David Sayer (OM 1946-55)

We regret to announce the death of David Sayer on 24th January.
The service will take place at Holy Cross Church, Bearsted, at 1pm on Wednesday 22nd February, and will be followed by private cremation. His wife said “I had indeed initially intended the funeral to be a small family affair, but this is definitely not going to happen”.

The following obituary has been provided by the OMS chairman

David Michael Sayer

David was born in Romford, Essex on 19 September 1936 but was educated in Kent, at Maidstone Grammar School (1946 to 1955), and was passionate about cricket from a very young age. He gained an open Exhibition to Brasenose College Oxford in 1955 but did not go “up” to read for his MA in History until 1957 as two years National Service got in the way. At school he was Captain of the Cricket first XI and he played first XV Rugby. He was House Captain of Corpus Christi in his last year at MGS when Corpus achieved its last “Cock House Cup” of a long winning streak. He played cricket on concrete and matting wickets in Germany whilst serving her Majesty and played for Oxford University from 1958 to 1960. David also played at that time for the Gentlemen v Players and toured New Zealand with MCC in 1960/61. In that year he became a full time professional with Kent having played occasional games for the County from his sixth form days and through each of his Oxford years after the varsity fixtures were over. He also played for the Mote Cricket Club in the late 50’s and was Captain of the Club for eight seasons in the 1970’s having retired from full time County Cricket in 1968. He still played in occasional matches for the County alongside the likes of Knott and Underwood in the “Glory Days”. His final game for Kent was in 1976, against Glamorgan in the John Player league. As a fast bowler his career average was 23.6 and he took five wickets in an innings 19 times. His career best was achieved in his third game for the Club: 7 for 37 in a match against Leicestershire at Grace Road in 1958. In that game his match figures were 10 for 67. An anecdote related to me by a former Mote player has it that when the Mote played against MGS in the summer of 1953, David was the fastest bowler he had ever faced and he was bruised through his pads! Cricket was in David’s blood: when he lived in Sandling Lane as a young teenager he played on Penenden Heath at every available opportunity.

After his playing career David ran his own insurance agency in Lenham until his retirement. He was a loyal Kent County Cricket Club supporter after his playing days and acted as their insurance broker. He played golf at Bearsted. In later life his joints creaked somewhat – the penalty of fast bowling over so many years taking its toll on his tall angular frame: he used to joke with me latterly about “bowling off a short run today”. He bore ill health with fortitude – his eyesight suffered too latterly – If I said to him that he wouldn’t see the stumps he’d reply “Did that ever matter?” That was typical of his dry humour even in adversity. David was a regular attender at the OM Supper and would always have a pithy and apt comment to make about any situation. He leaves a widow Carol and two daughters Alexandria and Vivienne and their families. His elder brother John is also an OM (1949).

RBR

3 thoughts on “David Sayer (OM 1946-55)

