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My Favourite Cricketer: Frank Hayes

February 13th, 2009 by TWC in My favourite cricketer reader Paul Eade is the fourth winner of our My Favourite Cricketer competition for his entry on Lancashire batsman Frank Hayes

Frank Hayes was destined to be my favourite cricketer. In 1973, I discovered cricket. Hayes was the man who stood out from the crowd.

Nowadays, a player of his appearance would not get a second glance: Hayes had long blond hair. His favourite band was Pentangle. Hardly revolutionary stuff but this was several years before any English cricketer even dared sport an earring, yet alone a green Mohican.

Sure, some of the England team of 1973 looked worthy of worship - but only in a square-jawed-World-War-Two-RAF-pilot way. I needed a favourite with a touch of rebellion about him. Then I discovered that Hayes played for Lancashire, who, with me being born and living in Scarborough, were supposed to be “the enemy”. It had to be Hayes.

Hayes made 106 not out on his Test debut against the West Indies at The Oval that summer. My abiding memory is of him standing - capless of course - at solitary slip on the sun-bleached Lord’s turf while Rohan Kanhai, Garry Sobers and Bernard Julien batted for what seemed like a week (it was actually less than two days but they did make 652).

What followed taught me plenty: I had to come to terms with frequent disappointment and frustration.

He was an automatic choice for the 1973-74 tour to the West Indies. It wasn’t a happy experience. Nevertheless, England, against all the odds, squared the series by 26 runs in the fifth Test at Port-of-Spain, mainly thanks to Tony Greig’s 13 wickets in the match. Hayes made 24 and 0 but the figures do not tell the whole story. His first innings score was made over two hours while almost passing out from a chronic stomach complaint.

Surely, Hayes had done enough to warrant selection against India the following summer. And when he stroked a career-best 187 against the tourists at Old Trafford he was a shoo-in for the first Test, on his home ground. No. To rub salt into the wound, England’s batsman scored at will against a terribly weak Indian attack.

But there was one bright spot. By 1974 my parents trusted me enough to go to the cricket at Scarborough on my own. Lancashire were one of the visitors to the Festival. I didn’t own an autograph book – just a blank page headed “Autographs” in a cricket magazine. Behind the pavilion at Scarborough a staircase led to the club offices - a prime place to catch the players on their own. I was there at 10am - just me and one other kid. Footsteps on the stairs. It was Hayes. I was speechless and just able to summon enough movement in my arms to hold out my page like a silent offering. Hayes signed for me and the kid. He didn’t sign another all day. I still have the signature, cut out and pasted into my autograph book.

Overlooked for the Ashes in 1975, Hayes got one last England chance against the ferocious West Indies pace attack of 1976. He made nought and 18 in a mauling at Old Trafford before moving on to the fourth Test at Headingley - for which I had tickets for the fourth day. The scheduling went to plan. Hayes, made seven in the first innings, came out to bat in the second innings with the score at 5 for 1 as England chased 260 to get back into the series. He struggled helplessly for 10 balls before Viv Richards caught him off Andy Roberts for a duck. “That’s the end of his Test career,” was all I could whisper to my friend. England lost by 55 runs and the rest of the summer was a write-off.

His county career burned on for another nine years, with three seasons as Lancashire captain. The highlight came when he hit Malcolm Nash for 34 off an over (6, 4, 6, 6, 6, 6) against Glamorgan at Swansea in 1977. In a way, that summed up Hayes. It was explosive batting – but with one more six he would be remembered as the man who matched Sobers.

Paul Eade, captain of Guttsta Wicked Cricket Club in Sweden, wins a year’s free subscription to The Wisden Cricketer

To enter submit no more than 600 words on your favourite cricketer to [email protected], subject line ‘favourite’

Posted in My favourite cricketer | 4 Comments »

The Weekend Read: Duncan Fletcher – Behind The Shades

February 13th, 2009 by TWC in Miscellaneous and tagged , ,

Every Friday we’ll be picking a classic cricket book that has been reviewed in TWC to help you pass the weekend. Make your recommendations in the comments below.

What is it?
Behind The Shades by Duncan Fletcher (Simon & Schuster, 364pp, £7.99)

What’s it all about then?
The former England Coach’s controversial autobiography.

What did we give it?

What did we say?
Critics? Don’t even ignore ’em. Thus spoke Sam Goldwyn and long before the end of Duncan Fletcher’s aggrieved autobiography there was a feeling that the former England coach, for his own sake, would have done well to heed the legendary Hollywood producer’s advice.

In at least one post-publication interview Fletcher has hinted that he regrets the extent to which the book settles scores but anyone reading it will be delighted that he has refused to hold back. Easy-going man takes criticism in his stride does not good copy make. Pumped-up man confronts Henry Blofeld in a restaurant and is told to eff-off in return is the kind of juicy material that a typically bland sporting memoir will simply not accommodate.

What really caused a stir is Fletcher’s so-called “betrayal” of Andrew Flintoff in recounting an incident during the one-day series that followed England’s Ashes debacle last winter in which the England captain turned up for practice too drunk to take part.

