With treble-winning clubman DAVE WILLETTS
Name: Dave Willetts
Nickname(s): Not really got one although was called ‘the Sheikh’ during our treble winning year of 2011.
Batsman? Bowler? Allrounder? How would you describe your game? In my youth I used to be a bowler but gradually became more of a batter, especially at second team level, and was happy batting lower down the order in the firsts just to be able to play with the fantastic pro’s, the overseas amateurs (Michael O’Rourke, Kevin Geyer, Andrew Downton to name a few) and without doubt the amateurs (Mark Stewart, Phil Heaton, Andy Kerr to name just a few), that we had at Greenmount.
What got you interested in cricket? I lived near Darren Taylor in Greenmount as a child, and used to play cricket in his back garden. Darren and his dad, Brian Taylor, took me to junior practice at Greenmount CC in the late 70’s where, and because of some excellent coaching from Malcolm Grime, my interest in the game developed. I have now played for 42 continuous years at Greenmount and I don’t think may others will have achieved that.
Who was/is your all-time cricketing hero? Ian Botham.
Who is your favourite current professional cricketer? Ben Stokes.
Who is the best player you have played with (both professional and amateur)? Difficult with regards to the best professional, as being cricket chairman for 15 years I had the pleasure of helping the club sign quite a few, and played with them. These included Asher Zaidy, Robin Morris, Usman Tariiq, Nishit Shetty and Asif Zakir. However the best all round pro due to his explosive batting, personality, training and what he brought to the club outside ‘cricket’ was New South Wales’s Richard Chee Quee- a true Aussie gent and legend. Much easier to answer who the best amateur is and this is, without doubt, my good friend Mark Stewart. His bowling record over so many years speaks for itself and he will also tell you that he can bat a bit and will recall his De Bruyn and Rauf batting exploits, if you ever have a spare few hours! Not only feared by opposition batters, but also his own teammates if you ever dropped a catch, or misfielded, off his bowling!
Who is the opponent you most admired as a player? None- they were opponents so never admired them!
What was/is your favourite away ground? Bradshaw, although we didn’t win there much but a fantastic setting.
What is the most memorable match you played in? Playing in the 2007 Lancashire Knockout final v Bootle at Liverpool CC – the game was rained off but then it was replayed at Greenmount and, even though we lost, to see the ground packed to the rafters and having the privilege of playing was a fantastic experience.
What has been your personal ‘champagne moment’? Winning the treble in 2011 – Bolton League, Hamer Cup & Lancashire Knockout. Despite playing 2 games almost every weekend, the support we had and the team spirit and togetherness amongst the players before, during and after the game, will never be forgotten.
What is the funniest thing you have seen on a cricket pitch? Easy- Andy Skinner fielding at Heaton! There is quite a steep grass bank from the car park down to the pitch and on the boundary edge there is a small gully. Skins was fielding at fine leg and he sprinted (a term used loosely for Skins) around to field the ball, dived and slid belly first into the gully with empty cans and crisp packets flying everywhere. The ball went for four and Skins emerged with muddied whites. A few balls later the same happened again- same result! Again a few balls later the ball came down towards him, and he sprinted round the edge to field but this time he was clever and clearly remembered what happened the previous two occasions – this time he was running around the edge but didn’t dive and the ball hit the bank just in front of him, ricocheted back into the path of where he was running and hit him smack in the nether regions and he fell to the floor in agony with everyone on the pitch laughing and showing no sympathy at all.
Did/do you have any superstitions? No, none.
If you could go on a night out with three cricketing celebrities, who would they be and why? Not exactly celebrities but Aussie players that played at Greenmount and who I spent plenty of time with: Richard Chee Quee, Andrew Downton and Kevin Geyer.