If you thought ‘Burnley Express’ James Anderson was the only townsman to represent England, you’d be wrong.
Jon Harvey - most recently with Read - reminisced about his decorated career after announcing his retirement from the game at the season’s close.
The popular servant of both the Lancashire and Ribblesdale Cricket League was a representative of the MCC between 1989 and 1992. In July, 1990, he replaced Sir Ian Botham for a two-over spell against India in the First Test at Lords.
“I was the 12th man against India,” the 43-year-old recalled. “I was only on the field for about two overs but it was an incredible experience. Ian Botham let me have 10 minutes in front of the crowds at Lords. I didn’t get told it was going to happen!
“I’d be involved in practice - I was wicket keeping then so I’d sometimes take over from Jack Russell or Alex Stewart in the warm up. But that moment was certainly a highlight. Botham was my idol.
Harvey, who has a signed sketch of his idol adorning an upstairs wall at his home, started out as a junior at Turf Moor in 1986, and he went on to smash the club’s amateur batting record in 1995.
First he extinguished Roland Harrison’s record of 893 runs, before totaling 1,014 runs.
“My first full season back at Burnley after the MCC was something special,” he said. “I told Peter Brown and Mick McLeod that I would break the record that year and I did it. I beat Roland Harrison’s record against Nelson and then passed 1,000 on the final game of the season against Haslingden.
“If it wasn’t for Burnley I would never have had the opportunity with the MCC so I owe them a lot. It’s great to still have that record at the club.”
Harvey left Burnley the following year to take up the paid man’s post at Earby, leading the Applegarthers to the title in his first season. He spent a further three years with Earby and then went on to spend five campaigns at Baxenden.
Then Burnley chairman John Heys managed to entice Harvey back to the club. In the middle of his three-year tenure as pro - in 2005 - he helped Burnley claim their first championship in 26 years.
“What we achieved in those three years at Burnley was exceptional. It was probably the best three years of cricket they’ve had at Burnley.”
Harvey, who ended his carrer with six years at Read, added: “It’s going to be emotional in April when I realise I’m not going to be playing cricket. I’ve always wanted to perform to my best so it had to come to an end at some point.
“I want to thank all my family and friends and spectators at my various clubs for the support they’ve given me.
“Everyone has been incredible but none more so than my wife Tracy, daughter Nicole, mum Wendy, dad David and brother Mark.”
Meanwhile, Lowerhouse’s Joe Beneduce has also drawn the curtains on a successful career. The 34-year-old joined the West Enders as a junior in 1991 and made his senior debut in a derby win against Burnley on June 11th, 2000.
In 2005, he became the first Lowerhouse captain to lift the Lancashire League championship. “It’s a sad time,” he said. “It was an emotional occasion on Sunday because I’ve loved playing for Lowerhouse. It’s been a massive part of my life for more than 20 years.
“It’s been easy to make that commitment because it’s been so enjoyable and such a great club to be a part of. ”
He added: “I remember my first game well. I was brought on to bowl and my first two were hit over my head for six. I managed to get a wicket with my third though. Jimmy Anderson was playing in the game as well.
“We’ve had some great battles with Burnley over the years and it’s been fantastic to have played in those feisty encounters. I think we’ve won more than we’ve lost against them during my career which is great. We always gave everything in the derby.”