We share our thoughts and stories below and welcome the contributions of others…
Like his fellow Yorkshire keeper, Jimmy Binks, Ian had distinctly “limited batting ability”. [Binks, of whom you might not have heard, kept in successive first class matches for Yorkshire between debut June 1955 and retirement at end of 1969.
He never made 100 in 502 first class innings. He toured the subcontinent as reserve keeper in 1963/4 and ended up playing 2 Tests. Because they were stricken by injuries/the trots etc he ended up opening the innings in 3 out of his 4 Test innings! (I can only assume that he was playing “as a batsman”, not keeping). For Yorkshire he usually batted at number 10. [From memory that’s where Wally Grout used to bat as well.]
Coming in at 10 would have been too high for Batty. I can only recall one occasion when he was promoted above 11. I can’t recall who was number 11 that day, but he must have been rank, or drunk. In fact his batting ability couldn’t in truth be described as “limited”. Execrable would better describe it.
Others will describe his keeping prowess. I will restrict myself to observing that, whenever I was posted to 1st slip, we would enjoy the most fascinating conversations. Never about the match in progress, or cricket either, but about some other trivia, since he was an incredibly learned and well read man, and a splendid raconteur.
I similarly enjoyed our 2-handers as we would, more recently, set out to repaint the pavilion. He always had an anecdote or an observation to interrupt our brush strokes and provide some welcome relief.
He loved UCC. I think it was Ian who planted the roses in the flower beds. After several terms as skipper, he served as secretary for many more years. He would organise the annual dinner and the Christmas supper and loved to joust with Frank Scott when doing so. He was invariably cheerful and worth listening to. He will be sorely missed.
Adrian Barr-Smith – UCC President
I played with him for the best part of 20 years and my abiding memory of him is as a great Club man - always happy to get his hands dirty doing groundwork on cold Spring days etc.
One regular job was getting into the loft above the home dressing room to turn the water off after we had winter bursts. For a man not in the first flush of youth, he was always happy to crawl up and get the job done. He also took great pride in the ground, and when yours truly one pre-season used a wheelbarrow to take sacks of loam to the square, rather than carry them on my shoulders as I should have done, he rightly told me off for the very visible ruts I made on the outfield. He was also very good at another unsung job, getting mowers and rollers going at crucial times.
He was a great raconteur, too, especially on the numerous UCC tours he graced, and kept the team amused late into the night at the various bars we frequented. I think his favourite story was of the Kent wicketkeeper who arrived for a match so hungover that he missed the first 2 deliveries, which were both edged past him for 4. The third ball was edged again but this time he took a fantastic catch, and as the slips congratulated him said 'not bad off the first ball of the match!'
I must have heard him tell that one a dozen times, but he seemed to do it better on each occasion.
A lovely, lovely man, he will be much missed by us all.
Iain Taylor – UCC Vice-President
Never short on smiles or witty anecdotes, I had the pleasure of standing next to Batty at slip on numerous occasions, as well opposite him in an administrative capacity during his time as UCC Secretary. These are times I now cherish. The part he played in welcoming me to UCC was instrumental and will forever be imprinted on my match day and committee experiences.
Thank you Ian.
Kendall Jarrett – UCC Club Captain
He was such good value on the Tour to France I went on. He always said it wasn't Alex who gave him the trouble coming down the hill... but Nick's sprayage! He was also a Yorkshireman, which accounts for his love of cricket.
Ian was a successful and well-respected Chartered Surveyor; until he took early retirement, he was District Valuer in Tunbridge Wells. He was always passionate about standards in the surveying industry and was still responsible for lecturing and exam setting in the Rating Diploma section of the RICS.
In addition to his all encompassing wicket keeping, he was a thorough Honorary Secretary to the Club for 10+ years, always with attentive notes provided.
He'll be sorely missed.
Dick Hawkes – UCC Vice-President
I remember meeting Batty in one of my first UCC games, must have only been about 15 but he was instantly so welcoming it made the club a great place to play. More than a few runs were saved by his valiant keeping, and he has definitely made up for any byes with the pints he has bought over the years! He will be sorely missed by the UCC family.
I have met many characters across the game of cricket. Some competitive, some jovial, some doughty. However, few have managed to combine all of these qualities into one persona quite like Ian Batty.
On joining UCC in the mid-1990s and seeing this friendly Yorkshireman don his cricketing whites, I assumed here was a man in the twilight of his cricketing career, in it for a few final seasons before swapping his gloves for an umpire’s jacket. As the weeks wore on, I soon realised that this gritty character was barely past his peak. Combining a dogged determination with an undeniable talent for keeping wicket, his contributions to the team’s results and the support he offered to others was profound.
This support as a young bowler (yes, I used to bowl) was crucial to the comfort I personally felt in the team. Trudging back to fine leg as the scorer frantically tried to tally up runs conceded, a wry smile from Ian or a quiet word would be enough to keep plugging away. He would often convince me that the ball was swinging when it was probably his eyesight playing tricks on him.
Despite the declining eyesight, the fact he was keeping wicket to speed merchants such as Alex as he neared 70 is testament to his ability and bravery. A glancing blow to the lip or nose served only to increase his doughtiness and determination. With bandages applied, he wasn’t a pretty sight as the cricket teas were served up, but he would be back out there defending stoutly at no. 11 if required. Who can forget those stubborn displays in fading light to save many a game? You could barely see his white locks from the pavilion as fielders prowled around his bat, but he would often emerge with a smile and a draw.
As the years progressed and Ian began his forays into umpiring, many were tempted to resume their bowling careers, such was his willingness to send batsmen packing, often before an appeal was heard. But he gave umpiring the same gusto as he did playing and it only endeared him further to us.
I will never forget the friendship and warmth he extended to everyone he met. And when my playing days are over and I think of all those faces I took to the field with, Ian’s will be the one most prominent in my mind. Rest in Peace, dear friend.
Ian was an unrivalled servant to the club, and such a thoroughly lovely man to play alongside. He was always incredibly welcoming to new players, and was central to the indescribable 'Underriver spirit' that keeps so many of us coming back for more, summer after summer. He will be sorely missed.
Ian gave me such a warm welcome when I first played for Underriver, while still at school. It was brilliant to play in the same team as him and he was a role model for me in terms of playing in the right spirit of the game.
He was always the first to issue words of encouragement and tell you he knew a wicket was on its way. His pep talks in between overs focused every time on describing your one good ball, helpfully forgetting the five half-trackers that made his life as a keeper very difficult! He will greatly missed by all at the club.
My playing career didn't overlap with Ian's, but I have clear recollections of watching him keep wicket and umpire - both with an air of quiet authority and an enthusiastic 'presence'. I know how much he put into his UCC secretarial duties, but I will remember him best for his after-dinner stories, when players and VPs assembled in the White Rock prior to the seasons starting. These were gentle tales, delivered in a laconic style, which amused and entertained - sometimes pre-prepared, sometimes off the cuff, and mainly cricket-related!
He will be sorely missed.
Ian Cowdroy - UCC Vice-President