Manor Ground Memories from Anthony Aduhene

For this edition of Manor Memories, we hear from hero of the 1992 cup final, former housemate of Tim Dunn, legendary bowler and occasional all-rounder, Anthony Aduhene. A huge character with a very distinctive bowling action, Anthony was the mainstay of the club’s bowling attack in the 1990s, despite relocating to Nottingham during this period. On his day, he was a match winner, could make the ball talk at considerable pace and has to be amongst the best bowlers to have played for the club.

What’s your earliest memory of the Manor Ground?

I first started playing cricket at East Preston Cricket Club. I remember being taken to Worthing for a game when I was only about 10 and I remember it being an enormous ground. I don’t remember much else about it. I joined Worthing because I had been dropped from East Preston 1st team to the second team. I felt it was an affront to my dignity and I refused to play. I was a complete idiot in those days. I went to Worthing and played in their 4th X1, something Tim Dunn refused to do if I remember correctly (ha-ha). I gradually worked my way through the teams and got 5 against Preston Nomads 2nds. I remember going along to nets and having to bowl at Robbie Miller (the first team Captain); not really knowing who he was. I got him out two balls on the trot. (note to young kids in the nets – bowl to the captain and knock him over – he won’t forget you). I am pretty sure that got me into the 1st team.

What do you remember of your Worthing debut? Both in the Juniors and for the 1st team?

I never played for the Juniors at Worthing. My first game was a mid-week match for Dick Crump (an absolute legend of Worthing CC). I remember him asking me if I could bowl faster than the guy who was in the opposition. Overconfident in my own ability, “yes“ I replied. Dick asked me to open the bowling. My first ball pitched once and then hit the sight screen. Unfortunately it pitched half way to the boundary. I think that is why I ended up in the 4th team.

I made my first team debut against Littlehampton. My first wicket came in that match. Bowled a guy called Derek Knevett. I remember him not being happy at all. I used to celebrate my wickets quite vigorously in those days. I do not remember much about the match now.  I do remember playing at Littlehampton once and after releasing the ball having to call out to the person at point (Chris Holland I think) to watch out as the ball came directly his way from my hand. It could be said that I lacked control both on and off the pitch.

What was your favourite game/s for Worthing and why?

I played so many fantastic games for Worthing. We had a great season in 1989. We beat the champions, Chichester and top side Preston Nomads in the first two games of the season. Most of the team were young except for the legend that was Derek Semmence. I had so much respect for that man. Not only was he a brilliant cricketer but he always imparted his knowledge to me. When he was the Sunday Captain he would just bowl me forever. I learned a lot. Thank goodness that stupid rule of only 7 overs per bowler (for under 18s) was not in place when I played. When Derek used to bowl, some of us youngsters used to make creaking noises as he ran in to bowl. It was extremely funny and Derek pretended to be unimpressed. Secretly I think he loved it!

I digress. In 1992 we won the Sussex Cup final against Bexhill. That was a day to remember. I somehow won the match off my bat (22 not out) with us being 9 down. But no game will ever surpass the semi-final against Horsham at Cricket Field Road. It was such a massive game for us. I remember us having a team photo before the match. (Talking to Richard Marshall sometime later he told me that he warned his team that for us, Worthing, this is like a cup final and to beware). As Tim Dunn mentioned we didn’t get off to the best of starts. I recall David Renham playing very well but then from nowhere Justin Watts played the most amazing innings I had seen him play. So many amazing strokes. I can still see the six sailing over the extra cover boundary. 68 off 69 balls and a truly magnificent knock. We got about 180 and tensions were high in the dressing room. We had three opening bowlers in our team, me, John Coles and Danny Law. Everyone wanted to bowl from the Railway end. I made my views clear but was criticised for not doing what the captain wanted. I was shouted down and had to bowl from the Church end. 0-17 off 2 overs. I was gutted. Having played for Horsham for 3 years this was especially galling as I could hear all the remarks being made by the Horsham players and spectators. Horsham reached 95-2 off about 20 overs and I was brought back on from the Railway End.

4 wickets in 10 balls and the game changed.

