John Rogers Tribute to Dick Guy
I can still picture Dick Guy walking back to bowl at the southern end of Chatswood Oval, swinging around at his mark, and leaning forward to rise up on his toes of those skinny legs carrying that barrel torso, and with tiny steps come trundling in to bowl. It was a longish run for a spinner and compared to Richie Benaud perhaps a bit elephantine, but at the point of delivery, Rolly as we called him, was perfectly balanced.
Out the ball would come, high above the eye-line, and down the pitch I would go, but Dick would have guessed it and it’s shorter than I think and drops in front of me and desperately I’ve got bat and pads behind it, knowing that in those days umps gave the benefit of the doubt if down the pitch and got hit on the pads. Dick would give me that little smile of his and next ball would be higher and wider, the sucker ball that brought him perhaps a hundred wickets “stumped Taber bowled Guy”. It would hang in the air, dip and then spin away leaving the batsman groping at thin air. With luck I’d let it go and Tabsy would take it in that sublimely graceful way, straight back, bent only at the hips, his long saturnine face expressionless as he tossed it back with a quiet “bowled Rolly”.
The next ball would be straighter but look exactly the same - until halfway down the pitch, I could see it was bit lower and what’s more it was growing on me. “The straight one, get your bat down” I’d yell inwardly at myself – and again with luck I’d prevent it darting into my pads for another of his common dismissals – LBW b. Guy.
And so we’d battle it out year after year. Occasionally I’d get a drive through the covers or squeeze one past point or maybe get a sweep away. I can’t remember ever getting a big score against him, but must have done okay, as in retrospect I probably faced him more than any other bowler and so enjoyed the challenge.
At the other end often would be Tiddles Wilson or John Todd, bowling their tweaker legbreaks, so playing Gordon was often a spin-bowling test. But it was Dick who ruled the roost. He’d come on 1st change upwind and bowl for much of the day. His deliveries were slower than nearly any other leggie I faced, and perhaps because of that, and his rotund build, the fact he was difficult to hide in the field and was something of a bunny as a batsman, the state selectors were reluctant to pick him. Yet in his 8 matches he averaged 27 with the ball, as good as Richie Benaud’s for NSW. I played with him the just once at state level where he held his own in impressive style.
For Gordon he was a very good captain, as it was clear everyone in his team loved playing with him and enjoyed the game. And for we St George players, especially Peter Leslie, Ray Davies and myself who had played some rugby with St George, plus Warren Saunders and Big Fave (John Martin), we loved going over the road to the Gordon rugby club, where Dick, Tabsy, Tiddles and co would be in full swing and were great company. With that beaming smile and fair hair, Dick was always great fun. But if he didn’t like something, he said so, and I remember well him reading the riot act to me as I joined the state selection committee of which he was the newly appointed chairman!
With much appreciation for a great ‘guy’.
John is a former NSW, St George, UNSW player and State selector