SIR PETER BOTTOMLEY: Beach sports, local games and Olympic Games

Gordon Greenidge with Ian Hart at Worthing Cricket Club
Gordon Greenidge with Ian Hart at Worthing Cricket Club

Last week I joined many local people of all ages for the Lashings All Stars charity match at Worthing Cricket Club’s Manor Ground.

As a guest of Ian Hart, I chatted with the great gentle Gordon Greenidge of Barbados, West Indies, Hampshire and Scotland.

The first Test cricket I watched was when Ted Dexter, of Cambridge and Sussex, was England’s captain at the 1963 match against Australia in Sydney. Lord Ted introduced an early bowling machine.

I went on to walk over Tasmania’s mountains, where ee were led by Tenzing Norgay, another friendly modest man.

Before the Worthing game, young cricketers were able to practise with former internationals.

The Test Match Special commentator Henry Blofeld chatted about his life. I am enjoying his memoir ‘Squeezing the Orange’ about life’s great adventure, and the cricket too.

The Lashings All Stars team has been around for over 30 years.

One of my children was encouraged to play cricket at Lords by Richie Richardson when she joined him with the team.

Founded by David Folb, it has helped millions to be raised for good causes.

I congratulate all involved.

At the children’s sports across the Solent in Seaview I often start the races, after explaining to hundreds aged eight to 14 that in two hours, around low tide, they will have the opportunity to win or fail to win in five events. I advertise the experience as good preparation for life.

One great shared achievement is the total absence of litter left on the sand. Our tradition is that any of us will cheerfully pick up any piece of rubbish left by anyone else.

The children do learn that only two things can take away the chance of success: not standing on the start line or not facing in the right direction when the whistle blows. Good simple lessons.

My sporting life is not over. My little dinghy is named Omega. I have not come last yet this season.

With the new film Swallows and Amazons coming to our screens, I recall starting my sailing on Coniston Water, going out to Peel Island, the model for Arthur Ransome’s Wild Cat Island.

My instructor, aged ten, became Professor Dame Jessica Rawson, Keeper of Oriental Antiquities at the British Museum.

For a time I was the Parliamentary sailing champion and I did lead the Commons to triumph over the Lords in the inaugural rowing race. We have never come worse than second against them in any sport.

For charity, I failed in my challenge swimming backwards against Duncan Goodhew who had previously gained the breaststroke gold medal in the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

Let us hope more of our young sports girls and boys will enjoy sports for life, locally and at international level.

The back pages of this newspaper are full of opportunities.

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