team (that will be picked after debate with Bob and David over several pints of John Willie’s). It is based upon players (for the most part) that I have seen and can comment on and am sure it will be slightly different to everyone else’s but then I think that is the point!

    My only real selection criteria has been that the players had to have done well for Heywood and any other achievements were a bonus. Otherwise Brendan Taylor would have got in, he is right up there in world cricket right now.

    1. Sherwin Campbell – Genius with the bat in his hand and could take a game away from a side in the blink of an eye. Won the double at HCC and 52 tests in a strong Windies side. Class.

    2. Craig Sugden – The best all round batsman I have had the privilege of playing with, he could set totals and was the best I have ever seen at controlling a run chase. Brilliant pro.

    3. John Reid – One of the players I didn’t see, but the statistics show what a fantastic player he must have been and he has fond memories of his time at Heywood.

    4. Andy Flower – At one time he was the best batsman on the planet and faced strong opposition every Test he played. Loves the club and is no surprise to see England doing well under his leadership.

    5. Steve Wundke – Another that I didn’t get chance to see play but was a huge part of the success in the 80′s, stacks of runs and a pile of wickets. Proper pro.

    6. Bob Cooke – In to captain the side for me, he scored runs, took wickets and led us to trophies in the 80′s.

    7. Johan Botha – Naturally gifted, he bowled as quick as anyone I have seen at times and now makes a career as a spinner! Was a fluent batsman and played a huge part in the start of the run of success that the club has enjoyed. Brilliant fielder too.

    8. Rajat Bhatia – On his day he played some of the most breathtaking innings I have ever seen for Heywood and likewise bowled some magical, unplayable spells. Hard hitter at number 8 in my side and brilliant control and variation of pace in his bowling.

    9. Colin Lever – The best pro we have had? Probably. Strong, deceptive pace, loyal, and scored runs. And he isn’t even getting the new ball in this side, sorry Colin.

    10. Geoff Lawson – Although before my time the 81 Ashes series (Botham’s Ashes) were nearly spoiled by this guy. First change after Lillee he was frequently quicker than him in that series, cleaned Boycott up for fun, Not what you want to face on a green seamer in the CLL!

    11. Curtly Ambrose – Rivals McGrath for me as the best fast bowler of all time, gave you nothing, terrorised batsmen the world over. I can’t imagine anyone relishing walking out to face Ambrose and Lawson at Crimble with the patio in full voice!

    As I said, mostly players that I have seen and I am sure everyone will have their own view. But I wouldn’t mind leading that side out onto Crimble at 1.25 on a Sunday!

  4. Crossy – light on spin. Bob Cooke and Johan or Achong and Gupte? Interesting. I reckon good pros play fast bowling well – I remember Dexter Fitton taking Andy Bichel apart on Walsden one year and Dexter was a just a good pro. Interesting though

  5. S.L. Campbell
    B.R.M. Taylor
    J. Reid

  6. I dont know much about who they are or what the bowl but all i know is my side would dominate a game of cricket…

  7. Extremely difficult – the age old problem of trying to compare players from different eras!
    Looking at the early stats, there are some tremendous performances, particularly in the bowling department where 100 wickets per season was commonplace – bowling on cabbage patches?
    On the assumption that the modern day game has got better and we are looking for a team that would compete today, then I’m going to disregard most of the early stuff (with all due respect to the players of that time!).
    Also in order to narrow it down I’m assuming that we are not necessarily looking just at how these players performed for Heywood but how successful they were in their careers as a whole. It then becomes much easier as we are in the main looking at those who made it at international level and preferably in the modern era.
    My team would therefore be:

    Brendan Taylor – current Zimbabwe test player
    Sherwin Campbell – West Indies legend and record breaker for us
    Johan Botha – South African test and ODI (and T20 captain?)
    Johan Louw – South Africa ODI and T20
    Andy Flower – Zimbabwe test and ODI – current England coach – WK for this team?
    Curtley Ambrose – West Indian legend – say no more
    Geoff Lawson – Australia test and ODI
    Clairmonte Depeiza – West Indies (think he holds a WI partnership record?)
    John Reid – New Zealand test captain
    Ellis Achong – Chinese West Indian test player – goes back a bit but needed a spinner!
    Colin Lever – my only non international but a must for us – what a pro he was.

