Lifelong Somerset supporter Peter Wanless realised a lifetimes ambition when he faced two of the County’s fast bowlers in the indoor nets at the Centre of Excellence this week as part of a series of challenges to raise money for the NSPCC Childline Charity.
Peter, who is the Chief Executive of the NSPCC, was born in Chippenham where he grew up in a cricketing family and at every opportunity was taken along to watch his Somerset heroes. “My parents were both Somerset fans,” he said. “I was named Peter after Peter Wight and my brother Graham was named after Graham Atkinson.”
To make things worse the brave-hearted batsman was the first to admit that he hadn’t picked up a bat in anger since his schooldays, but nonetheless he went ahead with his challenge. After facing Pete Trego and Craig Overton in the indoor nets Peter said: “I faced the Somerset bowlers to help to raise funds for the Childline Charity. I had people sponsor me to face deliveries from the attack of the team that I have supported all of my life, so it was supposed to be a dream come true!
“I faced both Craig and Peter who bowled at what seemed quite fast enough for me! However I think it was the state of the wicket in the net that prevented me from creaming them through the on and off side! In fact I missed many more than I hit and one of the early ones hit me on the helmet, right in the middle of the forehead which made me feel slightly shaky. However it did show that I wasn’t running away from the ball and it forced me to concentrate a little bit harder!”
Halfway through his batting stint Matt Maynard spoke to Peter and offered him some words of advice.
“Matt said the most basic thing imaginable,” said Peter. “He told me to watch the ball and keep my eye on it as it came out of the bowlers hand. I should know that, but it all went out of the window when I was 22 yards away from a ball that I was hoping wasn’t going to hit me. It was good advice from Matt and towards the end I was hitting more than I missed.”
Reflecting on his experience Peter said: “I think I will enjoy it in retrospect. These guys are my heroes and Somerset is my team. Every year at around this time I am hoping that this is going to be the one when we are going to win the Championship, so if I can help to bowl these guys into a bit of form then I will have done my bit.”
Peter went on: “Somerset is a wonderful club and they are a great bunch of guys who have joined in with me today. We have got some very talented players at the club so I am hopeful that we will do well this year. Someone has taken a video of my performance today so Chris Gayle will be able to look at it and all should be well!
“This year is Childline’s 30th birthday. It is a really important service that offers support throughout the year, 24 hours a day and seven days a week to any child with nowhere else to turn. We need to raise money to keep this service going. This year the London Marathon will feature Childline as their partner sponsor and rather than run 26 miles I said I would take on 26 challenges and this is one of them.
“I hope people will want to sponsor me either in retrospect for this challenge or one of my future challenges. I have got a personal page on Virgin Money Giving.”
Peter added: “I really care about children and giving every child the best possible start in life. After that the next most important thing to me is Somerset cricket!”
For more details on Peter’s fundraising please click here
Peter is pictured with Craig Overton, Peter Trego and Somerset CCC President Richard Parsons.