In a new series, the Clubs media team have fired the same thirteen questions at club members from all years, ages and teams as we get to know about their club records, their funniest moments, their favourite tea item & much more.
In today’s edition, we find out all about Pete Wargent, who provides a great insight in to his career as a “Don”, including honorable mentions for a number of dons, such as Elmo, Chris Harris, Tommy Hawkridge and many more, along with a touching tribute for the legend that is David Randall.
Dubbers. Jeffrey Cook coined the nickname circa 1991 (derived from ‘PW’) and it’s stuck ever since.
What year did you join MCC?
I was initially poached from Wickham Bishops by Paul ‘Nobby’ Cater.
After I’d moved down from Yorkshire at the tail end of the 1990 season, I played for ‘Wicky Bish’ against a Maldon Sunday side which included a young and fabulously mulleted Toby Pugh.
I’d forgotten all about the chat, but then next spring in 1991 Paul phoned me up to play in the Maldon Colts, and then I played my first senior game with Colin Philpott and John Hill at Upminster Catholics.
Before too long I was picked in a league game as a recalcitrant teenager, won a bottle of cider in the Stowmarket CC raffle, and then after momentarily holding court like a king back at Drapers Farm I proceeded to chunder all over the car park.
In many respects that was the pinnacle of my cricketing career at Maldon, or at least a reasonable metaphor for it.
Best player you’ve played with?
It’s tough to pick one, so here’s my top three.
Ian Elliott, who for ages was an unstoppable Premier League run machine, narrowly shading out Sir Alastair Cook, who was always a fun partner to bat with – he didn’t need to call you through for a sharp single, it was just intuitive, and you ran.
I appreciate Cookie got 12,472 Test runs, and he’s the undisputed nicest bloke in all of cricket, but trust me I don’t make that call lightly. Elmo at his peak seasons around 2002-03 was the guy you’d want to see up the other end, an absolute gun (though he did tend to run out of steam at around 150).
And thirdly Glenn Batticciotto from Queensland, an outstanding all-round talent: batsman, outswinger, and a brilliantly athletic fielder for Maldon.
Best player you’ve played against?
Bowling at Graham Gooch at home at Drapers Farm was an awesome experience. He was the world’s greatest batsman at that time, so it was quite a thrill.
And in the Premier League for Maldon, Matthew Sinclair from New Zealand was a terrific natural batting talent, and the crispest of ball strikers.
What was your highest Maldon score?
151 at Drapers, in Cricket Week game. But in a Maldon 1st XI League game it was 136 not out versus Mistley (and in a Premier League game, 123 not out over at the Victory Ground at Bury St. Edmunds).
Best Maldon bowling figures?
I took 4 wickets in 4 balls at Witham and then immediately got spelled, so I supposed technically those must’ve been my best figures.
In the Premier League my best figures were 7 for 60-odd versus Norwich, and 7 for 60-something versus Cambridge.
For the purposes of balance, I’ve bowled more than my fair share of dross in my time.
My worst spell was when I bowled one loose over at Wivenhoe and got cruelly banished from the attack at the behest of a scathing Jay Trevaskis. Fresh off the boat from Australia, Jay was chiming in with a Deus Ex Machina “take him off!” call, suddenly fancying himself as some kind of quasi-acting captain from deep fine leg.
Jay still reminds me about this 20 years later.
What’s your favourite item at tea?
I took a rather perverse enjoyment in the bully beef sandwiches, which were a salient feature of the 1990s Drapers Farm fare and brought an unusual flavour of wartime rationing to the tea interval.
As I’ve since become a vegetarian, however, I’d have to say my favourite was the delicious Battenberg cake. For reasons which were never entirely clear, it appeared to be laser cut to about a 4-millimetre width, so you really had to savour every mouthful.
Favourite ground you’ve played at?
It has to be Star Stile at Mildenhall, a lovely cricketing ground where I got a century on our Premier League debut in 2001.
Mildenhall were also a top bunch of lads – “as in victory, so in defeat” was their motto – the Handy boys and all the rest were great fun, on and off the field.
