Notts visit is “dream come true” for Stephenson

The last man to complete the first-class ‘double’ of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in an English season is still in love with the game and enjoying a new project.

Franklyn Stephenson, who completed the milestone with Nottinghamshire in 1988, has built his own cricket centre on the west coast of Barbados, fifteen miles north of Bridgetown.

Designed to give local youngsters an opportunity of learning their skills under the watchful eye of the 52-year old and his staff, the Franklyn Stephenson Cricket Academy received its first professional guests as one of his former county sides, Nottinghamshire, enjoyed the facilities at the new venue.

After hanging up his size 13 bowling boots, after a career that delivered 792 first-class wickets, not to mention 8,622 runs, Stephenson turned to his other great passion and became a golf professional.

“I made the decision towards the end of my cricketing career”, he explained. ”There weren’t any golf professionals in Barbados at the time and I helped set up the Professional Golfers’ Association here. It’s actually saved me a fortune in green fees around the world!”

For 24 years he has also been employed as the club pro at the exclusive Sandy Lane Golf Club, very much a playground for the rich and famous’ and while he is still sought after by anyone looking to improve their swing or lower their handicap ‘Big Franky’ now has a Cricket Academy to look after as well.

Mick Newell, the Notts director of cricket and a former Trent Bridge team-mate of the big Barbadian, praised the new venue. “I think it’s excellent”, he said. “The pitches and the outfield are good and we’ve had four strips properly prepared for us to practice on and we’re looking to make the most of the opportunity to train here.”

Back in 1988 Stephenson became only the second man after Richard Hadlee, also with Nottinghamshire four years earlier, to complete the double, managing it in the most sensational of ways.

With the century of wickets already tucked under his belt, he entered the final match of the season still requiring another 210 runs.

Despite not having scored a hundred all summer, he proceeded to hit two in the same match, against Yorkshire, to reach the landmark. Curiously, despite also taking eleven wickets in the contest, he finished on the losing side – the only instance of a player taking as many wickets in a game and scoring two centuries, while losing.

Stephenson’s feat was achieved in 22 matches and with the reduction in the number of County Championship fixtures he is likely to remain as the last-ever person to achieve the double, a record of which he is understandably proud.

“It was my first season with Notts”, he said. “I’d come in as the overseas professional to replace Rice and Hadlee and all I wanted to do was give them a reason to remember me by – I hope I did that!”

He certainly did – and surveying his former county practising for the first time in his homeland he seemed quite emotional. “To have Notts here is, literally, a dream come true for me.”

Dave Bracegirdle is reporting for TheCricketer.com on Nottinghamshire’s pre-season tour to Barbados while also keeping an eye on the five other county teams currently on the island


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