The Aussies are coming to Chichester - and their match in Chichester’s Priory Park tomorrow (July 12) will be particularly special for one player.
The New South Wales Combined High Schools U19 cricket team are following in the footsteps of their country’s World Cup, A squad and Ashes line-up with a 12-match tour of England this summer.
The tour party comprises 15 players aged between 16 and 18 who are experienced at junior representative level and are cutting their teeth in senior grade cricket. The boys are aware some household names – like the Waugh twins, Slater, Gilchrist, Warner, Clarke, Smith and Hazlewood – have been past CHS representatives.
Tomorrow brings a 40-over fixture at Priory Park against a Chi Priory Park Select XI, starting at midday. Spectators are welcome.
The home team will be captained by England Over-70s and CPP legend Andrew Barnes while his opposite number will be Nathan Hillier, a 17-year-old opening or first change bowler - and if the surname sounds familiar, it should.
Nathan is the eldest son of former Chi Priory Park first-team captain and batsman Paul Hillier, who has lived in Australia since 2000, and the nephew of Tim Hillier, also a CPP member of some distinction. But the local links don’t stop there.
Nathan is the grandson of former club captain Nigel Hillier and great-grandson of Godfrey (‘Nip’) Hillier who bowled spin for the club back in the day. So, Nathan will become the fourth generation of Hillier to play on the picturesque Priory Park ground – quite some family achievement.
Two of Nigel Hillier’s other grandsons - Jack Hillier, younger brother of Nathan and Tom Hillier, son of Tim, may make cameo appearances for the home team. And helping with teas will be Nathan’s grandmother Margaret, mum Glenda and sister Issy.
Jack, who is 15, is a batsman and leg-spinner who has also played at a good level down under.
A few years ago, the Observer featured Nathan and his opening bowling colleague in Australia, Ned Twelvetree, who has family at Easebourne – highlighting what a small world the sporting one can be.
Paul and Tim Hillier are fondly remembered at Chi Priory Park – they were in their 1992 Echo Trophy winning team and were involved in plenty of league successes too, and a glorious run in the national cup. Others from the CPP team of the 90s could be involved tomorrow.
The boys’ uncle Tim lives in Worthing. His wife Caz and daughter Katie are useful cricketers and his son Tom is just starting his journey in men’s cricket with Chippingdale CC in Worthing.
Godfrey Hillier, great-grandfather of Nathan and Jack, was chairman of Chi FC for a number of years while Nathan’s grandfather Nigel played and managed Chi FC, including the famous 11-0 defeat to Bristol City in the FA Cup in 1960-61.
Paul Hillier said: “Nigel (my father) first played for Priory Park in its colts team (under-14s). He played for around two to three years before the section disbanded, whereupon he joined a very famous Chichester team, the Gilbertians, under George Gilbert.
“He went back to playing later in life after having a family, rejoining the Park in late 1970s, whereupon he soon became first XI wicketkeeper and then progressed to captain.
“After finishing first XI cricket he went on to captain a highly successful second XI team, bringing on many youngsters, and then filled the role of cricket manager. In his National Service days, Nigel played for his battalion in the Royal Sussex Regiment while stationed in Korea and Gilbraltar.
“Nigel’s father Godfrey (Nip, my grandfather and Nathan’s great grandfather) played a number of games in Priory Park, also being a keen member of
The Nondescripts and The Whites local teams, He was a canny off-spin bowler.
“I’m also told that my mum’s grandfather, Joe Marsh, played at Priory Park, including for a strong County Hall team.”