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Topic: Bill Wyman tha only man to have a televised hat-trick at the oval Return to archive
07-30-01 04:59 PM
CS

These English sides are never short of
talent
By Robert Philip (Filed: 29/07/2001)

IN THE admittedly unlikely event of David English and
the Pope ever appearing together on the balcony of
the Vatican, I can guarantee someone, somewhere
amid the throng gathered in St Peter's Square will
turn to his neighbour and demand: "Excuse me, pal,
but who's that up there with David English?" May I
introduce the man who really does know everyone
worth knowing . . .

As a pop mogul in the
Seventies, English, 55,
managed the careers of Eric
Clapton and The Bee Gees;
as an actor he appeared in
A Bridge Too Far with Sir
Laurence Olivier, Sean
Connery, Robert Redford,
Gene Hackman and Michael
Caine; as founder member
of the Bunbury Cricket Club,
he can call upon the
services of Sir Viv Richards
and Imran Khan, Peter
O'Toole and John Hurt, Gary
Lineker and Ian Wright, Bill
Wyman and Ringo Starr,
Joanna Lumley and
Samantha Fox, Lawrence Dallaglio and Mike Catt,
Walter Swinburn and Peter Scudamore. Only David
English could assemble a side containing Brian Close
and Donny Osmond.

We meet in the beer garden of the Wyckham Arms
across the street from Winchester College where the
next generation of England Test cricketers have been
performing in the annual Bunbury Under-15 Festival
just as Michael Atherton, Nasser Hussain, Marcus
Trescothick and a host of others did before them. In
between gulpfuls of bitter shandy, a succession of
phone calls from celebrities asking - nay, make that
demanding - to be allowed to turn out for Bunbury CC
in their forthcoming fixtures, such as the match
against Ian Botham's Legends XI in aid of the Indian
Earthquake Appeal, English explains why his motley
collection of mates are so keen to don the club's
famous bunny logo.

"We're all in love with the game of cricket, we all
enjoy a bit of a lark, and I think everyone is proud of
the fact we've raised over 7 million for various
charities since I had the idea 15-odd years ago. In
our first ever match for Leukaemia Research, we had
Phil Collins at wicketkeeper, Bill Wyman at first slip
smoking two packs of Benson and Hedges, Eric
Clapton in a plastic mac and Paddington Bear hat
because it was pouring down with rain, Dennis
Waterman was in the beer tent, David Essex was
entertaining the crowd on the boundary, and Ringo
Starr was walking about without a clue what was
going on. And over 4,000 people turned up to see
us."

Such was the clamour to join this most curious of
sporting clubs, that by the time of the VE Day
celebration match at the Oval, the Bunbury XI which
took the pitch was actually the Bunbury XXVII. "We
were like a travelling circus; what's worse - or better,
depending upon your view of such things - we were
wired up with microphones because it was going out
live on Sky. We had 17 blokes in the slips, all facing
the wrong way and drinking red wine when Syd
Lawrence ran in to bowl the first ball to Graeme
Fowler which nearly took his head off.

"****in' 'ell, mind out lad', says `Foxy' live on air as
the Sky switchboard went red hot. Needless to say,
the 17 slips, who were all engaging in the most lurid
of conversations, didn't bother changing position at
the end of the over so then we had 17 mid-ons.

"Bill Wyman, who's the only bowler I know who has
fag ash instead of sawdust to mark his run-up,
seldom waits until the end of an over when he wants
to bowl. Whenever the moment takes him he merely
says `now . . .' and takes the ball. So he comes on
with these weird leg-breaks, bowls Gary Lineker first
ball, Trevor McDonald with his second, and suddenly
finds himself on a hat-trick. Out comes Charlie Colvile
of Sky who smashes Bill's next delivery which hits
Rory Bremner, who's on his third glass of wine, on
the chest and Rory somehow holds the catch. Bill
Wyman immediately mutters, `I think I'll call it a day
now, mate' and to this day he remains the only
bowler to have performed a televised hat-trick in the
history of the Oval."

All of which came as a puzzlement to Sir Viv who
found it somewhat unnerving to be bowling to the
rear view of 17 slips. (Here English, who can seriously
rival the aforementioned Mr Bremner as a mimic, slips
into Barbadian patois). " `Brother Dave, what the
****'s going on. You've got all those slips drinking
red wine, you've got the bird [Samantha Fox] with
her bosoms out, this ain't cricket, man'. Eventually, of
course, Viv started laughing and he's become a true
Bunbury."

