Nick Peters died in May 2019 aged 51 years: here is an appreciation by Rob Hands.

The Green in the Eighties and Nineties always seemed to have sportsmen to spare. Whether this was a deliberate policy on David Oldham or Mike Cleaver’s part, I can’t say. From my own time at the School, I think of Tom Ashworth, Steve Leeke and Nick Greenstock, among others. But in the mid-Eighties, there were two outstanding cricketers: Nick Peters and Aadel Kardooni.

Peters was a fast bowler with bounce and verve, which given the prevailing pitches on the Upper during that time, was some achievement. He won recognition from the English Schools Cricket Association while at Sherborne and at 20, played his first county match for Surrey. Over the summers of 1988 and 1989, he played 16 matches for his county but his first-class career never took off and in later years he was more likely to be found as a batsman in the Surrey Championship.

Nick Peters died on May 20 at the tragically young age of 51, from cancer. A year ahead of Kardooni at the School, he nonetheless found himself, in his Upper Sixth year, being captained by the junior man. “He always showed me the utmost respect,” Kardooni said. “On occasions, he wouldn’t agree on my field placing but he never undermined my position.

“You could get the best out of Nick when we posted a low score … he knew as a team we would look to him to get us a result and he would. I am not sure if the wicket on the Upper is still suited to a front-foot player but Nick’s pace kept the best batsmen on their toes!”

Peters was one of only two Old Shirburnians to play county cricket in the past 50 years, Jimmy Adams of Hampshire being the other. Known at Surrey as “Bondy” on account of his film star good looks, he had a comparatively short run-up but could still generate sufficient bounce on any pitch that had some life in it. Arguably his finest match for Surrey came in 1988 when, fresh from finishing his university exams, he destroyed Warwickshire at the Oval, taking six for 31 in the first innings and four for 34 in the second. No mean feat when Sylvester Clarke, the quick West Indian, was also in the Surrey XI.

But he was not an obvious professional sportsman. Whereas Kardooni chose rugby and played with distinction for Leicester, Peters preferred to play his cricket at league level, for Guildford and Esher. An obvious candidate for the Pilgrims’ Cricketer Cup side, given his pedigree, he played only twice, both in 1999 and without any impact. Other things mattered more to this more reserved character.

He taught for a time and then moved careers to become a clinical psychotherapist, where he could put his old sport under the microscope. As the tribute on Surrey CCC’s website notes, he wrote an article focusing on the mental agonies that cricket can foist on its protagonists. That article, for, concluded: “As far as team sports go, cricket exposes the individual like no other: The batsman’s long walk back to the pavilion amidst the ghostly silence of the spectators after a ‘first-baller’, or the bowler’s downcast scuffing of the feet as he is hit for a third consecutive four. This potential for public scrutiny and humiliation is unparalleled in any other sport.”

Kardooni met up with Peters again relatively recently.  “We met at an OS gathering,” Kardooni said. “Having both spent part of our career as professional sportsmen, I had a very enjoyable conversation about stresses and pressures that sportsmen have to deal with. Nick’s passion and knowledge about the subject were very evident. 

“Nick was genuinely one of life’s nice guys and we will all miss him. It wasn’t just Nick’s outstanding cricket ability that made him a great team player but also he was fun to be around.”