Sportsmail’s David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd may have just turned 75 but he’s still coming off his long run.
Here, he sits down with Richard Gibson to put the cricketing world to rights…
BACK IN MY DAY…
When I began my first-class career in 1965, the game was really sedate. It just meandered along. The one-day game had just been invented and the Gillette Cup was a couple of years old.
These matches were 65 overs each, mind you, and so although nothing moved fast, we still got 130 overs in. Which is why it grinds my gears when the pace of the modern game is glacial and teams don’t manage 90 on a day of Test cricket.
Over rates are ridiculous. That’s down to the players faffing around. Some batters stop for a drink before they’ve even faced a ball. Gloves are changed every four overs. I had one pair of gloves for two years. I would spit on ’em, get hold of the bat and get on with it.
Sportsmail columnist David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd has opened up about the cricketing world
In a chat with Sportsmail’s reporter Richard Gibson (L), he gave his views on England, Test cricket, The Hundred and leaving Sky Sports
Umpires need to clamp down. The only one I have seen do it is Sue Redfern in a women’s match last year. Someone tried to run on with gloves and she sent them off. Sue’ll do for me.
Get a move on! Goodness me, you’ve got me started now….
NO FIRST CLASS TRAVEL
Back then, players were paid next to nothing and something I’m thrilled about is that our modern equivalents earn proper money.
The Professional Cricketers’ Association started up soon after but the clubs hated it. If you were the rep you were reluctant for that to reach the committee for fear of being branded a trouble-maker and getting thrown out. You were almost working undercover to get your colleagues a decent life.
We used to travel up and down the country, representing the county of Lancashire, in battered, second-hand cars that were not roadworthy. Three and four to a car, kit chucked in. By the way, we are talking about international cricketers here, too.
Despite such status, we were never paid commensurately, we were just subservient to our employers and played each year for a contract the next. There was no security.
Lloyd admits it’s great to see cricketers earning proper money – in his days he admits players were ‘paid next to nothing’
Get picked up in IPL auctions and you can be paid astronomical amounts. It’s such a lucrative tournament and fantastic in terms of quality but it is doing untold damage to the rest of cricket.
The nature of people is to want more and so if India have a Premier League, Pakistan want one too, so do Australia, South Africa, everybody does. Slots then have to be found to play these and the same players at the IPL are in demand elsewhere for the rest of the year. Cricketers have become nomadic, moving from country to country to pick up their wages.
TESTS GONE IN 10 YEARS
And so at the age of 75, I worry for the first time about the future of Test match cricket. Why? Because I can’t see room for it given this saturated scheduling.
Where will they put it? There’s no room for Test cricket as we know it, and my guess is that in future we will only see the iconic series: like the Ashes, England v West Indies and England v India.
My theory is that Test cricket will become a bit like women’s international cricket where teams play series against each other in multi-formats — so many T20 internationals, a number of ODIs followed by a one-off Test at the end.
You can’t get away from the fact that in some parts of the world they are watching white-ball cricket over Test cricket. Also, consider what the broadcasters are paying for. They want to show grounds with bums on seats and so they’re going to push that way too. The change is going to happen quickly. I envisage it being within the next 10 years.
He has worries about the future of Test cricket – asking where it fits in with the hectic schedule
Times have changed, and the pace of life has changed. Take Lancashire as an example, we had loyal overseas players who became part of the club’s furniture and stayed for years. Clive Lloyd, Farokh Engineer and Wasim Akram all still have houses in Manchester. Their 2022 equivalents pop in for three to four weeks, not three to four years.
I don’t fear change but I want Tests to stay because there has to be a place for the discipline that Test cricket demands. If there is a concern for me, it is that young cricketers coming into the game — the latest wannabes — are only looking at becoming T20 players.
Already, someone who would make a fantastic Test cricketer in Liam Livingstone doesn’t play any four-day cricket because he is so in demand, so good at what he does in the shorter formats. He may reason that he will make a really good living — and he will, with deals of £1million-plus.
GET RID OF THE HUNDRED, HAVE A BLAST INSTEAD
The Hundred? Last year’s inaugural season was great fun and it was fantastic to see so many families having a ball in the stands. The bottom line, however, is that there is no place for it. This competition doesn’t fit. It’s an extra jigsaw puzzle piece in English cricket that we don’t need.
Nobody else in the world plays the format, it disrupts everything else we do, including the cherished County Championship and yet millions of pounds have been spent on it and broadcasters are falling over themselves for it because it’s short and fits both attention spans and schedules.
Well, let me tell you. We already have the product. It’s called the Twenty20 Blast. Its 20th season opens in two months, and we can confirm it’s stood the test of time.
The ECB have thrown money away by putting on the Hundred and should focus on T20 Blast, says Lloyd
He believes Blast is a perfectly good competition which has stood the test of time
The culmination of that, when Sid and Cynthia Stupid turn up to have a laugh at Edgbaston, is what it’s all about. It has been a privilege to be Dave Stupid. T20 finals day has given me some of the best days of work I’ve ever had.
Yes, I’ve hated the fact that I am still there at a quarter to 11 at night when I should be in the pub or in bed but a full-on day with furry squirrels, giraffes and Sid the Shark, the Eric Hollies Stand rocking for 12 hours without pause for breath… it’s the tournament to beat all tournaments for me.
Since a chap called Stuart Robertson invented T20s after the turn of the century, the Blast’s been like a runaway train and the standard remains as good as anything around the world. And the daftness appeals to English audiences.
Look at the Hundred. Celebrity coaches. Really? What can they do? What do they do? The ECB are throwing away money. Nobody is interested in who is in charge of the Doncaster Dipsticks.
