Known throughout the cricketing world as ‘Reggie’, Ronnie Irani played for Lancashire, Essex and England. However it was at Essex did he make a major impact; becoming Captin in the early noughties and subsequently winning ‘Essex Sportsman of the Year’. On his cricket retirement , he successfully developed a career in the media.
Ronnie Irani: Mr Essex
There were few more bristling, bustling all-rounders in England than Ronnie Irani; who settled snugly into his role as Mr Essex since leaving Lancashire in 1994. He charged into the wicket bowling medium pace swing and was a combative batsman; making him a potential club and country all rounder. Irani muscled his way into the England Test team in 1996 against India; and, after helping save the Lord’s Test, was dispassionately axed. He went on tour in 1996-97 but had to wait until 1999 for his next – and most recent – Test cap. But at county level Irani is a huge presence; and after an immense start to the 2002 season, he earned a recall to the England one-day side.
He struggled in Australia the following winter – one local scribe wondered if he was a Barmy Army member who had got on the wrong bus; but still won a place in the squad for the 2003 World Cup. He played two matches during the tournament and subsequently lost his place. Things then got worse when a long-term knee problem came to a head; and, despite trips to a knee specialist in Germany, he was forced to give up bowling during the 2003 domestic season and concentrate on his batting.
After Graham Gooch stepped down as the club’s head coach prior to the start of the 2005 season; Irani assumed these responsibilities in addition to his role as county captain and flourished in both roles. In 2006 he averaged 59 in the Championship and began 2007 with a career-best 218. But his knee problems took their toll and mid-way through the season Irani announced his retirement; despite being offered a new contract by Essex.
Ronnie Irani: Retirement
He retired with immediate effect later that month (June 2007). He moved into a career of radio broadcasting and after dinner speaker; taking on a position at talkSPORT where he co-hosted, until 2013; The Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast with former Scottish international footballer Alan Brazil. On the show, he picked up the nickname Chicken from the dish Chicken Biriyani rhyming with his surname.
During the past three years, Ronnie has gained experience in perfecting his after dinner speaking and Question & Answer repertoire. He is always happy to give his honest, passionate, amusing opinion on a number of topics, sport related or not. Through his openness, Ronnie tends to endear himself to the audience, allowing them to relate to his past experiences; which always ensures a relaxing and very enjoyable evening.
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Matthew Willetts MA is the Director of Comicus who has over 35 years experience in television, film, theatre, and comedy club/cabaret entertainment, working as a performer, screenwriter, producer and agent. He lectured at Southampton Solent University in Comedy, Screenwriting, Television, Theatre & Radio. Matthew can sometimes be seen and heard on TV & Radio and often quoted in the national press and media publications. As well as speaking regularly at festivals and industry conferences, he has been a judge at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Montreux Television Festival.
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