By CONRAD SUTCLIFFE
LORD’S cup final winner, team-mate of cricketing greats and a participant in one of the most famous cup games ever played. Devon CCC’s new president Jack Davey has been all those things and a few more.
Tavistock-born Davey, who turns 76 later this year, has quietly taken over from Roger Moylan-Jones as president of the county club.
The handover should have taken place at the county club’s annual meeting recently, but that event has been cancelled due to dangers posed by coronavirus contagion.
Davey’s association with the county club goes back to his mid-teens when he played in the Devon Colts team managed by the late Peter Atkinson and captained by Bob Staddon.
Andy Ellett, now the groundsman at Exeter, future Devon wicketkeeper Joe Oliver, Paignton all-rounder Terry Friend and Exmouth’s Richard Pearcy were among Davey’s colts team-mates.
Davey, whose five-wickets-for-21-run haul against Cornwall at Liskeard caught the eye in the 1962 summer, went on to play professionally for Gloucestershire between 1966-1978.
More than 300 games later Davey retired back to Devon and entered the licensed trade, running pubs in Tavistock, Clyst St Mary, Abbotskerswell and finally the County Ground clubhouse when Exeter Chiefs played there before moving to Sandy Park.
Davey still works part-time as a car delivery driver, but once cricket gets under way again he will be focussing on his new job as county club president.
“If you had told me I would end up as county president as a 13 or 14 year old playing for Tavistock and enjoying mid-week evening cricket with Milton Abbot, I would not have believed it,” said Davey.
“Cricket has been good to me – it was a wonderful career with great times on and off the field – and since coming back to Devon I have tried to put something back into the game.
“Roger Moylan-Jones has been a superb president for Devon, and before that he was a very effective chairman for more than 15 years.
“I don’t know if I will have his diplomatic skills – Roger is good at that sort of thing – but if I can bring all the elements of cricket in Devon a bit closer then I will have succeeded in something that means a lot to me.”
Jack Davey, who was born in Tavistock, followed father Eric and grandfather Glanville into his home-town cricket club.
Two seasons in the Devon Colts team led to Minor Counties cricket with Devon in 1964, where left-arm seamer Davey proved hard to score runs against. He had four-wicket hauls against Cornwall and Oxfordshire in his debut season.
Worcestershire were the first county side to show and interest in the former Tavistock Grammar School boy after senior players from the county saw him in action.
“In those days there was no Sunday league and it was quite common for professional players to turn up with touring sides for game against a club,” said Davey.
“Tavistock entertained Mendip Acorns for a weekend and the party they brought had Somerset and Worcestershire players in it, such as Don Kenyon and Len Coldwell.
“Len was from Newton Abbot had played for Devon before going to Worcestershire in the mid-50s. I learned he recommended me for a trial and off I went to train with them and play a couple of games in the 2nd XI.”
While Worcestershire were deciding whether they were interested in Davey, scouts from Gloucestershire discovered him and the trialling process started again.
“It started with bowling in the nets, followed by second team cricket under Graham Wiltshire for a full season,” said Davey.
“Worcestershire came back with an offer eventually, but I had already decided to go with Gloucestershire.”
Davey had 13 seasons on the staff at Gloucestershire, where he and fellow Devonian David Shepherd formed a firm friendship that lasted until the latter’s death in 2009.
Shepherd had a long career as a batsman with Gloucestershire – and an even longer one as a First Class and Test match umpire.
Gloucestershire were a force to be reckoned with at times in one-day cricket during the early 70s and Davey played his part in the county’s successes.
“We had two Pakistani batsman – Sadiq Mohammad and Zaheer Abbas – and Mike Procter, who was arguably the finest all-rounder in world cricket at the time,” said Davey.
“Forty-over cricket on Sunday was not out strongest suit, but the longer Gillette Cup suited us far better.
“We got to the semi-final in 1971, where we lost an epic match to Lancashire, then got to the final in 1973, where we beat Sussex.”
Those two matches will live long in Davey’s memory for entirely different reasons.
“The match at Old Trafford against Lancashire has gone down in history and in the old days when rain stopped play in a Test match it was the game they showed highlights of to fill in time,” said Davey. (click here for highlights)
“We started late because of problems getting all the crowd in and there were so many there they had to sit on the grass round the boundary.
“With people coming and going and getting in front of the sightscreen, and an hour lost to rain, it took ages for Lancashire to bowl 60 overs – and then we had to bowl at them.
“More than four hours later we were still out there – and when Davie Hughes went out to bat at quarter to nine the street lights near the ground were already on.
“Jack Bond had already raised concerns about bad light, pointing out that the moon had begun to appear in the sky.
“The gruff umpire Arthur Jepson replied that if he could see as far as the moon then there was clearly no problem – and the game continued. We did not want to come off as the crowd had been drinking all day and wanted a finish. We thought we would be lynched if we went off.
“David Hughes hit 24 in an over to win the match and Lancashire went on to beat Kent in the final at Lord’s.”
Gloucestershire’s hour of glory came two years later when they defeated Sussex by 40 runs in the Gillette Cup final at Lord’s.
Gloucestershire’s 248 for eight in 60 overs was respectable by the standards of the day, but when Sussex were 121 for one with 21 overs to go the game was in the balance.
Davey was brought back on to bowl by skipper Tony Brown and promptly took the ‘most important’ wicket of his career.
“Roger Prideaux had been smacking boundaries and we needed him out,” said Davey.
“Bowling him was my contribution to winning the final and of all the wickets I took it is the one I regard as the most important.”
Davey soldiered on until 1978 at Gloucestershire before retirement beckoned in the shape of a pub in Princetown on Dartmoor.
After a year out of the game he started playing for Tavistock in the Devon League and captained the side to promotion from the old B Division in 1980. Davey was still captain in 1981 when Tavistock were A Division runners-up behind Exmouth.
Tavistock finished third in the top flight the following season with Davey taking 55 wickets at less than 13 runs each.
When the chance to take a pub in Clyst St Mary near Exeter came up, Davey started playing for Exmouth. His eight-for-45 haul against Plymouth was the best bowling spell in the A Division in 1986. Exmouth won the division that summer.
Davey saw out his days in the 2ndand 3rdXIs at Exmouth, playing alongside teenage son Kevin.
When his playing days ended, Davey went into team management with Devon, where he worked alongside captains Hiley Edwards and Nick Folland for five seasons.
“We had some good players in those days – Folland, Nick Gaywood, Keith Donohue, Bob Dawson , Andy Pugh – and got to two Lord’s finals and a Minor Counties play-off game,” said Davey.
“Nick Folland went to Somerset at the end of the 1992 season and Peter Roebuck came in as captain. Work made it difficult for me to do the team manager’s job – all those late-night phone calls when someone drops out and has to be replaced – and as Peter was happy to take care of that side of things I stood aside.”
Davey stayed on the county committee in an elder-statesman role, ready to offer advice based on experience when necessary.
And when David Shepherd died in 2009, Davey was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the David Shepherd Cricket Foundation in memory of his old friend.
Now known as the David Shepherd Cricket Trust, the charity has pumped tens of thousands of pounds into youth cricket in Devon over the past decade.
“It has been hard work raising the money, but thanks to our supporters we are developing youngsters who will have their own careers in cricket. Most will be club cricketers, some will play for Devon and a few will go on to have the sort of career I had, at least I hope they do.”