Drama followed as Bruce Pike was told to “go forth and multiply in the room that was up the stairs and first on the right” after nicking to the keeper. As Pike approached the pavilion, he was smashing his bat on the ground only for one of our supporters, Alistair Shackman (or was it Paul Westlake?) to tell him “You should have tried hitting the ball that hard mate”. His mood did not improve. Ken Cracknell was our Umpire and he gave Nico Pretorious (Horsham’s opening bowler and overseas player) out, caught behind. He was not impressed and smashed the stumps out of the ground with his bat. Their umpire, David Swain was standing at Square Leg and raced towards the stumps as fast a one legged umpire could do whilst Mike Beckwith, the Chairman of Horsham Cricket Club and a big man, came on to the field of play stating “I will deal with this” in the most authoritative tone he could muster. Suddenly from 95-2 they were 99 for 6. We were so pumped. I remember Danny Law bowling at the speed of light and their lower order batters refusing to take singles to avoid him. At one point both Danny and I were on the boundary in front of the pavilion. A ball went between us for four and I got loads of abuse from those sat there. We were not to be denied and came out winners by 9 runs. I led the team off and we were all screaming and shouting in the changing room. It was such a momentous day. When we came out of the dressing room virtually all their players had left, and we only left the bar after closing time. I would love to do all that again.

Who was/were your favourite team-mates and why?

The season of 1989 was my favourite as we did so well. We ended up fourth with a team that had no ’superstars’ but just a bunch of lads that got on really well together. Although I did upset Phil Major and Tim Dunn with my hot spoon trick. Poor Arwell.

Who was the best Overseas player you played with and against?

David Hussey up at Horsham. I remember setting a field with 3 slips and a gully and him stroking a ball through the covers. I moved one of the slips into the covers and him then stroking the ball though another gap. I thought ‘oh no, this is gonna be a tough afternoon!’ I recall Mark Upton laughing and saying ‘try again Dinghy’.  He was quality. I once played against Indian spinner Dillip Doshi, who had previously played for India. I watched Ian Botham smashing him everywhere so I thought, “this should be easy”. What a nightmare. I batted for half an hour and got three runs against him. All off the edge. He was incredible.

We had some really good overseas players at Worthing with varying skills and personalities. Not all were popular, but my vote will go to Dean Potter. He joined us when we were not a great side and had a fantastic season. He was universally liked throughout the club and remember the late John Rogers being effusive in his praise of Dean’s performances.  JR’s reactions when Dean did well caused a lot of laughter among the club members.  There may have been better players than Dean, but he was all-round special

Who were the best English amateur/s you played with and against?

I always thought David Briance was a good player. I used to have great battles with him. I also loved playing against Terry Farley; a great challenge. I would purposely put two men back on the hook. One just in front of square and one just behind. He knew the bouncer was coming. One famous time I had the trap set. He still took it on. However, on this one occasion I didn’t bounce him, but he stayed back looking for it. He spooned a length delivery to cover only for Arwel Roberts to drop it. Now if you know Arwell you would put your house, life, newborn child, on him taking any catch that came near him. I collapsed on the floor. It was the easiest in the world.

What are your best and funniest memories on the field?

The funniest incident was during a mid-week match under the captaincy of Dick Crump (RIP). I was batting with Derek Semmence against a non-spinning, non-pitching left armer. I struck him for two mighty sixes and then mistimed one for a single. Derrick then hit him for two glorious 4s. On the fifth ball of the next over Derek hit a ball to long off and called for one.  ‘No’ ‘ I said. He stood in the middle of the wicket ‘  What are you doing?’ he asked  ‘No’ I said again (wanting to keep the strike to the non-spinning, non-pitching left armer). Eventually I said ‘oh come-on then’ and ran past him to the other end. Unfortunately, the ball was on its way to the wicket and Derek was run out by yards. He was not impressed. As he walked past me to the pavilion, I was unable to look at him because I was laughing so much. Martin Derrick was umpiring and said it was the worst bit of cricket he had ever seen. I continued batting and Derek was sat on the pavilion steps. When I got to 50 I raised my bat and observed Derek with his arms firmly crossed. I apologised profusely to him at the end of my innings and bought him a beer after the match. As the years went by, we laughed so much about it (well I did anyway). I will miss him so much. He just used to bowl me all day when he was the Sunday Captain. He was also delighted when I got to play some county cricket as well.

Another game was when I brought 10 of my friends to play against the Worthing Mid-Week XI. Tim Dunn, having taken the afternoon off work, was playing for Worthing. I told the lads that if Tim played and missed, we all to go up for a massive appeal. Paul Boarer was bowling. Tim shouldered arms – his bat was almost in orbit as the ball crashed into his thigh pad and dropped into the hands of short leg. The appeal was venomous and to his horror, Dennis the umpire raised his finger. there was a general sense of opinion that Dennis could not see past his nose. It was very funny.  We considered calling him back as he did take the afternoon of work. We decided against it.

What are your best memories off the field?

