Memories in Time – David East

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David East has ended a lengthy tenure with Essex Cricket that commenced in 1981 when he made his debut as wicket-keeper/batsman to begin a playing career lasting until the end of the 1989 season. Subsequently, he served the county as Commercial Manager and then as Chief Executive.

David scored 4553 first-class runs for Essex and claimed 533 victims plus a further 193 scalps in 171 List A matches and now shares three outstanding memories of his time as a player with the county.

Middlesex v Essex at Lord’s on September 11, 12, 13 1985. Match drawn.

Essex 92 (N.Williams 5-15) & 461 (G.Gooch 145, D.East 100), Middlesex 279 (M.Gatting 114, R.Butcher 77) & 196-7 (M.Gatting 83*).

“All three matches funnily enough come from the 1985 season, my first match is the one at Lord’s where I scored a century. We had struggled in the first innings after Keith Fletcher decided to bat but the humid conditions saw us struggle to 28 for 5 at one stage before we were dismissed for our lowest total of the season. We trailed by a significant margin on first innings but batted well in our second innings, Graham Gooch scored a century and things went really well for me.  I recall Wayne Daniel kept bouncing me and I responded by repeatedly hooking him which was a compulsive shot. I was on 94 when he sent down another bouncer and I hooked him for a 6 into the Tavern to take me to 100. He then bowled me with a yorker while I was expecting another bouncer and all three stumps went out of the ground. Middlesex had a decent attack, apart from Daniel; they had Norman Cowans and Neil Williams plus spinners John Emburey and Phil Edmonds so the hundred is a nice memory to have. By the time we were dismissed, Middlesex needed 275 to win in 51 overs and in the end; they were left hanging on for the draw.

“There had only been five other Essex players who had scored a hundred at Lord’s since the war; Keith Fletcher, Graham Gooch, Brian Taylor, Dickie Dodds and Doug Insole and so for my benefit year, I had some prints made and all those players signed them.  I was able to auction the prints although I kept one and presented it to my late father which was rather special.”

Essex v Nottinghamshire at Lord’s on September 7, 1985. Essex won by 1 run.

Essex 280-2 innings closed.  (B.Hardie 110, G.Gooch 91) Nottinghamshire 279-5 innings closed (T.Robinson 80, D.Randall 66, C.Broad 64)

“This match provided me with the whole range of emotions, we were quite satisfied with our score and were going along quite well until Derek Randall came in and played a brilliant innings.  By the start of the last over, they needed 18 runs with Randall playing the most amazing trick shots and it was difficult to set a field to him.”

“He was one of the great exponents of improvisation; he could adapt his game to whatever he needed to do. Derek Pringle bowled that last over, he was one of the best ‘death’ bowlers around and bowled really good leg-stump yorkers  but Randall was just stepping back to give himself room or running around the crease.”

“As I say, he was difficult to set a field to at most times but when he was in this vein of form it was impossible. Pringle didn’t bowl at all badly but with three balls remaining, Notts needed ten to win and then only 2 off the final ball. That last ball was probably the worst that Derek had bowled in the over but Randall hit straight to mid-wicket where Paul Prichard caught it.  I just remember the emotions that I went through; absolute elation at the start to abject despair midway through to elation again right at the end. That’s what stays prominently in my mind.”

“The relief at the end of that over when we’d won was incredible because I’d lost in two Benson & Hedges Finals at Lord’s in preceding years and I never thought that I would actually win a final there, so the elation I felt was immense. Those were the days when the crowds would come onto the outfield at the end and I remember standing on our dressing-room balcony and looking down at our crowd; I could see my wife and all the other players families and it was just a fantastic occasion.”

“I don’t remember a lot about the evening though, I’m sure we celebrated heartily. We were good on the field but extremely good off the field!”

