DateLine: 24th March 2009
Geoff Holmes, who died aged 50 in hospital in Cardiff last night (March 23rd), was a talented and enthusiastic all-rounder who played in over 200 first-class matches between 1978 and 1991. In recent years, he served as the Director of the Cricket Board of Wales, painstakingly overseeing a host of developments in cricket at grass roots level across the Principality.
Born in Newcastle in September 1958, Geoff was recommended to Glamorgan by Len Muncer, the county’s former all-rounder who served as the MCC’s head coach, after the youngster had a highly impressive spell on the Lord`s groundstaff in 1974. With Durham still to gain first-class status, Geoff had a successful trial with Glamorgan’s 2nd XI in 1977 before making his first-class debut the following year. He duly confirmed his rich potential by scoring a century against Gloucestershire at Bristol in 1979 in only his third Championship match and all against a lively attack that included the waspish pace of South African Mike Procter.
Geoff subsequently developed into a highly effective all-rounder willing, as a great team man, to bat anywhere in the Welsh county’s line-up from number three to six in Championship games whilst also opening the in one-day games. In addition, Geoff was highly adept at bowling nagging medium pace, besides being a livewire in the field, and renowned for running like a whippet in between the wickets. Indeed, in his early years on the county’s staff, his electric running with the likes of Pakistani maestro Javed Miandad frustrated a number of opponents who were accustomed to more sedate running by the Welsh county's batsmen, whilst his refusal of a quick scamper between wickets was always accompanied by a cry, in lilting Geordie tones, of “Weet” .
Geoff was also a highly effective all-rounder for Glamorgan in limited overs cricket during the 1980`s – an era during which the Welsh county gradually found their feet in the shorter form of the game. It was also a period which saw Geoff return some remarkable bowling figures, including 5/2 in the Sunday League match with Derbyshire at Ebbw Vale in 1984, as well as claiming a hat-trick at the same ground in 1987 in the Sunday fixture with Nottinghamshire.
As far as Championship cricket was concerned, Geoff’s most productive season in Championship cricket was in 1985, when he amassed 1,129 runs and won his county cap. In all, he scored nine first-class hundreds, with his career-best being 182 for Border against Western Province B in 1889/90 – one of several winters when he played and coached in South Africa.
A back injury forced Geoff to retire from county cricket at the end of 1991, which was also his Benefit Season. He subsequently joined a leading Building Society, but in 2005 he returned to the cricket world succeeding Mark Frost - his former county colleague - as Director of the Cricket Board of Wales. In the past few years, he tirelessly promoted cricket at grass roots level in Wales and helped establish a coaching and development framework which has become the envy of many other counties.
Amongst his many achievements for the CBW was overseeing the introduction of the "Chance to Shine" initiative in Wales, and a measure of the success of his various programmes was the fact that Welsh teams won several national awards at junior level in 2008.
Welsh cricket has lost a loyal and hard-working man, and Glamorgan Cricket extends its condolences to his wife Christine, his children and the rest of Geoff’s family.