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Richie Barker: Saturday Captain 2014
When hes good hes very, very good but when hes bad hes a sarcastic pain in the rump.
Barker played in the clubs first game at Leagrave in 1998 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 32-year old.
Along the way he has been suspended by his captain (the only player in club history to receiver such a ban), practiced his golf swing when he should have been fielding, delivered a string of unhelpful remarks and dabbled briefly with the captaincy in 2005 and 2007 before ridding himself of the burden of authority forever. His bowling has developed immensely since the early days when his approach to the crease bore a resemblance to an elephant trying to swallow a beach ball. He stunned everyone in 2006 when he scooped the bowling award after claiming 57 wickets and also finished top of the Saracens League bowling averages, a feat that said a lot more about the quality of batting in the league than it did about Barkers bowling.
He still cant turn it without the aid of a ridge or stone in the pitch but on his day he has found a way of getting the odd good batsman out, to say nothing of plenty of bad ones, and is closing in on 200 wickets for the club. However, despite a shared love of pizzas, hair dye and the number 23 on his tour shirt there is little danger of Barker being compared to Shane Warne.
Barker has also claimed over 100 catches for Offley although he is unlikely to be found in the covers these days. He is far happier in the slips where he can offer words of encouragement to wicketkeeper Chris Austin and does a decent job of catching most things that come near him without having to worry about doing too much running.
Yet regardless of his bowling and fielding 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 as he clubbed Milton Keynes finest to all parts and has the ability to savage any attack, depending on whether or not hes in the mood (see Caldecote in 2004) or monstrously hung-over when he turns up at the ground (see Crawley Green in 2006).
He is the clubs all-time leading run scorer hes had more innings than anyone else so its not simply a question of sublime brilliance but rather repeated opportunity despite a dire start to the 2007 campaign where his batting average sank below his bowling mark and he batted with all the flair and composure of a hungover Phil Tufnell.
Barker has also discovered that it is unwise to try and hook a fast bowler off the front foot if you have left sufficient room for the ball to pass through the grill on your helmet.
Thatll be four stitches and a scar to go then.