Storey books a happy ending

Thursday 18th June 2009 10:00 pm
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The vast majority of people who come into con-tact with after-sales manager Stewart Storey, when they visit Roger Young Land Rover at Wood-acre, Saltash, are totally unaware that they are in the pre-sence of one of first-class cricket's most successful all-rounders ever.

During a long and impressive 20-year career, Stewart, who was a right-hand bat and right-arm medium pacer,

figured alongside and

ag-ainst some of the grea- test names in the English game, writes Richard Walsh.

He played in a total of 332 first-class games; scored 10,776 runs at an average of 25.66, including 12 centuries, and took 496 wickets at a cost of 25.56 runs each.

Storey was born in Worthing and brought up at Bury on the South Downs, just above Arundel in East Sussex.

He actually started his playing career with neighbouring Surrey in 1959 and, until the Seventies, was a regular with the county that had dominated Championship Cricket for many years.

Contract

'My first year, in 1959, was actually the first time in eight seasons that Surrey hadn't won the Championship,' recalled Storey.

'When I went there, it was as an amateur, on a trial. In those days, amateurs chan-ged in a different dressing-room and I found myself in the same place as Peter May and Stuart Surridge, who were both highly-successful captains of the county so you can imagine how I felt to be in such illustrious company!'

After a successful trial match, Storey was offered a contract and within a week found himself down in the dungeons of The Oval along with the likes of Geoff Arnold and Robin Jackman, who would later also become stalwarts of the side. 'Without doubt the highspot of my time with Surrey was winning the County Championship in 1971,' Storey told me. 'We clinched it in our final match of the season, against Hampshire down at Southampton because, although we lost, we managed to get the bowling points we needed.

'It was our first win since 1958 and Mickey Stewart was the captain.

'Another high point also came that year. Towards the end of the season, against Derbyshire at The Oval, we were 23 for three and I came in and made 164 which remained my highest score.

'And I also remember well taking eight for 22 against Glamorgan at Swansea including a hat-trick; it was my best-ever return.'

Storey's list of notable achievements didn't end there either. He scored his 1,000th run at The Oval to become the only Surrey player since the 1930s to complete the double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets.

'I scored my 1,000th run off Brian Statham and my 100th wicket was Ray Illingworth's,' he said.

Storey retired from the first-class game in 1976 and opened a sports shop at Horley, near Gatwick.

However that wasn't to be the end of his involvement with county cricket. 'Out of the blue Michael Buss and Arnold Long, who were the  coach and captain of Sussex, approached me to ask if I would like to go back to playing because they were short of experience. Although I never really settled back into playing again, I ended up running the second team and then when Buss left, I was offered the job as chief coach.

'It was a tough assignment but we did well, just missing out to Notts one year for the Championship.'

In his first season at Sussex, Storey played a key role in helping the county win the Gillette Cup when they beat Somerset at Lord's in 1978.

'The turning point in that game was getting Viv Rich-ards out,' he said.

'John Barclay, the skipper, was bowling and I remember Viv having a sweep at the ball and top-edging it to square leg where Geoff Arnold caught him.

'Winning the Gillette Cup with Sussex was another one of the highspots of my career.'

After finally putting away his county bat at the end of the 1978 season, Storey took over as manager; a role he enjoyed for seven years before moving to the West Country in the late 1980s.

It's now about ten years since he last played a competitive game but he continues to be heavily involved with the game which has given him so much pleasure over the years,

'I am now groundsman for my village club at Calstock, who play up at Albaston; it's on the hill, a lovely ground with tremendous views,' he said.

Initially, when he moved West, Storey opened a shop in Calstock, a community-spirited village beside the River Tamar.

'I didn't really settle into shop life, though, so I joined Thomas Continentals, who were the Mercedes dealers at Crownhill in Plymouth and I was there for seven years as after-sales manager before coming back across the Tamar to Roger Young's.'

Now 68, and retired from full-time employment, Stewart still works three days a week, which suits him well.

His memory of the game is as fresh as ever. He recalls with ease with his first-ever County Championship century, against Somerset – at the County Ground, Taun-ton, in 1961 – and purrs in appreciation of the talents of John Edrich, 'the best batter, who although limited in his ability, like Geoff Boycott, knew how to utilise what he had.'

According to Storey, Edrich's greatest attribute was forgetting the ball that had just gone past him and concentrating on the next delivery... something youn-ger players today would do well to bear in mind.

'The people I saw get to the top were not necessarily the most talented but those who made the best of what they had,' said Storey.

'The greatest player like that was Ken Barrington. He was dropped after playing in one Test and then went away and decided that he had to score runs to get back into the team.

'He changed his whole way of playing, and never looked back.'

Stewart also has fond memories of playing against Somerset. 'When I scored my first hundred, people like Bill Alley and Kenny Palmer were bowling and Harold Stephenson was keeping wicket.

'I remember that when the ground was hard he used to wear plimsolls. I also remember that at that time they had the greyhounds running around the edge of the outfield!

'We didn't play at Taunton all that often during my years, but we did play a lot of Festival games at Clar-ence Park in Weston-super-Mare.

'I remember Fred Rumsey once bowling a short ball at Pat Pocock there. It nicked the end of his Adam's Apple as it went through him; that was pretty painful.

'The track used to turn at right angles and the old pavilion there was pretty ropey then so I'm guessing that would have been condemned by now!'

Stewart believes that playing first-class cricket was one of the most enjoyable periods of his life.

'I was privileged to play alongside some of the greats, who will always remain greats,' he said.

'I thoroughly enjoyed everything I did and I owe everything to cricket; it made me the person I am today.'

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