Ian Johnston in the spotlight
Alistair Bushe (News Letter)
What is your earliest cricketing memory? My bedroom window looked out over Woodvale and I watched cricket from there even before I was allowed to go to the ground.
Who were the greatest players you played with/and against. And why? The three that stand out and will do so in most people’s reckoning are Dermott Monteith, Ivan Anderson and Simon Corlett. I was lucky in that I had a chance to play both against and with them; something which I think gave me a better insight of both the player and the man.
Dermott always seemed to be in control of things. As a captain he always managed to find a fielder from somewhere when he needed one, grabbed the ball and made something happen when he lost patience with others and always managed to get himself batting against the ‘lesser’ bowlers – a unique talent.
Ivan Anderson simply scored runs when no one else could. Frustrating to bowl to: balls just outside the off-stump were hit squarer than you thought possible but bowl a fraction straighter and away it went through mid-on. A batting partner who shared his thoughts on the opposition and how to play them even if you couldn’t hope to match his skill. I shared a partnership of 149 against Sri Lanka with him and while I got 34 he scored 110, simply a different class.
Simon Corlett was a master of control. He bowled whatever he wanted to when he wanted to and put it where he wanted to 6 out of 6. His batting was overshadowed by his bowling but he was a genuine top all-rounder. A fierce competitor, a great team-man.
Is there any game in your career that stands out from the rest? 2 - ODI's versus the West Indies in 1980 stand out. Their attack in Match 1 was: Roberts, Croft, Garner and Marshall with Collis King as back-up. For Match 2 they left out Croft and brought in Holding!
What was the best Woodvale team you played in and why? The sides we had in the late 70s and early 80s were statistically the best with Cup Final appearances in ’78 & ’79 and the emergence of Stephen Warke as a force in the land.
How much cricket do you watch domestically now? I really have only seen a couple of Woodvale matches in each of the last few seasons. I found I was still too emotionally involved. Living where I do now it’s easy to drift along to Carrickfergus, watch most of a match and enjoy the cricket without doing my blood pressure any harm.
What are the biggest differences between senior club cricket now and when you played?Games used to start at 2pm and there was no talk of getting finished and ‘out’ on Saturday night. The match, the bar afterwards, the chat was your Saturday night. The use of covers has improved the quality of pitches immensely and totals have increased accordingly. Run rates were unheard of when I played!
Could the best players from your era make it in county cricket the way the likes of Porterfield, Joyce, etc have done? Certainly the three above could have but it wasn’t an option then. Players generally came through to the Irish team much later than they do now. By the time a County might notice them, most by then would have been in jobs for a few years and a decision to give that up would not have been easy.