This story has been told many times as it continues to make me laugh some 30 years after it happened. Picture the scene. It’s a hot summer evening and the game at the Manor is meandering towards its conclusion. As was their practice, the President of the club and his wife (Ken and Doreen) arrived at the Manor to watch the end of the match. Justin Watts and I were both in our twenties and like most young men, we appreciated the female form. Especially that which is just below the neck line and in large quantities. Many young men discuss this part of the female anatomy when they are together and away from female ears. Justin and I were sat together on the pavilion steps and he leaned towards me and uttered these immortal words “Look at the size of the ?*?* on Doreen”, he whispered. “Doreen”, I shouted, “Justin has just commented on the size of your chest”. The pavilion steps went a deathly silence. And in the highest pitched voice you have ever heard “I did not” Justin responded; clearly indicating that he had made the comment. Needless to say, the pavilion erupted in laughter. Doreen had a great sense of humour and took it very well. Justin was speechless and couldn’t believe I dropped him in it. We have continued laughing at this for many years. Justin tells me that was the most embarrassing moment of his life. Even now as I write this, tears of laughter well up inside me. It is by far the funniest thing that ever happened to me at Worthing Cricket Club.

You had a year or two playing at Horsham. Did you enjoy it and how did it compare with Worthing?

When I was 18 or 19 I was trying to get into the SYC (Sussex Young Cricketers) squad to play at the Cambridge Festival. I had one opportunity to prove myself against the Young Australians who were touring at the time. I bowled pretty well but got taken off after beating one of their batters continually during one over. I got brought back on to bowl when they needed just 25 to win. I was furious and believed the captain was told to remove me from the attack if I looked like getting wickets. It probably wasn’t true, but I had to find a place to vent my frustration. Life for me at the time was not great. I needed something to give me a lift. I didn’t get selected and missed out. It was a very difficult time for me.

Unfortunately, the captain of the SYCs at the time also played for Worthing. Because of what he did I could not speak to him at all. I was so enraged. Then he became captain of Worthing. I would not play for him and so left. I guess at the time I was no great loss to the club.

I went to Horsham and played there for three years. In hindsight it was probably the best move for my career. It is such a good wicket and a place where you must learn to bowl properly. My first year there I was regularly in the 1st team but the last two years I spent most of the time in the second team. They started telling me that I wasn’t good enough to get 1st team wickets. Playing in the 2’s was fun. I played under Paul Baker and he scared me at times. But we won the league and I got my maiden century for them. At the end of my three years with Horsham the person I had issues with had left Worthing. I played a couple of Sunday games for Worthing and it felt good to be back. I felt the lads wanted me back as well which felt good.

You had some county 2nd XI trials for the professional game. Any stories to share from that experience and what did it teach you?

I remember when I was about 14 and playing for East Preston Cricket Club, I mentioned to one of the slightly older players that I wanted to be a professional cricketer. What boy of that age doesn’t want to be. The response I got was “but you’re rubbish, you will never play professional cricket”. In reality I was not very good but in my own mind (deluded maybe) I was the best bowler in the world. I just cannot believe that an older player would say that to a young keen cricketer. It is something I would never have done. Even if I thought a player had no ability I would always to try to encourage them in their dreams. When I was in school everyone in my year 11 cricket team got selected for county trials. All but one. Guess who missed out. You can imagine my rage. As I mentioned before missing out on SYC Cambridge Festival was difficult, but the school thing was a lot worse.

However, I still never gave up hoping. My return to Worthing in 1989 changed things. In two seasons I got 92 league wickets and all of a sudden, I became a respected bowler. One player who I really respected told one of our players that he thought I was the best bowler in the League at that time. Humbled. I had asked Ian Waring (Sussex 2nd XI coach) what the chances were of me getting an opportunity to play for Sussex.  He said he would see. Imagine my extreme joy when I got the call that I was to be selected to play against Hampshire in the Second XI County Championship. I played two matches, one against Somerset at Hove. A chastening experience as they ran up a total of over 500. I realised that cricket at the higher levels was extremely tough. By good fortune someone spoke on my behalf to the Derbyshire coach and I got to play the rest of the 1990 season with them. It was a brilliant experience and I learnt so much. I got a few runs and wickets and a 5-118 against Gloucestershire.

In 1991 I played quite a few games for Sussex which led to an amusing spat with Malcolm Locke from Littlehampton Cricket Club. There was a 20-over match at the Manor which I was not playing in. I arrived as the game was in progress. As I sat on the pavilion steps Locke called out “Aduhene why are you not playing” I responded “Lockey, you really don’t want to know why I am not playing”  I think he found out later that I had been playing for the County. Nice moment.