WHERE ARE THE BATSMEN?
With the County Championship marginalised, it’s no coincidence that techniques are coming under such scrutiny.
I’m old school and believe that young players will learn the game at their counties, experiencing the rigours its different conditions, pitches and opponents provide.
For young players to improve, though, you have to play county cricket no earlier than May, play three divisions, keep all 18 counties and have a one-up, one-down competition over the summer.
Concern with technique comes back to players not being developed properly because of the prevalence of white-ball cricket.
The County Championship lets cricketers learn how to defend. The greatest batsmen that have played the game had one thing in common. Yes, they could hit a ball but they could also defend one.
Bumble slammed England’s batting standards – saying players aren’t being developed enough
I will give you some names: Viv Richards, Martin Crowe, Kevin Pietersen, Brian Lara, Virat Kohli. You associate all with expansive stroke-play. But they only took that route when the situation dictated. If they sensed a time to take stock and absorb good bowling, they could. All the great players of this game have been able to change gears like that.
One area cricket has improved is in its athleticism. In days gone by, it could accommodate players of different sizes and shapes. There was room for Colin Cowdrey and Colin Milburn, who was nicknamed Ollie because of his resemblance to Oliver Hardy.
They wouldn’t be accommodated these days. Those types of figures would be exposed because diving on the boundary when fielding is now a must, as is running an extra run between the wickets or keeping your opponents down to a single instead of a two.
You have to be fit and that brings us to another Ollie in England’s Ollie Robinson. As a bowler, he is a fantastic find. He has the attributes to make him a fine Test player, if only he can get fitter. There are no excuses for him. He has to be able to sustain the same level of performance at 5 o’clock in the evening, as 11 o’clock in the morning. He owes it to himself and his team to get himself in the best possible shape.
TO ABSENT OLD FRIENDS
The longevity of Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad has been exceptional and it has certainly helped that England’s premier Test bowlers have played a reduced amount of one-day cricket as it reduced the wear and tear on their bodies.
Should they have gone to West Indies? I wasn’t as bothered about Anderson, if truth be told, because he had to do so much bowling in Australia due to the inability of this England team to bat.
I would have kept him at home ready for the 2022 summer and let him have a real burst against New Zealand and South Africa. I would have seen this as time for him to rest and recuperate.
Unfortunately, when he should have had his feet up watching England score 400 in December and January, he was strapping his pads on and walking out to bat.
He backed the decision to leave Jimmy Anderson out of the West Indies tour, but would have taken Stuart Broad (R) if he was in charge
Broad would have been an ideal bowler in the Caribbean. Tall, hits the pitch, loads of experience.
Back in the 1997–98 series, Angus Fraser was not in the original squad but I used my position as England coach to get him on. My argument was that even if he didn’t play, his know-how made him valuable to the squad. To have him among inexperienced bowlers, even if he didn’t make the XI, would prove a benefit. Deep down, I knew he would play.
The argument against him was that he had lost his pace and was only just above medium. But he was deadly accurate, quick enough and hit the seam.
Right now, Broad falls into a similar category and look at what happened the last time England left him out at Barbados!
IT’S GOODBYE FROM ME…
My race has been run with Sky and there will be certain things I will miss after being involved in commentary across five decades. Having fun and just being myself for a start.
I know I’ve gone to the edge at times, and used to be encouraged to do so. Our coverage used to be rock and roll, we were told to take risks. Now they have clawed things right back and it’s absolutely taboo to say anything that can be misinterpreted. There can be no innuendo. One word out of place now and you will spend your life apologising for it.
Therefore, it makes me chuckle that Andrew Strauss was knighted for calling Kevin Pieterson a c*** on air a decade ago, and now gets to select the England team!
Bumble retired as a Sky Sports commentator after 22 years and says he will miss ‘having fun and being myself’
And I will miss the singalongs. Sweet Caroline has been played regularly at Boston Red Sox baseball games since the late 1990s and it became a bit of a signature of mine when it was played over the Tannoy at Edgbaston one Twenty20 finals day. It’s in my key and so I just joined in. Soon, the crowd started doing it and that was that. It’s stuck. We also did a mean Hey Jude, and that always reminds me of my old Lancashire opening partner Barry Wood.
On one away trip to Glamorgan, we were invited to a benefit night for Eifion Jones, brother of one-cap England batter Alan Jones. It was in a working men’s club in Pontarddulais, home of the world-renowned male voice choir.
During a break, Wood, a very confident Yorkshireman, stood up and told them he could sing too.
Some batters pride themselves on emptying bars. Woody did it by getting up on stage and paralysing a Beatles classic.
He admits he has ‘gone to the edge’ with his words but has become accustomed to ‘rock and roll’ coverage and ‘taking risks’
I played a lot with him. Great man, nicknamed Sawdust. No need to explain, I trust. Well, during the 70s, we still played on uncovered pictures and whenever bowlers were slipping about in their run-ups or when landing on the crease, out would go the shout to bring out the bag from the groundsman’s shed.
On more than one occasion, he ran on to the field to shouts of: ‘Not you. Wrong Sawdust!’
Yes, it was a serious game but there were always laughs to be had. Take an away match against Middlesex at Lord’s, for example when Mike Brearley, one of England’s most revered captains, stopped a Championship match after half an hour.
There he was on the balcony, waving a piece of paper about. ‘You’ve got 12 players on,’ he shouted down to his opposite number Jack Bond. Brearley was a fine tactician. Great motivator. Unfortunately for us, he could also count.
Three slips, backward point, third man…. ‘Oh, sorry,’ John Sullivan said, when he realised he was the imposter and left the field. There’d be a disciplinary commission if that happened now. We just chuckled and got on with things.