Cup Match Legends: Jeff Richardson
Before commentating the 2017 Cup Match at Wellington Oval, I sat quietly and watched the warm-up of the Somerset team. I marvelled at the intensity of their drills and how effectively a particular fielding drill played out just moments later, when a run-out ensued in their favour.
Fast-forward to last year, at Somerset Cricket Club, and I noticed a most interesting strategy unfolding regularly. Depending on who the next St George’s batsman was, Somerset would change their bowling attack and put on a particular bowler.
This tactic demonstrated two key factors:
• The players must be unselfish enough to realise that the team goal comes before anyone’s ego
• Planning had transpired to work out particular batsmen
Behind the scenes, pulling the strings was a diligent worker, clever tactician, and one who loves the game. He coaches with principle and is not afraid to make tough decisions.
When his coaching days are done, he will be able to look back on a job well done. He is respected by his players and must surely be appreciated by his club’s supporters.
Name: Jeffrey Andrae Richardson
Date of birth: October 22, 1958
Start in cricket: I played my primary school cricket at West Pembroke Primary under Mr Newberry and my high school cricket at the Berkeley Institute under Gerry Swan. In the neighbourhood, I played a lot of cricket with Gregory Francis, Gregory Sampson, Arnold, Andre and Anthony “Porky” Manders, the Brangman brothers, Allan and Gary, plus Leroy “Curly Joe” Wilson. We would use the area where JB Astwood was located, as they had night lights. We also played down where Auto Solutions is located. The thing about that was, we started our run-up across the street at Ray Brothers, so we had to make sure no cars were coming by as we were bowling.
Length of cricket career: I began playing with Western Stars at the age of 13. I played for this one club for 38 years.
Role on the team: I began as an opening batsman with Stars and also opened the batting for Bermuda Under-19 with Treadwell Gibbons Sr, then switched to the middle order where I batted at No 5 or 6.
Childhood memories of the game: While at West Pembroke Primary, I can recall Gregory Albouy being a fast bowler. He was one of the first people that I saw break a stump while bowling. Roger Dill, who is now a renowned umpire, also played on the school team.
Teams played for: Western Stars, Somerset Cup Match, Somerset Bridge (guest player in the Western Counties Cup), Somers Isles Cricket League Select, Bermuda ICC Trophy team.
Nickname(s): I don’t know if I want to reveal these — Fricks, Frickles and Disco (I was quite the dancer in my day).
Favourite local match played in: That would have to be the Western Counties match against Southampton Rangers at Southampton Oval when I scored 186. Back then, it was a two-day final. I was so exhausted at the end of that innings that I did not mind getting out lbw. I was in a zone that day and took a particular liking to Kyle Lightbourne’s bowling.
Best international feat: I travelled with the Bermuda team to Barbados. While there, I was in the nets when Gordon Greenidge came by and watched me bat. He advised me to play the ball later. I tried this in the next game at St Catherine and scored 112 not out. I also scored 64 against the visiting Australians at Lord’s in St David’s. That team had Merv Hughes and Bruce Reid in the attack.
Favourite venue: St John’s Field, as that is where I scored most of my hundreds. Overseas, it was the first ground that we played on in England. I recall hitting the ball through the covers and it just raced along the ground for four. It was wonderful to see how fast the outfields could be.
Favourite international player: “The Master Blaster” — Sir Vivian Richards.
Toughest opponent: Kyle Lightbourne and Noel Gibbons. They both were big swing bowlers.
No 1 supporter: In my earlier years it was Randy Butler. He stayed with us at Stars in our formative years when we were getting dismissed for 30 and 40 runs. After our matches, we would take a vote as to which game we were going to go and watch once ours was over. In my later years it was my daughter, Johneika Smith.
Pre-match routine(s): One thing I always did was pack my gear the night before a game. If I was playing a match and needed something from my gear bag, I could call out to the reserve and tell him exactly where to find the piece of gear. While on tours with the Bermuda team, my team-mates would ask me to pack their gear bags, as I was so good at doing it. With Western Stars, we would always warm up as a group at least an hour and 15 minutes before the start of play.
Favourite dish while playing: I rarely ate much at Cup Match. I was a fielder and I felt that it impacted my game. If I did eat something, it was some watermelon and water. I couldn’t comprehend eating a big meal, as it impacted my mobility.
Biggest regret in your career: That I never got the coaching that I needed in my early years. It took years of underachieving before I changed my batting.
Any superstitions: None. I did have a habit of sitting in a particular spot at Stars and at Somerset. However, that was just a case of seniority rather than superstition.
Funniest thing you have seen in cricket: The first one happened at Sea Breeze Oval when we played Bailey’s Bay. I was at the non-striker’s end next to Noel Gibbons, who was bowling. When the batsman was struck on the pads, the umpire, “Red” Burrows, appealed and so did Noel. “Red” Burrows asked Noel: “Do you think that was out?” and Noel responded “Yes”. “OK then,” Red Burrows said. “Then you’re out, batsman.” The second funny event happened while on a tour to England. Dexter Smith was fielding in practice and attempted to stop a ball near a line that was marked out by white chalk. Dexter dived face-first into the white chalk line trying to stop the ball, which he did. When he stood up, his face was covered in the white lime. What made this so hilarious was that while we laughed, he was not aware that his face was caked in the lime. Finally, while on tour in Kenya, I asked the selectors whether I could keep in the next game, being my roommate, Dean Minors, was assured of his place. I ended up getting 55 runs while batting, and took three catches and had two stumpings while keeping. Dean later asked: “Hey roomie, you trying to take my place?” Dean had this habit of waking up around three in the morning and awakening me to ask what I thought about something. After doing this a few times, I finally told him: “If you do this one more time, I’m going to knock you out.”
Hobbies: I still play golf. I get pretty good in the winter months and then when the summer comes, my game slips back, as I am too busy to get on the course much.
A key to your success: I believe that if you want to be better than others, you have to work that much harder than them. I made a decision during my career to go on three to four-mile runs before our practice sessions, as I used to get tired while batting. I also realised that I had to adjust my game and stop trying to hit boundaries so often. I tightened up my defence and started to play with soft hands and hitting the ball along the ground more consistently.
Advice to today’s cricketer: Listen to advice from people. Analyse what you are told and pick out what you feel can be beneficial to you, and add it to your game. It is no good working on something in practice and not implementing it into your game. (At this point, Jeff provided this interviewer with a very personal aside. “This Cup Match will be one of the proudest moments in my life, as my son will be playing for the first time. I coached him for years and years and he reached a point where I could not coach him any more. He is a good listener and it has helped his technique being in school in Cardiff, where he has improved his technique even more.”)
Motto you believe in: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This has a lot to do with how I felt hard done by with St George’s and Bermuda.
For those who are unaware of his early plight, Jeff endeavoured to make the St George’s Cup Match team for ten years. At the age of 23, he scored a century in a trial match, yet did not make their team. His Cup Match playing career began at age 32 with Somerset and spanned five years.
“I’ve been coached by a lot of good coaches who have never won,” he said. “You can’t teach how to win if you’ve never won.”
He left me with this reminder: “Winning is an attitude.”
Tomorrow, he will travel to Wellington Oval with a remarkably successful record as coach: undefeated since he began in 2012.
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