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Throwback Thursday - Chris Fletcher

CHRIS FLETCHER - FUNNY OLD GAME, CRICKET!

At the back end of the hot UK summer of 1976, an 18-year-old Chris Fletcher and at the time, working as a Grade 10 Clerical Officer at the Foreign Office in London, made it to the last three of a national cricket bowling competition, set up by the then England and Sussex CCC captain, Tony Greig.

The West Indies had trounced Greigy’s side 5-0 in the Test Series and in a TV interview after his side’s defeat at The Oval, AWG appealed for all ‘fast bowlers’ to come to Hove, his county’s HQ, to unearth a ‘quickie’.

After a couple of successful seasons in Minor County cricket for Torquay and Devon, Chris joined 361 aspiring bowlers turned up in late August at the county ground in Hove to, ‘Find A Fast Bowler for England’. The day progressed and eventually, Chris joined eight others to bowl at Sussex CCC batsmen such as Peter Graves, John Barclay and Gehan Mendis. Three bowlers then got through, to bowl at Greigy. After a few deliveries at the internationally recognised all-rounder, Chris ran in and 'let one go' as all quickies like to do. It surprised the England skipper and from in front of his face, with his big ‘St Peter’ branded gloves, he punched the ball straight up into the air. In his follow-through Chris caught the looping catch. Greigy walked down the pitch and beckoned to Chris. With his out-stretched hand, he took Chris’ and said, quietly, but without taking his eyes the young bowler: "I'm the captain of England sonny - pitch the f****er up!" And batters the world over will confirm that Chris has bowled nothing but half-volleys ever since! But that moment, that ball, was enough for the county to offer Chris a ‘contract’ to play for Sussex CCC.

Meeting Greigy and joining the ‘staff’ at Sussex CCC shaped Chris’ life, as he built up a host of life-long friends at Sussex, as he went on to play, coach and work in cricket and ‘sport’ all over the world and met a lot of wonderful people.

As we all find out in life, things don’t always go smoothly. But Chris’ experience as a ‘cricketer’, bowling uphill into the wind or batting on a ‘minefield’, gave him the confidence to do - as the situation required - what he had to do. Chris went on to play and coach in New Zealand, South Africa, the Netherlands and the West Indies. He ran a seafront café in Hove; managed a sports shop; became a journalist for a national magazine; before going into teaching and coaching in schools for many years. And now, at the age of 63, has become a Personal Trainer!

Cricket, it’s a funny old game! Thanks Greigy – I owe you big time - you're a beaut!

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