Hampshire Cricket Pays Tribute To Alan Rayment

Hampshire Cricket would like to express their great sadness at the passing of Alan Rayment, aged 92

Hampshire Cricket would like to express their great sadness at the passing of former player Alan Rayment, aged 92.

The loss of any Hampshire Cricketer is always a terrible blow but particularly poignant when it is our “Senior Pro”.

Alan Rayment was a wonderful Hampshire cricketer who was so proud to represent this great Club. As always, his statistics will be presented elsewhere but what he embodied more than anything was the spirit of a Hampshire player and I have only ever known his as a warm and genial presence.

He only ever had good things to say to me about his Club and it was always a real pleasure to see him during his regular visits to the The Ageas Bowl. He will be very sadly missed by everyone associated with Hampshire Cricket.

Rod Bransgrove, Hampshire Cricket Chairman

Alan known to team-mates and friends as ‘Punchy’, was born in Finchley on 29th May 1928. He was a right-handed batsman and occasional bowler, who played club cricket in the London area, and from the end of the war variously for Middlesex 2nd XI, London Counties, the Lord’s XI and, on National Service, the RAF. His matches for the Combined Services included his first-class debut v Northamptonshire in June 1947.

In the 1940s, the Middlesex batting line-up, including Compton, Edrich and Robertson was very strong, but in June 1948 he played for Middlesex 2nd XI against Hampshire 2nd XI at Dean Park, Bournemouth, and after rain interrupted play on the first day, he scored 40 in a longish innings on a turning wicket in a memorable duel with Reg Dare. He later felt that “maybe that innings and my fielding impressed coach Arthur Holt, whom I ran out with a direct hit on the stumps from cover point.” Two months later, Hampshire’s captain and secretary Desmond Eagar wrote to the Finchley Club’s secretary and to his parents, requesting a meeting between his Chairman and members of the club’s committee: and he was offered a two-year contract with Hampshire, starting at £5 per week.

He made his county debut on 7 May 1949, and played for Hampshire in 198 first-class matches over ten seasons, scoring 6,333 runs at 20.36, with four centuries, 23 half-centuries - and 19 wickets. It is interesting to note that he was the last capped Hampshire professional whose career was solely in three-day first-class matches – he played no ‘white ball’ games. He completed 1,000 runs in a season on two occasions, in 1952 and 1956 and he was a member of the side that finished third in 1955 and runners-up in 1958 – both best performances by Hampshire at that time.

As a batsman, he was enterprising at the crease, and when fielding superbly in the covers, quick on his feet; helped no doubt because with his wife he ran a dancing school in Southampton - they often performed together. In a late season match at Bournemouth in 1950, age just 22, he scored 58 and 94 as Gloucestershire’s England bowlers Goddard and Cook spun Hampshire to an innings defeat. Apart from Alan, only his early mentor Neil McCorkell reached 40, Alan’s share was 47% and his batting brought the highest praise from John Arlott who, in his diary of that season described them as “the two best innings” he saw “by a young cricketer” that year, adding “he never played a reckless stroke at a good ball (and) never failed to punish a bad ball”.

His maiden century, 100* (& 74) came in a win against Somerset at Portsmouth in May 1952, there was a second a few weeks later at Trent Bridge and he was presented with his county cap at Bournemouth in July. In 1953 at Bristol, during the week of the Coronation he scored 126, adding 246 with Cliff Walker for the fourth wicket – at the time the fifth highest for that wicket for the county. He was proud too to have shared a third wicket partnership of 96 with Roy Marshall against the touring Australians in 1953 but as ever, Alan delighted equally in watching the superb stroke-play of Neil Harvey, on his way to three figures.

Then in 1955 at Weston-Super-Mare, his 104 came out of a Hampshire score of 245-7 declared, after Somerset had been bowled out for just 37. The pitch was so difficult that Derek Shackleton took 14-29 in the match but Alan typically decided to attack and trust to luck and Hampshire won easily.

After retiring in 1958, he coached at Lord’s and occasionally captained Hampshire’s side in the new 2nd XI competition. He led a fascinating and varied life after that and on his death in Lymington, on 27th October 2020, he was Hampshire’s ‘senior pro’ – the longest-serving of all their former professional players. In later life he wrote and published a fascinating social and historical account of his early life called Punchy Through the Covers, 1928-1949.

Alan’s life was not always straightforward but he ‘danced’ through much of it with a twinkle in his eye and a smile of gratitude for the many opportunities it presented. In 2018 he was entertained to a surprise 90th party by his friends in the Dorset Cricket Society and he was always engaging and entertaining at the reunions of former players, or when watching Hampshire – not least on a fine summer’s day in May 2019, when he was interviewed by fellow-Londoner Kevan James as Hampshire returned to the Isle of Wight for the first time in almost 60 years. He was a wonderful conversationalist, talked wisely of cricket then, and cricket now and recalled playing in Hampshire’s first Island visit in 1956, and in the following year, his innings of 80 against Nottinghamshire. ‘Punchy’, a good friend to many, was such fun, and will be greatly missed. He once wrote:

“From the day of my debut at Cardiff sixty-nine years ago, I have always been, and remain, thankful and proud to have worn my Hampshire cap, to have played with and against unforgettable characters, and to have occasionally entertained Hampshire cricket fans on Hampshire soil”.

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