IN 1952 Brian Boobbyer had nine England rugby caps and was being coveted by Middlesex to open the batting after four years in the Oxford University side. But at the age of 24 my father turned his back on sport to work and travel overseas with Dr Frank Buchman’s Moral Rearmament movement.
As an 11-year-old opener for Durston House prep school in Ealing Boobbyer went the whole season without getting out. After national service he went up to Oxford in 1948 to read history. The first ball he faced in first-class cricket came from Fred Trueman. Amid his struggles Norman Yardley, captain of Yorkshire and England, walked past him and said: “Don’t worry, Brian, you’re doing well.” He always remembered those words.
These were the halcyon days of university cricket. Over the next four years he played alongside and against Carr, Dewes, Doggart, Subba Row, May, Cowdrey and Sheppard. Determined rather than fluent, Boobbyer was good enough to score two hundreds, against Sussex and Lancashire. Rugby, though, was his even stronger suit.
He had always taken his Christian faith seriously and at Oxford came across the work of Buchman, a Lutheran pastor whose movement aimed to reconcile the war-torn world and challenged students to make their Christian commitment relevant to national life. Like the great West Indian batsman Conrad Hunte and Dickie Dodds, the Essex opener, Boobbyer accepted the challenge, becoming part of the first overseas delegation invited to Japan since the war and devoting the rest of his life to global public speaking, for which many are grateful. Mark Boobbyer
Brian Boobbyer was born on February 25, 1928, and died on January 17, 2011,