Tales from the Boundary
K W R
Most mornings as I'm driving up the Bury Road in Newmarket I see Fletch. Occasionally I give a toot; a few times (e.g. when Essex won in 2020) I've pulled up for a quick chat. Fletch is generally equipped with a backpack so I reckon he is picking up his bread, milk and papers as well as taking exercise. He looks very fit for a rising 77 year old (fitter than me, 8 years younger).
My abiding memory of Fletch is seeing him walking out to bat, cap on the back of his head, bat tucked under his arm, fiddling with his gloves, looking like a reluctant schoolboy pushed out of the house by his mother. It is quite possible that he'd rather have been shooting or fishing or ferreting for rabbits, as in his youth, apparently. The word diffident comes to mind but I don't think it's apposite as Fletch clearly has a steely determination, shown not least when guiding Essex to their first trophies.
I've just looked up Fletch's stats. The most surprising is that ESPN has his height as five foot eleven. Surely not?
A further surprising feature is the number of ducks Fletch picked up in his Second Eleven debut season of 1961.
However, 1963 saw him score 1,310 first class runs, average 26.20, with 5 fifties in 32 matches.
It was steady progress thereafter, leading to a Test debut in 1968, a season in which he scored 1,890 runs, average 41.08, with four centuries and ten fifties, including 228 not out, his highest career score.
Fletch's Test debut is well recorded, replacing Yorkshire's Phil Sharpe, the master slip, at Headingley(!) Fletch spilled some catches, scored 0 but 23 not out to secure a draw.
You can all look up his figures as well as me. I recommend "Cricket Archive", costs about £50 per year but has the scorecards of every match Fletch played for Essex, England and sundry others.
Incidentally, while he normally wears a country style hat on his walks, yesterday (18/04/2021) he was wearing his Essex cap. I met him once wearing the same while pruning something in his front garden. He remains Essex CCC through and through.