Black History Month: Brief Encounters 1

Hampshire Cricket – courtesy of Club Historian Dave Allen – is marking Black History Month this October by celebrating and honouring the contributions of some of the best players to ever represent the Club

ELVIS Leroy REIFER (1984)
Born 21 March 1961, St George Barbados
Died 26 August 2011, Bridgetown Barbados
Left Handed Batter, Left Arm Fast-Medium Bowler

20 First-Class Matches
Batting: 357 runs, average 18.83
Highest Score 47 v Somerset at Southampton 1984
Bowling: 49 wickets, average 35.93
Best Bowling Innings 4-43 v Cambridge University at Cambridge 1984
Catches: 6

16 Limited Overs Matches
Bowling: 19 wickets, average 35.93
Best Bowling 4-46 v Kent at Southampton 1984
Catches: 2

Each time Malcolm Marshall and Gordon Greenidge toured England with the West Indies, Hampshire brought in another overseas player for the season. In 1980 it was Australian all-rounder Shaun Graf, in 1988 South African pace bowler Steven Jefferies and in 1991 Pakistani pace bowler Aqib Javed.

In 1984 they signed the Barbados and West Indian pace bowler Milton Small. Hampshire’s Cricket Chairman Charlie Knott had a good relationship with Peter Short who was the longest serving president of the Barbados Cricket Association (1973 -1993) and subsequently President of the West Indies Cricket Association. He had recommended Marshall and Small but when the latter was also called into the touring party Knott returned to seek another quick bowler and signed left-arm pace bowler Elvis Reifer.

Elvis Reifer had brothers who played first-class cricket but he had not before joining the county. It is not surprising that his performances did not match Marshall’s, but he began by taking 4-43 v Cambridge University and overall took 49 first-class wickets at 35.93, and averaged nearly 20 with the bat, with a best of 47 v Somerset. In limited-overs games he took 19 wickets including 4-46 v Kent. On returning to Barbados, he played in one first-class and three limited-overs matches for Barbados. His son Raymon played in three Test Matches and five ODIs for West Indies.

LINDEN Anthony JOSEPH (1990)
Born 8 January 1969, Guyana
Right Handed Batter, Right Arm Fast-Medium Bowler

6 First-Class Matches
Batting: 152 runs, average 152.00, One half-century
Highest Score 69* v Oxford University at Oxford 1990
Bowling: 7 wickets, average 66.00
Best Bowling Innings 2-28 v Indians at Southampton 1990
Catches: 1

1 Limited Overs Matches

In 1990 Linden Joseph from Georgetown Guyana came to Hampshire on the recommendation of Malcolm Marshall. He played regularly for the 2nd XI but also in six first-class matches and although he came as a fast bowler he has an ‘interesting’ first-class batting record for the county; he scored 152 runs in five innings, but was only dismissed once, leaving him with an average of 152.00. His best innings and his highest career score was 69* v Oxford University but his bowling was less effective with just seven wickets at 66.00. He left Hampshire and in the next two seasons played in England for Enfield in the Lancashire League. He played the majority of his 39 first-class matches for Guyana, while also appearing for West Indies ‘A’ and under-23s and in his first class career (1986-1995) he took 98 first-class wickets at 29.75.

Born 2 July 1960, Domenica
Right Handed Batter, Right Arm Fast-Medium Bowler

7 First-Class Matches
Batting: 94 runs, average 18.80
Highest Score 22* v Durham at Portsmouth 1994
Bowling: 9 wickets, average 47.00
Best Bowling Innings 3-44 v Kent at Canterbury 1994
Catches: 2

9 Limited Overs Matches
Bowling: 9 wickets, average 34.11
Best Bowling 3-44 v Surrey at Southampton 1994

Malcolm Marshall was one of Hampshire’s greatest ever players but by 1993 his international career was over and in that English season, age 35, he took just 28 wickets at 30.67. He would go on to play 28 matches in South Africa for Natal but his county career was over and apart from Cardigan Connor and some inexperienced 2nd XI players Hampshire had no one to lead their attack.

During Marshall’s last year, Hampshire signed 33-year-old pace-bowling all rounder Martin Jean-Jacques from Dominica via Derbyshire. He had played for Buckinghamshire, then Derbyshire before moving to Hampshire for two seasons. On first-class debut for Derbyshire he scored 73 batting at number 11, setting a 10th wicket partnership record for the county, and then dismissed Geoff Boycott as his first victim. For Hampshire, played in seven first-class matches, scoring 94 runs and taking nine wickets with a best of 3-44 v Kent at Canterbury in his penultimate match. He played in nine limited-overs matches, scoring just 16 runs and taking nine wickets, and his best bowling of 3-44, v Surrey at Southampton in his final limited-overs match.

