This is an article I wrote for the benefit brochure of my friend former Kent and England spinner Min Patel.

Forget The Spin , Min

By the time you get to this article you will, no doubt, be fed up with reading about Min. So I thought I’d write about something far more interesting – myself.

You see I think Min and his ilk have been wasting their careers trying to spin the ball. In my entire bowling career I have found it totally unnecessary.

Not for me the enlarged Emburey knuckle, the deformed finger or the calluses and permanently hardened skin. Even now, in the autumn of my days, my hands remain unblemished, save for the odd disclocated little finger after making a wonder save in goal for the Old Wilsonians 7th XI.

At school, if anything, I thought I could bat although, looking back, this was probably because nobody ever asked me to bowl. This despite the number of times I had dismissed the girl next door, Evelyn Lee, in the back garden – and I’m still talking about cricket.

It was not until I was in my mid-thirties when it happened. I was making my debut for the Lord’s Taverners, strangely enough at Canterbury, when Mike Denness asked me to bowl. I told him that I didn’t but he said that everyone had to bowl in a Taverners game.

As I waited for the guy at the other end to complete his over I wondered to myself what I should bowl. Should I hurtle in like Dennis Lillee? No. I haven’t got the gold chain – or the wild hair.

Should I model myself on “Deadly” Derek Underwood? No. It’s still too quick a run up and would it really be playing the game to bowl medium pace and spend my career calling myself a spinner?

No. I think my role model would be Evelyn Lee. I would just trundle up, try and pitch it in the general direction of the stumps and hope. With a bit of luck I wouldn’t have to bowl a second over.

Of course I couldn’t be expected to get my run up right for my first ever ball so I did a sort of shuffle which has persisted to this day. During one game at my village, Bells Yew Green, one spectator opined that my run up was more suited to an edition of “Come Dancing.”

Nervously I opened my over to former Charlton footballer Steve Gritt who, I later learned, had played cricket for Hampshire 2nd XI.

He treated me with some respect at first. After all, who in their right mind would want to get out to me? By the fifth ball he realised I was doing nothing with it and so he drove me hard through mid-off.

Well, not exactly through mid-off. I checked in the score book later, just to reassure myself that it had actually happened. It was there.
 “Gritt,  caught Denness  bowled Bevan       48.”

I’ve mentioned it on Gritty’s Christmas card every year since.

Needless to say with my talent and ability I have played for many clubs. This is because after three or four games I normally have to move on.  That was before I started to bowl.

I play from time to time for a team called Outwood in the Kent Village League. Nearly every time I play I take wickets and I don’t know how. I can only assume it is more in the batsman’s mind than mine.

In my latest game for them they had so few bowlers that I had to contribute a full nine overs and managed a maiden which is even more rare than a wicket. If you come on early the batsman thinks you must be reasonable and treats your rubbish with even more respect than normal. He stands there terrified that you are suddenly going to do something with the ball. Little does he know

In this game we managed to get only seven of them out and I took 4 for 19. I bowled their top scorer who wandered off with a smile saying to me. “You turned that up the hill.”   I smiled back, assuming he was rehearsing his defence for the dressing-room.

In another game for my village when I bowled really badly but took four wickets to win a game against Blue House, the opposition were seriously fed up and quite understandably. In fact as one of them left his frustration got the better of his sportsmanship. He hurled at me the words “you people who purport to spin the ball…”

This caused much hilarity among my team-mates (once they’d looked up “purport” in the dictionary) and they still talk about it to this day. I had tried to tell my unhappy Blue House opponent that I had never purported in my life but he was already in his car.

All the time this is happening I have to keep playing. Last season after four overs against Chiddingstone I had 4 for 5 including a wicket maiden and a double wicket maiden. The captain wanted to take me off but I pleaded that I had never had a “five for” for Bells Yew Green. I still haven’t. They found me out and hit 21 off the next two overs.

So you see, Min, all this trying to spin and turn is not getting you back in the England squad. And it’s not as if you haven’t watched my action. Let me take you back to Hextable in 1991 during Mark Benson’s Benefit. I’ve taken the scorecard down from my downstairs toilet to remind you.

Hextable v Mark Benson’s Kent XI



T Ward b Bates  108
A Igglesden  b Knox14
N Llong c Haynes b Clawley1
M Patel  c Priceb P Chitty 1
M Ealham b P Chitty1
M Benson c Priceb Boddy 14
B Bevan b Boddy     0
*N Taylor  b Knox43
S Marsh st Martinb Boddy11
R Ellison not   out22
D Brimson not   out14
   TOTAL 244


Bowling: Boddy 3 for 46


*I Martinc Taylor b Bevan18
P Chittyc Taylor b Marsh 13
M Ward b Bevan14
K Haynes b Ealham7
W Chittyc Taylorb Bevan  6
S Pricec Bensonb Bevan12
E Bates b Bevan7
D Knoxc Brimsonb Bevan6
M Boddy c Marshb Ealham3
J Clewley not   out   0
D Chitty  b Bevan16
     TOTAL    106 


Bowling: Bevan 7 for 49; Patel 0 for 10

I have to ask, Min, having watched me, did you learn nothing? You tried to turn every ball and I think the figures above speak for themselves. And what about the following year when we bowled them out twice and I took 5 for 21 and 6 for 48? I have to ask you again, Min. In those three innings did you ever see me try and turn a single ball?

This season, Min, I hope that you manage to get some turn – many people turning up for your benefit functions. It’s been great to know you as a mate for all these years not to mention your appearances as my bowling partner. It was good of you to make up the numbers. 


Grumpy old goalies


Bob 'The Cat' Bevan