Should Fletcher have exposed Flintoff to the world, even now that his ties with England are cut? Limited though my sympathy for Flintoff is, my feeling is probably no. It is the job of us hacks to dish the dirt, not insiders or such new ex-insiders. Nor is its inclusion justified by the pedalo incident in the World Cup that followed.

Reading about Flintoff’s drunkenness in the context of the rest of the book, it seems pretty obvious why Fletcher could not resist having his say – and that is Freddie’s choice of drinking companion. The man with whom Fletcher says Flintoff had been up all night boozing was, surprise, surprise, Ian Botham, whose tendency to pour scorn on Fletcher never failed to rile him. Indeed, it is hard to think of two personalities less likely to be in harmony than the cerebral, rather uptight coach and the boorish roisterer.

It is not just Botham who gets up Fletcher’s nose. Neither Geoff Boycott nor Sunil Gavaskar exactly endeared themselves to him. The ICC gets it in the neck and pretty much the entire media corps is dismissed for its repeated failure to look at what Fletcher calls “the facts”. Fletcher loves detail – in a previous life he helped develop the Rhodesian/Zimbabwean number-plate system – but reveals that he is even prouder of a financial document he redesigned for a medical aid society. But his recourse to a statistic to prove a point can be a failure to see the bigger picture.

The trouble is that Fletcher cannot bear to lose an argument and he clearly found it impossible not to read what the pundits were saying. To turn one’s back on them takes a lot of strength and as an outsider in the English game – perhaps looking for reassurance and acceptance, certainly sensitive to any sign of being undervalued – Fletcher may not have had quite enough of it. But let us not forget that this is the man who masterminded England’s 2005 Ashes victory and for that alone he deserves his place in the pantheon.
Simon O’Hagan, January 2008

What did they say?
‘In this always fascinating book Fletcher emerges fully into the open for the first time. It is soon obvious that he was far more thin-skinned than anybody realised. Throughout his seven years as coach Fletcher was forced to take constant incoming fire from critics in the media and elsewhere. The England coach seems to have remembered and stored up every single insult. Much of the pleasure of reading this book is the spectacle of Fletcher’s long-delayed revenge.’ Peter Oborne, The Spectator

Someone must have hated it?
‘But something jars. The book lives up to its title - we are certainly given an insight into a previously mysterious man - but it has an underlying seam of bitterness and resentment which, for someone who has achieved so much, is a disappointment and a little sad. Chapters are sprinkled with insistences that the reader “must understand”; that the media twisted his words and cheated the truth; that he is right and everyone else is wrong. If he never cared about the media during his tenure, why bother now?’
Will Luke (who still gave it 4/5),

Why not tell us what your favourite cricket book is, or which book you’d like to see in ‘The weekend read’ in the comments below …

Posted in Miscellaneous | No Comments »

Vote for England’s greatest post-war uncapped team

February 13th, 2009 by Daniel Brigham in Miscellaneous

My brother used to bowl to Essex’s and England’s Paul Prichard. My brother was just 14, Prichard was 10, it was in my parents’ back garden and Prichard, in reality, was me. As an Essex fan I could have pretended to be Gooch, Hussain or Mark Waugh. But every time I took guard to face my brother I was Prichard.

He never did play for England, and, in my mind at least, England were weaker for it. You’ll probably disagree with me. But all cricket fans have similar stories of bristling at the England selectors for overlooking their favourite players, so we’ve given you the chance to right the wrongs and vote for England greatest post-war uncapped XI.

A panel of experts has picked their team from a shortlist of 65, and you can select yours from the same shortlist by clicking here. There’s even a chance to win a hospitality day at the Friend’s Provident final at Lord’s on July 25. It includes a complimentary bar, so get picking – the closing date is March 23. The results will be announced in April.

After you’ve picked your team, get arguing about it on this blog. Was Glamorgan’s Don Shepherd really the unluckiest cricketer in Britain? Is Alec Bedser the only one to think his brother Eric should have won a Test cap? Are some counties favoured by England selectors over others? Am I slightly unhinged for obsessing over Paul Prichard when he doesn’t even make the shortlist?

Feel free to list your team on this blog, but don’t forget to submit your team to [email protected] or it won’t be counted.

To get things started, here’s my team: (Sorry Paul, you’re not on the shortlist)

Alan Jones (Glamorgan)

Andy Moles (Warwickshire)

Peter Roebuck CAPT (Somerset)

David Sales (Northants)

Ali Brown (Surrey, Nottinghamshire)

Geoff Humpage WK (Warwickshire)

Trevor Jesty (Hampshire, Lancashire, Surrey)

Glen Chapple (Lancashire)

David Millns (Leicestershire)

Tony Nicholson (Yorkshire)

Don Shepherd (Glamorgan)

Would that beat the current England team? Yes.

Daniel Brigham is assistant editor of The Wisden Cricketer

Posted in Miscellaneous | 1 Comment »

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