Cricketer turned broadcaster Alan Wilkins bowled over by response to book

LIBRARY IMAGE. Phil Steele interviewing Alan Wilkins. Image by Callum Ellis

by Callum Ellis

FORMER Glamorgan and Gloucestershire medium-pace bowler Alan Wilkins’ story should inspire anyone who experiences a set-back in life.

Wilkins was speaking at the launch of his book, Easier Said than Done: A Life in Sport, where he opened up on his playing career and the injury that forced him to retire from the sport he loved.

He played with some of cricket’s greatest names, recorded 373 wickets and had aspirations of a long career at the highest level.

But the left-arm bowler was forced to retire prematurely after sustaining a serious shoulder injury.

“I played in an era of cricket that was like a halcyon age with some of the greatest names who have ever played,” said Wilkins.

“My career best was 8/57 for Gloucestershire against Lancashire at Old Trafford. My best for Glamorgan was 6/79 in the Championship and 5/17 in the Benson and Hedges [Cup].

“But I think more than figures, it [career highlight] was actually being on a first-class or test cricket ground at Lord’s, Trent Bridge and even here at Sophia Gardens.

“And playing with and against some of the greatest players who have ever played; Vivian Richards, Gordon Greenidge, Clive Lloyd, Dennis Lillee, Zaheer Abbas and our own Alan Jones.

“I think that for me is the abiding memory.”

The injury forced Wilkins to call time on his playing career in 1983, but he reflects on it as a positive which led to his transition into broadcasting.

“It was a huge setback because I did have ambitions of going on possibly with an England career. I was led to believe by Ted Dexter, who was the selector for England at the time, that I had a possible future with England.

“But I will never know because the shoulder started to dysfunction at the age of 28 and by the age of 29, I was finished.

“In one way, you could adopt the dark side and say ‘I never made it as a cricketer’ or you adopt the lighter side and say ‘it gave me a chance to get into broadcasting’ – and that’s the side I choose to take.”

Alan Wilkins signing copies of his book. Image by Callum Ellis

Wilkins was surrounded by sporting greats at the event in Cardiff, including veteran cricketer and former Glamorgan team-mate Kevin Lyons and Olympic gold medallist Lynn Davies.

Welsh cricketer Alan Jones, who scored 1,000 first-class runs in 23 consecutive seasons during his career, was also in attendance.

BBC Scrum V presenter Phil Steele hosted the event, which included a question and answer session which captured highlights of Wilkins’ life and career.

Speaking about his close friends and family who attented, Wilkins said: “All of these people have been part of my journey from the first step. There were teachers, colleagues I worked with and schoolboys I played cricket and rugby with.

“The list is long and I was bowled over by how many people turned up tonight; almost 120. It was an evening of friends and I haven’t enjoyed such an evening as much as this in a long time.”