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Cup Match legends: Ricky Hill

It is often said that you don't know someone until you live with them. Such was the case with this week's Cup Match legend. For in 1990, in the Netherlands, I had the opportunity to be a room-mate with an individual who I came to learn was very focused and disciplined.

While my preconceived notion was that he would enjoy hanging out now and then during the tour at a pub or nightclub, the opposite was true. During the evenings, he never left the hotel until after the final match had been played.

* * *

Name: Ralph Hill.

Born: May 2, 1959.

Cup Match record: 19 innings, 397 runs (high score 68, average 20.89), 20 wicketkeeper dismissals.

Start in cricket: I played lots of cricket at Francis Patton Primary School. Chris Smith was the captain and I recall Chris Spencer playing with us.

Length of career: My cricket career started with Hamilton Parish. I was 13 and we played against Western Stars in my first game. I remember playing against my uncles, Chauncey and Stuart Durham. I played my first Eastern Counties match at age 17 and finished playing in my early forties.

Team role: I began as an off-break bowler. Later, I took up opening the batting and wicketkeeping. I was also a gentle medium-pacer.

Childhood memories in the game: We played a lot in my neighbourhood at Cottage Hill. It was very competitive and we would bat all day and continue on the next day. I played a lot then with Richard Foggo. I also went down to Claytown and played there as well.

Teams played for: Hamilton Parish, Bailey's Bay, Somerset Cup Match team, SICL selects, Bermuda.

Nickname: Ricky.

Favourite local match played in: It would have to be the match at Somerset versus the Australia Test team. (For the record, Ricky and I opened the batting. We faced Craig McDermott, who was bowling downwind, Bruce Reid and Merv Hughes. While I had my index finger split open, Ricky proceeded to unleash an array of strokes that left the visiting side asking who this chap was. He scored 65 that day. He also recalls captaining Bay to three victories during an Eastern Counties series and to a memorable victory over St George's at Wellington Oval. Ricky has accumulated more than 1,000 in the Eastern Counties Cup, scoring two centuries.)

Best international feat: I scored an ICC Trophy century against Gibraltar in 1986 and accumulated 542 runs during my ICC career. (It should be noted that Ricky scored a half-century against a West Indies A team and several more against the United States and Canada.)

Fastest bowler faced: Devon Malcolm (who broke Ricky's hand with a bouncer).

Favourite venue: I enjoyed batting down at Bay (Sea Breeze Oval), but also at Somerset and Rangers. They had good pitches. Overseas, there would be several in England, and of course, Kensington Oval in Barbados.

Favourite international players: Sachin Tendulkar, Viv Richards and Brian Lara.

Number one supporter: My mother. She came to every match that I played in. I could be playing evening cricket at Shelly Bay and she would be there. My dad also.

Pre-match routines: I used to walk down to Shelly Bay Beach on the morning before a match and dive under the water, just to awaken my eyes fully. I did not swim long, as that could be draining, but I always took a dive under the water. I also took pride in preparing my gear. This entailed putting whitener on my pads and packing away the four or five pairs of whites that my mother had ironed for me. (It is interesting to note that Ricky used to do a lot of skipping. This, he indicated, helped him with his footwork.)

Favourite food while playing: Spaghetti or rice with chicken.

Biggest regrets in your career: Playing a football match in 1994 and as a consequence being suspended from the ICC Trophy tour to Kenya. With Wendell Smith missing because of a knee injury, Dexter Smith was drafted into the squad and proceeded to lead Bermuda's scoring, amassing a record 392 runs.

The other regrettable incident transpired at the Somerset Cricket Club during a final trial. A “special” friend came to the match and stood behind the bowler's arm at the Lopes Garden End. The bowler at the time was Terry Burgess. As he stood back at his mark preparing to bowl, I could see her standing behind the boundary fence holding up my ties and really nice shirts. She proceeded to cut them to pieces with a pair of scissors. I threw my wicket away and raced into the changing room and told the folks there that I had to leave. As a result of this, I was dropped from Cup Match and suspended by the club.

Any superstitions: I use to wear this particular pair of red underpants that were very tight. This enabled me to go without a jock strap, as the cup fit in nice and snug.

Funniest thing you have seen in cricket: I was batting with Chris Smith once at Rangers and he took off for a quick single and I didn't move. As he was standing by me, I told him, “You've made it this far, now see if you can make it back.” He attempted to do so, but was run out. The Royal Gazette carried a picture of him the next day, diving towards his crease with his hat falling off, as he was run out.

Hobbies: A little golf, football and watching sports. I just came back from Brazil, where I saw Germany versus France and Brazil against Chile in the World Cup.

A key to your success: Hard work. We always trained hard and enjoyed the training, which was competitive.

Advice to today's cricketer: It is most important that you put in the hard work. Also, serious concentration is needed, and plan your innings.

Motto you believe in: Get your rest. My mother always told me not to go out the night before a game, as I wouldn't do well if I did. My dad told me the same thing. I always thought about that and, as a result, stayed in.

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Ricky has the distinction of having the second-most dismissals by a Somerset wicketkeeper in Cup Match. He also set the third-wicket partnership record of 98 with Tyrone Smith in 1982. This stood for 12 years.

Those who were blessed to have witnessed Ricky Hill in full flow would recall a batsman of supreme class and style. His leg-side play was especially exquisite. His flick off the pads and hooking were most notable.

Even today, some 36 years later, I can recall a particular stroke he played in Toronto. A Canadian chap bounced Ricky and what followed was a hook shot that even Sir Vivian Richards would have been proud of. The ball soared some 40 feet high and into a tree that was located on the long-leg boundary. I guess he had heeded his parents' advice the night before.

Pretty to watch: Hill made a Cup Match-best of 68 for Somerset

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Published July 23, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated July 23, 2014 at 1:59 am)

Cup Match legends: Ricky Hill

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