  1. We have been sent the following eulogy by John Sayer which was read at David’s funeral:

    We three brothers, five years apart, had one interest in common with our father; the world was round, in the shape of a cricket ball, the earth was flat in the shape of a well-rolled cricket pitch. Our Dad and Uncle Bill had been stalwarts of Romford Cricket Club; that is where Charlie Gilder met Aunt Elsie, too. When we moved to Penenden Heath, that became our world; we would chase lost balls from teams playing at either end, and sometimes find them later in the long grass in the coppice. I was too young for Derek’s ball-playing friends, David was turned away by mine, even though his leg-breaks from the age of eight were too much for most. When in turn we went on to M.G.S., it was cricket we had there in common, not much else really. David did try the violin for a time, and followed me to the village church choir at Boxley, a supplement to our wisely modest weekly pocket money. And there were the VE day and post-war Penenden Heath Social Club celebrations, which always included the throwing the cricket ball competition, across the Heath. Derek excelled, but when David got to it, they had to clear the road for safety on the far side. He had remarkably long and strong arms and fingers; he could and did lay his hand flat on my head and with one finger raise a bump as large as a bird’s egg. We used to believe he had double-jointed fingers – biology was not for boys in those days.
    It was not until 1954, that Dave and I played against each other, school versus old boys. I had been absorbed in studies, and came back to Maidstone without having touched ball or bat that year. David invited me to a quiet net practice at school, to ‘get my eye in’. Cricket nets in my day had been uphill by the pavilion, grass safely dampened under the poplar trees. But when we got there, I found there were new downhill concrete and matting nets, and in no time balls were buzzing past my ears like hornets. David had already become a remarkably fast bowler.
    Cricket in those days was not regarded as a mere sport; at school, the physical education teachers were the least likely to be involved. Our classics master Ralph Kemp looked after the cricket and was also the link to Kent at St. Lawrence Canterbury Club and Ground. Cricket was a devotional ritual exercise, having since the 19th century its holy grail in the shape of the cremated ashes of W.G.Grace, revered in the traditional home of cricket, Marylebone Cricket Club at Lords’. There we were in each school, village green, club or county ground, arrayed in white, the male equivalent of vestal virgins, courteously applauding each other in and out between pavilion and chain-long sanctuary wicket of immaculately shaved green, far from the madding crowd and everyday realities. Only the tea-makers, from Maidstone to Milsted, had access.
    The following year, his last at school, David was called into the Kent side to play against Sussex, stalwart Fred Ridgeway having pulled a muscle. But David too had grown into a fast bowler without any skilled physical preparation for his whole body; he broke down and could hardly bowl in the second innings. His contemporary, Frank Tyson, was the first fast bowler to have trained physically to take the strain. Sports therapy had no place in the MCC. But by 1958, after conscription, David was in full flight, opening the bowling for Oxford. Wickedly, one of his best performances that year was against his own county, Kent, 6 for 44. David had three years at Oxford – I should have mentioned his Open Exhibition in History at Brasenose College, the result of a very quick mind and accurate memory ­ – but each Summer was spent in the Parks, and his Blue, with 5 for 41 against Cambridge, meant more than his honours degree.
    His heyday was also a turning point for cricket. The world was divided between Gentlemen and Players. The Gentlemen (or Gentlemen of Marylebone Cricket Club, founded in 1787, which governed the game across the Commonwealth) were distinguished from the Players, who were paid for their services. County and national teams were always captained by Gentlemen, allegedly free of self-interest, serving the game as officers served the Queen. Scorecards would sometimes list the amateur Gentlemen with initials before their names, unlike the players. David came into cricket as an amateur and Oxford Blue gentleman, but without any of the customary smooth trappings of class distinction. Amateurs were offered generous expenses to have everything done for them, sometimes exceeding the pittance paid to players, who washed their own socks. Our mother had over half a century of cricket sock washing and darning, her pride and joy, and David was deeply grateful at home over so many years. As a talented amateur, David was offered a sinecure by a Kent supporter and went through the early cricketing years nominally as personnel manager for Molins packaging Company; remarkably, the personnel did not suffer during his absence for Kent during the Summer, or during MCC tours in the winter.
    Gentlemen versus Players twice each year was the most important cricket match apart from Test Matches. The only problem was that for about 10 years, the Gentlemen had come nowhere near defeating the Players. David was an anomaly, his 6 for 68 for Gentlemen against Players in 1959 was hardly the done thing. After facing David, Denis Compton, every schoolboy’s cricketing hero, described him as a yard faster than the fiery Fred Trueman. Relationships on his tours for MCC, notably to New Zealand in 1961, were uneasy. David saw through the cant too clearly. In 1962 things came to a head. The Players formed a union, the Cricket Players Association, and in no time the hallowed distinction between Gentlemen and Players was gone, Players in future captained county and national teams on merit. Perhaps gentlemanly conduct soon went too. In the 1970s, the tycoon Kerry Packer in Australia and the Indian Cricket Board commercialised shorter, more colourful and more lucrative slogging matches. Cricket helmets became common in the 1970s, as younger players targeted each other more and more. David played his game for Kent through all these changes, slowing to medium-fast, and later while playing on for the Mote, was even recalled by Kent in 1976, 21 years after his first-class début.
    Many of my generation and the next remember the sheer poetry of motion when he was bowling, or the thrill of this large frame scooping up balls on the boundary and running out batsmen unaware of his throwing power. It cost, though. When I once asked him how he would now categorise cricket, he shrugged it off as ‘entertainment’, but he continued to play the game as before. It was the centre of half of his life. Cricket did nothing to prepare him for career or social life beyond the hallowed turf, but he became a legend, enshrined in Wisden Almanack and cricket archives and pleasurable memories. May they long remain, brother David.

    John Sayer, for 22 February 2017.

  2. Faced him on concrete and matting in Germany during National Service,
    a fearsome and memorable experience, not to be forgotten,
    As l live 4 miles from Oxford, followed his career in the parks with great lnterest, it brought a smile to my face when he made county pros hop around., lovely memories, thank you.

  3. One snowy afternoon, I made my way outside at lunchtime to find David standing moulding a snowball in his hand. “Ah, Mitchell” he said. I turned to run and an icy projectile hit me on the back of the head. I swear I flew several yards.He could throw like no-one else I ever met. I also faced him in the nets without protective clothing but I would rather not talk about that!.

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