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Richie Barker

On his day the most destructive part of the Offley batting line-up, the days were disappointingly fewer and far between in 2005. Somehow the cultured artiste who at times plays with the insouciant ease of one who finds the game simple was reduced to a Cutts-like level of incompetence as he rattled up a string of single-figure scores.

Barker played in the club’s first game and made his debut for Stopsley back in ’91 on the day after his (suspected) cousin Simon Warrington snapped his ankle. Since then he has developed from moody teenager to slightly less moody 30-year old. Along the way he has been (briefly) suspended by his captain, practised his golf swing, delivered a string of unhelpful remarks and even rose reluctantly to the rank of captain in 2005.

Two schools of thought dominate the issue of Barker’s bowling. On the one hand there are those who claim his action resembles an elephant blowing its trunk. On the other hand there is his greatest advocate – namely himself – that he is the club’s premier slow bowler. Sadly there have been few converts to his way of thinking despite taking more wickets than any other bowler over the past two seasons (a fairly damning indictment of the rest of the club’s bowlers).

Yet regardless of his bowling and fielding – now more a case of he catches what he gets to rather than the elegant young man athlete who once roamed the covers with a spring in his step and a song in his heart – his batting is what made him famous. Unlike his running between the wickets which made him infamous to the nth degree and cruelly earned him the sobriquet of the Terminator. This appellation was somehow deemed appropriate after the mildly tragic events of 1998 when he was involved in (and survived) four run outs against Houghton Town at Wardown Park.

Despite a technique involving a lack of footwork that would make Marcus Trescothick blush, Barker has demonstrated the ability to overcome a fairly abject lack of fitness and less than convincing ability to handle spin to produce some splendid innings. He set a club record with an unbeaten 175 in 2005 and has the ability to savage any attack, depending on whether or not he’s in the mood or hung-over when he turns up at the ground. A captain’s dream he is not. An apparent fixation with cricket bats has left him with more bits of willow than most test players amass during a career and after the traditional vow to look give up and play golf in 2006 Barker will be hoping to shrug off an indifferent performance next year.