Ian Crombie 1931- 2011

Ian Crombie died in his sleep peacefully following a short illness on December 9th. Ian was a Life Vice President of the club and had been skipper of the club for many a year up to 1973. A Cambridge Boxing Blue whose sweater was initially mistaken for a Cambridge Cricket Blue Ian bowled left arm flighted fifth and was a steady lower mid order batsmen. His catching was probably his best cricket skill. A delightful man with a sunny disposition he was skilful in man managing a club with very disparate and strong personalities and to shrug off the deep contempt many held for his own cricketing acumen with that disarming smile.

As a skipper he became reknown for letting the opposition off the hook somehow finding them ending up with a serious total and only then discovering that the opposition had a demon bowler. This phenomenon which still occurs sometimes with the opposition on say 26-6 and batting first whereupon the skipper brings on some indifferent bowling and helps them to 156 remains in Nomads parlance as doing ‘A Crombie’. His emphasis on the social side of the game and the secondary importance of the result helped make Nomads very popular opponents.

It is also reported that after a tedious Secretary’s report  at an AGM he was wont to call for an ‘encore” and to shout ‘How’s That’ whenever the Roulette wheel came to a halt on zero at the 21 Club Mayfair to which Nomads of another era were to be found after pre-season drinks. In former days we finished the season with an all day match at Leatherhead and Ian was always a witty and loquacious speaker at the lunch with was accompanied by copious volumes of wine and port!

His best figures were(we think) 7-91 against Four Elms CC in 1970. He first played against Nomads in 1953 in the Long Vac at Downing College and shortly afterwards for us.

Off the field he was to produce with Mary’s assistance three beautiful daughters who hopefully will in turn produce some Nomad Cricketers though so far we still wait in anticipation.

He enjoyed a long career in retailing ending as Marketing Director of the Regent Street store Aquascutum. He seems to have put that experience and that of skippering the nomads to good use in galvanising the village of his retirement, Overton, to restoring its former grand fare for the Millenium and so successful was it that it has been repeated every fours since.

He was reputedly an even greater expert on Malt whisky than John Nagenda.

The funeral was on Wednesday, 21st December at St Mary’s Church, Overton, Hants, at 1.45 pm. Nomads were represented by President Emeritus David Alexander, former Hon Treasurer John Gold,  former Hon Secretary Kit Stidolph and current club President & Hon Sec Michael Blumberg. Ian’s grandson Ian Poland made an eloquent and warm tribute to his grand dad mentioning, of course, his captaincy of the Nomads Cricket Club.

John Nagenda writes
“Oh dear, oh dear,

Poor old Crombie! He was, along with Alexander & one or two others, one of my oldest friends in cricket in England. He was a good sort whom we endlessly called the Horizontal Cambridge Blue.

He always took such ribbing on the chin!As the Nomad captain for many years he again took stick & could be said to have next to no idea about how the noble game should be played!

BUT… Once at Indian Gymkhana, when we unexpectedly had our fingers around those buggers’ throats and Zahid Shah & Nagenda going full blast, Crombie took us off AND PUT HIMSELF ON with his lolly-drops.

Their Captain, who was trying to lead a recovery (forget his name but he had played hockey for England). Even as Shah & I tapped our foreheads meaningfully at Crombie’s lack of grey matter, the man rushed this way and that and patted one of Crombie’s gifts back to him. Crombie promptly took himself off & the quickies swiftly did the necessary!

Dear old Crombie! I could write a book. He never did Man nor Beast a mischief.

I tremble for Mary & the girls, but especially Mary: two peas in a pod. May  her Ian rest in peace.”

Leatherhead 1969Back Row: David Alexander Unknown John Nagenda Unknown Brian Gosheron Barry Miller.Second Row: Chips Stidolph Ian Crombie Michael Penn Front Row: Sid Astle Peter Quinn David Evans

Kim Owen-Brown writes

Hello Everyone

So sorry to learn about Ian, although news like this sends one’s memories back quite a few years. In my case, I was working in The States in 1968/9 when Colin started playing for The Nomads.

We used to send cassette tapes back and forth to update one another on our respective news and I remember him saying he had met a charming chap at Dorland Advertising called Michael Penn who had enthusiastically introduced him to a fine group of chaps who played cricket in an enjoyable way.

Consequently, when I was back for a week in Sep ’69, I had my first game and enjoyed it immensely.   On my return in early 1970 Nomads first match of the season was at Limpsfield, although it was almost entirely full of Old Tonbridgians and eleven fitter chaps got the better of The Nomads. Ian was Captain.   However, to an outsider like myself, unless one really knew, one could be excused for being errant in wondering how many captains there might have been in the side!

In his own very laid-back style, Ian handled such situations in a measured, relaxed and pleasant manner and rarely seemed to deviate from his self effacing way of captaining the side.   With so many strong characters around it was not the easiest of tasks leading all these talented chaps, some of whom seemed to want to dispose of opponents in a slightly different way.

However, Ian’s good humour always seemed to be present when it was occasionally necessary to placate those who wanted to deal with opposition in a much more assertive manner. And it was great fun.   It was also a lovely way to introduce younger members of family to a great team game and for that I will always be eternally grateful. May I extend my deepest sympathy to Mary and The Girls, and to Old Friends who have also lost someone “very special”.

Nigel French writes from Dubai
Ian has a special place in my memories as when I started playing for the Nomads in the mid 60’s, Ian as Captain , made me feel so very welcome, although I could only play between 5-7 times a year because I travelled overseas on business so frequently.

His Captaincy was idiosyncratic and at times highly amusing. Indeed he was a master at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory as he felt that cricket was to be enjoyed and a humiliating victory was not his idea of a Sunday out.

When Sid Astle and John Nagenda were in their prime we had a very successful opening bowling attack but once they got amongst the wickets it seemed a bit of spin was Ian’s preference, generally the left arm version. If we were playing a village on the Gatwick landing pattern the pilots generally had to take evasive action but even they could tell from the seam movement the ball would never turn.

Playing on tour in Brussels on a matting wicket Ian managed to start turning the ball profusely in both directions much to the bewilderment of Peter Quinn behind the stumps. It was not however finger spin genius achieving this, there was a large ripple in the matting!!

Once on Limpsfield’s wide open setting their opening bat , who had just made a century for Surrey 2nd X1, smashed Ian all over the park and after 5 overs for 70+ runs he took himself off, pulled Sid Astle back into the attack whereupon Sid got 6 wickets in as many overs. Ian took the credit for lulling the batsmen into a sense of false security.

Ian’s running between the wickets whilst batting would have done justice to the Keystone Cops.

His humour, enthusiasm , good nature and sportsmanship helped establish the Nomads reputation as a side to have on one’s fixture list and also attracted so many of us to play for the club.

I am sorry that I am in Dubai and unable to attend his funeral . He was a very special person

Leatherhead 1968Back Row:Umpire, David Alexander, John Nagenda, Sid Astle, Unknown Michael Penn Seated:David Evans, Ian Crombie, Unknown, Ken Crombie, Unknown, John Gold Lounging:Unknown, Unknown

Ian attended the centenary dinner in 2003 and the Nomads match at Lord’s Nursery Ground against Cross Arrows in 2005.

Ian meets the Nomads at Cambridge 1953