Being a `true Bunbury' can be a hazardous past-time
as Clapton discovered the week before setting off on
a concert tour of Japan; English explains, this time in
the dulcet tones of a `Noo Yoik' lawyer: " `Lissen,
here, Oyick, oi've got your hands insured for millions,
so be coiful with this cricket scam, you heah what
oi'm saying?' So we're playing on this little village
green and Eric's in the gully; first ball, boof, he breaks
a finger. There's lawyers and underwriters leaping
out the bushes screaming `Litigation!'. As he walks
off - smoking a fag, of course - a bumble bee stings
him on the other hand. On my mother's life. Anyway,
he goes off to hospital, meets a couple of very nice
radiographers, signs a few autographs with his
dodgy hand, has a glass of wine and comes back
with both hands in bandages."

People, it seems, will go to any lengths to become a
Bunbury; in 1987, the Bunburys agreed to a benefit
game for Allan Lamb at Northampton where the
touring Australians had just completed a three-day
match against the county. "We actually passed the
Aussie team coach coming out the gates as we were
all swinging in - in our usual unruly manner it has to
be said - and, as you would expect, it pulls up when
they spot Eric Clapton.

"Allan Border, Merv Hughes and Steve Waugh all
tumble out so I make the introductions - Eric still in
bandages, of course. `Do you want to stay and
watch?' I ask A.B. . `Better than that, mate, we'll join
in'. I swear to you, they turned the coach round, got
changed back into their kit, and the whole Australian
team took part."

English's route to
fund-raising champion
status has been a curious
one; having served as
president of RSO records,
during which time Clapton
and The Bee Gees filled five
places in the US Top 10
Billboard Chart, English then
embarked on a chequered
career as an actor, notably
playing a sheep called
`Baa-rie' in Joseph's
Technicolour Dreamcoat, a
dead man in Z Cars, and
starring in a Head and
Shoulders advert which ran
for five years. Clutching this
dubious CV, English
somehow persuaded Sir Richard Attenborough into
giving him a role in his World War II epic alongside a
veritable Who's Who of Hollywood.

"My first day on the set, the call-sheet read, `Robert
Redford - Major Cook . . . Laurence Olivier - Dr
Spaander . . . D English - dead German'. Sir Dickie
comes over to me and says, `David, dahling, what
happens now my dear poppet is that Bobby will run
across there and start shooting a few
Messerschmitts, and you lob a few grenades then die
before we knock off for lunch about 12 o'clock. Okay,
dahling?' Now I knew I could be dead a long time, so
I've got my pockets stuffed with bacon sandwiches
and chocolate bars in case I get an attack of the
munchies. I die, rather superbly if I do say so, and I'm
lying there happily eating my sandwich, Twix bar,
Milky Way, what have you, with the war going on
around me. Suddenly, with my ear to the ground, I
hear the tanks rumbling closer and closer. Anyway,
when I reckon they're right on top of me, the old
bottle goes and the dead German stands up still
holding the crust of a bacon sarnie. `Cut...!' screams
Sir Dickie. What can I say? The tanks had to go back,
the Messerschmitts had to go back; Laurence Olivier,
Elliot Gould, Sean Connery, they had to shoot the
scene all over again.

"Next day, I get my legs shot away and have to
deliver one line to Olivier - `My boots are full of
blood'. Now it's actually quite hard to deliver one line
and by this time I'm quite famous on the set for being
the dead man who wouldn't die so I'm fairly nervous.
The first time I say `My boots are full of blood', it
comes out as Tommy Cooper. By take 15, I'm Norman
Wisdom: `Ooow - me boots; blood, boots, boots,
blood. Mr Grimsdale!' Me boots, gone. Blood, boots . .
.' You could see the two Lords - Olivier and
Attenborough - looking at me and thinking `how on
earth did we come from the Royal Shakespeare
Company to this?' "

English has few peers when it comes to charitable
works, however; he and he alone could have brought
together 48 past and present Test cricketers,
including 18 captains, for last year's event in memory
of Malcolm Marshall which raised 50,000 for the late,
great fast bowler's family.

As the Bunbury oath of honour puts it:

A Bunbury stands for freedom, stands for fun,
Stands for ever being young;
So do a good turn unto others, Never turn away from
your quest,
For you are a Bunbury, And a Bunbury does his best

On June 16, 2001 the hit counter of the WET page was inserted here, it had 174,489 hits. Now the hit counter is for both the page and the board.
The hit counter of the ITW board had 1,127,645 hits when it was closed and the Coolboard didn't have hit counter but was on line only two months and a half.