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February 2009
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My Favourite Cricketer: Andy Lloyd

February 20th, 2009 by TWC in My favourite cricketer reader Steve Jones is the fifth winner of our My Favourite Cricketer competition for his entry on Warwickshire batsman Andy Lloyd

Andy Lloyd never had much luck. In fact, my A level Physics exam encompassed the whole of his Test career. Just after noon, I raced home to see how my hero’s first Test was going. On seeing that Andy was 10* retired hurt, I felt a sense of relief. At least he’s not out, I thought.

Down, but not out. It soon transpired that Andy wouldn’t be returning that afternoon, or even that summer. He had stooped into a short ball from Malcolm Marshall, and was struck on the temple, permanently affecting his vision. At least he has an average of infinity, I tried to comfort myself.

Andy’s next game was nearly a year later, and he returned in style – bravely scoring 150 for Warwickshire on the same Edgbaston pitch where he had been poleaxed the previous June. However, the England opportunity had gone forever (Lloyd remains the only Test match opening batsman never to have been dismissed).

He had first come to my notice in a televised Sunday League game in the late 70s - an appearance unfortunately notable solely for a dropped dolly.

By 1980, he was an established member of the team that claimed the John Player League title. The next few years were painful for Warwickshire supporters as our weak and ageing attack, and a lack of athleticism in the field saw mammoth totals from Lloyd, Kallicharran, Amiss, Humpage and the Smith brothers frequently exceeded by the opposition.

Two years went by without a Championship win. Embarrassing performances in two one-day finals did little to alleviate the pain, and when 44-year-old Norman Gifford was appointed captain following the retirement of Bob Willis, there seemed little hope of an exciting future. At least Andy was appointed vice-captain, and the seeds of the following decade’s triumphs were being sown.

He succeeded Gifford as captain in 1988, and a young, exciting team began to emerge. Warwickshire reached Lord’s in 1989 after slaughtering Worcestershire in a semi-final at a packed Edgbaston. Champions Worcestershire’s superstars were skittled by an attack featuring Donald, Small, Reeve, Munton and the Smiths. Suddenly, this was a very different Warwickshire.

Far from the capitulation of the two previous finals, a fearless young side overcame Mike Gatting’s Middlesex, with Neil Smith’s last-over six becoming part of Warwickshire folklore. Fairground Attraction’s ‘Perfect’ boomed out of the Warwickshire dressing room, aptly encapsulating Andy’s finest hour.

Two years later, Warwickshire were runaway leaders in the County Championship as the season entered September, yet poor weather and some ‘freak’ Essex victories would conspire to deny Andy and Warwickshire at the final hurdle.

At the end of 1992, injuries forced Andy into retirement, where he combined radio punditry and corporate hospitality with serving Warwickshire. His pride in Warwickshire’s dominance over the next three years, with six trophies and two runners-up places, must have been tempered by a longing for greater involvement, but compensated by the knowledge that he had left a wonderful legacy.

Andy became chairman of Warwickshire’s Cricket Committee in 2000, again presiding over an era of sustained progress. The last ever Benson and Hedges Cup was claimed in 2002, followed by the undefeated Bears Championship success in 2004.

However Andy’s bad luck was to strike again, as bankruptcy forced him to resign as chairman of the cricket committee in 2004.

It seemed a fitting end to a career dogged by misfortune.

Steve Jones 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 | 1 Comment »

The Weekend read: Pommies – English cricket through an Australian Lens

February 20th, 2009 by TWC in Miscellaneous

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

What is it?
Pommies: English cricket through an Australian Lens by William Buckland (Troubador Publishing, £15)

What’s it all about then?
A scathing attack on the structure of English cricket.

What did we give it?

What did we say?
Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack has been the guardian of the English game for 145 years but, it seems, even that venerable tome can get too close to its subject to see the wood for the trees. “Startling” was how Scyld Berry, this 2008 editor, described the points raised by William Buckland, a 41-year-old management consultant and England fan, in his remarkable new book Pommies – so startling, in fact, that he invited the author to join him in the pulpit by quoting him at length in this year’s Notes by the Editor.

The basic premise is this: English cricket is run by and for the exclusive gratification of the 18 first-class counties. They cream off most of the game’s profit in subsidies and force the elite to risk injury and burn-out by playing almost non-stop to fund them. In return the counties provide neither international-standard cricketers to replace the exhausted stars, nor sufficient affordable access for the next generation of spectators – leading to situations such as occurred in the 2005 Ashes, when 10,000 fans were locked out of Old Trafford on the final day of the Test, because there are no grounds in the country large enough to satisfy a support-base that exists in spite of the status quo.

The book requires no over-egging on the part of the author to reveal a game in hazardous and desperate decline. For large tracts Buckland does nothing more than join the dots, from one tale of bankrupt decision-making to the next, but he does so with such clarity of thought that, at times, you’ll grind your teeth at the ineptitude of England’s rulers.

Each point has been raised on more than one occasion in the past – usually just after England’s latest drubbing by Australia. But rarely have all the gripes been stitched together so analytically to form such a bleak tapestry. Viewing the situation from the perspective of England’s most regular conquerors, and taking as his starting point the schism of World Series Cricket in 1977, Buckland argues that England is long overdue a Packer-style revolution of its own. Not least because it would end once and for all the amateurish fallacy that success in sport is cyclical.

If the book consisted only of the first two chapters it would still be worth its £15 cover price.

Andrew Miller, June 2008

What did they say?
“Should be compulsory reading for everyone in cricket.” Simon Barnes, The Times.

“Opinions on English cricket are varied and often prejudiced. This well-researched book fills an important gap.” Mike Atherton.

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 | 2 Comments »

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