James William Arthur Taylor

James Taylor was born on January 06, 1990 at Burrough on the Hill, near Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire. His father was a National Hunt jockey but injury forced him to retire. James did his A levels at Shrewsbury School for whom he played cricket. He was a prodigy who scored 202*, as an 18 year old, playing for Loughborough Town. He became a highly talented right-handed batter, in the middle order, and occasional legbreak bowler. He played for Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and England. He is modest of height (5 feet and 6 inches) but, with good footwork, he was a strong cutter and puller.

He played first-class cricket from 2008, aged 18, to 2016, aged just 26. He played 139 matches scoring 9,306 runs at 46.06 with 20 centuries and 47 fifties and a top score of 291. Along with Andrew McDonald, Taylor holds Leicestershire’s record partnership for the 4th wicket of 360*, made in just 73 overs, against Middlesex at Leicester in 2010. His top score of 291 was made for Nottinghamshire against Sussex at Horsham in 2016.

2009, aged just 19, was his breakthrough year. He became the youngest Leicestershire player to score a double century when he made 207 against Surrey. That season he made 1,207 runs at 57.47 and was named the PCA’s Young Player of the Season. He was also the Cricket Writers’ Club Young Cricketer of the Year.

He was appointed captain for the England Lions in 2011 for the series against Sri Lanka A. He had an impressive series including an innings of 168*. Calls were getting louder for him to be promoted to the full England XI. Given his burgeoning career, approaches were made by both Warwickshire and Nottinghamshire, with the latter county winning his signature.

He played 7 Tests for England between August 2012, against South Africa at Leeds and January 2016, against South Africa at Centurion. He hit 2 fifties with a top score of 76. He also played 27 ODIs for England between 2011 and 2015. He made 887 runs at 42.23 with 1 century and 7 fifties and a top score of 101 against Australia in 2015.

On 12 April 2016, it was announced that Taylor, aged just 26, was forced to retire from playing due to an incurable heart condition.  Cricket fans were shocked to hear that such a promising career had been so cruelly finished.

Post playing, he went into coaching and has been an occasional summariser on “Test Match Special”. In July 2018, he was made a full-time selector for the England team. In April 2021, this role was amended to being head scout. In October 2022, he was appointed as batting coach for Leicestershire.

It will be a delight to welcome to our society someone still involved in county cricket who was a highly talented batter whose career was cut short prematurely due to ill health.

Ken Burney

Paul Farbrace

Paul Farbrace was born near Sandwich in Kent in 1967 and had a brief first-class career – representing his home county for three seasons – ending in 1989. He then played for Middlesex for six seasons but his overall first-class batting average of 18.23 (best 79) counted against him and his place was taken in the county team by Keith Brown.

It is as a coach that Paul has achieved more prominence in the game – including many national and county coaching roles. That side of his cricket career began in 2000 with the England Under 19s and Women’s teams. In 2007 he became Assistant Coach to Trevor Bayliss with Sri Lanka and he was on the team bus that was attacked by terrorists in Pakistan in 2009 – mercifully only sustaining minor injuries.

He became first-team coach for Kent in 2009 and after two seasons left to become 2nd XI coach at Yorkshire. Then, in 2013, he became National Coach for Sri Lanka. A busy and successful few months followed – with Tests and ODIs against Pakistan and Bangladesh crowned by success in the Asia Cup and T20 World Cup in 2014.

He then resigned in April 2014 to become Assistant Coach to Peter Moores with England. His period with England would also include being Interim Head Coach, when Moores was sacked, and working with Trevor Bayliss until 2017. This period included the unsuccessful 2015 World Cup and finalists in the T20 World Cup in 2016 – when England were favourites and the West Indies needed 19 to win from the final over. History records that it was bowled by Ben Stokes to Carlos Brathwaite and only needed four balls to reach a conclusion.

Most recently Paul has been Sporting Director at Warwickshire (for four seasons) and is currently Head Coach at Sussex – with a stated mission to develop local talent. He is married to the mother of Ollie Robinson – the English Test bowler.

Chris Coleman

Kevin Sharp

Kevin Sharp was born in Leeds on 06 April 1959. He went to Abbey Grange High School in Leeds. He was a left-handed batter and occasional right-arm off break bowler.

He played for Yorkshire from 1976-1990. He was a very gifted cricketer who made his debut aged 17. He made 260*, at New Road, for England Young Cricketers in 1978. He was capped in 1982 aged 23. He played 218 first-class matches during which he scored 9,962 runs at 30.84 with 14 centuries and 47 fifties and a top score of 181.