    Probably missed somebody but I reckon the above side would frighten any team on a Saturday afternoon!

  8. Just Tongue in cheek, my side is based on not only ability but also value to the clubs cash flow and ‘other’ activities
    1. Sherwin Campbell – World class opener (of Brandy bottles) World class lap dancer also.

    2. Bruce Hara – Fits the bill in both categories, all round good egg.

    3. Craig Sugden – Great to have in your team, sorry Craig you would have bat 3 in this side, but
    at least you would be sober!

    4. Andy Flower – probably the best batsmen we ever had also useful trundler, good
    socialiser. Career has stalled recently.

    5. Steve Wundke- Best all round pro i played cricket with, lacked confidence!

    6. Brendan Taylor – Consistantly under the influence but this never affected his play!

    7 Bob Cooke – Captain – the only man i have known take a bottle of Pills lager out with him to
    toss up. Always last out of the bar. I could go on. His 100 in the wood cup final against
    Franklin Stevenson was one of the best ever for Heywood.
    8. Alan Badenhorst. – Where do i start, in his first season he was a very quick bowler who
    thought he could bat, in his last season he was very slow bowler who thought he could bat.
    in between ? i could write a book. Good to play with though, never a backward step. Can’t
    understand why there are so many teenagers in Heywood who speak Afrikaan.

    9. Jenson Joseph.- Should bat higher. Can’t tell you how dissapointed i was when he didn’t
    come back for second season, fantastic all rounder, quick bowler (ask J Punchard) and
    aggresive bat. Acted as bouncer outside many pubs in Heywood in his spare time.

    10. John Abrahams – in for his bowling! Just had to have him in the side mainly because
    his wife is now an MP.

    11. Nolan Hall.- Aussie who came for a holiday and ended up pro in 1978. Then we could’nt get
    rid of him, played about another 5 seasons. Dont worry Nolan with the quality in this side you
    would’nt have to do anything, apart from sit in the bar with a pint and a fag.

    Twelthers. Henry Lawson. Just like the idea of a aussie test player serving drinks and mopping
    up, Geoff was never keen on the English weather, not much use in the bar either.

    A more serious team will be posted when i get together with the President and FTS.


  9. Brilliant Shag! Love the Bob Cooke and bottle of lager tale. And I remember Jenson was a class act. A bit sharp off a short run.
    Crossy, when you going tossing up with a pint of JWL in your hand? I’ll be there for a photo of that!

  10. This team is picked from season 1974 to present and is based on what players did for our club and not in their careers before or since they played at Crimble.
    1. Sherwin Campbell – top player top guy enough said .
    2. Craig Sugden – played numerous great innings and great lad off the field.
    3. Andy Flower – a top amateur who then became an even better pro. Never forget the Wood Cup celebration drink in the engine on the Monday afternoon. 4. Steve Wundke – in my opinion our best all-round pro in my time. Great bat bowled quickly and became a good spin bowler too. Oh yes, wasnt bad in the field either.
    5. Johan Botha – came as a developing player a joy to watch whilst batting and high class fast bowler. Another who was great in the field.
    6. Bob Cooke – had the privilige of being 1st team scorer in one of Bob’s seasons. Great batsman and broke many a partnership with his range of spin bowling.
    7. Colin Lever – my 1st Crimble professional. Fine all-round cricketer and legend.
    8. Jenson Joseph – bowled one of the quickest spells at the Crimble just ask Murphy Walwyn and hit two of the biggest sixes – just ask Barry Hamilton.
    9. Rajat Bhatia – top class Indian all-rounder.
    10. Alan Badenhorst – gave five-years’ great service on and off the pitch. That’s why I pick him before Geoff Lawson.
    11. Curtley Ambrose – 120 plus wickets and being number 11 would never have to bat in this team.

  11. When I looked at the list I thought it would be difficult to choose players from different eras, or those that I had rarely or never seen play – but then I had a bright idea to choose from only those I had played with for any length of time in the same team. Then I realised that the number of pros I had played with regularly was 12 so my team was more or less picked for me by default – I just had to choose a twelfth man.

