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Player Profile #25: Cliff Large


These days Cliff Large tends to limit his appearances for Offley to about one a year, preferring to spend his time on the golf course or offering support and encouragement from the boundary edge.

It's safe to say in 2023 that Cliff is more about the pars (occasional) and the bars (plentiful) than wickets and economy rates.

Yet there was a time when Large's gentle swing proved fatal for opponents. 

These days the swing on the golf course is markedly less gentle and reminiscent more of a Saxon Housecarl dying hard in the final moments at Hastings, sweeping his blade through the air looking for Frenchmen to smite.

By the end of the 2022 season only eight bowlers in Offley history had taken more wickets than Cliff's 179.

As a young man - and there are cave drawings to support this - Cliff relied on pace, bounce and an intimidatory stare to weaken a batsman's resolve.

Yet at the height of his Offley heyday, Cliff relied upon guile and craft and the ability to make a ball move three ways - out the hand, through the air and off the pitch - en route to the batsman, assets that proved decisive in the back-to-back Midweek Cup triumphs of 2002-03.

With Large in charge, Offley were on top.

While the first victory was somewhat overshadowed by the opposition flouncing off at the prospect of defeat, the main reason they were looking down the barrel was that Large, armed with the new ball, had enviscerated the top order with a spell of 4-0-13-4, as he strained every sinew to extract every inch of lateral movement from a typically batsman-friendly Crawley Green wicket.

Large bowled one, trapped another LBW, held a return catch and accounted for his fourth victim thanks to a frankly stunning catch in the deep on the square leg boundary. I could wax lyrical for hours about what a fine catch it was but this probably isn't the place.

Offley played in four finals between 1998 and 2003 and no bowler came close to matching those figures of 4-13 as the cup was lifted three times.

He delivered another miserly spell the following year as Offley retained the trophy.

Incidentally, if one compares Cliff's appearance today with the images of the victory celebrations 20 years ago, you can only marvel at how little he has changed. 

This is clearly either due to a clean and healthy lifestyle or means he is cricket's answer to Benjamin Button.

Cliff would never describe his batting as a thing of beauty, yet whenever he does take the field for Offley he inevitably ends up striding out to the middle at the fall of the ninth wicket in his infamous pink pads.

It is ironic that such a traditionalist should have been the first Offley player to pioneer coloured kit.

It's fair to say that the pads have generated more buzz than Cliff's actual batting although he does have a career average of 5.55, one that is markedly superior to regular golf partner Wayne Cutts' career mark of 4.84.

Despite being very much a specialist fine leg fielder these days Cliff has taken 21 catches for the club, even if these days he doesn't get to much and what he tends to reach he drops.

In fairness that applies to quite a few of us.

Cliff may not be the oldest swinger in town but he's certainly still crafty after all these years.

Did You Know: Bouncing youngster Cliff - Little Large as he was then - was the mascot for his beloved Luton Town in the 1959 F.A. Cup Final against Nottingham Forest.


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