4. 1979/80 to 1992/93: The Years of Success

59 Teams 15 Premierships

After the championship victory in 1976/77, the Club embarked upon an unprecedented period of success over the next six seasons. In the years 1978/79 to 1982/83 [inclusive] the Club fielded a total of 26 teams and managed to win no less than 12 premierships. The Club also captured the Club Championship title for the first time ever in 1980/81 and then again in 1982/83. Much of this success was due to two men. Tony Bowden was Club President in 1979/80 and again in 1980/81 [he had previously been Club Secretary in 1976/77]. Such was Tony’s commitment to the club, particularly as it’s delegate to the Association, that he was elected Vice-President of the Association in the years 1981-83 and Senior Vice-President between 1983-85. Peter Low succeeded Tony to the position of Club President and held that position for three years. He was also the club’s delegate to the Association for many years after his presidency. Peter was bestowed with Life Membership by the Club in 1985. The same honour was awarded to Tony in 1991.

It is perhaps pertinent to note here that these three Life Members, Gerald ‘Dickie’ Bird, Peter Low and Tony Bowden, are the only KNOWN Life Members of the Club. It is possible that some other members from the earlier eras were also made Life Members but, unfortunately, no records have been found to verify this. One could speculate that, Jim Maunder, Clive Menck, Bill Reynallt and Jack Hughes, who were all made Life Members of the Association, would have had similar honours bestowed on them by the Club.

One of the other factors for this success could be related to the 1978/79 C1 team. This team virtually stayed together as a unit over the next four seasons. During this time, they progressed through the grades until they were promoted to the A1 grade in 1982/83, thus becoming the first St Ives team to play in the top echelon since the 1961/62 team. This team was comprised of mainly young but very talented cricketers including, Greg Reber, Dick Bain, Gary Tall, Peter Reber, Barry Lasker and Neil Parker.

Although he never won any of the Association’s batting awards, Greg Reber won the Club’s 1st Grade Batting Trophy for four consecutive seasons, from 1981/82 to 1984/85, amassing 2786 runs at an average of 34, as either an opening or top order batsman.

Dick Bain was a middle order batsman and a superb fieldsman, scoring 2204 runs at an average of 31 between the years 1978/79 and 1982/83.

Gary Tall was one of the Association’s best all-round cricketers during the early 1980’s. He scored 1997 runs at an average of 31 and also took 110 wickets at an average of 12 with his medium fast deliveries.

Peter Reber was one of the main weapons of St Ives’ bowling attack. In the late 1970’s, he was regarded as one of the fastest bowlers in the Association, however, back problems forced him to slow down over time. In seven seasons between 1975/76 and 1983/84 he took 151 wickets at an average of 12.3, including 5 wickets in an innings on no less than seven occasions.

Barry Lasker was an opening batsman, who, in five seasons between 1978/79 and 1982/83 scored 1490 runs at an average of 30. And.

Neil Parker, who was one of the most remarkable bowlers of the 1970’s and 1980’s at both Club and Association levels. A right-arm, medium fast bowler, he was able to move the ball in the air and off the wicket, sometimes both ways as with his famous inswinging leg-cutter. In seven seasons between 1977/78 and 1983/84 he took 278 wickets at an amazing average of 9.8. It should be noted that the last four years of his career were spent in the A1 Grade where he still averaged 40 wickets a season.

This was also an era in which the Club’s depth of playing strength, not only remained stable but actually increased. This can be evidenced by the fact that in the years of 1982/83 through to 1984/85, not only was the Club able to field a more than competitive A1 team but it was also able to field a strong A2 team as well.

The growth of the Club in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s not only enabled the Club to field some strong teams in both A1’s and A2’s but also provided for strength in the lower grades as well. Although some of these teams were not as successful, in terms of premiership wins, they were, more often than not, very competitive in their respective grades.

During this period there were more changes to the structure of the Association’s playing conditions. In 1979/80 the Elimination Round was itself eliminated in favour of a system whereby the two top teams in each grade progressed straight to the final. The semi-final process was again reinstated in 1989/90 with the format being where 1st v 4th and 2nd v 3rd would play-off, with the winners advancing to the Final. Should a semi end in a draw, the team in the higher position on the ladder would proceed to the Final.

More changes were again made to the one-day games playing conditions too. In the late 1970’s each team was given 32 overs in which to bat. In the 1980’s this was increased to, and remains today, 40 overs a side. Also, in the late 1980’s a number of fixtures called “all-day” games were introduced. Under the rules of these games each team was given a maximum of 55 overs to bat, with the games starting at 10.00am. These fixtures were abolished in 1991/92 in favour of the normal one day games format.

Upon the reintroduction of the semi-final format, the Association also introduced the John Hayne Cup. This was a competition comprising of two one-day games for those teams that did not make the semis. Teams are opposed to others of about the same ability ie; a C1 team could play a B2 or C2 team. Teams were awarded normal win/loss points but they could also gain bonus points by scoring a certain number of runs or taking a certain number of wickets. A team’s points from the two games were then totalled and that team with the most number of points, irrespective of what grade it had played during the season, would be declared the winner.