We played some brilliant games at Mildenhall including one rain-reduced classic where David Boden and our Aussie Kevin Roche won us the game chasing 150-odd, a great result enlivened all the further by the fact we’d been casually playing boozy games of darts with Barry Denham until 4pm.
We had absolutely no idea we’d have to play a reduced overs game, and Andy Donner had to relieve himself of a few pints of Greene King IPA at the long-on boundary mid-innings.
The minibus away match trips that year were something else.
Who are your cricketing heroes?
When I was a long-haired Doc-Martens-wearing teenager I used to think Nigel Hinton was the coolest guy alive with his Scania truck, tattoos, and bother boots. When he welcomed me into the 2nd XI with a high-five and a bear-hug I felt like I was about 10 feet tall.
I didn’t mind a smoke in those days either, so we had a bit of fun with that too. What a guy!
Since then, my cricketing role model has been Michael Horsell of Waverley in Sydney. Older Maldonians would remember him from a huge run-scoring season at Maldon in 1991 (and also going for a Cricket Week sidecar at Drapers during a second Maldon season in 1995). Excellent all-round cricketer, the world’s most hilarious yarn-spinner, and moreover a big-hearted and generous man.
These are the champions of cricket for me, not the dull automatons of the professional era.
For all of the above, my only real cricketing hero was David Randall. I think of David often in my life, in moments of quiet but happy reflection.
I’m not able to articulate this well enough here, but everyone at the club will understand what I mean when I say he was our hero, and genuinely an inspiration for us all.
As a club Maldon was rather cliquey and fractured when I first joined in 1991, and there was a fair bit of sniping and bickering between the teams. But David never had an enemy, in cricket or in life, and, in the end, he brought everyone together.
For a lot of us the Maldon club became more like a family, especially at the annual reunions.
Cheers, Dave x.
Favourite MCC memory
Probably a scrappy win to take out the Two Counties League title at Braintree, as we did it as a bunch of mates who’d played together for so many years, albeit due to injuries the core of the team was wearing painfully thin by the end of the season! Somehow we scraped across the line.
Winning the Two Counties Cup versus Clacton was also on a par with that, being our first trophy.
Ian Elliott, Robert Barber, Jeff Cook, Paul Raymond, Marc Gozzett, Paul Symons, Mick Brown…there’s no room to mention them all, but when I think back to what cricket ‘was’ for me as a player, I picture these guys exchanging sharp banter in a deep slip cordon at Drapers (and of course a rock-hard new ball fizzing at enormous speed towards the ditch and scrub at deep backward square).
I’ve lived in Australia for nearly 20 years now but have seen plenty of these guys visiting Sydney over that time, including Martyn Coker who stayed for a season, playing at Souths.
With each passing year I think of these people as legends.
Funniest thing you’ve ever seen on a cricket field?
A teenage Tommy Hawkridge dropping “two quid” after taking a couple of leg-spinning wickets and a celebratory drink or two was a classic moment (“you can’t send me home, Dad…I’m a legend!). Heh heh, sorry Rare.
During playing hours, Ian Elliott sledging an entire team of Norfolk players while we put on a century stand and coasted to victory…that was hysterical. I laughed so much I only got about 20-something, and Elmo was more like 120 not out!
That one still makes me snigger every time I think about it, even now (“I say, batsman, you’re a filthy cheat!”). I truly believe Ian’s kind of comic genius can’t be taught, it’s just innate.
And Robbie Barber…well, there are simply too many incidents to mention just one! I know he cops a bit of flak for saying so, but the truth is Robbie did carry us a club for several years, opening the bowling with big, hooping away-swingers, brutal opening batsman, 1st XI captain, and even running the bar for a while (if unprofitably). If Maldon ever had an Ian Botham equivalent, Barbs was it. A cricketing colossus!
Prediction for 2021?
Chris Harris go on and prove the elite talent we all know he has at the highest level he can. There’s no pleasure quite like seeing the next generation of talent shine through. Great player…go get ‘em, brother.
And Mick Brown will reluctantly agree to play in Cricket Week, pull a hamstring, and yet still score a sweetly-timed 90 over extra cover before retiring to the Drapers bar for a couple of ‘lager tops’. It wouldn’t be Maldon Cricket Week without it.
Our very own cricketing family, and for me, the greatest club.