The day when I had Lau­rence Olivier bowl­ing to Robert Red­ford ...

The Cricket Paper - - FEATURE - David english Bun­bury Cricket and Bun­bury Fes­ti­val founder

Ial­ways loved cricket. In 1987, I started my own team called the Bun­burys and the idea was to raise as much money for worth­while causes while hav­ing fun.

As my day job, I used to man­age the Bee Gees and Eric Clap­ton when I worked at RSO Records – they were our first sign­ings. So once I started Bun­bury, I went down to Clap­ton’s house in Sur­rey and said: “You’re the fa­mous one, you can lead us out!”

The first game was at Ri­p­ley Court School, where Clap­ton used to go. Phil Collins was keeper, then we had Clap­ton, Bill Wy­man and Ringo Starr in the slips, all look­ing the wrong way, drink­ing red wine and smok­ing ci­gars. David Es­sex played, as did Den­nis Water­man and boxer Gary Ma­son.

About 5,000 watched this group of nut­ters prance about, and we raised £25,000 for The Royal Marsden Char­ity.

Since then, we’ve played 20 games a year for var­i­ous char­i­ties and raised over £17m. It’s quite sur­real to say:“Eric Clap­ton, please put the glass of wine down and move over to ex­tra cover.”

One thing I’ll al­ways re­mem­ber is when I was in Bridge Too Far, which starred the likes Dirk Bog­a­rde, An­thony Hop­kins, Robert Red­ford, Michael Caine, Lau­rence Olivier, James Caan, Sean Con­nery and Gene Hack­man.

I went for an au­di­tion with di­rec­tor Richard At­ten­bor­ough, and he was look­ing for a grenade thrower.

He said:“I know all about your cricket, you can hurl a cricket ball, so would like to be the main thrower and lead the charge?”

It was 1976, an in­cred­i­bly hot sum­mer in Hol­land and at the end of ev­ery take, I used to or­gan­ise cricket games. Lau­rence Olivier said: “Give me that ball, my fa­ther used to take me to Hove, I’ll bowl off-breaks.”

So we had the great­est ac­tor in the world bowl­ing off-breaks to Robert Red­ford!

AAs a teenager, I had a trial to be on the Lord’s ground staff, and was em­ployed there in 1963 by Len Muncer, who was head coach of the MCC.

I got paid three shillings and six­pence an hour and it was an hon­our and a priv­i­lege to go through the North Gate ev­ery morn­ing.

To this day, Lord’s is my favourite place in the world – I even go there when there’s no cricket on, such is its magic.

My other pas­sion was schools cricket. For 31 years, I’ve done the Bun­bury Schools Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion fes­ti­val, and 77 Bun­burys have played for Eng­land – Liam Daw­son be­ing the lat­est.

A to­tal of 725 Bun­burys have played first-class cricket. That is the thing that’s clos­est to my heart.

To watch young­sters, such as Joe Root, Jos But­tler and Ben Stokes when they’re 14 or 15 , and to see the ex­cel­lence of their play, well, I’ve got so much plea­sure out of that.

Paul Far­brace phoned me when they were play­ing Bangladesh and said: “David, I’m look­ing at the team now and they’re play­ing ex­actly as they did at the Bun­bury Fes­ti­val, with a smile, en­joy­ing each oth­ers’ suc­cess.”

At the Bun­bury Fes­ti­val a few years ago, Root was a small lad, but chip­per. But­tler played ex­actly as he does now, in­no­va­tive and with all the ramp shots, and Stokesy was quite feisty – mini-ver­sions of what they are to­day.

The Bun­bury Fes­ti­val is a fes­ti­val and I try to make it fes­tive. The boys come on the Sun­day with their par­ents, and I say:“You’ve done so well to get here, en­joy your week.”

You play for your school, re­gion, county and then Bun­bury Fes­ti­val – so they are the 56 best lads at U15 level in the coun­try. There is al­ways a 50/50 split be­tween state and pub­lic schools, too.

They think I’m the loon, and I’m proud of be­ing the loon.

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