Friday 17, November 1995
TRAIL BLAZERS IN ENGLISH COUNTIES
More than anything ROBIN James BOYD-MOSS will be best remembered not for the runs he accumulated for English county Northamp- tonshire, but for entering the record books in his final year at Cambridge University.
In the annual University match against Oxford played at Lord's, Boyd- Moss created history by becoming the first batsman to hit a century in each innings in the time honoured series, scoring 139 and 124.
Boyd-Moss's remarkable batting feat was performed four days on the same ground that India had humbled West Indies to defeat in the 1983 World Cup final.
`Wisden', the cricketers' `Bible' records Boyd-Moss' feat : "For Boyd- Moss, the occasion brought rare distinction. He became the first batsman ever to have scored two separte hundreds in the same University match and the first in the history of the fixture to have scored three successive hundreds, having made exactly 100 when Cambridge were making 272 they had been set to win in 1982. He also passed by 12, M.J.K. Smith's record aggregate for the match of 477 runs and took seven Oxford wickets for 68 runs (in- cluding a career best 5 for 27) with his orthodox left-arm spin''.
Despite three declarations, the match ended in a high scoring draw with Cambridge making 322 for 4 declared and 265 for 6 de- clared, and Oxford replying with 283 for 6 declared and 236 for 8.
That season, Boyd-Moss headed the Cambridge batting averages for the season and along with his contribution for Northants, he ac- cumulated 1437 runs (avg. 35.04) with three centuries. Northants finished sixth in the county championships - the best position they attained in the eight seasons Boyd-Moss appeared for them.
Boyd-Moss, born in Hatton on December 16, 1959 to parents Michael and Shelagh Boyd-Moss, retired from first-class cricket rather prematurely in 1987, at the youthful age of 28, citing personal and family reasons.
He was educated at Bedford School and later at Cambridge Univer- sity, where he received a degree in Land Economy. He was four years in the University (1980-1983) during which period he became a double Blue at cricket and rugby. He played centre for Cam- bridge in the century Varsity rugby match against traditional rivals Oxford. One of his contemporaries at cricket was Sri Lan- kan Aziz Mubarak who played for the University in 1980.
The 1982 season was Boyd-Moss' most lucrative in terms of run- making. He scored 1602 runs (avg. 44.50) with five centuries for Cambridge and Northants and won the Commercial Union award for the "best young batsman in the county''. The county finished ninth in the championships and `Wisden' commented: "He showed re- markable progress with stylish and successful attacking perfor- mances. When Allan Lamb was away playing for England, Boyd-Moss got more chances of batting highest up the order''.
In the University's match against Warwickshire at Cambridge, Boyd-Moss had the distinction of following his maiden first-class hundred (123) in the first innings with another century (119) in the second innings.
He helped Cambridge beat Oxford by seven wickets in the universi- ty match at Lord's with a superb century which `Wisden' records : "For the first time in its 138-year history, the University match was won by a declaration. After Ellis had set Cambridge to score 272 runs in 210 minutes, a dashing 100 by Boyd-Moss helped them home with five overs to spare.
Boyd-Moss and Henderson made 144 together in 22 overs against Ox- ford bowlers who could not contain them enough to force them into taking excessive and perhaps costly risks''.
Boyd-Moss played an all-rounders role claiming four wickets for 42 with his slow-left-arm, othordox deliveries.
In Northamptonshire's match against Derbyshire which they won by 236 runs, Boyd-Moss in association with Indian all-rounder Kapil Dev set-up victory with an unbeaten innings of 80 which followed his first innings score of 137. `Wisden' said: "Northants began the last day 171 in front with four top batsmen out, but Kapil Dev and Boyd-Moss tore into the Derbyshire attack with furious hitting putting on 182 in 98 minutes to hasten the declaration. Boyd-Moss hit one six and nine fours in his 80 not out''. During his first inning century, Boyd-Moss shared a fourth wicket partnership of 171 off 40 overs with Richard Williams.
Boyd-Moss finished with the university in 1983, and was available full- time for Northants the following year. But "in his first full season Boyd- Moss was set back by a broken thumb and then hepatitis. He has real potential and was capped after steering Northants to a win in the NatWest quarter-final'' said `Wisden'.
"Northants' victory (by three wickets) with five balls left cen- tred around a magnificent unbeaten 88 from Boyd-Moss. Facing 164 deliveries and hitting six boundaries, he guided his side home after good help by the early batsmen and despite some late anx- iety,'' said `Wisden'. The innings won Boyd-Moss his first and only `Man of the Match' award.
Although he received his county cap, Boyd-Moss failed to top 1000 runs for the season (905 runs) and Northants finished 11th in the championship table. It was to be the same story the following season (1985) when a back injury saw him out of action till early June which saw him score only 766 runs in first-class matches and the county finished 10th.
In an injury-free 1986 season, Boyd-Moss topped 1000 for the third time in his career scoring 1192 runs (avg. 30.56) with two centuries. One of those hundreds (a career best 155 against Lan- cashire) included a triple century partnership with his county captain Geoff Cook which laid the foundations for Northants beat- ing Lancashire (by ten wickets) for the first time in 13 years.
"Cook and Boyd-Moss dominated the Lancashire attack with their assertive strokeplay, exceeding by two runs the previous county second wicket partnerhship set by (Wayne) Larkins and (Peter) Willey also against Lancashire in 1983 as they added 344 in 90 overs. Boyd-Moss found the boundary 22 times in 321 minutes,'' said `Wisden'.
He started the season with great promise but the finish was disappointing as `Wisden' noted: "Boyd-Moss was in many ways a frustrating batsman. Fine centuries against Lancashire adn Glamorgan left one in no doubt as to his talent, but lack of con- fidence sometimes held him back and he ended the season with only 106 runs in his final 11 innings''. Northants improved one place to be ninth in the county championships.
In what his final season in first-class cricket, the right-handed middle-order batsman appeared in only eight matches, scoring 321 runs, but the county improved their standing in the championships to seventh position.
In 153 first-class matches, Boyd-Moss accumulated 7171 runs (avg. 30.25) with 13 centuries, took 51 wickets (avg 43.09) and held 61 catches. He started his career at the age of 18 appearing three seasons for Bedfordshire in the Minor counties from 1977-79 and played alongside Sri Lankan all-rounder Ranil Abeynaike. He made his first-class debut for Cambridge University and Northamp- tonshire in 1980.
Source :: Lanka Internet Services