I was deeply saddened when I received the news of Harry’s passing - it was a very poignant moment in time for me personally.
I first met Harry five years after I had left the Oval groundstaff when he became the new head groundsman at that famous venue. Over the years he became more than a friend, colleague and mentor – he was hugely influential towards my career path. He introduced me to the fascination of cricket pitch preparation and how it affected the gamem - not just the surface but also what was beneath it - when he started the process of relaying the previous dead and slow tracks on the huge Oval table.
Subsequently, his methodology and principles transformed the art and skills of cricket groundsmanship and the industry in general. He was a popular and charismatic figure, admired by all who came into contact with him, players, club officials and fellow groundsmen who gleaned any advice he offered. He was also a hard task-master who did not suffer fools gladly – a visionary too, nothing escaped his eagle eye. To that effect he must have seen something in me that I didn’t see myself as he slowly took me under his wing all the time watching my own progress while regularly returning to assist on cover duty on the Oval Test matches until I succeeded him as ECB pitches consultant where I remain to this day - both privileged and honoured to carry on his legacy – after 16 years in the role. I trust I have fulfilled his judgement and faith.
During my first year, I was effectively his apprentice – his PA, secretary, chauffeur and general tea boy until he finally retired at the end of the 1999 season. In that time I became very close to him until I received the ultimate nod of approval – tea on his perfect lawn at his home in Chelmsford with our wives. My deepest sympathies now go towards his wife Pat her and of course their daughter and son Paul Brind, not to mention the grandchildren. I remain proud in the extreme to have known the man.
So while the heavenly pitches will now be belters, in the field of cricket groundsmanship and in the world of cricket, he was a legend and will never be forgotten.
Chris Wood – ECB pitches consultant