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Where are they now? Kent – B&H winners and Sunday League champions 1973

By Neil Fissler

Alan Ealham admits that Kent never thought that they were going to lose a final such was the confidence running through the county.

Between 1967 when they won the Gillette Cup and 1978 when they won the Championship outright for the second time in eight years they won no fewer 13 major trophies.

And even though Lancashire  are called the ‘One-Day Kings’ of that era, because of their record of winning the Gillette Cup four times in five years, it is Kent who should really lay claim to the title.

Kent managed to do the Benson & Hedges Cup and Sunday League double twice, firstly in 1973 and then again three years later. They also won a Gillette Cup in 1974.

Ealham said: “We had a good side, so once we got into winning ways we just rolled on from there. There was us and Lancashire basically in that era.

“In that era we won 13 trophies in 12 seasons, including two County Championships outright, including 1978 when I was captain, which was the last time we won it.

“When you are winning trophies as regularly as we did, you never think that you are going to lose.

“We had a good base in Brian Luckhurst – he was a great anchor man.

“He fended off the new ball and allowed us stroke players to come in later on and take it apart a bit.”

After winning the John Player Sunday League in 1972 they went on to retain their crown, with 50 points, holding off a strong challenge from Yorkshire who finished six points further back.

Ealham remembers winning back-to-back Sunday League titles because they were taken abroad by the sponsors on both occasions.

“When we won the Sunday League trophy in 1972 we went to the West Indies as their guests in January 1973, but that was with the exception of Alan Knott, Mike Denness and Derek Underwood.

“They were away with England in India but Luckhurst was with us because he captained the side. At the time John Player were doing a lot of advertising out there in the West Indies.

Ealham added: “Then when we retained it, because we were pally with the John Player people, we asked them what was going to be the prize – hoping we were going back to West Indies.

“But they said they couldn’t afford it and they took all of the players to Paris for a long weekend instead.”

By the time Kent won the Sunday League they already had the Benson & Hedges Cup in the bag after beating Worcestershire (186) by 39 runs in the Lord’s final.

“Anything over 200 in those days was seen as a reasonable score and I would say, looking back, that 75 or 80 per cent of our wins in those games was when we batted first.

“We were big believers of runs on the board then with the bowling attack we had. Derek Underwood would go for minimal runs while John Shepherd was geared up for that kind of cricket.

“Bob Woolmer was also a great one-day bowler, which is what got him into the England one-day side.

“We were also a very good fielding side.”

Back row (left-right):
Alan Ealham:
Batsman, and top fielder, who was Kent’s director of youth coaching. He coached King’s School and junior King’s School before his retirement. His son, Mark, played for Kent and England.
John Shepherd: West Indies all-rounder became cricket professional at Eastbourne College and then a ICC regional development officer in the Caribbean. He has also worked for a travel company.
Bob Woolmer: England all-rounder was a sales rep for ICI and taught in Kent and South Africa. Was Pakistan coach at the time of his death during the World Cup in March 2007, aged 58.
Norman Graham: Seamer who also played for Northumberland where he lives in his native Hexham. Has worked in the financial services industry.
Richard Elms: All-rounder, who also served Hampshire, moved to South Africa where he became Transvaal’s north-west cricket coach.
Graham Johnson: Opening batsman and brother-in-law of Graham Dilley. Has spent 30 years in the financial services and sports and events sectors.
David Nicholls: Opening batsman who also kept wicket. Worked for Tonbridge-based sporting goods manufacturer and supplier Lillywhite Frowd. Died in Dartford in June 2008, aged 64.
Alan Knott: Wicketkeeper/batsman and England great. Spent 14 years as specialist keeping coach to England teams and worked in the media. Splits his time between Cyprus and Kent.
Claude Lewis: Played for Kent on either side of World War II. Was a coach and scorer until 1988. A furniture restorer in Sittingbourne who died in April 1993, aged 84.

Asif Iqbal: Pakistan Test batsman who served the ICC as a match referee and ambassador. Ran the Cricketers Benefit Fund Series and was sports co-ordinator with ARY Digital in London.
Colin Cowdrey: England batting great who was a made a life peer in 1997, becoming Lord Cowdrey of Tonbridge after serving the game as an administrator. Died in Littlehampton, December 2000, aged 67.
Mike Denness: Only Scottish-born captain of England. Batsman who became an ICC match referee and worked in insurance, finance and public relations. Died in London in April 2013, aged 72.
Brian Luckhurst: England batsman became Kent coach and marketing manager and then manager of the Ames Levett sports centre at Canterbury. Lost a battle with cancer in March 2005, aged 66.
Derek Underwood: Left-arm spinner, ‘Deadly’ took more than  2,500 first-class wickets – including 297 at Test level – and went to work for the Turf Club and was director of sales until retiring in 2012. He is a former MCC president.

Richard Hills:
Seamer who went into teaching and coached at Eltham College and Sevenoaks School in Kent.
Bernard Julian: West Indian all-rounder who has worked as a government coach in his native Trinidad & Tobago where he coached Queen’s Park and selector for the Cricket Board.
David Laycock: Right-handed batsman who died in Eastbourne, Sussex in September 2008, aged 61.
Peter Topley: A batsman whose brother Don played for Essex. Has been a driving instructor in Canterbury since 1999.

This piece originally featured in The Cricket Paper on Friday July 17, 2015

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