Bernard Julien: Left-arm prodigy

Monday 3rd October 2022

Men’s First Team

Bernard Julien: Left-arm prodigy

Black & bi-racial cricketers have made substantial contributions to Kent; in title-winning teams, & also captaining sides that live long in the memory of Kent Members and supporters.

Across October & in Black History Month, we will be celebrating the contributions of a select number of Kent Cricket’s black & bi-racial cricketers from the Club’s history.

Bernard Denis Julien

  • Born: 13.3.1950, Carennage Village, Trinidad
  • Right-handed bat, left-arm fast-medium/slow orthodox & wrist spin
  • Kent 1970-1977. Kent cap (no. 152) 1972
  • Educated: St Mary’s College, Port of Spain, Trinidad

Bernard Julien was an exciting stroke player & one of the most effective left-arm swing bowlers of his generation. He could also bowl left-arm wrist-spin or switch to orthodox left arm finger spin.

A versatile fielder, his party piece was to throw a ball from the far end of the Canterbury square over the pavilion without a preliminary run-up. Comparison with the incomparable Garfield Sobers was inevitable but Julien himself rejects the often touted notion that it affected his career.

Allowing for injuries sustained during his time at the county, his record for Kent is better than a casual glance at the figures suggests. He generally scored his runs quickly & usually when they were most needed.

As a bowler, 65% of his wickets in first-class matches for Kent (& 62 % in List A games) were batters in the top five. Over 17% of his wickets were opening batters dismissed for under 20.

His batting in county cricket was not helped by the fact that he seldom batted above eight or nine, three of four places lower than for West Indies. It is perhaps significant that he averaged over 30.00 in Test matches & that two of his three first-class centuries were for his country.

After playing for Trinidad Colts, Julien made his first-class debut for South Trinidad vs. North Trinidad in the Beaumont Cup shortly after his 18th birthday & in the following year made his first appearance in the Shell Shield.

In his third first-class matches, for South Trinidad in the Beaumont Cup, he scored 54 & took 7 for 63 including a hat-trick. By the 1969-1970 season he was a regular in the Trinidad & Tobago side & in March 1970 took 4 for 74 against the Duke of Norfolk’s touring side which included Colin Cowdrey, Mike Denness & Derek Underwood. By the start of the 1970 season he was on the Kent staff.

His first-class debut, against Cambridge University at Fenner’s was unremarkable but on his first Second Eleven appearance he took 6 for 22 vs. Hampshire at Bournemouth, including the wickets of Barry Richards for 12 & Gordon Greenidge, for seven & followed with 113 & 52 vs. Surrey Seconds at Norbury, 136 & 51 vs. the same opposition at Aylesford, 7 for 52 vs. Essex at Hadleigh & 5 for 19 vs. Sussex at Hove.

At the end of the season he had scored 1,011 runs (avge.33.70) & claimed 69 wickets (avge.23.52) in Second Xl matches plus another 420 runs & 24 wickets for the Club & Ground.

Although nominally on the Kent staff for eight years, Test calls in 1973 & 1976 plus a severe & recurrent ankle injury in 1974 restricted Julien to just four full or nearly full seasons.

Four times he exceeded 400 first-class runs & three times 40 first-class wickets (49 in 1972).

Like many overseas players he took time to adjust to English playing conditions but, given the new ball for the first time against Surrey at The Spitfire Ground in 1971, he took 4 for 46 followed by 4 for 49 vs. Somerset at Mote Park.

The highlight of his first season was 5 for 25 vs. Yorkshire at Canterbury in the Second Round of the Gillette Cup, which brought him the Player of the Match award. In the Final he was injured, batted number ten & was unable to bowl.

Next year, 3 for 24 from 11 overs against Sussex at Tunbridge Wells in the Benson & Hedges competition earned a Gold Award but his best effort was in the Championship. Against Northamptonshire at Dover he hit 59 & 90, the latter scored in 62 minutes during a fourth wicket partnership of 135 with an unwell Asif Iqbal (55*). Against Middlesex at Lord’s he took 5 for 57 & vs. Hampshire at Folkestone 5 for 104 & 4 for 77.

In 1973 he was selected for the West Indies touring team but played a few games for Kent before joining them, hitting 81* in 75 minutes against Cambridge University & 98 in 82 minutes at Northampton with 4 sixes & 16 fours, narrowly missing the fastest century of the season.

5 for 21 from 11 overs at The Oval won him his second Benson & Hedges Gold Award. At Lord’s in his third Test match he hit 121 from 127 balls, sharing an epic 155 run partnership in under two hours with his hero Gary Sobers (150*). In his next fixture Julien hit his second hundred – 127 vs. T.N.Pearce’s Eleven at Scarborough.

The ankle injury which restricted him to a handful of games in 1974 still troubled him in 1975 but, statistically at least, it was his best season – 451 runs (avge.30.06) & 40 wickets (avge.17.67).

Batting number nine against Hampshire at Southampton he scored 73* & promoted up the order later in the season he hit half-centuries vs. Surrey at The Oval & Nottinghamshire at Dover as well as 60 off 40 balls, 46 in boundaries, at Cardiff in the John Player League.

Against Somerset at Folkestone he took 5 for 55 with left-arm spin & in his quicker method 7 for 66 vs. Sussex at Hove, 6 for 60 vs. Middlesex at Lord’s & 4 for 27 vs. Yorkshire at Dartford. Touring with the West Indies in 1976 he had one of his best games at Canterbury – 62*, 35* 1 for 19 & in the second innings five of the first seven wickets to fall for 17 runs from 56 balls.

During Julien’s final season with Kent against Leicestershire, in the John Player League at Leicester, he hit 87 in a fifth- wicket partnership of 163 from 19 overs with Alan Ealham (83) & took 4 for 45 against Middlesex at Canterbury in the Gillette Cup.

In the County Championship he scored 55* in 54 minutes against Northants at Wantage Road as well as taking 4 for 42 vs. Middlesex at Dartford & 4 for 49 vs. Leicestershire at Maidstone.

Profile adapted from Derek Carlaw’s A to Z of Kent Cricketers