Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Return of the Bookhugger!

My so-called 'regular column' is back, as trailered, and another one will follow hard upon at some point this month, inspired by Jonathan Powell's excellent The New Machiavelli.
Just to elaborate on a point left hanging in the column, to do with batting technique. If my admiration for Kim Hughes and his style at the crease had carried over analogously to the England First XI of the time c. late 1970s-early 1980s, then my hero ought to have been David Gower, similarly blond of curl and insouciantly ready to show off his range of shots. And yet Gower always looked a bit too enamoured of himself, not even terribly bothered when dismissed. He seemed to think he was taken care of in this world, and sure enough he was proven right.
No, the man for me was Nottinghamshire's Derek Randall, whose international career was as supported by his fielding brilliance just as Mike Brearley's was by his captaining skills. Randall was a batsman of fidgety and erratic brilliance, a cheerful/'daft' fellow by repute (as in the photo, doffing his cap to Dennis Lillee after a bouncer - a trick Kim Hughes might have tried.) But Randall was also somewhat neurotic in habits and superstitions, always likely to drive his fans into anxieties of their own. He seemed to play entirely on instinct and confidence. When these were there, runs flowed. When absent... well, his feet could be leaden at the crease, and he was out leg-before without score probably more often than any other England batsman in history.
I'll remember and cherish him always, though, as below:

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