In the latest feature in our series on the league's best all-rounders, Reg Nelson looks at the outstanding feats of Chris Gott.
Chris Gott’s only season at Idle in 1986 coincided with four-times Sir Learie Constantine All Rounder winner Tony Moore’s last. Little did either of them know at the time that the 21 year-old Gott would challenge his supremacy as the most decorated all-rounder of all-time.
Gotty won the supreme prize in 1990, 1991 and 1996 to finish second in the all-time winners, but he reckoned that 1994 was arguably his best. He scored 978 runs at 46.37 and also took 49 wickets.
However, Steve Bartle beat him to the All Rounder’s prize with 1,010 runs and he also won the league bowling averages. However, if he had taken one wicket less he would not have qualified for the bowling averages and possibly not won the Sir Learie Constantine All Rounderprize too!
On recounting his years at the top, Chris had this to say about the Sir Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy, “After playing with Tony Moore I was aware of his achievements and wanted to win this ultimate award.
"In fact when I started to win it, I wanted to equal his record. However, I was competing with some extra special all rounders like Chris Pickles, Jimmy Poutch, Richard McCarthy and Murphy Walwyn .
“I think Chris Pickles was technically the best, a terrific batsman who was always a reluctant bowler. Murphy Walwyn ran him very close, and he would have scored a lot more runs, but it is more difficult batting down the order at No.5 or 6”.
Chris had a good start to his cricket career, following in the footsteps of his father Peter, who was a fine all-rounder. He pro’d for a host of teams, but most famously in the title winning Salts side of 1961.
Chris said, “He bowled 'out swingers’ at a very good pace and usually batted in middle over, giving the bowling a bit of a poke."
It could be said that Gotty out performed many county players in the league, and asked about his chances at that level said: “I was in the Yorkshire system from being 19.
"I had spells with Somerset and Sussex too, and in 1991 appeared in the Yorkshire seconds team that won the league. They were so strong that the likes of Matthew Doidge and me were lower order batsmen. By that time I was 26 with the first signs of a wonky knee.
“However this put me in good stead for league cricket, and I had seven years in New Zealand as a pro. The fact that I played so much representative cricket helped me enormously, and playing against players from other leagues sharpened my focus.
“I feel for the talented young at St Lawrence players who are not playing this sort of cricket enough, and it’s stifling their development”.
“When people talk about all-rounders, they are inclined to forget that they have to field too, and in my case captain the side. I always regarded myself as a decent fielder, and caught most in the field. It’s a skill to combine all these elements and be a success.
"I set out to win the Sir Learie Constantine Trophy because by doing so I am helping the side win matches. I was never one for batting averages and `red-inkers’, I played shots to win matches”
When asked about his bowling he said:"I could swing it in to the batsman, but I mixed it up and developed leg cutters. To be successful you needed a box of tricks, and I’d always try a slower one”.
Chris lamented the fact that he was just 22 runs short of a thousand league runs in 1994, but he thought it was more difficult to get to this target in those days,
"For a start off there were no bowler restriction, so you had the likes of John Carruthers of Hanging Heaton bowling 25 overs from one end, and also Richard McCarthy could bowl what he liked.
“Nowadays with fielding circles and restricted overs for the best bowlers, and of course better prepared wickets, it’s always a source of amazement to me that some `good’ batters get no more than about 400-runs. We’d have regarded that as a bad season in my day.”
Chris concluded. “It does seem rare nowadays that a thousand is reached, unless you are talking about Mark Robertshaw who is something else!”
Chris Gott, third from the right in the back row was part of a talented Farsley side which won the Priestley Cup in 1983. The line up included Ashley Metcalfe, Tim Boon and David Ripley while the captain was former England opener Brian Bolus.
Chris Gott led the Bradford League to many triumphs
Pudsey St Lawrence 1997 Back: Cameron Bailey, Ian Priestley, Adrian Rooke, Paul Hutchison, Dave Robertshaw, Ashley Metcalfe. Front: Craig Thomas. Gary Fellows, Chris Gott, James Goldthorp, Pierre De Bruyne.
Long serving St Lawrence player, supporter and cameraman Neil Allison had this to say about Gotty, “The times I saw Chris perform for the club, he always gave 110%.
"This made him into a good captain, leading by example with his batting, bowling and fielding…..and drinking, which has a great tradition at the club, with players putting their `match fee’ over the bar”.
Writing in the Bradford Cricket League Centenary Book of 2003, several distinguished former cricketers and administrators were asked to name their ten most rated cricketers, and Gott was in two contributions.
John France said: "Chris has made a massive impact on the Bradford League. Not just as an explosive batsman who was reliable in a crisis, but also his medium pace bowling and excellent fielding.
"Few people will forget the fact that he is the only batsman ever to hit six sixes in an over, and I have witnessed countless innings over the years when he turned a game his side’s way through his own deeds.
