Richards: “If you really want something, you can get it”
Truro City chairman, Jack Richards (main) and Exeter Chiefs and England’s Luke Cowan-Dickie (inset) MAIN PIC: PAUL WILLIAMS, INSET: PHIL MINGO/PPAUK
26th May 2021
By Gareth Davies
Truro City chairman Jack Richards talks to Voice chief sports writer Gareth Davies about Luke Cowan-Dickie’s inclusion in the British and Irish Lions squad
Jack Richards and Luke Cowan-Dickie have more in common than just growing up in Heamoor.
Both have climbed to the pinnacle of their respective sporting disciplines with Richards, who is now involved with community projects at the Cornish Pirates and is chairman of Truro City football club, famously keeping wicket in England’s 1986-87 Ashes winning side.
Before England boarded the plane for the trip Down Under, one member of the Australian cricket press famously commented that ‘England can’t bat, bowl or field’. Three months later, England, with cricketing luminaries such as Sir Ian Botham and David Gower in their ranks, had won the famous urn
Richards played his part too with an excellent display behind the stumps and he also scored a magnificent 133 in the Perth Test on a notoriously intimidating WACCA pitch. The story of a team being written off resonated with Richards’ career which started here in Penzance before a move to Surrey aged just 16. He had to do things the hard way and despite opting to cut his cricketing career short after missing out on England Test selection for the 1988 summer, Richards will still go down in folklore as one of Cornwall’s most successful sportsmen.
Cowan-Dickie will hope to emulate Richards’ feats this summer when he tours South Africa with the British and Irish Lions. For Richards, the selection of Cowan-Dickie is ‘absolutely fantastic’ whilst lauding the 27-year-old as someone who should be Lions coach Warren Gatland’s first choice for the test hooking berth.
“When you are down in Penzance, it is the end of the line and because of this, it is always a long journey to get anywhere in sport,” Richards told the Voice in an exclusive interview. “I think Luke Cowan-Dickie’s achievement is absolutely fantastic and he’s followed Jack (Nowell) to the Lions. Luke was brought up in Heamoor and I was too, just round the corner from the cricket ground.
“This shows what Penzance has to offer in terms of raising Cornish sporting personalities that do well in sport. That is one thing you can’t deny about Penzance, that it has delivered over the years with Helen (Glover), these two fine rugby boys and the many players that the Cornish Pirates have developed.
“It takes me back to getting picked for my first tour for England which was away in India. You then look back at the road it took to get there, and Luke has been brilliant with his determination from being an impact player, to becoming the lead hooker in the British Isles. People might think differently, but he is a dynamic player and how he has gone about his rise it really is top notch.
“You have to realise that in some respects, I made the ultimate sacrifice by leaving home at 16 and getting my coaching from Arthur McIntyre, who was an England Test wicketkeeper.
“In my day, I had to travel eight hours on the Royal Blue bus or 10 hours on the Cornishman train as there was no M5 back in those days. But still, the climb that those boys have scaled, along with Helen Glover, is just phenomenal. There has to be a certain mindset and attitude to succeed, and they all have that in spades. If you really want something, you can get it.”
Sadly, until the recent emergence of Lewis Goldsworthy, a promising England under-19 cricketer from Camborne who is on the books at Somerset, Richards was the last notable Cornishman to may any kind of impact in professional cricket.
Although success in elite rugby has been much more forthcoming for the Duchy, did Richards feel that Cowan-Dickie’s Lions call-up could inspire a new generation of Cornish superstars?
“You hope that is the case and it is always good that people have a figurehead for youngsters to look up to,” he added. “The only problem I used to find when I came back home was that I was looking for a break when in Cornwall. It was very difficult to bring anything back to the county when all I wanted was a rest.
“It is the same with Luke I’m sure although his actions will inspire people. We have young Lewis Goldsworthy who is a good talent from Cornwall making his way in first-class cricket and he has played a couple of games for Somerset now.
“It won’t be a case of him just getting the odd 50 here and there, he will need to perform day in, day out for years.
“That kind of mentality is hard to find in Cornish sport and one of the ways we could improve that is by building a new stadium.”