Former cricketers who could sell you something nice for Christmas this year. Back in the 1940s, you could have bought some Christmas sweets from one of the fastest bowlers ever. Larwood, famous for being the executor of Douglas Jardine’s Bodyline plan, bought the Victory Sweet Shop in Blackpool, a ten-minute walk from the seafront, for £5000 in 1946. For the best part of four years, the former fast-bowling terror sold boiled sweets, toffee, and chews out of glass jars; also, cigarettes, tobacco, soft drinks and greetings cards.
“I was with my family watching the auction and it was a thrilling experience. The auction and playing the IPL itself is a different experience for me. I did not expect this massive amount and I was just hoping to be picked at my base price of 20 lakh.”
The great Lance Gibbs looks back in laughter, and a little annoyance, at a life in cricket. If he is proud of his accomplishments and adopts a lordly air sometimes (he often refers to himself in the third person), he has reason to be. Gibbs was the first spinner to take more than 300 wickets. He was the second Test bowler to do so. If he is impatient with what he sees as sloppy bowling, it is because in his 79 Test matches, he bowled 27,115 balls with very few wides or no-balls. The records also show that he took 18 Test five-fors and that he conceded runs at just 1.98 per over.
Says former Australia fast bowler and Sussex coach Jason Gillespie: “They’ve got the ball used at each end in 50-over cricket because the quality of the Kookaburra is such that they can’t get it to last 50 overs. For administrators and lawmakers to have to change the laws of the game because of the inadequacy of the ball is unacceptable.”
To assume that a passion for the sport as a spectator or club player translates into a love of the lifestyle of a professional cricketer is naive. It fundamentally misses the point. More simply, I could not base such an important personal decision on the dreams of others. Playing cricket was no longer for me, and I wanted to do something else.
Twenty years ago, Abdul Qadir, still good enough to turn out for Pakistan, spent a summer playing club cricket in Melbourne. The few who saw him remember it like it was yesterday
“Before the match, (ace offie Erapalli) Prasanna told me to watch especially Rohan Kanhai, and see how he plays spin bowling. I took those words from Pras to heart, and learnt so much by watching Kanhai bat. The way he played spin bowling with his right hand loosening in defence, and just turning the ball round the corner, looking for a single, I was entranced. I started using that kind of technique. It took me time to get a hang of it, but it changed my approach towards playing spin. It was very, very educative. Even though I was playing abroad, to see this kind of batsmanship against high-class Indian spin was an unbelievable experience, a huge bonus for a youngster.”