He also had three seasons at Griqualand West in South Africa between 1981 and 1984. He played 17 first-class matches and averaged just under 40.

Following the end of his Yorkshire career in 1990, aged just 31, he played for Shropshire in the Minor Counties from 1993 to 1997 while also playing club cricket for Bridgnorth and Ossett.

Following retirement from playing, Sharp has worked as a batting coach for Yorkshire and as an umpire. He coached some real batting talent at Yorkshire including Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Gary Ballance and Adam Lyth, all of whom were to play for England. Root remains a friend of Sharp and occasionally calls him for technical advice.

Having been part of a coaching clearout at Yorkshire in 2011, Sharp was recruited by his old playing colleague, Steve Rhodes, who took Sharp to Worcestershire onto their coaching team. When Rhodes was sacked in 2018, Sharp was upgraded to Head Coach. He held this post for 4 years until he retired in 2022. During his time at New Road, the county was known as one which produced a stream of good quality home-grown talent.

It will be interesting to hear the thoughts of a man who has been involved in county cricket for almost 50 years. His coaching has nurtured much talent for the benefit of English cricket.

Ken Burney

Ian James Gould

Ian “Gunner” Gould was born on 19 August 1957 at Taplow, Buckinghamshire. He was a left-handed batter and wicket-keeper who played for Middlesex (1975-80 and 1996), Sussex (1981-90, captain in 1987) and at ODI level for England in 1983.

He played football, as a goalkeeper, for both Slough Town and Arsenal thus acquiring his nickname of “Gunner”. He became Chairman of Southern Football League club, Burnham, in 2009.

Gould played 298 first-class matches in which he scored 8,756 runs at 26.05 with 4 centuries and 47 fifties with a top score of 128. He took 536 catches and made 67 stumpings. When at Middlesex, he won the County Championship in 1976 and 1980 and whilst at Sussex he won the NatWest Trophy in 1986 and the Sunday League in 1982.

He toured the West Indies with the England Young Cricketers in 1976. He played 18 ODIs in 1983 including that year’s Cricket World Cup in preference to Bob Taylor, England’s red ball wicket-keeper at the time. In those 18 games, Gould took 15 catches and made 3 stumpings.

He is best known as a high quality umpire. He stood in 74 Tests (2008-19), 140 ODIs (2006-19) and 37 T20Is (2006-16). He stood in 3 matches at the 2007 Cricket World Cup in the Caribbean. He umpired his first Test match in 2008 – South Africa v Bangladesh. He was promoted to the ICC Elite Panel of Umpires in 2009. He stood in the high profile India v Pakistan semi-final at the 2011 Cricket World Cup. He was one of twenty umpires to officiate in the 2015 Cricket World Cup. He was one of sixteen umpires to stand in the 2019 Cricket World Cup. In July 2019, he retired as an umpire having stood in his 140th ODI game.

In 2020, Pitch Publishing released Gould’s autobiography, “Gunner : My Life in Cricket”.

We look forward to hearing from a man who has both played and umpired at a high level and who is widely known in cricket circles as a chirpy character.

Ken Burney

Mark Andrew Robinson OBE                

Mark Robinson OBE was born on 23 November 1966 in Hull, Yorkshire. His nickname is Robbo and he was a right-arm fast-medium bowler for Northamptonshire (1987-90), Yorkshire (1991-95) and Sussex (1997-2002).

He took 4 wickets, including Neil Fairbrother and Mike Watkinson, on debut for Northamptonshire against Lancashire in 1987. His breakthrough season was 1988 when he took 46 first-class wickets at 22.93.

He was a genuine tail-ender. In 1990 he set a world record of 12 first-class ducks in a row, albeit with 7 of them not out. He finished the season with a total of 3 runs in 16 first-class innings with a top score of 1*. It was his ten not outs which elevated his average for the season to a heady 0.50!

In 1991 he moved to Yorkshire. In 1992, he took 50 first-class wickets at 22.68 and for the next 3 summers he took between 45 and 49 wickets. In 1993, he took a career-best innings haul of 9/37 against his former county, Northamptonshire.

He missed the 1996 season before joining Sussex in 1997. He had a good first season taking 48 first-class wickets at 29.70. In both 1998 and 1999 he took over 40 first-class wickets. 2000 was a disappointment but 2001 saw him, in Division 2, have his best season with 56 first-class wickets at 19.33.

In 229 first-class games he took 584 wickets at 30.49 with 5 wickets in an innings on 13 occasions and 10 wickets in a match twice with a best of 9/37 as above. He made 590 runs at 4.01 with a best of 27.