The success achieved in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s was always going to be hard to repeat. Added to this was the sudden retirements of many of the stalwarts, especially those from the two premier teams. This then left the Club with having to face a period of rebuilding in the mid 1980’s. Although there was still a number of talented cricketers in the Club, there wasn’t sufficient depth for the Club to maintain both an A1 and A2 team. There were, however, some talented younger players who had just started their respective careers in the lower grades, who subsequently, worked their ways into the top grades.

During this period Phil Lewis became the longest serving President of the Club since the 1950’s. Phil presided over the Club for five years from 1985/86 to 1989/90. His efforts during that reign saw the Club return to A1 Grade in 1988/89 after winning the A2 premiership the season before. The early 1990’s positioned the Club to again be bordering on what could become another successful period. In the three years from 1990/91 to 1992/93 the Club appeared in six finals, for two premierships. The success of the A2 teams, in particular, twice being runners-up and in 1992/93 finishing Minor Premiers would be the catalyst for returning the Club back to A1 Grade a position held right up to the present. This combined with the success of the B1 teams, twice premiers and once runners-up, and the progression of more juniors through the lower grades, provide a platform for the future.

During the 1980’s a number of good cricketers were evident in the playing ranks of the Club. Apart from those already mentioned some of the most prominent were:
Tony Andrews: [1980/81-1989/90] B and C Grade middle order batsman and leg spin bowler. Scored 2588 runs at 19 and took 136 wickets at 18.
Rod Baptist: [1977/78-1988/89] B and C Grade opening bowler who took 330 wickets at 13 including 5 wickets in an innings on 15 occasions.
Adrian Barker: [1981/82-1990/91] A and B Grade all rounder. Scored 2351 runs at 22 as a top order batsman and took 198 wickets at 15.
Dave Kensett-Smith: [1971/72-1984/85] B and C Grade wicket keeper/batsman who scored 2812 runs at 19.6, including 10 half centuries.
John McMillan: [1969/70-1984/85] B and C Grade middle order batsman and slow/medium pace bowler. John scored 2323 runs at 17.8 and took 138 wickets at 17.
David Martz: [1972/73-1982/83] B Grade top order batsman who hit 2030 runs at an average of 40.
Phil Lewis: [1982/83-1990/91] A and B Grade all rounder who took 196 wickets at 16 with his medium pace seamers and 991 runs at 15.
Ken Robertson: [1977/78-1983/84] B and C Grade all rounder. Scored 1242 runs at 20 and took 100 wickets at 16 as an opening bowler.
Adrian Witten: [1978/79-1989/90] Unorthodox C and D Grade opening batsman who scored 3114 runs at 24 including 14 50’s and 4 100’s.
Dave Woods: [1972/73-1984/85] A and B Grade left arm orthodox spinner who took 200 wickets at 14, including five wickets in an innings on ten occasions.A complete list of all KNOWN players and their performances throughout their careers at St Ives Cricket Club is included in the ‘appendix’ to this publication, however, some players who are still playing, deserve special mention.

Probably one of the longest serving players in the history of the Club is Geoffrey Martz. Geoff started playing in 1972 and over the years has played 180+ games. Throughout this period he has held various positions on the Club’s Committee and has acted as liaison officer between the Club and the St Ives Rugby Club, whose premises at Hassell Park are shared by the cricketers. Geoff has scored 2504 runs and taken 77 wickets in his career so far [till the end of the 1992/93 season].

Another stalwart, Peter Low, as mentioned before, has been one of the “living legends” of the Club. Known as “the Old Magpie”, due to his football allegiances, Peter is the only KNOWN player to have played 200 games with the Club. He started his career in 1977/78 in C Grade and in 1992/93 was still playing in A2 grade. He had scored 2109 runs and taken 312 wickets in a career spanning 16 seasons [not out].

The last of these long serving players of note is Tim O’Connor. In a career spanning some 14 seasons, in A and B grades, Tim amassed 3467 runs at 25 as a middle order batsman and took 243 wickets at 17, opening the bowling.

In the years 1926/27 to 1992/93 the St Ives Cricket Club has fielded 169 teams in all grades, second only to Thornleigh [170]. These teams have yielded 32 premiership victories, the most number recorded by one single Club since the inception of cricket in the association now known as the Hornsby Ku-ring-gai and Hills District Cricket Association.

As one final comment, clubs such as this one do not exist solely for the benefit of the better cricketers. Cricket, particularly at the level that this Club plays, is for the enjoyment by all, regardless of their ability. The Club has been fortunate over the years in having players in its ranks who will never reach some of the run scoring or wicket taking milestones that players, such as those previously mentioned, have attained. It is these players who backup every week to play the game that they enjoy. The St Ives Cricket Club has had over the years a number of such players, but none of them with the length of service of Cameron Jones. Cameron is one of an elite group of players who have played 100 or more games with the Club, all of them in low grades and all of them as one of the last to bat. His run scoring aggregate will never go down in history as one of the highest nor will his wicket taking aggregate. What will go down in history is his commitment to the game and his commitment to the St Ives Cricket Club. Without players of his dedication, no sporting club can ever hope to survive.

Thus ends the original reprint of the History of St Ives Cricket Club. However, as said by the “voice of cricket” Alan McGilvray, “The Game Goes On”. A new chapter in history begs to be told. It takes the St Ives Cricket Club up to its 70th Anniversary, and beyond. It continues the lifeline of those stalwarts, still ‘not out’ at the completion of this text and introduces the next generation of stars and characters involved with this great club.