Who can follow Gubbins from local league to Lord’s?

Richard Gubbins, left, with sons Nick, centre and Will at Stirlands CC / Picture by Kate Shemilt
Richard Gubbins, left, with sons Nick, centre and Will at Stirlands CC / Picture by Kate Shemilt

The new chairman of Stirlands is relishing the opportunity of taking the club forward – and perhaps uncovering the next England hopeful.

Richard Gubbins is optimistic the Birdham-based club can be the beating heart of the community. The 60-year-old said: “I’m so excited by it. I’ve been here for 18 years now. Previously I was working in Singapore when the highlight of my cricket career was to play for Singapore in two one day internationals against Malaysia.

“The first thing I did having moved to Birdham was find out where the local club is, and my first experience with Stirlands was with the Singapore Cricket Club touring in 2000-2001, a great way to get to know them. Out top batsman arrived and played with a broken arm having faced Shoaib Akbar at Lashings the day before. Here we are, years later, and I was asked whether I would like to take over the role as chairman, and I said I’d love to.”

Gubbins’ two sons, Will and Nick, have both played for Stirlands. Will is still a big part of the team but Nick has carved out a professional career for himself at Middlesex CCC and has even been knocking on England’s door.

Gubbins senior said: “I decided to throw the two boys into the club so they grew up with Stirlands from a very young age. Nicholas was very aggressive as a young lad and wanted to play. When he was eight, he was playing for the under-12s. They were exposed to men’s cricket at a very early age.” That is the club’s ethos for promising young cricketers.

Nick had a good winter with the England Lions in the West Indies and was involved in the recent North v South series in the Caribbean. He impressed with two consecutive centuries of 116 and 109 with the South back-to-back tons. The 24-year-old suffered a hamstring tour in the final game of the series, but hopes to be back by the end of this month.

The new chairman was scorer for his son’s 199 not out in 2011 against Cuckfield, the club’s record highest individual score when he was 17. “I remember Nick hit a six off the last ball to win the game and he ended up on 199 not out which is the club’s highest score and Nick said to me ‘Couldn’t you find another run?’ ”

Perhaps he won’t be the last Stirlands youngsters to reach the international scene with 16 year old Nat Clowes having recently been selected for the England Under 19 disability squad.

Richard Gubbins, a former Surrey League player, is very keen to make the club a focal point of the community and continue the recent success of the youth side of the club.

He said: “We want to encourage family recreation and be part of an all levels and all ages. We have one of the best junior sections in the county and I’m very proud of that. On Friday nights, we get around 80 youngsters of all ages at the club playing and being coached and you only have to look at the success in the past two years.

“Our under-19s, our under-15s, our under-14s, under-12s and under-11s have all been league winners and our under-16s, 13s and tens have been county champions over the past two years.

“If you think of it as a pyramid, at the bottom of the pyramid we have all these fantastic youngsters and that is the base for the future. I’m very keen to encourage disabled youngsters and girls to come and play for us.”

Stirlands finished second in division four of the Sussex Premier League and were promoted to division three west for this summer.

The chairman said: “Our target is to gain promotion. We are on a roll and we have a lot of enthusiasm at the club. Some of our players have been practicing all winter and are very keen and it just shows the attitude of the players and you will see how hard they have worked over the winter.

“There’s a great history to the club, we had some very well-known overseas cricketers who have played for us. The Australian Joe Burns played for us in 2010, and one of the best spin bowlers, Saeed Ajmal from Pakistan played for us in 2004-2005.”

MICHAEL HELLYER