HAMPSHIRE’s last surviving county cricket player from the 1940s, Alan Rayment, has died in Lymington Hospital aged 92.
Alan was a Hampshire batsman and outstanding fielder, who played for the county from 1949 to 1958. He was also Hampshire Cricket’s last capped professional whose career was entirely in first-class cricket.
Known to team-mates and friends as ‘Punchy’, he learned to play cricket in the London area and with Middlesex 2nd XI before he joined Hampshire after impressing against them in a match at Bournemouth.
In October 1948, Alan married his school friend and dance partner Betty in Finchley, North London. They moved to Southampton where he made his debut for Hampshire Cricket in 1949 before later opening a dance school.
They lived in Southampton and together they had six children, numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Although divorcing 50 years ago, they remained friends.
He moved to Milford 18 years ago and spent the final seven years of his life with partner Elizabeth Lloyd.
His career records 198 first-class matches for Hampshire totalling 6,333 runs at 20.36. Four centuries and 23 half-centuries may appear modest, but he played when pitches were not covered, and England’s bowlers would return from an international test match to play in the next county game.
In a late-season match at Bournemouth in 1950, aged just 22, he scored 58 and 94 as Gloucestershire’s England bowlers Goddard and Cook spun Hampshire to an innings defeat. His batting brought the highest praise from journalist and cricket commentator John Arlott OBE, who described them as “the two best innings” he saw “by a young cricketer”. He added that “he never played a reckless stroke at a good ball (and) … never failed to punish a bad ball”.
He completed 1,000 runs in a season on two occasions, in 1952 and 1956, and he was a member of the Hampshire side that finished third in 1955 and runners-up in 1958.
Among his centuries was a remarkable innings at Weston-Super-Mare in 1955. His 104 came from Hampshire’s score of 245-7 declared after Somerset had been bowled out for just 37. The pitch was treacherous, so Alan typically decided to attack, and Hampshire won easily.
He was noted for his quick feet as a batsman and cover fielder, no doubt attributable in part to his dancing skills.
After retiring, he played some games in the 2nd XI, coached at Lord’s and led a rich and varied life. In his free time Alan loved to write, he self-published his memoir ‘Punchy Through The Covers’ in 2013. He also enjoyed supporting Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, visiting the cinema, socialising with friends and family and being anywhere near the coast.
He retained his love of the game, watching Hampshire when he could, and he often watched Lymington’s matches at The Sports Ground. He also belonged to various cricket societies and clubs including The Dorset Cricket Society, Hambledon and Hampshire Cricket clubs.
At the time of his passing, he was working on his second book, centring on life during the 1940s and 1950s including family life, 10 seasons of first-class cricket and coaching at Lord’s. It will be published in 2021.
Alan’s funeral will be held at the Test Valley Crematorium on 16th November. Donations in his memory can be made in aid of RAF Benevolent fund at Tapper Funeral Service in Milford.