In an era where words like “legend” and “superstar” are bounced around like a cricket ball during catching practice, the name of Colin Milburn stands above the rest.
Born in a tiny County Durham village, “Ollie” grew to be a true giant of cricket...in every sense.
Now his life and death has been captured in a brilliant 75-minute one-man show at Kent County Cricket Ground last night called When The Eye Has Gone.
Actor Dan Gaisford plays not only the Northants' maverick, but his mother, father, teacher, school pals, commentators and cricket captains.
It is a mesmeric virtuoso performance which was every bit as gripping as one of 18 stone Colin’s swashbuckling innings.
The show was written by former Kent cricketer James Graham-Brown and captures the triumph and tragedy of one of this country’s true-life Boy's Own hero.
It is hoped by the Professional Cricketers’ Association – which is backing the countrywide tour – to increase awareness of mental issues which affect players after they leave the game and provide support.
Ollie played first team cricket at just 13 and debuted for Durham four years later.
Sadly he only played nine times for England before his career was cut short after losing an eye in a road accident.
And even though doctors told him he wouldn’t play cricket again, four years later he fought his way back into the Northantsside but was a pale shadow of the wonderful cavalier of the 1960’s.
He died aged just 49 after collapsing in Aycliffe Village – and the play is a reminder of a man who loved life, loved drinking...but most of all loved cricket.