By Neil Fissler
RUPERT EVANS says Oxfordshire have always had an unwritten rule when it came to selecting their sides – they never looked for outsiders.
Evans points out that selected players are either born in Oxfordshire or, like him, they grew up or played club cricket in the county.
That set Oxfordshire apart between 1975 and 1989 as they picked up three Minor Counties titles without importing a single player.
Evans, now the county coach, says: “It was a rule that we had but I don’t ever think it was written in our policy.
“It was just accepted that this was the way that we would go. We would just pick local players. We used to play against each other on a Saturday in club cricket.
“Then when we came together everybody celebrated each other’s success. It was such a close knit side. And whenever we played against sides with county pros it lifted us to do better.
“We wanted to prove that we could be a good side even without an import. Even though I was born in Jamaica I have lived in England since I was 11 years old.
“It wasn’t like I had just arrived. I did all of my secondary schooling here and I played all of my cricket in Oxfordshire.
“I know people might think I was an import but I am as Oxfordshire as you can get.”
In the 1989 final Hertfordshire were Oxon’s opponents at New Road, Worcester. They were asked to bat first and it wasn’t long before they were in trouble.
Opener Andy Needham was dismissed lbw by Keith Arnold for three and that set the tone for the rest of the day as Oxfordshire kept up the pressure.
They restricted Hertfordshire to 199-8 and knocked off the runs with two overs to spare with an unbeaten 75 from Stuart Waterton leading them to 200-3 and a seven wicket win.
Evans says victory was made even sweeter due to the fact that Hertfordshire had a handful of former first class players in their ranks.
He continued: “They had Andy Needham, Steve Henderson, Neil MacLaurin and Bill Merry who had all played first-class cricket. And we outplayed them. That was definitely very pleasing.
“Keith Arnold got Needham who was a key man for them out early. That set the tone and they were always on the back foot.
“Everything we did on the day came off and everybody performed well to keep the pressure on them.
“I wouldn’t say that you ever have an easy win in a final but we were able to chase the target down because we didn’t lose wickets. We were always in command.
“Stuart Waterton just held up one end and scored quickly enough to keep things ticking over.
“He scored a lot of runs that season and had a good average, he was Mr Dependable and more often than not he got a score even when wickets were falling around him.
“He was a key member of the side. And what does go un-noticed because of the runs that he scored is what a good wicket keeper he was as well.”
BACK ROW (left-to right):
David Wise: The batsman is now a Conservative councillor in Stratford upon Avon and ran a Southam-based private hire business, Premier Cars.
Patrick Jobson: The batsman is still living in Oxford and is working as a sales manager for an IT company based in London.
Stuart Waterton: The wicket keeper has settled in Northamptonshire where he is now the brand manager of Kookaburra Sport UK.
Jon Hartley: The all-rounder is still based in Oxford where he runs his own chartered surveyors practice Jon Hartley and Associates.
Ian Curtis: The spinner was educated at Oxford University and for the last 22 years has been the development officer at their School of Geography and the Environment.
David Hale: The fast bowler lives in Bicester where he has worked as a manager for a company in the engineering industry.
FRONT ROW (left to right):
Geoff Ford: The opening batsman was a manager in the car industry in Cowley before transferring to Bromsgrove, Worcester where he has spent the last 20 years.
Roger Busby: The seamer has worked as a caretaker but is now a landscape gardener running his own business from his base in Thame, Oxfordshire.
Phil Garner: The batsman was a teacher who became head of the Department of Student Services at Oxford College prior to his death in September 2009 aged 63
Rupert Evans: The Jamaican all-rounder has continued to serve Oxfordshire as the head of cricket and is now county coach having started as cricket development officer.
Tim Lester: The batsman is now an English teacher at the International Grammar School in Sydney, Australia where England rugby coach Eddie Jones once taught.
Chris Clements: The batsman was the director of a software publishing company and is now a business consultant as well as chairman of theOxfordshire Cricket Board.
Alan Crossley: The wicket keeper also served as team secretary and was then chairman of selectors while working as a historian with Oxfordshire County Council.
Keith Arnold: The seamer is the county’s all-time leading wicket taker and is now based in Southam, Warwickshire and works as a sales manager.
Mike Nurton: The batsman moved to Sherborne School as manager of the sports centre in 1987 and then taught theology and was cricket coach.
Graham Savin: The all-rounder currently lives in Bicester where he is the full time head groundsman for Bicester and North Oxford Cricket Club.
This piece originally featured in The Cricket Paper, Friday January 22 2016