NORMAN George COWANS (1994)
Born 17 April 1961, St Mary Jamaica
Right Handed Batter, Right Arm Fast Bowler

12 First-Class Matches
Batting: 51 runs, average 5.66
Highest Score 19 v Middlesex at Southampton 1994
Bowling: 26 wickets, average 37.92
Best Bowling Innings 4-76 v Durham at Portsmouth 1994
Catches: 3

21 Limited Overs Matches
Bowling: 22 wickets, average 32.18
Best Bowling 4-36 v Worcestershire at Worcester 1994

With Marshall gone, Hampshire looked once again to the West Indies and actually signed two players for the 1994 season, 33-year-old Norman Cowans who was born in Jamaica but had played for Middlesex and England and Winston Benjamin from Antigua who had been playing with Leicestershire in the County Championship.

Norman Cowans’ main career was for England (19 Tests from 1982/85) and Middlesex (1980-1993). He joined Hampshire in 1994, and played in 12 first-class matches, taking 26 wickets at just under 38 each with a best of 4-76 v Durham at Portsmouth in late August, which was sadly his final Championship match; he did not return in 1995. He also took 22 wickets in 21 limited-overs games with a best of 4-36 v Worcestershire at Worcester in a B&H semi-final, despite which Hampshire lost by three wickets. In all first-class cricket, he took 662 wickets at 24.86. He continued to play in notable non-first-class matches, at least until 2014, age 53.

WINSTON Keithroy Matthew BENJAMIN (1994 & 1996)
Born 31 December 1964, All Saints Antigua
Right Handed Batter, Right Arm Fast Bowler

11 First-Class Matches
Batting: 371 runs, average 21.82, One century, Two half-centuries
Highest Score 117 v Essex at Southampton 1996
Bowling: 30 wickets, average 26.20, Two five-fors
Best Bowling Innings 6-46 v Worcestershire at Worcester 1994
Catches: 7

27 Limited Overs Matches
Batting: 534 runs, average 31.41, One century, Two half-centuries
Highest Score 104* v Northamptonshire at Basingstoke 1996
Bowling: 24 wickets, average 25.58
Best Bowling 3-19 v Essex at Southampton 1994
Catches: 11

Hampshire signed Winston Benjamin, at the age of 29, after eight years with Leicestershire, where he enjoyed some successful days in Championship and limited-overs cricket – particularly with the ball, taking 237 first-class wickets at 26.84. Benjamin’s three-year Hampshire career, however, was hampered by fitness problems although he scored a fine century against Essex at Southampton (117) in May 1996, sharing a partnership of 178 for the 7th wicket with centurion ‘Adi’ Aymes. One week later, with a couple of wickets and a few runs at Edgbaston, he played his final first-class match, and withdrew, injured again, although he did play in some limited-overs games that year and in his last one, as Hampshire lost a Nat West quarter-final and playing only as a batsman he top-scored with 41. In his 11 first-class matches for Hampshire, he took 30 wickets overall with a best of 6-46 in the first innings at Worcester in 1994 – this was one of two, five+ wicket hauls for the county, but even then, he batted at number 11 in the second innings and was unfit to bowl again. He played in 21 Test Matches with a best score of 85 and best bowling of 4-46. He played for Cheshire in 1985.

NIXON Alexei McNamara McLEAN (1998-1999)
Born 20 July 1973, Stubbs St Vincent
Left Handed Batter, Right Arm Fast Bowler

30 First-Class Matches
Batting: 494 runs, average 13.72, One half-century
Highest Score 70 v Surrey at Guildford 1999
Bowling: 108 wickets, average 28.37, Two five-fors
Best Bowling Innings 6-101 v Leicestershire at Leicester 1998
Catches: 11

42 Limited Overs Matches
Batting: 427 runs runs, average 15.81
Highest Score 36 v Lancashire at Southampton 1998
Bowling: 51 wickets, average 27.90
Best Bowling 3-27 v Yorkshire at Basingstoke 1999
Catches: 5

Nixon McLean was born in St Vincent, West Indies, 20.7.1973 and was the last of the West Indian fast bowlers who featured regularly in Hampshire sides across three decades. He represented his country in 19 Test Matches (44 wickets) and 45 ODIs and played for the Windward Islands through the 1990s, joining Hampshire for two seasons, 1998 & 1999. In 30 matches for Hampshire he took 108 first-class wickets at 28.37, adding 51 wickets in 42 limited-overs matches. He played subsequently for Somerset, Kwa-Zulu Natal and Canterbury (NZ). The retirement of Cardigan Connor and the departure of Nixon McLean ended an unbroken sequence of almost half-a-century of Caribbean cricketers at Hampshire, although the story continued in other ways.

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