PUBLISHED: 15:46 21 February 2008 | UPDATED: 08:50 10 June 2010
Copyright Archant Ltd
THE cricketer dubbed 'Ton-up Tozer' by the Exmouth Journal's cricket correspondent of the day has died after a long battle against cancer.
THE cricketer dubbed 'Ton-up Tozer' by the Exmouth Journal's cricket correspondent of the day has died after a long battle against cancer.John Tozer, who was Exmouth's opening batsman throughout the 1960s, 70s and into the 1980s, hammered six centuries for Exmouth in 1971, the same year he married wife Lynda.The late Jack Rogers, a former Exmouth player himself, was the Journal's cricket correspondent at the time and thought up the 'Ton-up Tozer' nickname. Headlines such as 'Ton-up Tozer does it again' became a common sight in the paper for many years - and with good reason.It was a rare summer when Tozer didn't score a thousand runs or more for the club. Twice - in 1971 and 1973 - his tally topped the 1,500 mark.In 1973, a year after league cricket came in, Tozer belted a hefty total of 1,521 runs with a top score of 147 not out against Mendip Acorns. Tozer scored five tons that summer. The others were against Sidmouth, Taunton, Tavistock and Taunton Deane.During the game against Mendip Acorns, Tozer and Bob Harriott shared in what was then a post-war record stand of 271 for the second wicket. Harriott made 112 not out."We were nought for one when I went in and we both went on to make hundreds," said Harriott, the husband of Madeira Bowling Club's England star Sue Harriott."I scored a lot of runs over many years in partnerships with John, who is going to be missed terribly."He was quiet if you didn't know him, a real gentle man in many ways, but very determined about his cricket."Underneath that shy and reserved exterior was a wonderful, wonderful man, with whom I had many good times, on the field and off it."Devon secretary Geoff Evans was an opponent of Tozer's with Exeter and a team-mate when he moved to Exmouth later in his career. Later still, Tozer was to serve as county treasurer from 1991 right up to his death.Evans, who lives in Budleigh Salterton, remembers Tozer the player as a stubborn opponent with a happy knack of scoring runs."John would be the first to admit he wasn't the most stylish player, but he thought about what he was doing and was efficient at scoring runs for many, many years," said Evans."When he came in to bat you wouldn't be concerned about him hitting the ball on to the beach, but woe betide you if he got settled."John thought about his cricket and was good at working out what shots to play in particular conditions. If the ball was keeping low, he wouldn't pull it through mid-wicket."John would carry on batting in his calm, measured way and that was how he scored so many hundreds; they would creep up almost unnoticed because he wasn't at all flashy."Chris Newman, who played cricket with Tozer at Exmouth Grammar School in the 1950s, said it was clear then he was going to be a good player,"In house matches one recalls him walking to the wicket with determination, concentration and confidence," said Newman."He was very watchful; favoured the back foot against spin; and played each ball often very late and off the pitch. "In the 1950s, with those glorious 'sticky wickets', he was very difficult to dismiss. It was impossible to get through his defensive technique."In the very strong Exmouth sides of the late '60s and '70s. he established himself as one of their most gifted batsmen."Alistair Kemp-Tucker joined Exmouth CC in the 1960s when he moved to the town and soon became an admirer of Tozer."It was always a pleasure batting with John because he did so much of the work for you," recalled Kemp-Tucker,"When you went out to bat he would already have worked out what the bowler was doing and would have some advice for you. I only wish I had been able to bat with him a bit more often!"John was a lovely man. I never heard him say a bad word about anyone. We are all going to miss him."Former Exmouth chairman Jim Wood, now chairman of the Devon Cricket Board, said Tozer's calm and measured attitude made him such and asset to club and county for so many years."John was a good influence on whatever he did, which for Exmouth and Devon cricket was a huge amount," said Wood."The whole family, John, his wife Lynda, who was my first treasurer when I became chairman, Jeremy and Rachel are part of the fabric of Exmouth Cricket Club and have all worked hard for it."John was a lovely man and we will all miss him down at Exmouth." John Tozer was an all-round sportsman who played rugby as a young man, tennis with Exmouth LTC and badminton for the Cranford Club.He worked in the accountancy profession virtually from leaving school. He is survived by wife Lynda and his two children.John Tozer's funeral is due to take place today at the Exeter & Devon Crematorium, Topsham Road.