The main thing it taught me that I was not as good as I wanted to be but I was cool with that. At least I knew. I tried hard but it wasn’t to be. I realised that some players I played against in the Sussex League were not as good as they thought and getting them out became a lot easier. Robin Beer (Horsham CC) had a terrible batting flaw and one time I took about 30 seconds placing my field whilst standing right next to him. He did not like that but liked it even less when I got him out the very next ball.

Another great moment was against Sidley. I got on very well with the lads down there and especially Andrew Capon. Before the match started, I had some banter with him and told him I was going to bounce him. “Bring it on’ he said. “Game on” I said. Very early in their innings I bounced him and the ball went sailing away over fine leg for six. The pavilion erupted in cheers and applause and I was left standing with my hand on my hips wondering what the heck was going on. In an attempt to rile me Capon took off his helmet and called for his cap. You can ask any fast bowler, it is the height of insolence. I didn’t say anything. I just went back to my mark. Talking to Andrew after the match he told me that he did it to goad me into bowling him another bouncer. By this time in my life I had mellowed and become more thoughtful. I pitched it up and he nicked it behind much to my delight and silence from the Sidley supporters. We had a great laugh about it afterwards. Fun times in the Sussex League.

My best moment playing for Sussex was returning to play at Horsham against Northants. Having been told previously that I wasn’t good enough for their 1st team only to return playing for the County second team was especially sweet.

Anything else you want to share about your time playing for Worthing CC?

I loved playing for Worthing CC. While I was in Uni in Lancaster I would travel down to play. Even after I eventually settled in Nottingham I would still travel down. Not sure if my wife was overly impressed though. Although I got the opportunity to play some county cricket nothing beats that day when we turned Horsham over. I have so many good memories.

The thing that touches me the most though is something I found out in the last few years; related to me by a fellow player. It is well known that I didn’t get on that well with some players in one of our rival teams. I objected to one of them coming to the club as I feared he would take over. He did. I was away at University at the time but was told that he had got injured and would not be playing again that season. I returned to get 45 not out and 5 for ‘I don’t know how many’, as we beat Littlehampton. During and after the match (rightly or wrongly) I completely blanked the individual. This did not please him and before long I was invited to an impromptu meeting with Terry Burstow (a highly respected individual in the club and highly respected by me). He suggested that as a senior player in the club I shouldn’t go around ignoring the club captain in such a way that was seen by younger club members. I was informed that if I continued to do so then I may not be selected to play. I don’t think I responded and just went back to the bar.  Years later I heard that the rest of the lads said that if I was to be dropped for this reason then they would not play either. I was staggered. I never realised I was held with that much affection. When I was told I was deeply touched.

As my playing days came to an end I spent a couple of seasons playing for the 2nd XI. I really enjoyed that. At one point I was considered for the 1st XI for my batting as I was scoring the most runs for the 2’s. The 1st Xl hierarchy could not bear that to happen so I never made it back. However, standing in the slips with Justin Watts and listening to his adventures of the past was always entertaining. The best part was imparting my experience to the younger players. One game we were playing at Three Bridges and I was batting with Stuart Carter. We put on quite a lot of runs together. Every now and then Stuart would have a waft outside of the off stump and I would scold him. “What the heck do you think you are doing chasing after that wide ball. Leave it alone. Make him bowl straight and then hit him for four”. Sure enough the guy bowled straight and Stuart hit it for four. “See, what did I tell you”  I told him. Some would be horrified that I would be coaching a young lad how to bat. He played really well and got 67 I think. What was especially pleasing was that he must have gone home and told his parents about our batting partnership. The following week his parents were at the Manor and I met them while doing a lap of the ground. They said he was so happy with that innings and came home raving about how I supported him. The same year, or maybe the following year we were at Haywards Heath CC. Whilst we were fielding Stuart kept missing the ball in the field. Having watched him I scolded him again saying  “How do you expect to pick up the ball when you keep taking your eyes off the ball when it comes near you. Watch the ball into your hands and stop acting like you are scared of the ball”. An over or two later he ran about 20 yards, dived and took an amazing catch. I looked at him, tilted my head to the left and raised my eyebrows. He knew. I think it’s called giving back.

Worthing was, and will always be, my Cricket Club.

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Comments

  • Lutters

    Predicatbly long and rambling, but it couldn’t be anything else. Great to have an argument with and could make the ball talk. It was a pleasure playing with Anthony and he is rightly considered a Worthing CC legend. I notice you forgot the Brewster “flippin’ ‘ec” batting moment by the way!

  • Lloydy Cratersch

    Superb story telling Dingy! A bonafide club LEDGE.

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