    Not therefore a considered choice weighing up the players’ abilities, but it gave me an interesting team nonetheless and kept me amused for an hour or so. These days I am easily pleased.
    The team is not one that would ever take the field as a greatest ever HCC side, but I can say that I shared my career with all these top men who would have made up a formidable team……………………………………

    Nolan Hall 1978 ( plus amateur years.)
    What a great and funny man to be around with good all round cricketing skills. I remember him for introducing me to the Aussie game “Twos’ up” and having the longest, flattest and fastest fielding arm I’d ever seen. A very funny Australian with some great Pommie banter never too far away. Beer and fags were an integral part of Nolan’s persona and he was loved for his approachable and typically Aussie laid back approach. I remember him working in John Rhodes’ Timber yard, huddled round the heater and doing as little as possible, cursing when a customer came in. Typical outback Aussie from the one horse town that is Kalgoorlie and Nolan liked the use of the F word and used it regularly. Think Crocodile Dundee with cricket whites, but more laid back. Bowled hand grenades a la the great Bob O’Keefe and was an accomplished batsman. Pressed into the pros slot in 1978 and never let anyone down. Grew a stupid beard and married an English girl. My favourite Aussie of all time, along with Mark Scott

    Geoff Lawson 1979
    My first full year as an established first teamer and I was in awe of this quick Aussie bowler. Very approachable off the field but a mean machine on it. Long run up and very quick. Genuinely feared for my dad when I played against him for the one and only time at Castleton Moor. My dad was 51 and Geoff Lawson 21 and looking to knock everyone’s’ block off ( yes – most batsmen still played without a helmet ). Geoff was knocking on the door of the Australian side and soon made it into the great Aussie sides of the early eighties. Still keeps in touch with his close friends at Heywood CC which says much about the calibre of the man.

    Bob Cooke 1980 , 1981 ,1982, 1983
    Plays the game as if it’s just a prelude to the main event of the day, chasing women and drinking. My favourite all time poser who was no mean cricketer. Always smiling in the field and I lost count of how many umpires he conned into giving dodgy LBW’s with his arched back and cheeky appeals. I liked the way he made an entrance into any room like he was some sort of demi god. Once you got to know him you just let him hold court and had to laugh with him. Teller of such wondrous tales about his days at Essex and the goings on in Bob Cooke land – Gritty batsman who really knew how to compile an innings, and the best and funniest captain I played under ( sorry Shag )

    Steve Wundke 1984, 1985, 1986
    Bob Cooke’s partner in crime for much of his time at Heywood. My favourite professional ever who was never short of making mischief of some sort. Scorer of the best 100 for Heywood I’ve ever seen against Littleboro. Superb left armer who tried something different all the time. Great natural ability and never short of enthusiasm and something to say. One of Heywood’s best ever sides in 1984 and Steve was an integral influence in the success we had. Only time I saw him downbeat for a few moments was when he was run out at Royton and Royton Wilf berated him all the way back to the pavilion with cries of ‘ He shudda run”. All the players my age wanted to be like Wundke. – apart from the silly giggle and the pink shirts.

    Curtly Ambrose 1987
    What a bowler – unplayable at times and he developed very quickly into one of the all time greats. Hated the cold weather and wanted to go home after one game. I remember him a few games later sat in a corner; arms folded shaking his head when we were delayed by rain and sleet at Crompton. ( a sobering vision ). We were all pleased the weather picked up that season and Curtly worked out how to bowl in English conditions – 115 wickets with rising snifters and fast yorkers. Loved the “Slazenger” ball but loved Kentucky fried Chicken more and would leave his cricket bag outside KFC whilst going inside to order “3 pieces – no wings” Rarely smiled unless he was taking wickets or eating KFC and kept himself to himself. Can’t say I ever had a meaningful chat with him, but that was normal for nearly everybody unless it was a fellow West Indian. Curtly preferred the reggae music on his ever present earphones. Colin Wroe seemed to tap into his West Indian psyche and had bizarre conversations with sentences ending in ‘man’. Also very funny to see Colin’s attempt at doing high fives on the field. Not easy when Curtly was 6 foot 7 and Colin 2 foot 6. Curtly was never seen at the bar after the game but you had to admire the mans ability to make the ball talk –

    Jenson Joseph 1988
    Jenson liked to put the fear of God up opposition batsmen by bouncing them – all very well but nobody told him it was not a good idea to do it against his team mates in the nets as well. Jenson was responsible for more bruises than any bowler I’d ever seen. Explosive bowler and batsmen and underrated. Typically West Indian in approach to attacking play. Would have enjoyed his company more if I could have understood a single word that he said.

