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  • Writer's pictureThe Hambledon Club

Guest Speaker: Dennis Amiss MBE

Updated: Jun 13, 2023

Dennis Amiss, had played county cricket for Warwickshire; in 50 Test Matches for England from 1966-1977; and in 18 of the earliest ODIs. In first-class cricket, he scored 102 centuries. After retiring he was Chief Executive of Warwickshire and an England Test selector. From 2007, he was Deputy Chairman of the ECB.


Our Chaplain, The Reverend David Brown, said Grace.

Apologies for Absence: Frances & Derek Sherratt, John Fingleton, Nick Coletta, Peter Ryder, Andrew Calendar, Charles Wilkinson, Peter & Jane Parsons, Robin Brodhurst, Roger Gibbons, Julian Lawton-Smith, Chrissie Marris, Bernard Frowd, Steve Toogood, Jeremy Neate, Martin Davey, Grayson Burgess, Paul Danby, Derek Andrews, Chris de Mellow, Robert Brooke, Tony & Marilyn Roberts, Ralph Simmonds, Dudley & Stephen Green, Roger Moger

The President:

1. The President welcomed all members and their guests, and our speaker, Dennis Amiss MBE.

2. Jonathan Agnew will be the Speaker at the next Spring meeting.

3. Prize Draw: Members were reminded to put their place names in the jugs provided for the prize draw for collection by our Steward.

Other admin reminders:

1. Outstanding cash subscriptions and payment reminder for lunch, with cash or card, was requested by the Steward.

2. The prize draw (in support of Hambledon Youth Cricket) was won by Ray Cook. After expenses and administration costs, the raffle raised £220.

The President:

1. The club Constitution was sent to all members, and agreed by the membership.

2. The President introduced Mike Beardall to the members. Mike is the Chairman of the Broadhalfpenny Down Preservation Trust and, as such, was elected to the Hambledon Club as an honorary member. Mike addressed the members with some interesting background about the Trust, and said he was very keen to receive suggestions on how we could work more closely together. He drew members’ attention to the possibility of hiring the ground, pavilion and marquee for a range of activities.

3. 2019 will see the 20th Anniversary of the Club. Any ideas how we might commemorate this should be sent to the Secretary. Collaboration with Mike Beardall would be possible.

The Toasts:

The President asked members to be upstanding for the traditional Toasts:

The Queen’s Mother, The King, Hambledon Club, Cricket, The immortal memory of Madge, The President: (Andrew Renshaw asked members to toast the President.)

Our President introduced Dennis Amiss.

Dennis began by saying how honoured he was to be invited to our historic venue: on arrival he had walked out onto the turf and sent photographs home to the family. He then continued with memories of his time in cricket, amusing everyone by observing that, “not everyone has run out Geoff Boycott in a Test, but I have, and he never let me forget it”. It happened in the first Test of the 1973 series v New Zealand, in the second innings at Trent Bridge. His Warwickshire captain, MJK Smith, had warned Dennis not to be run out by Boycott, but instead Dennis called Boycott for two. Realizing that Vic Pollard had moved quickly in the field, he shouted, “no, no, get back”; Boycott however kept coming and was run out! England were then reduced to 24-4 and Boycott was furious. However, Dennis continued to score 138 and, with Tony Greig, they set up a target that enabled England to win by 38 runs; but Boycott had sat in the dressing room saying, “look at the bugger scoring all my runs.”

The next Test was at Lord’s and Boycott threatened to run Dennis out – in those days, the players and selectors had dinner on the night before the match after which the selectors departed (“don’t take any notice of them”) – but on this occasion, the captain, Ray Illingworth, took Dennis and Boycott outside and was very firm with Boycott. They argued for 20 minutes after which Boycott promised he wouldn’t run Dennis out on purpose. He revealed too that as opening partners he never walked out alongside Boycott and when he once wished him ‘Good Luck’, Boycott responded, “It’s not about luck it’s about ability - and I’ve got it.”

When Dennis joined Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket, he was responsible for the introduction of batsmen’s helmets. He suggested to Tony Greig that they might wear motorcycle helmets to combat all the very fast bowlers, and Greig said Packer would love it. There were the inevitable clever comments from the Aussies when he walked out wearing one for the first time, but subsequently the Aussie, David Hookes, had his jaw broken by Andy Roberts and once he recovered he borrowed Dennis’s helmet, by which time others were also using them. Inevitably, Roberts bowled a short ball first up to Hookes who hit it out of the ground – an event that Richie Benaud correctly predicted would change cricket. The only flaw with the original versions was that no one wearing a motorcycle helmet could hear anything so consequently there were too many run outs until the helmets were adapted.

Dennis suggested that Ian Botham was alongside Sobers, the greatest of players, at least in his days but told a funny story of Botham when bowling against Warwickshire at Taunton. He had bowled in the morning and taken wickets but was reluctant to continue after lunch. He showered and his captain, Brian Rose, persuaded him to continue so he delivered his first ball with the bar of soap from the shower. John Jameson hit this soap long-hop so hard it smashed into many pieces over the pitch. Botham faced disciplinary action which put a threat to his Test place, until Brian Rose spent time in the bar that night with the umpires, and the next morning, the Daily Telegraph reported the incident as a ball disintegrating!

When Derek Randall first came into the England side, Dennis was the senior player deputed to look after him – and confirmed that Randall was ‘mad’. “He’d come in doffing his cap to the players, saying something like, lovely morning”, but he could play magnificently. On one occasion, Randall was felled by a ball from Lillee and came over and asked if he was okay, and Randall replied, “Oh, Mr Lillee, what a good ball that was!” Dennis then described Randall’s 174 in the Centenary Test at Melbourne as one of the great innings – although the pair shared a third wicket partnership of 166 it was, albeit, a losing cause.

Dennis remembered matches against Hampshire, and players like Richards, Greenidge, Roberts, and the opening bowlers, Shackleton and ‘Butch’ White who had come from Warwickshire. He told how Bob Barber did not rate Shackleton’s ‘medium pace’ and opening the batting declared, “I’ll hit him for six,” but was dismissed for nought! This must have been the Gillette Cup match of 1965 when, strangely, Roy Marshall went also without scoring, although Marshall was another that Dennis admired. Dennis remembered Barber as a wonderful leg spinner who didn’t like to bowl much, but in his penultimate Test in 1966 at the Oval he took five West Indian wickets in an England victory.

Dennis felt that he had played in a great era but while he was at the ECB their research came up with T20. He said, “I’m a traditionalist and very worried about Championship and Test cricket but I love T20,” adding, “I think all games eventually will be played in the short form.”

Dennis finally paid tribute to ‘our’ Alan Rayment, saying he hoped to be doing as well as Alan at 90! He thanked the club for the invitation and what we do to support youth cricket, and wished us the best for the future. Through applause, the President thanked Denis for joining us on this day. AOB: None The President thanked the management and staff for looking after us and reminded everyone to pay on their way out, if not already done so.

Newsletter 40: 27 October 2018

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