Monday, March 19, 2007

Boyhood memories....

You know you must be getting on a bit when the people who were your boyhood sporting icons start dying off, and Bob Woolmer was one such. He wasn't the greatest batsman to play for England in the 1970s, but he was one of the first who truly impinged on my consciousness. His 149 against Australia in 1975 - in only his Second Test Match - was one of the stand-out innings of the era, and he went on to make two more centuries against the same opposition in the 1977 series.

Although never a big-hitter, there was a classiness about Woolmer's batting that was very easy on the eye, and by the time he defected to the Kerry Packer Circus in 1977-78, he had established himself as the Mr Dependable of the England team. I remember being devastated when he went and, as Christopher Martin-Jenkins noted in his incomparable Who's Who of Test Cricketers, whatever he gained financially from joining World Series Cricket, he lost in the momentum of his Test career.

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Anonymous said...

I was surprised that Woolmer only made 19 appearances for England, before being reminded that he defected to Kerry Packer.

Given that his contract with Pakistan was up after the World Cup, it was always likely that he would be replaced by Pakistan, unless they reached the final. That always looked a tall order, given the absence of Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif. So the manner of Pakistan's elimination is a surprise not the elimination itself.

It definitely puts the nonsense about Freddy into perspective.

Bill Haydon said...

Thanks for that post, Paul. It was shocking news and I immediately felt sorry for having a crack at him during Pakistan's tour here last year (if not on the blog then certainly at the radio!). The reason was, I suppose - I wanted him as England coach and really hoped he would take over after the WC. What a fine coach he was and cricket is much poorer for his loss.

By the way, Public Interest has a really good post up about Bob Woolmer.

Richard Bailey said...

All points about Woolmer appreciated, he was before my time but I have always known who he was.
I pity the Zimbabwe bowlers. An angry, hurt Inzy with a bat is probably to be avoided!!

As for that comment above ("It definitely puts the nonsense about Freddy into perspective") - what complete tosh.

Exactly what is it that connects the two issues apart from the fact that they entered the media arena on the same day.

Only apologists for Fred and his boorish, booze fuelled manner would claim such crap.

That we so much as considered giving the Captaincy to man who presents himself to the Queen pissed is intolerable. That he should continue any where near a position of authority after a 5-0 whitewash and the most spineless English series performance ever, is beyond reason.

The man is a drunk, a talented one perhaps, but a drunk all the same and I for one am thrilled that he has revealed his true colours and will never again presume to lead England in any context ever again.

He is the Prescott of cricket.

It is sink or swim time, Freddie, and apparently quite literally at that!

Anonymous said...

First of all I most declare an interest. I am a Lancashire supporter, and, in the good old days when I lived near Manchester I was an associate member of LCC. These days “trapped” in deepest Somerset I can look back with pleasure at the ‘good old days’ when I could watch a decent cricket team and not a joke. Although my son, who has been raised here, disagrees with me on the relative qualities of Somerset and Lancashire cricket.

Something I forgot to put in the my previous post about Woolmer and the Kerry Packer days was that it was great for England to be able to smash Australia, led by John Inverarity I seem to recall, back in late 1970’s. Inverarity was in all honesty an average player who would not get near the current Aussie side.
A lot has been mentioned about Bob Woolmer being at the forefront of cricket coaching, I seem to remember that he introduced the use of harden surfaces i.e. marble like areas on ‘a length’ in the nets: obviously he was a very creative coach.

With regard to Richard Bailey’s comments I can only assume they are intended as a complete ‘wind-up’. I only player in the Lancashire/Yorkshire leagues and at university college level, but RB is clearly a ‘pee taker’ or a cretin. Freddie presented “himself to the Queen pissed is intolerable”, best laugh I’ve had today.

The Daily Pundit said...

I'm with Richard Bailey on this one.

Paul Linford said...

"That we so much as considered giving the Captaincy to a man who presents himself to the Queen pissed is intolerable.

This also made me laugh, but I think I was laughing with Richard rather than at him.

Richard Bailey said...

You are clearly the apologist I had you down for, Bryan.

Happy for you to laugh at me or with me, but only a "cretin" would defend the worst England Captain since that other talented drunk, Botham.
I am perfectly happy for Northern boors to play the game, but not lead it.

We'll agree to differ on this one.

Anonymous said...

Two test series this summer, I suspect the Indians will prove to be trickier than the West Indians.
I hope the witch hunt continues and Freddy decides to spend more time with his family and plays a season for Lancs.
Perhaps then, along with Muralitharan, Lancs will have a team to win the County Championship regardless of all but the weather.

Anonymous said...

i saw him get his first 50 for Kent, in arather grey day at Maidstone. The first thing you noticed were the Cowdrey-isms, the angle of the cap, the lack of panic. It was a very promising debut indeed.
as the years went by, you often felt he was caught between the two stools of bowling and batting and maybe, he might have looked for bigger scores more often.

Later, after his earlier contemporaries began to retire and he himself became one of the most senior players, he had a tendency to fall into a Tavare stupor (no 300+ in a day for these chaps).

The questions, even about the few supposedly truthful elements of his death, continue to give so many of us great sadness. He was a decent man and he certainly didn't deserve a circus like this.

I read with sadnesss that Peter Marner, from Todmorden, if I recall correctly, has died. When I first saw Flintoff, I was reminded of PM, but Marner, like Flintoff was a man of his age.
Whereas Flintoff has lived through the age of indolence, of fast foods and general indiscipline leading to poor posture and an unblanced body, Marner's genration had grown up on rationed food, outdoor exercise and all manner of regimes aimed at keeping rumbustuous lads with mouth and swagger somewhere near the straight and narrow. That's why bowlers of that age could play every (county)game, throws from the boundary hit the top of the stumps and their bodies could enjoy a couple of pints with the members after a days' play without embarrassing everyone in the vicinity.

he had big shoulders and was a marvellous striker of the ball. Comparatively, where Flintoff is to Botham, Marner would be to (the great) Bill Alley.

he was certainly good entertainment value.