Somerset v Essex at Taunton on July 27, 29, 30 1985. Essex won by 7 wickets. Somerset 363 (I.Botham 152, J.Wyatt 50, I.Pont 5-103, D.East 8 catches) & innings forfeited, Essex 68-1 declared & 296-3 (G.Gooch 173)

David’s third choice is a match at Taunton when he equalled the world record for a wicket-keeper held by Wally Grout of 8 catches in an innings.

David recalled his personal landmark achievement when writing an article for the Essex County Cricket Club 1986 handbook. With his permission, the article is reproduced here.

“Birthdays during a cricket season tend to pass almost unnoticed. In fact, the only memorable feature is the rather large dent that a sizeable round of drinks makes in an already depleted expense allowance. When I awoke on Saturday July 27th, 1985, I had no reason to believe that this birthday was to be any different.

We had spent the night at our hotel in Taunton preparing ourselves for our Championship match against Somerset. Over the past few days, there had been various comments from our bowlers as to how many balls Messrs Botham and Richards would lose during the forthcoming match and similarly from our batsmen as to how many bits they would have chipped off them by a certain Joel Garner. All the comments were good-humoured but with an opposition such as Somerset, something spectacular was bound to happen.

We found ourselves taking the field at 11.a.m. with a brace of Ponts in our ranks. Ian was making his first-class debut for Essex accompanied by the somewhat more seasoned figure of his brother Keith. Ageing copies of Wisden were hurriedly thumbed revealing that this was the first time since Claude and Hubert Ashton played some 51 years ago that two brothers had represented an Essex side in a first-class match.

In the absence of both John Lever and Neil Foster, young Pont was thrown the new ball. A very lively spell ensued resulting in the early fall of Roebuck and Popplewell – both to the simplest of catches behind.  We were then greeted by the awesome entrance of the great I.V.A.Richards. Ian’s first ball to Vivian didn’t inspire the utmost confidence as it ricocheted off the extra cover boards back into play.  A considerably quicker  bouncer certainly appeared to take Viv by surprise, and then a well-disguised   slower ball  induced another  tiny edge  which I managed to hold on to – Somerset 56  for  3 – all caught East bowled Pont (I).  With the quality of our bowling attack, I would normally expect two or three catches  in an innings , so having  three in the morning session,  I was reasonably sure that would be my quota for the day.

By now, we had been joined by Ian Botham. He had decided that  today was his day  and was proceeding  to pepper  various tiers in the Old Pavilion from deliveries by a somewhat bewildered K.Pont, who had been brought on to give his brother a rest. The game at this stage was beginning to degenerate to benefit match status as it was impossible to bowl at Botham without seeing the ball race to the boundary. Botham’s partner Nigel Felton had been batting well albeit in a much more subdued fashion, until Keith found the outside edge of his bat providing me with catch number four.

The odd flippant comment was now being made in the slips that four catches in a row was far too good an average for me and that we should expect one to go clattering to the ground very shortly.

The largest of our two Cambridge Blues (Derek Pringle) had been bowling earlier  without success  but an inspired post-lunch spell,  no doubt fuelled  by the mountain  of food he consumed during the interval , brought the reward of three wickets, all caught behind. At this stage, I was not alone in wondering what the record for most catches in an innings was. Our question was swiftly answered by the animated image of our Secretary/manager’s wife, Sue (Edwards)  trying to catch the attention  of one of us from the pavilion  in what looked like a cross between poor semaphore and a break dance. She succeeded and the message conveyed was that seven catches were an Essex record and that one more would equal the world record.”

The inane comments one would expect from our team had, of course, started. When, however a misjudged hook from Botham gave Ian Pont his fifth wicket and provided my eighth catch, there were some very genuine congratulations all round.

“Botham declared the Somerset innings  closed on 363-9 and I was obviously very pleased with the day’s events although a little disappointed in not having the chance to get a ninth catch. However our captain, K.W.R.Fletcher, soon brought me back down to reality saying that his daughter Tara could have caught them all with one hand tied behind her back.

I certainly won’t be forgetting my 26th birthday in a hurry, not least for the fortune it cost me in the bar that night.”

Essex Cricket