The English former cricketer Brian Rose played nine Test matches and two ODIs between 1977 and 1981. I always get up early, usually before 7 a.m. This means I can spend some time with my children while preparing their breakfast. I never eat anything myself until later in the day. I like to arrive at the Taunton County grounds by 9 a.m., though it’s usually a little after. First, I look through the post and read the morning papers. We have the newspaper “The Times” delivered to our home. I am not affected by what cricket writers say anymore. I used to be, though, like all players when they were young.
I’m a left-handed opening batsman, and play starts at 11, and unless I’m out before lunch, I won’t eat anything during the break. I have never been able to eat while I am still involved in a game. The same applies if I’m fielding. My chief job as Somerset skipper is to get 11 players onto the field, playing for each other. This isn’t always easy. We have four current internationals in the team, three of whom have totaled over 150 Test matches and have very strong characters.
Individuals may sometimes win matches, but our four one-day competition wins have all been by the team. We have a spirited team identity and a strong desire to win. That is what I try to encourage. Somerset cricket was not like that in the past. When I started playing in 1969, Somerset came last in the Championship, last but not least in the new Sunday League, and were knocked out in the first round of the Gillette Cup. None of this was surprising.
The side had never won a competition and didn’t believe it ever would. We just went through the motions. It was a dying club. The pavilion at Taunton was near derelict, and there was no money to repair it. I am sure the club would have folded then, but for the money from the new one-day game. With little security now, we have a thriving club with 19 full-time players, all of them fit and athletic. People no longer play for the 2nd XI just because they own a car. Another thing that has changed is a player’s income, at least superficially. As a skipper, I earn £11,000 a year.
A capped player gets £7,000. That is a lot more than the £12.50 a week I earned during my first season. But a county player is not really any better off now unless he can play in Tests. That is why a benefit year is so imperative, predominantly for the average player. Also, there is little job security. My contract is re-negotiated every year, so a serious injury could be very costly. Fortunately, I have been lucky with injuries. After eight years as an opening bat, every one of my fingers is intact—not a single break. I can’t say the same for my teeth.
Brian Rose led the county to their first-ever trophies, the Gillette Cup and the John Player League, in 1979. After the 1979 season, I flew 10,000 miles to play league cricket in Perth. The third ball I faced flew off the edge and broke my cheekbone. I didn’t play again. Brian Rose was met with his wife, Stevie, and son, Stuart, at Heathrow after returning home early from the 1980–81 West Indies tour because of eye trouble. A back injury brought an early end to his cricket career in 1983, leaving him more time to organize his benefit for three months.
My face became badly infected, and I lost all of my bottom front teeth as a result. That shook me a lot. Sometimes I think it affects my brain. Since then, I have spent an eternity in the dentist’s chair. Another blow in the face would cost a lot in repairs. I have tried wearing a visor, but it felt too much like a cage. You just have to accept the risk of being hit. That accident in Perth also caused eye trouble that forced me back from the West Indies tour the following year.
My eyesight became blurred; it was like looking through a rain-covered window. For a while, I wore glasses. But I don’t seem to need them anymore. Despite that blow, I have had my fair share of luck. One instance was when I was facing Michael Holding during the Old Trafford Test three years ago. The second ball of my first inning pitched well outside the off stump and somehow flew over the middle and leg. It was the best ball I had ever received.
But I went on to make 70 out of a total of 150 and stay on the England side for a year. My earlier Test matches against Pakistan and New Zealand followed my best-ever season. I was not surprised when picked for the tour; after all, you can’t argue with 1624 runs of them. You get picked for England only if you score runs or take wickets. They are the only criteria. It was during the Pakistan tour that I proposed to Stevie, my wife. We had been going out together for nine years.
I called her long-distance, and she said yes. Within three days of returning from New Zealand, we were married. Stevie doesn’t work any longer because she has our two sons, Jamie and Stuart, to look after. She sometimes brings them to watch me play, but only midweek when the crowds are at home. Naturally, she objects to all the traveling I have to do. And so does my garden. After a few days away, it can look hopelessly overgrown.
I have always enjoyed the feeling you get from growing plants from seed. My father felt the same. He was a brilliant grower of dahlias, as well as a preparer of cricket pitches. He brought me to Weston-super-Mare when I was three days old, and I have lived there ever since. One thing I regret is the few Sundays I get off to relax and play golf.
I can’t imagine a greater pleasure than to play around Wentworth or Sunningdale, just to relieve the pressures of full-time cricket. When I finish playing, I would like to run my own market garden. I used to work in one during my first few winters with the Somerset team. It meant an early start, which is why I am now an early riser and why I am usually in bed by 11.
But I’m not thinking of finishing with the game yet, even with the annoying injury that looks like keeping me out for the rest of the season. I have one big job to do first for the Somerset team: win the County Championship. I was educated at Weston-super-Mare Grammer School for Boys, and trained teacher before pursuing after cricket career.
Brian Rose made his test debut against Pakistan at Lahore in 1977-78 and scored 1, in the first inning and trapped LBW by Sarfraz Nawaz. Overall, in 270 first-class matches, Brian Rose scored 13,236 runs at an average of 33.25 with a career-best of 205, including 25 hundred and 53 fifties, 124 catches, and 8 wickets. This is all about a day in the life of Brian Rose in 1983.
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