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Friends of Hampshire county cricketer Alan Rayment posthumously complete his book



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THE life story of a veteran Hampshire county cricketer who died last year can now be told after friends stepped in to finish his autobiography.

Alan Rayment had been working on Punchy’s Hampshire Years: Cricket and Dancing when he died aged 92 at Lymington hospital in October 2020.

Cricket writer and friend Stephen Chalke filled in the gaps in the largely completed volume using Alan’s extensive notes and recorded interviews.

At the book launch were, from left, Stephen Chalke, Tony Wharton, Richard Griffiths, former Hampshire county cricketers Bryan Timms, Denis Baldry and Keith Wheatley, and Hampshire county player Derek Shackleton's son Julian (photo: Jeff Johnson)
At the book launch were, from left, Stephen Chalke, Tony Wharton, Richard Griffiths, former Hampshire county cricketers Bryan Timms, Denis Baldry and Keith Wheatley, and Hampshire county player Derek Shackleton's son Julian (photo: Jeff Johnson)

“Alan loved writing and he wrote well,” Stephen told the A&T. “Writing the book was something that was most important to him and those of us close to him all felt we wanted to finish his work for him and he would have wanted that.

“He wanted to pass his experiences on to his children, his grandchildren and the world, and we didn’t want the work he had done to be lost.”

The book, the second of what would have been three volumes of his autobiography, covers his arrival in Southampton in 1949 to his summer at Lord’s in 1959 when he was offered the position of MCC head coach.

Alan played for Hampshire from 1949 to 1958
Alan played for Hampshire from 1949 to 1958

It also tells the “extraordinary” story of Alan and his wife Betty’s dance business which began when a Finchley cricket club elder advised him he could improve his footwork by learning ballroom dancing.

The couple held classes at Southampton hotels and church halls, but their success saw them set up the Grosvenor Ballroom, hosting Saturday night dances and tuition sessions throughout the week.

Family and friends attended a book launch hosted by the society at Hurn Bridge Sports Club in Christchurch – just over a year since Alan’s death.

Alan and his wife Betty demonstrate rock 'n' roll throws in one of their classes
Alan and his wife Betty demonstrate rock 'n' roll throws in one of their classes

Canon Tim Biles, his oldest friend in the world of cricket who he had known since 1949, was among those who gave speeches paying tribute.

“The book is a snapshot of the 1950s written by an unusual man,” he continued.

“A lot of what he said was his own thinking that he had developed. It wasn’t a lot of bog-standard truisms that you get from a lot of people.

Alan spent his later years in Milford
Alan spent his later years in Milford

“It’s a book for his family, his friends and the wider circle of people with an interest in cricket history.”

The book’s later chapters recount the end of his cricket and dancing careers and detail Alan’s spiritual awakening in 1957 that would forge new paths in his life.

He also pursued an interest in psychotherapy, worked as a counsellor, had an estate agency and was a property developer.

Alan's book was nearly finished when he died
Alan's book was nearly finished when he died

Alan moved to Milford in 1992 and spent the last seven years of his life with his partner Elizabeth Lloyd.

It was during these later years he returned to his first love of cricket, attending Hampshire reunions, watching matches, and joining the Dorset Cricket Society.

Punchy’s Hampshire Years can be purchased for £15, with free postage, by calling Stephen on 01225 335813.



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