"Although he no longer captains his side he is, in my view, one of the finest skippers the Bradford League has produced in recent years, ranking alongside men such as Tony Page at Yorkshire Bank and Neil Hartley at Bradford & Bingley.
"Chris is a wonderful motivator and has the ability to bring the best from any players under his command. His leadership skills guided the Bradford League to five successive Yorkshire Inter-League Championships."
League president Keith Moss said: "Chris Gott always had the ability to come good in a crisis and his contribution to Pudsey St Lawrence has been immense.
"As a captain he was charismatic and attracted the respect and support which ensured that every member of the team gave of their best for him. But he was a player who was capable of explosive performances with bat and ball,
"The record book show him to be the only player ever to hit six sixes in an over which he achieved against the bowling of Undercliffe’s Paul Whitaker, and there have been many occasions when he turned the destiny of a match.
"Even early in the 2002 season he produced some stunning hitting to win the match at Woodlands. He hit four sixes in the final ten balls, including one over the wicketkeeper’s head from the final delivery to seal a valuable win.'
A small biop written by Reg Nelson in 2014 for the Bradford Premier League Club Histories Series is printed below.
Chris Gott was a fabled cricketer in the league leading the Bradford Cricket Representative League team to five successive Yorkshire KO trophies.
He was a winner, with a prodigous talent to fall back on, and the equal of most of the proliferation of county cricketers who played in the league in his era. His playing record is second to none in the modern history of the game.
W.H. Foster Jubilee Trophy- Batting (Div 1):1991
Sir Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy:1990, 1991, 1996
Six sixes in one over (league record) 1991 v Undercliffe
Bradford League Division 1 Winners: 1991
Priestley Cup Winners: 1997
Yorkshire Leagues KO Trophy: 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997
(Bradford League Representative side)
NCA County Championship: 1994, 1996
As a cricketer Gott was a rare commodity, a free spirit with a tunnel vision for success. He had no patience for crafty run compiling, preferring to hasten the run chase with a series of virtuoso shots.
When he strode to the crease the bars and tea-huts would empty as he looked to dictate matters, often having the audacity to hit the first ball for four. He would also on occasions stroll down the wicket to drive a fast bowler. A more cautious and less talented batsman might score 1,000 runs in a season, while he took no heed of `red-inkers’ and personal landmarks.
Gott as a seamer had an economical run-up and sudden acceleration to the delivery stride - looking somewhat innocuous from the boundary edge. However, the batsman could never rest because when he struck a good length he was neither driveable nor hookable.
Quite pacey from a short run he always sought wickets rather than bowl the negative line. He rescued the Bradford League with the ball on Final day on several occasions on the notorious Tadcaster wicket when they were facing impending defeat
When Gott was appointed skipper of Pudsey St Lawrence in 1991 there were raised eyebrows. Many regarded him as a flamboyant cricketer who played by instinct with no account of tactics. How wrong they were! In his first season he led the Saints to the title by a margin of 8 points on Spen Victoria. To prove that captaincy had no effect on his batting he scored 844 runs at 60.29 to win the Bradford League Batting Averages to go with his All Rounder’s Trophy!
His playing record is second to none in the modern history of the Bradford League. Unlike most old cricketers who desert the game to play golf or take their family shopping on a Saturday, he has shown that he is prepared to put something back in the game. He became the Chairman at Pudsey St Lawrence and prepared to take on the mundane tasks involved in running a cricket club. His playing record is second to none in the modern history of the Bradford League.
However, Chris Gott really came to the fore in 1990 with 724 runs, and 41 wickets which was sufficient for him to win the Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy.
The captaincy certainly did not affect the performances of Chris Gott in 1991 who probably reached his peak as a cricketer. He again won the Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy- and also the League Batting Averages with 844 runs at 60.29. His 41 wickets was the icing on the cake for an individual who led his team to the title.
During the campaign he also became the only player in the league’s history to hit six sixes in an over. On the receiving end was Undercliffe’s off spinner Paul Whitaker who later played for Hampshire.
Overseas player Simon Doull (58 wkts) and James Goldthorp (690 runs) helped Gott enormously in bringing the title to Tofts Road as they edged nearest challengers Spen Victoria by eight points. Another achiever was the nimble Martin Redhead who kept so capably he won the League’s WicketKeeper’s Award.
The remainder of the nineties decade saw some virtuoso cricketers at St Lawrence with only one further trophy to show for their talents. In 1997 the Priestley Cup was won for the fourth time in their history when they comfortably beat East Bierley by seven wickets with South African Pierre De Bruyn excelling with the bat.
James Goldthorp was a heavy scorer throughout the decade while Ian Priestley scored runs with great zest. Former Yorkshire batsman Ashley Metcalfe showed astonishing consistency averaging 54.43, 42.05 and 43.05 in successive seasons at the end of the 90s. Gott continued to be the complete all-rounder with an even better season in 1994 scoring 978 runs and claiming 49 wickets.