I remember meeting Spider for the 1st time in Perth during a season playing club cricket for South Perth in 1985. We played in the same side that season, I always remembered Spider as (this will make you laugh!) a quiet, shy and unassuming 16 year old, and in those days he bowled quick enough to knock my head off! - How times have changed. He followed me to Hampshire at the end of that season and after a year playing in the Hampshire 2nd XI was lured by Bobby Simpson and joined Leicestershire CCC. A few years later he saw good sense and decided to return to the club he really belonged to. I was delighted that the club offered him another opportunity to play for Hampshire, particularly during my years as Captain, when he always gave me every ounce of energy.
Over the many years, Ive always enjoyed his company as a great friend and teammate, and because of his commitment to me during my time as Captain and Hampshire Cricket, I now have a tremendous amount of admiration and respect for Spider. So you can imagine how honoured and delighted I was, when he asked me to contribute towards his brochure.
To play against him is not always an enjoyable experience as he plays the game with an enormous amount of pride and aggression, which has not always made him the most popular county cricketer, but this kind of attitude has inspired huge respect within the game, not only at county level but also on the international scene. In my humble opinion, this lanky beanpole who was born in Essex and was raised in Perth, should have played far more for England, particularly in the one-day games. Although just quietly, this never really upset me too much as Spider was instrumental in gaining us promotion to the 1st Division. During this time he played through many injuries and set a great example as a professional cricketer to the many younger players learning their trade in this game of cricket.
Although sadly no longer on the staff as a Hampshire cricketer, I still look forward to this season with the same excitement and enthusiasm as I did when I played. We have strengthened our squad with some very special and talented cricketers, and although Spiders contribution may be limited this season, I know his experience in both forms of the game will help us to achieve the success that we have all waited so patiently for.
Over many years the success that he has achieved has been largely down to self- motivation and sheer hard work, so Im thrilled that our county have acknowledged this by awarding him a truly well deserved benefit year, which Im sure we will all support - I know I will be the first!
Heres to you Spider and the lovely Chelsey, have an enjoyable year both on & off the field and may you reap the rewards of all your hard work over 16 years (you stubborn bugger!).
Be Lucky Judgie