John Craig, who died in August 2020, was one of Woking and Horsell’s most important and best loved cricketers of the last quarter of the 20th century.  For no less than 10 years – the whole decade of the 1980s - he captained the 3rd XI when it was the most junior of the teams regularly taking the field for the club (the 4th XI only became a permanent feature in the 1990s).  After he stopped playing he took up umpiring, firstly as a club-appointed official and then as a member of the Surrey Championship panel.  For good measure he introduced his four sons to the club, three of whom played significant amounts of cricket in various club teams.
 
John, wife Margot and sons Andrew, Matthew, John and Peter moved from Hull to Woking in August 1970.  Family commitments consumed much of John’s time in his initial years down south and his first season at the Woking and Horsell was 1974. Previously he had played for the staff team of Hull University, where he was a lecturer in economic statistics. They played various East Yorkshire villages and staff teams from other universities in the north.  John was best described as a seam-bowling all-rounder who delivered the ball at a modest medium pace but with almost metronomic accuracy.  His batting style tended to be obdurate rather than flamboyant although he had often put himself down the order and his approach was forced on him by the need to rescue a situation bequeathed to him by supposedly better players. 
 
Clubs rarely take long to recognise organisational talent in new members but John’s first role of this kind was not to assume captaincy but to inherit from Roland Cartwright the unenviable task of ringing up players' wives and girlfriends to enquire if they would mind giving up 3 hours of their Saturday or Sunday afternoon to make teas, and wash up afterwards. Roland’s suave charm had fitted him well for the role but John proved himself a worthy successor.
 
Paul Charman, having done a creditable stint as 3rd XI captain in the latter part of the 1970s, handed over the reins to John for the 1980 season.  By now the club’s youth section, carefully nurtured by Nigel Taylor, was producing increasing numbers of young cricketers ready for an introduction to senior cricket and John spent the next 10 years helping them to find their feet.  The art of the skilled captain of such teams is to ensure the young players get their chance without being exposed to what might be a discouraging experience, while ensuring that the team does not pay for its inexperience by suffering a run of poor results.  John was a sympathetic enough captain to achieve the first of those aims while understanding how to deploy his own talents and those of other senior players in the team to guard against the second.  In this respect the fact that he was a cricketer whose skills tended to be underrated meant that he was just the man to steady an innings or contribute some testing overs when the team needed him.  His demeanour, calm and rarely without a smile, was ideal for managing a young team of varying talents and temperaments.  It no doubt helped that he drove a VW camper van, with room for the team kit bag and 3 or 4 players.
 
The third XI of that decade played on both Saturdays and Sundays without always having pre-arranged fixtures and John would get his chance in the 2nd XI when a 3rds could not be raised.  There he would show either with bat or ball or both how he might have become a regular performer at a higher level if he had not committed himself to arguably the most important captaincy role in the club. To underline his all-round abilities he was the winner in 1979 of the fiercely-contested club single-wicket competition.
 
Having a clutch of sons to bolster club availability helped considerably to make the 3rd XI a viable proposition even if the boys tended to aspire to higher XIs as they grew older.  Although scorebooks from that era have been lost over time the family has a clear recollection of at least four Craigs taking the field in the same team on several occasions, with John senior and Peter accounting between them for all 10 opposition wickets in a match in 1989
 
The family have many memories of John’s cricket including one of him taking a hat-trick which was slightly marred by the third victim being oldest son, Andrew, who had decided to try to hit every ball for 6 having been donated to the opposition who were one short.  He had come only to watch the game after attending the opening of a local music shop by his heroes, the Jam, where he had enjoyed a beer or two with them. 
 
Having studied statistics and lectured on the subject in his early career, John took up a job in the Office of Populations, Censuses and Surveys on coming south and had a hand in planning two or three national Censuses and analysing the resulting statistics.  His knowledge of the techniques and technology for storing and handling numbers led him to develop some ideas for how cricket statistics could be made more meaningful if the full power of computerisation could be brought to bear.  In an exchange of letters with the legendary TMS Statistician, Bill Frindall, he may have been taken aback by a reply making it clear that Frindall wanted nothing to do with computers and any further such ideas should be addressed to the Association of Cricket Statisticians and kept well away from him!  Needless to say much of what John was suggesting to make cricket statistics more meaningful and interesting to the ordinary fan have subsequently come about in the form of such things as the rankings for test and ODI players.
 
After John retired from playing at the age of 60 he took up umpiring, a natural fit given his scrupulous impartiality. He graduated to the Surrey championship umpires panel. 
He was also an active member of the WHIGS, where he enjoyed a round of golf and the fellowship of the WHCC community.  His illness in recent years meant that the club had not seen much of him and the steady rate of turnover ensures that his is not a name that is well-known to many of the current players.  It is hoped that those who trouble to read this appreciation will understand why those of us who can remember him do so with such affection and respect.
 
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