David English, the larger-than-life ‘godfather of English cricket’, whose Bunbury school festival has helped foster the careers of more than 1000 top-class cricketers, including more than 125 international players, has died at the age of 76. years after a heart attack.
English was a friend to the stars whose life story had to be seen to be believed. Among his claims to fame were a stint as manager of the Bee Gees and Eric Clapton at the height of his fame in the 1970s, and producing and acting roles in film and television, including the show for kids. You and Iand credits in the 1977 World War II epic a bridge far away (during which he taught Robert Redford the intricacies of cricket), as well as more prosaic roles in Emmerdale Y bergerac.
However, it was his personal involvement in cricket that provided English’s most enduring legacy. In 1987, the publisher of the cricketer magazine, Ben Brocklehurst, with a proposal to finance his annual school festival. He agreed, with the only condition that he be named in honor of the bunbury tails …a series of children’s books I had written about rabbits playing cricket.
Thirty-five years later, its legacy was still strong: in 2018, the ECB took over the management of the England Schools Cricket Association, the festival’s parent body, but the imprint of English remains embedded in the experience. of Bunbury.
When England won the World Cup in 2019, no fewer than ten members of the squad that took to the field for the final against New Zealand got their first taste of the big time at the annual Bunburys festival. and talking to him Telegraph In the aftermath of that victory, English himself recounted the conversation he had had with the players in the midst of their post-match celebrations.
“Everyone got on the phone,” English recalled. “I think they had had some Cokes. There was Root, Buttler, Stokes, Woakes, Plunkett, Wood, Adil Rashid, Moeen Ali and they all got on the phone and said, ‘Dave, thank you so much for everything you did for us,’ and ‘thank you for giving us the opportunity to show what we could do’. Very touching. That meant a lot to me.”
English was nothing less than a godfather figure to England’s Ashes winners in 2005: nine of that team came through his festivals, including Andrew Flintoff, Michael Vaughan and Ian Bell.
English’s talents as a person made him a voracious fundraiser for charities: he was an enthusiastic backer of Ian Botham’s charity walks for Leukemia Research and obtained from Botham the nickname “The Loon” in return, but his ability to bring together the stars from his various walks of life made for some remarkable scenes on a cricket pitch, whether it’s Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones bowling Viv Richards with a late-career pint and a cigarette in the mouth, or Mick Jagger and Keith Richards batting in partnership.
English’s death was confirmed on the eve of the T20 World Cup final, in which a number of his Bunbury players will face Pakistan in Melbourne, including captain Jos Buttler, who was one of English’s class 2006, alongside Ben Stokes, Jack Leach and Joe Root, for whom it was his karaoke night at Nando’s in Brighton, according to English’s interview on the cricketer in 2021, a highlight of the trip.
“In my heyday, I used to take them to Nando’s and we used to have karaoke, jumping on tables,” he said. “Joe Root will say, ‘Dave, do you remember Nando’s in Brighton?’ They very rarely talk about the cricket!”
The England team will wear black armbands at the Melbourne final as a mark of respect. In a statement on Twitter, the ECB said it was “saddened” by the news of English’s death, adding: “He did much for the game and for charity, and played a role in the rise of many English cricketers. Our thoughts at this time are with his friends and family.”
Andrew Miller is UK editor for ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket