FORMER England cricketer Chris Read has joined the chorus of tributes to Ted Ashman, the long-serving Devon youth team manager who has died aged 81.
Read, who retired from the First Class game at the end of the 2017 season, started his cricket career with Paignton and was talent spotted at the age of eight by the Devon youth system.
For three seasons Read played in the Devon under-11 side managed by Ted Ashman before moving through the age-groups and on to the full Devon side.
Read went on to play for Gloucestershire, Nottinghamshire and England, appearing 50 times in all formats of the international game.
Read said lessons he learned in the Devon under-11s served him well during his professional career, a career that included skipper Notts to the County Championship and victories in 40 and 50-over one-day finals at Lord’s.
“Ted did not coach you how to play the game – he was never a coach in that sense – but he taught you how the game should be played,” said Read.
“What you learned from Ted was how to read a game, things like who to bowl, how to set a field, how to judge the state of the game and lots of other nuances you would not see at club level.
“Ted was an outstanding organiser and you soon learned what his expectations were.
“When you arrived at the ground it would be immaculate and Ted’s wife Sally was there helping and getting ready to do the scoring.
“Ted’s expectation was that you presented yourself as a county side, which meant turning up smartly dressed, on time and with all the proper kit.
“Ted was no disciplinarian, not strict in a schoolmasterish way, but he had standards and expected you to maintain them.
“The three years I played in Ted’s team were a fantastic learning experience.”
Devon age-group teams have a reputation for honing young cricketers who have gone on to have careers in the game.
Although Read sits at the top of the alumi list, others such as Craig Overton and Dom Bess started out in the under-10s or under-11s and have since earned Test caps.
Dozens more have had careers in the professional game.
Read’s age-group team included Dean Cosker (Glamorgan), James Fulton (Oxford University) and the future actor Matthew Goode.
Read went to work at Uppingham School after retiring from First Class cricket. He moved to Repton School last summer and is the full-time director of cricket.
Part-time he coaches at Nottinghamshire, working with wicketkeepers and batsmen as well as polishing T20 skills.
As far as playing is concerned, the kit is in the attic for good.
“I have not played a game since I retired and have not felt the urge to either,” said Read.
“I am still heavily involved in cricket and cricket coaching and that is enough for me.”