In October 2005, he took over as cricket manager at Sussex. Between 2005 and 2015 he had great success there – the county won back to back County Championships in 2006 and 2007 and also won the NatWest Trophy in 2006, the Pro 40 in 2008 and 2009 and the Twenty20 Cup in 2009.

He took on the role of coach to the England Women’s cricket team in 2015. He led the team to win the World Cup in 2017 having beaten India in the final. In 2018 he took England to the final of the Women’s World Twenty20 when they lost to Australia. He stood down in 2019 after 4 years in charge.

He became 1st Team Coach at Warwickshire in 2021 and met with immediate success by winning both the County Championship and the Bob Willis Trophy.  

It will be interesting to hear the views of a highly successful coach who is currently on the county scene.

Ken Burney

Derek Raymond Pringle

Derek Pringle was born on September 18, 1958 in Nairobi, Kenya. His father, Don Pringle, played for Kenya and represented  East Africa in 2 games at the first Cricket World Cup in 1975.

Derek went to Felsted School before going on to Fitzwilliam College at Cambridge University. He appeared as an extra in “Chariots of Fire”. He was university cricket captain in 1982 at which time he was selected for England against India at Lord’s.

He is very tall at 6ft 4in and was an all-rounder for Cambridge University (1979-82), Essex (1978-93) and England (1982-93). He was a right hand bat and right arm medium pace bowler who used his height to generate swing and bounce.

He was, and is, an unconventional character who likes real ale and vinyl records and who had the distinction of being the first England cricketer to wear an ear ring!

He played for Essex during a golden period for the county. In his career there, Essex won the County Championship six times, the NatWest Trophy once, the Benson and Hedges Cup once and the Sunday League three times.

Derek played 295 first class matches during which he scored almost 10,000 runs at just under 30 with 10 centuries and 48 fifties and a top score of 128. He also took over 750 wickets at around 25. He took 5 wickets in an innings on 25 occasions (with a best of 7/18) and took 10 wickets in a match 3 times.

He played 30 Tests, in and out, for England from 1982-92 during which he hit one half century (63) and took 70 wickets  with a best of 5/95. He played 44 ODIs between 1982 and 1993 during which he took 44 wickets with a best of 4/42.

Following his playing career, he became a cricket correspondent with “The Independent” and “The Daily Telegraph”.  He wrote his entertaining autobiography, “Pushing the Boundaries”, published by Hodder & Stoughton, in 2018.

It will be a pleasure to welcome to our society a man who has both played and watched cricket at a high level and who has a distinctive view of the game.

Ken Burney

David Ivon Gower OBE                         

David Gower was born on 01 April 1957 at Tunbridge Wells, Kent. He went to King’s School, Canterbury on a scholarship. He briefly studied law at University College, London but he had already played some cricket for Leicestershire so his academic career ended.

His nicknames are stoat, lubo and lu – maybe he will enlighten us as to how he acquired those?!

He played for Leicestershire (1975-89), Hampshire (1990-93), England (1978-92) and MCC in a career which lasted from 1975 to 1993. He was a languid, graceful left-handed bat who caressed the ball rather than belted it. He always looked elegant when he was batting whether in or out of form.

He played 448 first-class matches during which he scored 26,339 runs at 40.08 with 53 centuries and 136 fifties and a top score of 228. He was also a good fielder with a safe pair of hands which took 280 catches. He was a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1979.

He played 117 Tests for England during which he made 8,231 runs at 44.25 with 18 centuries and 39 fifties and a top score of 215. He pulled his first ball in Test cricket for a four against Pakistan at Edgbaston in June 1978 aged just 21. He captained England in 32 Tests, 25 of which were in succession. His highlight was scoring 732 runs at 81.33 in the 1985 series against Australia which was won 3-1. He hit 9 Test centuries against Australia, the same as Wally Hammond, which is only bettered by Jack Hobbs with 12. Although he was a strokemaker, he could play a rearguard innings such as his match-saving 154* against the West Indies at Jamaica in 1981.

He also played 114 ODIs during which he scored 3,170 runs at 30.77 with 7 centuries and 12 fifties and a top score of 158. He had a healthy strike rate, for his era, of 75.15.

Following his playing career, Gower moved effortlessly into broadcasting where he has been an excellent presence on our T.V. screens for many years, principally with Sky Sports.

It will be a pleasure to welcome a man, for our 40th anniversary Special Event, who has graced both cricket fields and our T.Vs with such charm and charisma.

Ken Burney