Pride in being a former Bear radiated at Edgbaston last Sunday as players who have represented the club through six decades gathered for the Warwickshire Old County Cricketers Association’s President’s Day.
From Jim Stewart, who made his Bears debut in 1955, through to Neil Smith who hung up his boots in 2003, former players gathered for the prestige event in the WOCCA calendar.
This year’s president, Keith Jones, who played 35 first-class matches as a batsman for the Bears between 1969 and 1973, is delighted that the association continues to flourish.
“It is a great honour to have played first-class cricket, and therefore become eligible to be a member of WOCCA ,” Keith said. “And to serve as president is a very proud moment for me.
“Looking around the room on President’s Day, the phrase ‘once a Bear, always a Bear’ sprang to mind. We had members present from aged in their 40s to their 80s. And alongside that it is wonderful that the current players and management are so keen to get involved with WOCCA events.
“Jim Troughton and Ian Bell, both Warwickshire lads, of course, take a close interest and Ashley Giles, who was a Surrey boy but is now as true-Bear as can be, is on the WOCCA committee.
“It is lovely that such a bond exists between the current and former players. You can’t just ‘grow’ history and Warwickshire County Cricket Club has a wonderful history and the continuing success of WOCCA is a lovely way to celebrate that history.”
Jones played for the Bears in a very different era to the current one – but insists he would have relished a bash at T20 cricket.
“It’s a very different game today but I would have loved Twenty20,” he said, “not because I was a big hitter of the ball but I’d have nudged it here and there and if you can score one and two per ball, into the gaps you can score quickly.
“The less violent players, like Brian Lara and Rohan Kanhai, had the big shots but also scored quickly by working the ball skilfully around. Ian Bell is a classic example. The game changed when Lara came along because he scored at a run a ball and now it has become commonplace.”
Looking around the room on President’s Day, the phrase ‘once a Bear, always a Bear’ sprang to mind. We had members present from aged in their 40s to their 80s. And alongside that it is wonderful that the current players and management are so keen to get involved with WOCCA events.Keith Jones
A very strong T20 side could be compiled from those present at WOCCA Presidents’ Day on Sunday – with Jim Stewart and John Jameson opening the batting for starters!
And then coming in at four, perhaps, Dennis Amiss, a former Bears and England great and regular at WOCCA functions.
“It was lovely to see such a great line-up of old players on Sunday for such a special day,” said Amiss. “It is nice of the club to host the event so well and it’s always a very good occasion.
“It’s all about being a Bear and it’s great that the present-day players and coaches embrace that so warmly and are keen to continue the line and keeping the association going strong.”