I do clearly remember his first match, away at Waltham Cross Rosedale, which then was a regular early season fixture. Although billed as a bowler, Peter's main contribution that day was an effortless flick off his hip for six, down towards the bowls green. I was impressed.. but I never saw the stroke repeated. But he did deliver many season of reliable and economic 'military medium' as Mr Sparks would call it.
In the early days he was known as 'Van' Haigh - obviously - which became 'Vanburn' due to some imagined similarity with the West Indian test bowler Vanburn Holder. Latterly that became 'Old Boy', as he developed a liking for dispensing wisdom with the opening line 'now look here, old boy....' - it fitted well with his seniority amongst the younger know-alls.
He was well-known for improbable, but effortless one-handed catches, especially in the gully. The ball would be thrown high with a loud 'whey hey', much to everyone's amusement. There was also the seagull-like laugh, much mimicked on the field of play.
I'll bet there are a few old sweats who remember being on the east coast of Barbados in 1990 marvelling at the power of the sea... and Peter charging in for a swim, when all you could see apart from the foam and spray were numerous red flags.
And his umpiring.. 'you have to give a few to get a few' - he really did say that. And, in a home league match, standing at the bowler's end, he really did perfectly trap, football-style, a rasping straight drive (Jim Beckett will remember) - cue initial silence/disbelief, followed by smirks all round, and embarrassed throat-clearing. It still makes me smile.
But to me the funniest of all was his succinct analysis of a certain Southgate CC opening batsman - a regular opponent - whom Peter once described as 'strokeless'.
Peter served as fixture secretary in the days before the league did it for you, and I think he may have been treasurer too. He had a long connection with the Club, and served it well - leaving us all with only good memories of him. RIP 'Old Boy'.
You will be missed old boy and it was a privilege to have played for the bury whilst you were umpiring
His passion and commitment to the game were second to none! RIP Peter
What a lovely man and a great clubman. I am sure the Old Boy will be missed by everyone that played with him or were umpired by him
Peter was a proper gentleman with an infectious passion for the game we all love. His classic line "That's out old boy" lives on in my mind whenever I see a wicket fall to this day
Pete you will be sorely missed by the club and I hope something is created in your memory as you were an inspiration to so many as to how to play the game, stay fit and healthy and generally be kind in life. I have many fond memories growing up watching you run in and bowl, then playing alongside you and finally having you umpire. Rest in peace old boy - legend!
A true gent both as a player and umpire.
always a true gentleman & happy to talk about cricket & life
with everyone. Everyone associated with Hertingfordbury Cricket Club
will miss him. God Speed “Old Boy”.
It is a privilege for me to have spent time with Peter at the end of
his playing career and as an umpire and I will remember him fondly as a
kind man with a wry sense of humour
Peter could be charming, witty and authoritative all in one go - I was meant to write to him inviting him to become club President. He was aware of the offer, but anticipated my slow admin skills. I received a hand written letter saying, "...in the absence of a formal letter from the club and at risk of appearing presumptuous, I would be honored to accept the position of your President..." He was a constant reminder of how the game should be played
The one that sticks in my mind was an illustration of Peter's unflappable calm in the face of adversity. I rather foolishly suggested some changes to his bowling action at indoor nets and inevitably he collapsed with back spasms after only four deliveries.So much for my coaching prowess but Peter, gracious as ever, simply said 'Don't worry old boy, could have happened to anyone' as he hobbled out of the nets!
I will miss him. He was very much 'old school'....
Although Peter was a bowler of some repute, he could often be relied on to come in near the end of the innings and add to the total with some lusty blows over the fence.
His last long ‘innings’ though was played with a very straight bat, and with tremendous courage and determination against a very hostile attack which he was determined to master. Sadly, this was not to be the case.
Yes, as many have said, the ‘Old Boy’ was a true gentleman and a tremendous role model.
You will be greatly missed Old Boy, and it was a privilege for me to have played alongside you, although I was never really in your league.