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Walsham-le-Willows captain Liam Bryant picks his top five team-mates from down the years




Aside from a couple of seasons at Exning, Liam Bryant has spent the entirety of his playing days with Walsham-le-Willows.

Bryant has been a first-team regular since 2002, and has captained the side ever since they entered the Two Counties League set-up.

But which five players have made the biggest impression on him down the years? Read on to find out.

Liam Bryant batting for Walsham in the match against Haverhill II..Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography. (34452637)
Liam Bryant batting for Walsham in the match against Haverhill II..Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography. (34452637)

Nigel Bryant: My dad. I think I was too young to really appreciate how good dad was at his best, probably around the mid-90s. Dad was (is) a proper wicketkeeper with hands which the ball melted in to. He really put pressure on the batter and created opportunities.

He could also bat. I remember him getting 60-odd off 20-something balls which had people moving their cars to the furthest corners of the car park, and he could grind out a score when needed.

During one game at Exning he guided a very young tail and got us home. He could change the course of a game for his side.

CRICKET - Brockley (Batting) v Walsham le Willows (Bowling)..Pictured: Liam Bryant bowls...PICTURE: Mecha Morton. .. (34452668)
CRICKET - Brockley (Batting) v Walsham le Willows (Bowling)..Pictured: Liam Bryant bowls...PICTURE: Mecha Morton. .. (34452668)

I always wanted to impress my dad so he made me strive to be better and he also taught me the values of the game – play hard but within the spirit of cricket and enjoy a few beers after with team-mates and opposition.

Steve Owston: Steve had about 10 years at Walsham before he relocated to Cambridge. Over that time he scored a lot of runs for the club and was very reliable at the top of the order, while also being very good behind the stumps.

He worked hard at his game – keeping and batting – and always had time to help others with their games. His determination and team ethos are just three of the characteristics alongside his ability which made him one of the first names on the team sheet.

Ali Waugh: It's unfortunate over the last couple of years for Ali and the team that he hasn’t been able to bowl very much. Our opening bowler for many years, Ali has really set the tone for us.

CRICKET - Walsham Le Willows (Bowling) v Mistley II..Pictured: Ali Waugh....PICTURE: Mecha Morton. .. (34452719)
CRICKET - Walsham Le Willows (Bowling) v Mistley II..Pictured: Ali Waugh....PICTURE: Mecha Morton. .. (34452719)

Able to bowl to a plan and restrict teams when needed, but also has the ability to rip the heart out of a side by swinging the ball at pace. Some of the spells he has bowled for us over the years have been awesome. His 8-9 against Mildenhall a few years ago is top of that list.

In all of the Walsham teams I have picked, from under-13s to this day, Ali has been the first name I write down. Exactly the type of person a captain would want and he is able to influence games with the ball, bat, in the field and with his cricket brain as vice-captain.

We have played and practiced together while sharing many beers away from the game. A fantastic team-mate.

Ben de Carvalho: Ali and I were lucky to play with some very good players in Australia but from the moment we met Ben he was a real gent. We played together, trained together and were more or less together all of the time we were over there.

CRICKET - Stowmarket (Bowling/Fielding) v Walsham-le-Willows (Batting)..Pictured: Ben De Carvalho batting...PICTURE: Mecha Morton... (34452741)
CRICKET - Stowmarket (Bowling/Fielding) v Walsham-le-Willows (Batting)..Pictured: Ben De Carvalho batting...PICTURE: Mecha Morton... (34452741)

Since then Ben has spent a couple of summers here at Walsham and made a huge impression on not only the cricket club, but the whole village. Ben offered his time to coach juniors and seniors and on match days set a fine example of how the game should be played.

He is able to bowl quickly at times (particularly when rattled!) but his control, ability to move the ball either way and the bounce he generated made him a real handful for opposition batters.

His batting, from the outside, appears very simple – whack it! He has the ability to completely change a game with his brutal but calculated hitting and this was most evident for us against Felixstowe at home last summer when he made 154 not out from 90 balls, which included 11 sixes to chase down 250. Top cricketer, top man.

Tim Catley: My last pick was the toughest one. I could’ve picked several team-mates. I love playing cricket with my brother Joe, Barry Lynn, Oli Jackson, Ash Forbes and many other Walsham players over the years.

CRICKET: Burwell & Exning v Vauxhall Mallards Tim Catley scored 103 for B&E Picture by Mark Westley. (34452750)
CRICKET: Burwell & Exning v Vauxhall Mallards Tim Catley scored 103 for B&E Picture by Mark Westley. (34452750)

I have gone for Tim. Again, I could’ve picked a number of people but Tim really helped bring the best out of me in the two years I played with him at Exning. Tim and his family – in particular Matt and the great Tony – really helped me feel at home there.

Tim has been a wonderful servant to Exning and Suffolk over the years and being around players of that quality really helped me to improve my own game.

Standing at the other end watching him bat, you can’t help but pick up a few pointers. I thoroughly enjoyed sharing a changing room and a few beers after the game with him as well.

My top five cricketers (click on name to view their list)

Liam Bryant, Ben Shepperson, Rob Thurley, Darren Batch


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