Bruce Whatham has arrived back in Australia following his short trip to England to visit son Karl. During the hectic three week holiday, Bruce and Karl managed to visit Scotland and Paris, as well as many local places of interest around the South of England. In Scotland the pair took in Edinburgh and the Isle of Skye, and naturally sampled the local whisky. They also made a pilgrimage to the Sussex town of Horsham from where the Whatham family originate.
The sports shop owner from Singleton, New South Wales was also able to check on his son's progress on the cricket field, and was present at the recent match against Ventnor when Karl recorded his maiden SPL century.
Bruce was once a fine cricketer himself, before a knee injury ended his playing days. Like Karl he played in the highly competitive Sydney Grade competition, coming up against many famous stars of the game. During one match for Paramatta against Bankstown in 1973 Bruce and fellow batsman Doug Walters faced a new ball attack consisting of Jeff Thomson and Lennie Pascoe. Bruce recalled: "Thommo bowled me a bouncer and it hit me on the side of my head. That was the days before helmets - I've still got a lump on my jaw even after all these years". So, was Bruce carried off to hospital? "Nah, I just carried on batting!" (there's a lesson there for young Ed Molloy!). Bruce also faced the mighty West Indians two years later. "I was selected for a Northern New South Wales representative side to play against them". he said. "All their stars were playing: Viv Richards, Gordon Greenidge, Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, and so on. Unfortunately I only scored 1 and 25, but it was an interesting experience".
So what was Bruce's impression of Southern League cricket. "The standard of league cricket back in Singleton is lower, and the grounds aren't as good. But we have district matches on Sundays and the standard of those is about the same as the Southern League. I think that Australian teams are more aggressive than those in England - apart from Easton & Martyr Worthy, obviously!" Indeed, Bruce was bemused by the reaction of one of the Easton batsmen who threw his helmet to the ground in protest at his LBW decision. "Mind you," chuckles Bruce, "that was nothing compared to what happened one day back home when a Singleton player by the name of Farmer Russell was given out. He was so upset with the decision that he drove his car across the pitch and demolished the stumps! Then he swore at the umpire and drove home. He got a three match ban".
Bruce returned to Australia this week with many happy memories from his short stay in England. He thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality he received, especially from his temporary landlords Tim Hunter and Martin Hunt. And he has no doubts about the highlight of his trip. Although it was a proud moment to witness his son's century against Ventnor, Bruce considers that his favourite moment was undoubtedly seeing Karl fall hook, line and sinker for the spoons game. He was in hysterics as his oblivious son fell victim to the mischievous Chris Noble. "Karl still doesn't understand the spoons game and I don't think he ever will!" lamented a smiling Bruce.