Former Devon captain Hiley Edwards dies aged 58

Hiley Edwards batting for Paignton against Barton at Queens Park in 2003

 

FORMER Devon cricket captain Hiley Edwards, who took the county side to their first cup final at Lord’s, has died after a long battle against ill health. He was 58.

   Edwards, a stylish left-handed batsman and lightning fast fieldsman, learned his cricket with Cockington Corinthians (1965-71) before moving to senior club Torquay then on to Paignton at the end of his career.
   During 17 seasons with Torquay he scored more than 16,000 runs and was captain from 1982-85.
   He made his Devon debut in 1974 and enjoyed an 18-year career in the county team, which he captained between1985-91. He made 86 Minor Counties Championship appearances and scored nearly 2,700 runs.

   Edwards’ last game for Devon was the 1991 Holt Cup final against Staffordshire at Lord’s, which Devon lost by four wickets.

   Edwards was replaced by Exmouth’s Nick Folland as county captain the following season and never featured for the county side again. He carried on playing for Paignton until 1995, when he retired and devoted his time to encouraging sons Simon and Mark with their cricket.

   Both Edwards’ sons played youth cricket for Devon and Simon appeared twice for the full county side during the 2002 season.

   Edwards was a talented, all-round sportsman who excelled at cricket, rugby, football and table tennis.
   He was a schoolboy table-tennis champion, played rugby for Torquay, Newton Abbot and Totnes and turned out on the football field for St Marychurch Spurs and Sunday side Coombe Cellars FC.

   Educated at Watcombe County Primary School and Torquay Boys’ Grammar, Edwards spent his working life in the travel trade, starting with the Renwicks Group based in Paignton and rising to become a regional manager with Lunn Poly. He was diagnosed with a brain tumour 12 years ago and had been in poor health ever since. His health deteriorated further in recent months and he died on Sunday.

   Edwards is survived by his wife Sue. The couple were married for 33 years. He had two brothers – Chris and Paul – who played county rugby and football respectively and were both keen cricketers.

   Devon chairman Roger Moylan-Jones joined the chorus of tributes, saying: “This has been a very sad few days for Devon cricket with the news of Hiley following on so soon after the loss of our president, David Shepherd.

   “I was not a playing contemporary of Hiley's during his time as captain, and he had

   left the scene by the time I became chairman, but I am well aware of the dedicated service he gave to the county particularly in those seven seasons as skipper. when he played a leading part in building the foundations for the successful years that followed.

   “On behalf of Hiley's many admirers in the county club, I know that they would wish to join me in sending our condolences to Sue and the family."

   Devon team-mate Joe Oliver, who played against Edwards many times for the South Devon club, said: “Fifty-eight is no age at all – it is a great shame.”

   Son Simon said he was amazed at the number of tributes that had been paid to his father in the days since his death.

   “It very humbling to hear so many nice things said about my dad,” said Simon.

   “I hope there is a big turn out at the funeral to see him off. He deserves it

   Simon said he had been his dad’s biggest fan as a young boy, then found the roles reversed as he got older.

   “From the age of seven or eight I would go everywhere with my dad to watch him play cricket,” said Simon.

   “If he got out early he could come in the nets with me and play – which was great.

   “If he didn’t get out I would get to see my dad score lots of runs. That was great, too.

   “When Mark and I were playing youth cricket for Devon as we got older, it was dad who would be coming to watch and support us.”

   Among the many to pay tribute to Edwards was his former Torquay and Devon team-mate Malcolm Kingdon, who also ended up at Paignton towards the end of his career.

   “Hiley was a gifted cricketer who took the game very seriously and was strict when he needed to be as captain but also knew how to enjoy the game,” said Kingdon.

   “He was a gentleman of sport in every sense of the word and I was lucky to play with him and under him for so many years.”

   Bovey Tracey chairman Nigel Mountford, another ex-Torquay and Devon team-mate, remembered Edwards as a good friend and valuable colleague.

   “If you were fighting to save a game you wanted Hiley alongside you,” said Mountford, who is now the chairman of Bovey Tracey.

   “He was totally dedicated to his cricket and on the pitch took it very seriously indeed.

   “Hiley and I gelled very quickly when I went to Torquay and became big friends. He was my best man when I got married.

   “We played together for 11 years and it was a pleasure to play with him.”

   Nick Folland, who succeeded Edwards as county captain, said his predecessor was in at the start of a new era in Devon cricket.

   “Devon won everything going in the mid 1990s under Peter Roebuck, but Hiley laid many of the foundations,” said Folland.

   “Hiley wanted young players in the team and encouraged the likes of myself, Nick Gaywood, Mark Woodman and Keith Donohue to become county players.

   “Other captains won the trophies, I was one of them, but it was the players Hiley brought on who earned them.”

   Hiley Edwards’ funeral will take place next Friday (November 20) at Upton Vale Baptist Church in Torquay at noon.

   The eulogy will be delivered by a cricket rival who became a firm friend, Roger Mann.
   Mann said Edwards had a deep knowledge of the game and used it wisely.

   “Hiley was very perceptive and could read a game as well as anyone,” said Mann. “That, and his patience, must have been a big help to him as a captain and an opening batsman of the top rank.”

To add your own tribute to Hiley Edwards, click here

   

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