    John Abrahams 1989, 1990
    I don’t think there is a nicer man in the game of Cricket. John helped me in my first two years as first team captain and he never once openly criticised me – ( maybe he was just too nice to tell me ). Gave me my best single piece of cricketing advice as a captain which was “there will always be others that disagree with you, but it doesn’t mean that they are right “ – He had a nice way of making you feel you were doing the right thing. Flowing batsmen and cheeky little slow bowler. We had a good side when John was pro, and they were happy days

    Phil Alley 1991
    Firebrand of a bowler who took some handling in my last year as captain. Tall as a tree who could bowl really quick left arm. Aggressive bowler who occasionally had bouts of red mist when he bowled. Phil hated it when his room mate, the overseas Aussie bowler Scott Bannerman – was taking more wickets than him. Very funny.
    Phil was an affable and likable man when he didn’t have the ball in his hand.

    Andy Flower 1992 1993 ( plus amateur 1991 )
    Andy lived with me for 6 months when he first came over from Zimbabwe in 1991. He had better remember me in his autobiography now that he’s famous after all those ready meals we ate together. I remember him hanging his jeans out of his bedroom window to dry in our new house, which we only moved into two days earlier in Pilsworth. The missus was not pleased. Regularly beat him at pool in the Roach Bank pub and I remember him collapsing in front of the Tele after another heavy day digging holes for Farefence – which not surprisingly he hated. What a fantastic left handed batsmen he turned out to be and I’ll never forget his 7 -13 spell at Stand with his dibbly dobblers. Met him last season and he doesn’t seem to have changed a bit. Top man.

    Alan Badenhorst 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998
    Never short of confidence, Bardy. I remember him telling Chris Dearden where he was going to hit his ball before every delivery ( mostly correct ). I also remember his body charge into Steven O’Shaunessy. – Very funny. Always declaring war on opponents and threatening to beat someone or other into a pulp, but was then usually found sharing a pint and telling Afrikaan jokes with them afterwards. His best years were the early ones when he thought he could take on the world, usually delivered, and he was great to have on your side. Later years he just thought he could take on the world. Gregarious, and a great club man who always spent his money over the bar with one eye on the ladies.

    Bruce Hara 1999, 2000
    Another good guy from Australia who became one of the most popular professionals we ever had. Unassuming and humble off the field, he had a steely determination on it Brilliantly correct batsmen and I could see the penny dropping with many of the youngsters who watched him play. Not a bad bowler either – You just couldn’t help liking this guy.

    Johann Louw 2001
    Rangy and powerful all rounder who came over from South Africa and soon proved himself to be a monstrous hitter and quite sharp with the ball. I remember well his astonishing innings ( 134 ) at Norden when he continually hit the bowling out of the ground – I know this is not difficult on this Mickey Mouse village green – but Johann was continually hitting it to what seemed like the Horse and Farrier back yard. – Johann declared that “I’m seeing it like a football, and hitting it like a rocket”. Nuff said

    And then the tricky bit – choosing the first X1 and the twelfth man with the batting and bowling line up.

    I can just see Bardey’s face now…….

    Captain – Bob Cooke
    Wicketkeeper – Andy Flower
    Batting Order
    1. Andy Flower
    2. Bruce Hara
    3. Bob Cooke
    4. Steve Wundke
    5. John Abrahams
    6. Jenson Joseph
    7. Johann Louw
    8. Nolan Hall
    9. Geoff Lawson
    10. Phil Alley
    11. Curtly Ambrose
    And carrying out the drinks……………assuming you could get him out of the bar
    12. Alan Badenhorst

    And the likely bowling options
    Pace attack – Curtley Ambrose ,Geoff Lawson, Phil Alley, Jenson Joseph
    Quick enough – Johann Louw, Bruce Hara,
    Slow / Spin – Bob Cooke, John Abrahams , Nolan Hall
    Not forgetting Steve Wundke who could bowl anything he wanted and get wickets.

    Would give the Patio XI a run for their money anyway…………

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