Entrepreneur, city councillor and Players’ Club member, Tom Bewick, was a late convert to cricket. Here he explains why the club has become such a huge part of both his family’s and business life.
(Right: Tom and his son Elliot, at The 1st Central County Ground. Photo: Mi Elfverson)
When I was still a teenager, I was rushed into hospital with chronic chest pain. I spent the next two weeks in a cardiac care unit. It turned out that I’d contracted a rare viral infection that gave me pericarditis. In the next bed was an old chap on his third heart attack. He loved his cricket.
As we both lay there hooked up to monitors and drips, he would recount happy memories of his playing and spectating days. As a former soldier, he’d visited all parts of the Commonwealth, which he thought cricket had uniquely helped bring people together.
I made a full recovery. Sadly, the old chap passed away. At the time, his cricketing stories were a useful way to get through tedious days of bed rest. I’d never played the sport never mind seen a game, so half of what he told me went straight over my head. But I never forgot him.
It wasn’t until I was in my early thirties that my calling to cricket began. It was on a business trip to India. After giving a speech about education policy to the Delhi World Book Fair, an old university friend said he had a spare ticket to the ODI the following day. My initial reaction was, “What is an ODI?” to which the reply came, “One-Day International.”
England were in town playing India. Under clear blue skies and the kind of glorious winter sunshine you can sit out in all day, England won by 2 runs. It was the first time I’d seen a cricket match. It was also a maiden voyage for Ashley Giles, who became only the twelfth Englishman to take five wickets during an ODI – his 5 for 57 – on that tour.
Rather like the old chap in hospital, I’ve now spent the best part of the last 15 years, in my spare time, touring the world and watching cricket. When my son, Elliot, was born, he too came on our travels. Only a few days old, Lord’s allowed us to take him into the ground to watch a game against Australia. One of my fondest memories of him as a toddler was at an ODI in the Caribbean. He was dressed in a Spiderman outfit wielding a small bat taking bowling practice from various spectators in the crowd. David 'Bumble' Lloyd of Sky Sports fame caught him on camera, and had a few encouraging words to say.
Given that the working class community, where I grew up, never had the chance to play cricket, I’m especially proud that my son has had that opportunity. Last summer playing for his club, St Peter’s, he made his first ton. As captain of the County Area side, Southern Sabres, his team bowled out the opposition for only 8 runs on one occasion.
Our family owns a vintage VW camper van. We spend every weekend during summer heading to some cricketing venue or another. Cricket is our life. We’re proud that following competitive trials, Elliot is in the County Area Squad system again this season.
If it’s not weekends delivering our offspring to the Aerotron Indoor School for coaching or club matches, then on weekdays I’m at the ground where my company, New Work Training Ltd, is based. We are an international and local skills company, as well as the proud owners of premium jobs board service, www.LoveApprenticeship.com. As with the club’s approach to young cricketing talent, I’m equally passionate that more of our young people should get access to high-quality apprenticeships.
Under the former Chief Executive’s leadership, Zac Toumazi, it was a really smart thing for the club to redevelop the Cromwell Road end of The 1st Central County Ground by building a business campus. It gives the club an all year round feel and of course we get to mingle with some super friendly staff and players.
With Rob Andrew now in charge, I’m really looking forward to the new season. We’ve got some great new signings and the established players are up for it too. The Players’ Club is a great way to get to know everyone that works so hard behind the scenes as well as forge some new friendships. It is what makes Good Old Sussex by the Sea so special and why being a part of this family orientated club, is about more than just a game of cricket.