16th April 2020
Jack Walton inducted in Sway CC Hall of Fame
Like so many of today's Sway stars Jack started in our colts.....the difference being he was a star of our very first colts team way back in the year 2000!
Here is Jack (circled) with his chums from the "Pitmore Lane **** Shovellers"! Jack Baughan (BR Left), Rob Cooksey, Terry Steadman (BR 3rd from left), Alex Hall (BR Far right) Ben Smith, Luke Blomfield, Richard Mason, Michael Peter, Alex Gabony, and Rob Weldon
Jack was still in short trousers when he progressed to senior cricket, making his Sway debut on 28th April 2002 in a friendly at Milford on Sea. Jack was the most economical bowler that day, setting the tone for his Sway career and picked up two wickets as Sway romped to a 9-wicket victory.
Jack's Hampshire League debut aged 13 followed a few weeks later on the 18th May as v Ellingham III at Picket Post. A "not out" with the bat and tidy bowling figures again were a sign of things to come.
By 2004, Sway now fielded two league sides and Jack became a regular in an up and coming 1st XI that by the end of the season featured other youngsters - John Grasham, Terry Steadman and Alex Hall that would soon begin to propel Sway rapidly up through the leagues. Perhaps, unwittingly, Jack's miserly economy and Jimmy Anderson-esque bowling action (he bowled 124 overs at an economy rate of 3.73 in 2004) meant that he became a skippers first choice go to pace bowler and this perhaps sowed the seeds for injury problems down the line.
By 2007 Sway were ready to start pushing on as a Club. New 1st team skipper Dave Marshall had the easiest job in the world - have a bowl first, open up with Grasham's pace and Walton's seam & swing, skittle teams out then knock off the runs with the likes of Dave Hurrell, Alex Hall and Adam Clark. In 2007 the Walton/Grasham pairing took a whopping 53 wickets for the 1st XI and then an incredible 73 wickets in 2008 as promotions came, champagne flowed and several of the youngsters were 18 at the Hare & Hounds for 3 years in a row!
It was in 2008, however, that Jack first started to feel some discomfort in his back but he believed it was just due to over practising. Back injuries in young fast bowlers were not well understood at the time and subsequent never pain was diagnosed as a "slight hamstring niggle" and Jack had to "endure" 10 weeks of massaging by a young trainee nurse! By the end of the 2008 season, Jack was getting through games only with the help of cans of Red Bull and lots of painkillers.
Many fine bowling performances followed but one that sticks in the mind was at Bashley in August 2009....on an artificial strip Jack produced arguably the finest ever bowling performance for Sway. Most bowlers would be content just to get away without getting smashed on the plastic, however Walton produced a spell of pace, swing and accuracy - 10 overs, 8 maidens, 3 wickets for just 3 runs......and 2 of those were edged through a vacant slip area!
Jack's performances with the 1st team continued to impress and by July 2010 he had just notched up his 200th Sway wicket and the 1st XI were again poised for another promotion.....
Jack congratulating team mate Steve How on a duck!
Unfortunately just a week later Jack's cricket career suffered another setback. Team mate Alex Hall persuaded Jack to spend a day at the beach wakeboarding - the resultant broken leg not only put Jack out for the rest of the season, led to Sway missing out on promotion but also led to him cancelling a MRI scan on his back that had been booked, thus inadvertently kicking the can down the road.
Over the winter on 2010/11 Jack finally got a proper diagnosis - a prolapsed and ruptured disc in his lower back. The disc had split open causing a large amount of fluid to spill out and consequently agonisingly strangle his sciatic nerve running down the whole of his right leg.
After his operation, Jack faced a lengthy lay up from cricket, missing the entire 2011 season, but returning in 2012 primarily as a batsman, but also bowling a very tidy bit of spin.
So we have gotten this far in a summary of Jack's cricket career without mentioning his batting. In summary he is Sway's answer to David Gower - graceful effortless run accumulation & stroke play. Jack was producing good knocks for the Club from the outset but after a couple of near misses in 2006 he notched his 1st league 50 at Ellingham in a 151-run 4th wicket partnership of contrasting styles with Joe Rodway.
Jack did not do big hitting and sixes are like hens teeth. In fact he was 8 years into his Sway career before he finally hit one - in a notoriously bad tempered, indeed violent game v Totton III on a track made out of moss. In a match winning partnership with the skipper, whose "style" could not have been more contrasting, the conditions finally led to a release of pent up aggression and a ball was hoiked into the field next door much to the surprise of Jack and everyone else.
Despite racking up over 3,000 runs for the Club, a century eluded Walton but this wait was finally over in one of the most important innings for the Club by any Sway player.
For the final game of the 2017 season, Jack along with two other 1st teamers, dropped down to the seconds to try and get a relegation-avoiding win against a strong Pylewell Park. Batting first Sway had already lost Alex Hall and Neil Prince cheaply and all the pressure was on Jack. Like a BMW eight-speed automatic gearbox, Jack went seamlessly through the gears, recording an unbeaten 141 runs helped the Club to the win they desperately needed.
By the end of the last season, Jack's stats for Sway stood as follows:
Catches - 56
Hopefully Jack will still make it down to play for Sway when he can and he can add plenty more runs & wickets to his tally.