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Wayne Cutts, 1998-2008

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Wayne Cutts as an Offley & Stopsley cricketer.

It is never a pleasant task to write a cricketing obituary (actually that’s not quite true – sometimes it comes as a welcome relief to bid a less than fond farewell to a player) but in Wayne’s case it is particularly sad.

A Stopsley boy, once the pride of the Lady Zia Werner 2nd XI where he regularly made big scores against the sponge ball, Wayne turned out for his local club before heading down the A505 with high hopes in 1998.

His first innings for Offley & Stopsley provided a sign of things to come. He was dismissed without troubling the scorers, thereby recording the first of 22 career ducks. Ultimately he finished with 214 runs from 75 innings, averaging 3.68 with a highest score of 18 not out.

It is fair to say that no player has demonstrated such consistent ineptitude with the bat over such a sustained period of time. Then again, considering Wayne’s enthusiasm for the paddle sweep, a shot that he enthusiastically attempted to play regardless of line and length, it is perhaps slightly surprising that he ever reached the lofty heights of double figures.

However, there were signs in 2008 that he was at last coming to grips with his game. He recorded double figures on two occasions (making 10* and 11 respectively) and averaged an impressive 5.12.

Therefore it is rather disappointing that at a time when his game appears to be on an upturn he has decided to part company with the club that has backed him down the ages, keeping faith with him regardless of the ducks and single figure efforts. Some might regard this as an act of betrayal but he has finally decided that the grass is greener elsewhere and despite fervent attempts to persuade him to sign a new contract, he has decided to move on.

Evidently the prospect of bowling more overs is an enticing incentive for a man who has yet to complete the over he started against Lilley on the final day of the 2006 season, an over that contained myriad wides and at least two legal deliveries, before he retired, sobbing like a distraught Mariah Carey, to the outfield.

During his time with Offley Wayne snaffled 34 wickets for the first team with his eclectic blend of leg spin, full tosses and dross. This memorialist has a vague recollection of Wayne taking five wickets for the 2nd XI but such a performance has long since been consumed by the passing of time. Even if it did happen, there are few who could remember it.

And then there was the fielding. Throughout his career Wayne has always never given less than 100 percent in the field. Admittedly sometimes this has involved a total commitment to getting out of the way of the ball – there have been a few star jumps along the way, to say nothing of his habit of screaming like a startled girl as the ball sped towards him and he was forced to take evasive action.

Despite a certain lack of moral fibre and hands of stone, Wayne clung on to 17 catches for the club. Lord knows how many he put down but that’s not really the point. Suffice to say that no one will forget his last appearance for the club at Old Camdenians where he dropped an absolute sitter off Martin McCulley and followed it up by spilling an even easier chance in the bowler’s next over.

However, there is more to Wayne’s career than mere statistics (good job really). He was possibly the best umpire in the club (how could I say anything less about a man who never gave me out?) and was always willing to score.

He was a committed tourist, earning selection for trips to Torquay, Bournemouth, Nottingham, Minehead and Great Yarmouth. This, rather ironically, means that his batting average was less than the number of tours he went on. Furthermore, he always had a vehicle and could always be relied upon to pick players up and turn up on time. He also served two stints as Vice Chairman, consistently turning up to meetings and listening to the debate with keen interest, albeit without ever actually contributing anything to proceedings, yet ever willing to go to the bar while others dealt with the cut and thrust of meetings.

But now the time has come for a parting of the ways. Wayne is off to take on a fresh challenge, possibly at nearby Langleybury, possibly at another club. Considering that there are a dozen teams competing in Division 14 of the Saracens League, Wayne should find a nice soft landing place somewhere. After all, there are plenty of clubs that could find themselves in the market for an enthusiastic all-rounder (can’t bat, can’t bowl, can’t field) who has recently splurged on a new inner thigh pad and is also looking to purchase a new helmet. Apparently the league turned down his request to use a wider bat.

And so for the moment it is time to say farewell to a player who has served Offley well over the past 11 years. It’s fair to say that he’ll be missed far more than his runs and wickets and his absence will leave a huge void, although not at square leg where a more accomplished fielder – Heather Mills perhaps – will doubtless plug the gap.

So hail then, and farewell, Wayne Cutts.

Oh Wayney boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling

From glen to glen, and down the mountain side

The summer’s gone, and all the flowers are dying

‘Tis you, ‘tis you must go and I must bide.

But come ye back when summer’s in the meadow

Or when the valley’s hushed and white with snow

‘Tis I’ll be here in sunshine or in shadow

Oh Wayney boy, oh Wayney boy, we love you so.