It is with very great sadness that I report the passing, on 16th August, of Alastair Gordon, a stalwart of the Stragglers through the “middle years” of the Club. Alastair was the second generation of Gordons to play Straggler cricket, his father, Alex, playing from 1967 to 1981, and son Joe is now the third-generation Straggler.
Alastair made his Straggler debut in 1970 against the Junior Infantrymen, with an undistinguished duck, apparently run out by his father. But better things were to come, and by the mid-’70s Alastair had become a stalwart of the Straggler bowling attack, and for a few years at the end of the decade featured as a true all-rounder. Indeed, in 1981 he became the 8th Straggler to achieve the “double” of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets (note: this has only been completed by 3 more Stragglers in the 36 years subsequently).
Not the tallest bowler in the attack (known as “Sawn-Off” to his team mates), Alastair had the ability to place the ball on a length, time and time again, frustrating and containing opposition batsmen. And by 1977 Alastair had become the workhorse of the Straggler attack, bowling more than 100 overs in 11 seasons (again note that this has only been done twice by any bowler in the 21st century, and rarely even back in the early years); and in 1980 he managed to propel the ball down for 348 overs, taking 41 wickets at an average for the season of 17.32.
With career figures of 349 wickets at an average of 17.11, from 2157 overs, of which 533 were maidens, Alastair sits at number three in the all-time list of wicket takers, number three for most overs bowled and for most maidens bowled. He topped the bowling averages on in 1976 with figures for the season of 14 for 90, including 6 for 12 at Etchinghill, (an average of 6.43 – 3rd best of all time). He was the leading wicket taker 6 times (in 1980, ’81, ’86, ’87, 89 and ’91), and took for 5 or more wickets in a game on 13 occasions, twice in 1988, with the best figures at Etchinghill in 1976 (above).
Alastair’s Straggler appearances began to tail off in the ’90s, before his exile to the colonies in 1999. However, he made one memorable return to the middle in the 2015 Inter-Straggler game, when he managed to take one wicket, that of Joe (caught at point). Joe then returned the compliment, and bowled Alastair for a duck (a fitting bookend to his batting career – run out by his father for a duck in his first innings, and bowled by Joe for the same score in his last). Joe and Alastair shared the Champagne moment for 2015 for their memorable familial contest.
Alastair flourished with the bat in the middle part of his career, being leading run scorer in 1979 (252 runs) and 1981 (275 runs), and came second in the averages on a couple of occasions. On one memorable occasion, he managed to put a 6 through his own windscreen at Bossingham. His first fifty (59) was scored in 1979 at Bossingham, and he went on to score 3 more (68 at Detling, also in 1979; 58* against the Queens Regiment in 1980; and 64 against the Stock Exchange in 1981). He sits at number 19 on the all-time run scorers list, with 1927 runs at an average of 14.07 from 162 innings. Only 6 Straggler batsmen have been to the crease more often, and, with 25 ‘not outs’, he is at number 10 on that list as well.
Never knowingly agile, Alastair was safe pair of hands in the field, and took 65 catches, once more number 3 on they’ll time list.
Among Alastair’s more endearing habits (if that is the right adjective) was his payment of match fees in a plastic bag full of small coins, ideally no larger than 1p, carefully collected during the winter.
However, for all the statistics above, which demonstrate his considerable commitment to the Club over 3 decades, it will be for his humour, his cutting wit, and his banter that those of us, who were lucky enough to play cricket with Alastair, will remember him most fondly. With Alastair cricket was always fun.