‘A thoroughly decent and honest chap’ - tributes to cricket legend Phil Gillett

Hunts cricket legend Phil Gillett who died on September 23 is pictured in action at a previous game.

Hunts cricket legend Phil Gillett who died on September 23 is pictured in action at a previous game. - Credit: Archant

Tributes have been paid to cricket legend Phil Gillett who collapsed and died after an Easter Counties cup final.

The match on September 23 ended tragically after Phil, who turned 60 in July, complained of feeling unwell and later died in hospital.

Phil was preparing himself to open the bowling against Essex Over 60s at Fitzwilliam College Sports Ground, Cambridge - having batted for the final few overs.

He had complained to skipper Nick Andrews of not feeling well during the lunch break and then declared himself fit.

He was treated by Peterborough GP Dr Sajid Shirazi, who had only just turned up to support the side, and then by a team of paramedics before being taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, in Cambridge.

During his long career, Phil play more than 50 matches for Hunts Over 50s, before making his debut as an under-aged player for the Over 60s last season. He was vice-chairman of Waresley CC, where he played his club cricket.

Paying tribute to Phil, Nick Andrews said: “Phil was not just a lovely bloke, he was someone you’d want alongside you in the trenches when you were up against it. Batting, bowling or fielding he always gave 100 per cent.

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“To say he will be missed is an understatement. Phil will leave a massive hole in a side he had only recently joined and will be deeply missed by all his cricket mates in the Over 60s.”

Phil grew up in Little Gransden and first played for Waresley in 1974 when he was 14, he holds the record for playing the most consecutive seasons for the club – 47. Despite playing a few years at St Neots and Papworth, he always made sure he came back for a few games at Waresley and his last appearance was in July this year. He also represented the full Huntingdonshire side on seven occasions, made more than 50 appearances for the Hunts Over 50’s and was in his second season with the Cambs & Hunts over 60’s.

In 1978, he made an appearance for Northamptonshire 2nd XI against Essex 2nd XI and was credited with bowling Graham Gooch back into the form that saw him regain and retain his England place for the next 17 years.

Always an active and outdoor man, Phil played Hockey in the winter, was an enthusiastic member of Gamlingay Young Farmers and had recently discovered the joys of caravanning. His jobs included working in a bakery, for York House, J P Walker & Sons and at Waresley Park. Whatever he did, he was always well organised, gave 100 per cent and made sure he saw a task through to the end.

His playing record speaks for itself – he was a fine medium fast bowler with a unique action, an attacking batsman and excellent in the field – in more than 1000 recorded appearances for the club, he scored 17471 runs with three centuries and 68 fifties – highest score of 139 v Camden in 1997 - he took an amazing 1297 wickets with 23 five wicket hauls and a career best of 8-26 v Eltisley 1977 when he was just 17.

He won the batting averages once, the bowling averages three times, most catches trophy five times, best 1st XI performance six times, best 2nd XI performance three times, most improved player twice (in consecutive seasons) and shared the Lyndon Price Champagne Moment Trophy with Kevin Cole for the epic 9th wicket match winning partnership against Hemingford in 2000 which we covered earlier in the summer.

Gareth Thomas recalled that the best all-round performance he had ever seen for the club was by Phillip against Ampthill in 1982 when he scored 70 out of 140 and then proceeded to take 7-35 to win the game – positively “Bothamesque” as it was described at the time.

But more importantly than all this, he was a thoroughly honest and decent chap who always had time, a smile and a witty comment for you – was great fun off the pitch and he’ll be missed more than we can say and will cherish our memories of him forever.