The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #156178   Message #3680851
Posted By: The Sandman
28-Nov-14 - 05:28 PM
Thread Name: BS: Australian Cricketer Dies From Injuries
Subject: RE: BS: Australian Cricketer Dies From Injuries
He was a great fielder and was probably the first player to play to the crowd with his enjoyable comic antics"
come come, have you not heard of the antics of the great bomber wells, gloucstershire and nottingham, an entertainer of the finest calibre.If someone asks you what would you do if you are drinking tea leisurely on the boundary whilst fielding (absurd?), you'd probably say that you wouldn't be drinking some at all; even if you are, you'd leave everything and go for the catch. Not if you are Bryan Douglas Wells, though. He donned the hat of the Great Circus juggler and took the catch one handed, perfectly balancing his tea cup with the other. One doesn't know if he took a sip of tea when the ball was mid-air, but what's the harm in thinking he did?

This hardly seemed an oddity for man who would bowl without a run-up, never take a run if the ball hit the edge of the bat and for whom bowling from a longer run-up meant bowling from 27 or 28 yards instead of 22.
Wells and running between the wickets

"Bomber" Wells (as he was popularly known), a spin bowler and a great character, played for Gloucestershire and Nottinghamshire. He used to bat at No. 11 since one couldn't bat any lower. Of him, they used to paraphrase Denis Compton's famous words describing an equally inept runner: "When he shouts 'yes' for a run, it is merely the basis for further negotiations!"

Incidentally, Compton was no better. John Warr said, of Compton, "He was the only person who would call you for a run and wish you luck at the same time!"
Anyway, when Wells played for Gloucs, he had an equally horrendous runner as a No. 10. During a county match, horror of horrors…….both got injured. Both had opted for runners when it was their turn to bat. Bomber played a ball on the off and called for a run; forgetting that he had a runner, he started running himself. Ditto at the other end. In the melee, someone decided that a second run was on. Now we had all four running.

Due to the confusion and constant shouts of "yes" and "no", eventually, all of them ran to the same end. At this point in time, the entire ground was rolling on the floor in laughter. One of the fielders stopped laughing for a minute, picked the ball and threw down the wicket at the other end. Umpire Alec Skelding, looking very seriously at the four, calmly informed them: "One of you buggers is out. I don't know which. You decide yourself and inform the bloody scorers!"

This is how an incident involving Wells is described in "From the Pavilion End" by Harold "Dickie" Bird. Not surprising for those who know him, for he felt that running in cricket should be dispensed with, be it batting, bowling or fielding.

Perhaps, the two most famous incidents that took place whilst he was batting (read running) were with Sam Cook. In one case, Wells' partner was left stranded mid-pitch. "Can't you say anything?" Cook cried. Pat came the reply, "Goodbye". In another, similar, exchange, Cook cried out, "For God's sake, call!", to which Bomber exclaimed "Heads!"

Another anecdote regarding his running is recalled by Stephen Bates:

"On one occasion, I had scored about 40 when he strolled to the wicket as last man in. If not winning the match, we were certainly saving it. I immediately hit a ball to midwicket for an easy single, called for the run and found myself at the bowler's end, with Bomber waiting for me. "Oi'm not runnin' for that," he said. "'He's done you in the flight." I nearly got back to the other end before being run out." (Wells doesn't run when he thinks that the opposition bowler has got the better of the batsman: edged, deceived and beaten types.)
Run-up isn't Wells way

Overweight and under-trained, Bomber Wells hardly looked like a professional sportsman. This unathletic impression was confirmed by his bowling run-up, or rather his lack of run-up. As he himself explained, he took two steps when he was cold and one when he was hot; sometimes, he simply delivered the ball from a stationary position.

Once, in an arrangement with batsman Roly Jenkins, he managed to bowl an over while the cathedral clock struck twelve, in approximately 34 seconds, which still remains the fastest over bowled in first-class cricket. His captain Sir Derrick Bailey was certainly not pleased. Legend has it the following conversation ensued:

Sir Derrick: "What do you reckon you're doing?"

Bomber: "Not a lot, I'd say."

"You're making the game look silly."

"I'm not. That's what I normally do."

"I want you to go back ten yards. Come in from further back."

You simply do not provoke guys like Bomber. He went back ten paces and, instead of running to the crease, quietly took a step and bowled a ball from 30 yards away. Those who watched it swore that it landed on the perfect length, and apparently forward short-leg rolled on the floor laughing.

"Sir Derrick went berserk," Bomber recalled with satisfaction. "He dropped me for two matches, but it was worth it."

This obviously meant that very often the batsmen were not ready when he came in to bowl. The most famous of these instances was before Bomber made his debut for Gloucestershire. Playing for the Nondescripts, against Witney, he bowled out a batsman named Len Hemming, who was then called back for not being ready. Wells promptly bowled him again next ball, and Hemming was heard as saying, "If you think I'm staying here for him to get his bloody hat-trick, you've got another think coming."

Years later, Hemming was asked about this story. "I've no recollection of it at all," he said, "but I'm all in favour of it."

Another incident was when he was playing against Essex in the county championship, Wells encountered a young amateur who stepped away from the crease whenever he began to bowl. So, in Bomber's own words, "I ran all the way round the square, past mid-on, square leg, behind the 'keeper, back to mid-off, and I shouted, 'Are you ready now?' And I bowled him first ball."
Landmarks? What landmarks?

Being the man he was, it was no surprise when he rejected an offer to play against Gloucestershire to complete 1000 international first class wickets, finishing with what he then thought were 999 first-class wickets, that being his final action in cricket. Plenty of people have got a thousand wickets," he reflected, "I bet no one's got 999." Later, however, it was unfortunately discovered that his tally ended at 998 at 24.26 apiece.

His attitude to batting never changed. He had one shot: the slog. "If I hit the ball," Bomber explained, "it went a long way and the crowd and I were happy. If I missed it, well, I was that much nearer bowling." His career batting average was 7.47; he did, however, once hit a hundred in 35 minutes when playing for Stinchcombe.

All these stories, based in the 1950s and 60s, may have tonnes of variations, some may be exaggerated, some untrue, but you undoubtedly get the sense of an eccentric cricketer who played the game for the sheer enjoyment of it. He met his demise on June 19, 2008, and is survived by his second wife. He was on a wheelchair after an attack in 1998, but he did not let that dampen his spirits. Michael Parkinson once said of him that there was 'a summer's day in his face and laughter in his soul', which aptly sums up one of the most entertaining first-class career