Dennis Breakwell, a key member of Somerset’s ‘Glory Years’ side, has retired from his second career as head groundsman and cricket coach at King’s College in Taunton after 25 years.
In that time, Dennis has become something of a legend at the school. During his time in charge, King’s cricketing reputation has become well established, not only for producing a number of young players who have gone on to play at first class level, but also for the Summer Cricket Festivals, which attract teams from as far afield as South Africa.
Earlier this month a staff reception was held at King’s where Dennis was guest of honour. The former Somerset slow left-armer said: “It was a lovely event and I got quite choked really.
“King’s College has been an awesome place to be involved with and not only has it been my workplace but it has been my home and my family for the past 25 years. It is a very special place and long may King’s continue to do what they are doing now.”
One of the former King’s pupils who has gone on to play professionally is Jos Buttler, who is currently playing for England against Sri Lanka.
The England international said: “Dennis Breakwell is a fantastic man. Having had five years at King’s with Dennis I have seen first-hand how influential he has been to making the cricket there so strong. He works tirelessly to produce brilliant pitches and always tweaks a few out in the nets which I could never seem to hit for 6! His work during the summer months with the Festivals is nothing short of miraculous.
“Dennis reaches further than just the cricket though; he was loved all around the school by all pupils and teachers with that consistent bubbly character and sense of humour. He will be sorely missed. I’m privileged to have worked with Dennis and even more so to call him a mate! Enjoy retirement Den.”
Meanwhile Alex Barrow tweeted his own tribute: “Boy does he deserve his retirement! What a man.”
Headmaster Richard Biggs said: “It feels as though Dennis has been here forever – and it is certainly true that several generations of cricketers have been inspired by his quiet authority and extraordinary kindness. He has also, consistently, produced some of the best batting wickets on the school circuit. It is hard to imagine him leaving, and King’s cricket, and the community generally, will miss him very much indeed. The enormous success of our cricketing programme over the years – and especially now – owes an enormous amount to this great man. We thank him warmly and we wish him every happiness in his retirement.”
However it is not quite the end of the road at King’s for Dennis because he will be returning on a part-time basis in the spring.
He said: “I will be working 15 hours a week starting in March and going through to the start of September that will include the King’s Festivals in the summer, after which things will be reviewed.”
Born in Staffordshire, Dennis began his cricket career in 1969 with Northamptonshire and joined Somerset for the start of the 1973 season, becoming a key part of the ‘Glory Years’ side.
In that time he appeared in two victorious Lord’s finals in 1979 and 1981 and was part of the team who clinched the Sunday League title on the last day of the season at Trent Bridge in 1979.
In total Dennis took 281 first-class wickets for Somerset at an average of 33 with a best return of 6-38. He also took 58 List A wickets at 35 with best figures of 3-20.
A more than useful all-rounder, he also scored 3,777 first-class runs for Somerset, including his only century against the touring New Zealanders in 1978, as well as more than 1,000 runs in List A cricket.
On his retirement in 1984 he worked with youngsters at the County Ground before moving to King’s College in 1991.
We join King’s and everyone at Somerset in wishing Dennis all the very best in his retirement.
Photos by Harry Trump courtesy of King’s College.