Ninety-year-old cricketer Denny Pease has had a career that most of us can only dream of, spanning a stunning 77 years.
Recently commemorated for the immense longevity of his playing career, Pease incredibly first started playing cricket during World War Two as a pupil at a residential school for evacuees in Hertfordshire in 1942, and he hasn’t looked back since.
The majority of Pease’s career was played in Essex, with a 56-year stint between 1954 and 2010 being spent at Eastonians CC before he moved to Worthing and joined Arundel CC, where he spent eight years.
Once Arundel stopped offering Sunday cricket, Pease decided to leave the club and join local side Yellow Stump to extend his career into its 77th season, where his outstanding achievement was celebrated in June this year.
Pease received a warm welcome to his new side and, despite being older than all of his teammates and opponents, insists he is still ‘physically able’ to play every week.
He said: “ I am quite able, physically, to play the game. Although at times I have the odd tweak in my lower back area, I can run quite quickly. I do not stagger like an old man!”
In his prime, Pease was a relentless medium pace away-swing bowler, and he reflected on two of his greatest outings with the ball. In 1960, Pease took back to back hat-tricks across both days of a weekend, with the Sunday team being the victims of his Saturday treble, a feat he considers to be extremely special in its rarity.
He said: “Obviously I love to play the game. I was never a star batsman but was always regarded by my teammates as a competent bowler. My best ever performance was a weekend when playing circa 1960 v Barking CC.
I got a hat-trick, and having been talked into playing for that club the next day, I got another hat-trick for them. Eastonians did not play Sundays in those days.”
He continued: “I thought about that event: Was that experience unique? With so much cricket being played around the world it’s probable that two hat-tricks in a weekend has been achieved several times, but against a particular club one day, and then another for that same club the following day?”
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About 15 years after that extraordinary feat, Pease surprised even himself by recording his best bowling figures while playing against a team of staff and senior students at Buckhurst Hill Grammar School. Off nine overs, he managed to avoid conceding a single run in return for an incredible six wickets.
Regarding these outstanding figures, he said: “My stats for that game are even hard for me to believe so I don’t usually reveal that I bowled nine maiden overs for six wickets. I thought that if anybody told me figures like that I would wonder how anybody could have bowled 54 deliveries without finding the edge of somebody’s bat for the odd run!”
Still playing for the love of the game all this time after he first picked up a bat, Pease has also played for Sussex Seniors for almost ten years, and puts his continued fitness down to pushing himself constantly, even admitting that his ‘enforced diet’ during the War may have played its part.
He said: “Once Arundel stopped playing Sunday matches, I responded to the repeated requests for me to play for the ‘Stumpies’, and I have no regrets about that. I think my fitness, to play in my old age, is actually due to pushing myself to bowl many overs in the past when Eastonians CC played ‘time’ games and I was frequently asked to bowl at one end throughout a match.
“This was the pattern for many years in succession. I played tennis for about a decade but never achieved any status beyond beating my sons at that game. I sometimes wonder if my enforced diet during the war came to my aid whilst at school and afterwards.”
Pease continued: “My motivation is the sheer love of the game, including always the sense of the environment in which the game is played, and always the thought that I am keeping fit.
“I would like to think that I can continue to play for another three seasons. I have never played professionally, and my highest score in batting was quite modestly below 60 runs.”
Pease’s staggering career was recently recognised by both Sussex CC and the ECB, with both boards sending him signed bats to celebrate his 90th birthday, a gesture that proves both the brilliance and the rarity of his achievements.