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The following page was published upon the announced retirement of Phil Gourd from playing cricket in 2006. It is with respect and admiration for the impact he had on us all within the club that we have retained this light hearted review of his career with us all. His passing has left a deep hole in our club. RIP Phil.
Offley & Stopsley Cricket Club regret to announce the retirement of Philip Gourd from competitive cricket. Phils retirement takes effect immediately and he will not play in 2007.
Gourd played for a number of teams during a nomadic career, including Lilley, Luton Nalgo and Stopsley before finding a permanent home at the bar of Offley where he turned out for the side whenever his drinking commitments allowed. He represented Offley & Stopsley in the clubs inaugural fixture at Leagrave and was selected for a number of tours over the ensuing nine years.
Gourd initially began his Offley career as a hard-hitting lower middle order batsman. However, over the years as his legside mow (a shot regularly employed to any delivery regardless of line or length) became increasingly ineffective and the cumulative effects of pints and takeaways reduced his speed between the wickets, he transformed himself into a slow bowler of sorts. Slow bowler of all-sorts, dolly mixture and even baked goods if you like.
Gourd batted 141 times for the club and scored 778 runs at an average of 6.95. He enjoyed some memorable moments with the bat, sharing a match-winning partnership with Dave Bridgland against the Cricketers at Hitchin where quick singles tipped the balance in Offleys favour. It seems almost churlish to point out that Gourd was batting with a runner on that occasion but he was Steve Bexfield doing the honours. Gourd also shone brightly in the tour match at Kinoulton in 2002 when he shared a profitable late stand with Richie Barker. The Kinoulton captain clearly recognised talent when he saw it because he set the field back to allow Gourd the single and bowl at Barker.
Regrettably Gourd was often unable to sustain his form in the middle for long. Problems with his trouser elastic hampered him in the middle and one quickly run single last season provoked uncomfortable images of a perspiring commuter running for a bus with an umbrella in one hand while he tried to keep his trousers in place with the other. However 10 innings in 2006 yielded just 38 runs even Bexfield enjoyed a more productive season and persuaded Gourd to consider hanging up his bat.
As the runs began to dry up, Gourd reinvented himself as a bowler. Gourd dispensed with a run-up in favour of a two-step shuffle (his approach to the crease resembled a darts player simultaneously struggling with haemorrhoids and an attack of the yips) but still contrived to bowl an impressive number of wides and no balls.
While Gourd could never be referred to as a run miser not unless he could also be referred to as a teetotaller he was nevertheless a partnership breaker. Opposing batsmen were often confused by Gourds mixture of flighted filth and pure dross and the indecision that stemmed from their failure to know whether to hit the ball for four or six often prompted them to hole out on the boundary and helped Gourd claim 51 wickets at 29.76. Inevitably there were days when it went wrong and the great Orville Batson took particular enjoyment from depositing Gourd into the bowls green at Holwell during a four-over spell that cost 65 runs.
Yet while Gourd would never have claimed to be a prolific run scorer or regular wicket taker (actually he often came close) he did succeed in making the mid-off position his own. Gourd mixed enthusiasm with determination, grit and safe hands with a dollop of incompetence to establish himself as the clubs specialist mid-off. There were times when he was defeated by the odd erratic bounce or a lack of athletic ability but the figures show that Gourd clung on to 71 catches, often holding on to powerfully hit drives or skied miscues, most notably a stunning effort to dismiss the aforementioned Batson at Offley after the batsman had perforated the ozone player with a Red Stripe-fuelled smear.
However, regardless of the ducks, the drops and the dreadful bowling displays (and to be fair there were a few of each over the years), we will always remember the laughter as Phil was always ready to share his latest joke with his teammates. They werent always as side-splitting as his running between the wickets but there was enough material to prompt him to consider an alternative career as a clown.
This season hell be watching proceedings from the patio, beer in hand. If youre bored and find yourself fielding at long off ask him to tell you the one about the black bowling balls .