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Phil Gourd

 

Gourd has been with the club since the beginning, maintaining a determined vigil at mid-off, a position he has made his own by the reluctance of successive captains to field him anywhere else, so it was with sadness we received the news of his intention to retire from playing.

In his own mind Gourd is a bowler of great renown, a devious and cunning exponent of seam and swing, flight and guile and the odd bit of creative dross that makes him the perfect partnership-breaker. Indeed if it were up to the man himself, Gourd would regularly come into the attack as first change and unleash his blend of fire and accuracy on hapless batsmen. Surely no bowler in history has delivered such deadly darts on the back of such a curious shuffle to the crease. Sadly there has been a general reluctance to trust Gourd with many opportunities. At times he has struggled to contain batsmen and one cannot help remember a story in the Luton News long ago that began an account of his exploits with the memorable words, “Hapless Phil Gourd…”

Gourd’s batting has potential but it is often betrayed by an agricultural swish across the line. At times he looks composed and solid in defence but attempts to branch out in a more attacking vein invariably end in dismissal. A lack of fitness and athleticism (last season’s running battle with gout earned in gallant defeat) has also sadly resulted in Gourd failing to get full value for some of his shots. Running between the wickets, often with one hand clasped to his waistband and the other clutching his bat, Gourd conveys the air of a rather portly gentleman running for a bus.

His fielding at mid-off is a mixture of the sublime and the ridiculous. There are times when he struggles to cope with the pace of the game. Yet on occasion he has been inspired, clinging on to an impressive number of chances.