With less than a week until Barrow Gurney Cricket Club start their pre-season training, BGCC website continues the build up to the 2017 season with its series of player interviews. This week we talk to left arm opening bowler James Riley, who will also be vice-captain of the 1st XI this season, and hear how his cricketing heroes are a little closer to home than most.
What is your first cricketing memory?
For a long time, I didn’t like cricket, I played it at primary school but no one in my family played cricket so I didn’t like it. Then I did a holiday course at the Downs School when I was 10 and that was it really. I was hooked from then on.
Who encouraged you to play cricket?
Again no one really! Rob Maggs was my first coach, and then Peter (Holdaway) and later Jon Hood.
Who was your first cricket hero and why?
I really didn’t watch a lot of cricket so my cricketing heroes were a lot closer to home. Ed Holdaway was my hero when I started playing, and then Jon Hood was my hero as I got closer to adult cricket.
Can you name-drop any top-class players you have played with or against?
I’ve trained with or played against a lot of players who have ended up playing for Somerset, Gloucestershire and one for England but name dropping isn’t my style. I’ll say Zubayr Hamza so everyone can have a good chuckle when they read this. (Our esteemed fast bowler had a somewhat chastening experience against this young man whilst on tour at Paignton; he has now made 5 first class hundreds! Ed)
Where is your favourite place to play or watch cricket?
To watch cricket, it would be Barrow, for playing cricket it would be anywhere with bounce and carry.
Which England cricket match do you most remember and why?
Pass, I enjoy players and I’m not a big England fan personally. I like going back and watching old bowling spells of Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding, Allan Donald, Glenn McGrath or more recently Dale Steyn.
Which county do you support?
Somerset clearly, I don’t understand why anyone would support any other county.
What other teams have you played for?
I started at Long Ashton before Pete poached me. Played for Cleeve alongside Barrow for a while, played at Old Bristolians for 2 years and played a bit for the UWE cricket team too. I’ve been about!
How did you come to join Barrow Gurney Cricket Club?
As I say Pete poached me with a handwritten letter approaching me to see if I wanted to come and play for Barrow, there was a large signing on fee, for a chubby 11-year-old who was scared of the cricket ball and bowled left arm chinaman.
What do you think is special about the club?
I think what makes it special for me is the time I’ve been here and the people who have helped me. Pete, Geoff (Saunders), Rod (Reeves), Jon, Phil (Milton) and Ali (Hood) have all helped me as coaches or captains giving me advice and the occasional telling off when necessary.
What was the most memorable performance you have seen by a Barrow team or another Barrow player?
Most memorable by a Barrow player would be most of what I saw Jon Hood do as a 14-year-old playing first team cricket for the first time. Ed Holdaway playing against Clevedon and hitting some gigantic sixes with me at the other end was spectacular. Mark Brown’s catch against Long Ashton was very enjoyable. Last but not least – a batsman for Woodpeckers 2 years ago hit me for the biggest six I’ve ever seen, genuinely was half way to the Fox and Goose by the time it had landed.
What was your most memorable performance for Barrow?
Oh that’s an embarrassing question, my first wicket for the club. It bounced twice and yorked the batsman on the second bounce but still something I remember. Otherwise, probably getting 4 wickets in my second game for the first team, unfortunately Jon got 6 at the other end so I was forgotten slightly!
What is the funniest moment you have witnessed on a cricket field?
Will Kerswell sprinting. No specific event, he just like he’s constantly in a Baywatch slow motion scene.
Who is your current favourite player and why?
Mohammad Amir…. controversial! If not him then Trent Boult. Or Oscar Livesey as a third choice.
What is your Barrow Gurney prediction for 2017?
Here’s 3 that you could put your house on: I’ll be told I don’t bowl at the stumps enough. Ali will play across the line (or [Mark] Gracey, they’re interchangeable). Frank Forge will bowl 2 really good legitimate off spinners at some point during the season.