BACK in the summer of 2006, David Griffiths became the first Islander to have played county cricket for Hampshire in 79 years.

Binstead’s Bill Scott made his debut in 1927 and was the first Isle of Wight-born player to achieve that honour. He played just five times for Hampshire.

Griff, as he is best known in wider cricketing circles, played a century of top professional cricket matches, in a career that saw him robbed of many more because of an endless run of injuries, as often befits a 90mph fast bowler.

Griff, a former pupil of Sandown High School, was born into a sporting family.

Isle of Wight County Press: Griff coaching recently.Griff coaching recently.

His father, Adrian, was a gifted fast bowler for Shanklin, who went on to play for Wales.

His two grandfathers, Ron Griffiths and Roley Ringer, were both legends in Island cricket.

David Porter, who became his stepfather and who gave him so much encouragement in the game, was one of the Island’s greatest post-war cricketers.

His mother, Libby, has also always been such an inspiration to him.

The first time I met Griff was in 2005 — and he was not a pretty sight.

He had just returned to his Sandown home from an England U19 tour of Malaysia and India — a trip which certainly took its toll on his health.

But he recovered to play for Hampshire the following season.

Isle of Wight County Press: The shirt David Griffiths wore playing for Hampshire Royals against Warwickshire Bears in the Clydesdale Bank 40 final at Lords in 2012.The shirt David Griffiths wore playing for Hampshire Royals against Warwickshire Bears in the Clydesdale Bank 40 final at Lords in 2012.

From the age of five, Griff went to Shanklin Cricket Club with the family and was soon learning the game in the practice nets.

He became one of the youngest players to play for the club, before he joined the Hampshire Academy, aged 14.

As an eager young fast bowler, Griff became a force in their second XI and took 40 wickets, before an unexpected call to first team action.

Reflecting on that exciting moment, he said: “I was due to play for the seconds, but was suddenly asked to join the first team squad for a game at Durham.

“I travelled up and expected to be the 12th man, but with West Indian test player, Darren Powell, still awaiting his work permit, I was put into the team instead of him.”

In the first innings, Griff took 4-46 and finished with six wickets in the match. He then went on to play against Lancashire at Old Trafford.

Isle of Wight County Press: Griff celebrating a wicket for Kent Spitfires.Griff celebrating a wicket for Kent Spitfires.

Virtually overnight, Griff was bowling to world class players.

After further games against Sussex and Worcestershire, where he got the wicket of his idol, Graham Hick, for just four, he suddenly came up against Surrey’s run machine, Mark Ramprakash.

Thankfully, Griff was a quick learner and almost saved Hampshire from defeat with the bat — putting on an enthralling last wicket stand, doggedly surviving 50 overs, scoring 31 not out with Nic Pothas, until his South African partner was run out.

During his Hampshire days, Griff was thrilled when Shane Warne — a hero to millions of cricket fans — joined the club, despite him playing for the old enemy!

“Playing with Shane helped my game so much and he did give youngsters a chance,” added Griff.

“I also got great help from other stars like Bruce Reid and Shaun Udal to improve my game.”

On one memorable occasion, Griff was named as a July cricketer of the month, with the likes of Stuart Broad, Luke Wright, Joe Denly and Adil Rashid.

If only he hadn’t suffered so many injuries, which kept him out of the game for long periods, he may well have been knocking on the door for an England test call up.

Isle of Wight County Press: David Griffiths appeals for LBW.David Griffiths appeals for LBW.

Despite his setbacks, Griff did enjoy many memorable moments.

In 2012, Griff was in the Hampshire team that beat Warwickshire to win the Clydesdale Bank 40 final at Lords.

He swung the match Hampshire’s way when he took the key wicket of England Test star, Ian Bell.

They won the match off the very last ball.

Griff reached the peak form of his life against Nottinghamshire at another famous ground, Trent Bridge, taking 6-85 — and could have had more had several catches not been dropped.

On another momentous occasion, Griff took 5-85 against Essex, at Chelmsford.

In that game, he was joined by another young Islander, Danny Briggs.

On one day, between them, they took all the wickets that fell.

Isle of Wight County Press: Islanders David Griffiths and Danny Briggs in Hampshire colours at the Ageas Bowl.Islanders David Griffiths and Danny Briggs in Hampshire colours at the Ageas Bowl.

Eventually, Griff was released by Hampshire at the end of the 2013 season. Many felt it was rather unfair.

But Griff looked back at his long spell with Hampshire with great satisfaction and it wasn’t long before Kent snapped him up.

Sadly, his injury woes continued and during his debut season, Griff only bowled 63 overs.

Then further seasons were hampered by tricep and back injuries, punctuated by more great moments.

A reliable ‘death’ bowler in the final overs of one-day games, Griff won the man of the match award for his 2-24 against Hampshire in a T20 game — a special moment, particularly as he bowled to renowned big hitters, Shahid Afridi and Daren Sammy.

Other highlights included a 4-22 against Middlesex in the NatWest Cup, plus 3-49 against New Zealand A.

In the County Championship, Griff took 6-63 for Kent against Gloucestershire.

Isle of Wight County Press: David Griffiths coaching.David Griffiths coaching.

After he retired from pro cricket, Griff was in-demand and became player-coach at Basingstoke and North Hants, who play in the Southern League Premier Division.

In all, Griff took 86 wickets for them.

Griff now lives in South Africa, where he is the assistant coach at the country’s top public school, Hilton College, near Martizburg.

During his career, he also played for Claremont, in Cape Town, and when coronavirus restrictions are lifted, Griff will marry his South African girlfriend.

Isle of Wight County Press: Griff in action for Claremont in Cape Town.Griff in action for Claremont in Cape Town.

Last year, he came back to the Island to play in a special memorial match at Shanklin to honour the life of his late stepfather, Dave Porter.

A few weeks after that game, Griff went to Australia to donate a kidney to his sister Emma. Luckily, it was a good match and she is now enjoying much improved health.

Griff’s success brought him 182 first class wickets.