LLOYD, CLIVE HUBERT
I have my own memories of Clive Lloyd. Lots of them. Fine memories of a distinguished, honest cricketer who has arguably provided more entertainment for Lancashire supporters than any other player. He has hit as hard and as far as any batsman I have seen; just a twirl of his bat and an entire bar is emptied. Nobody dozes, drinks, knits, pours the wine, attacks the crossword, when Lloyd bats. Without even scratching below the surface of my brain, I recall a 50-minute century at Nottingham, a World Cup final whirlwind of an innings, six sixes against Surrey shortly before a double cartilage operation, a massive blow at Nuneaton that cleared a benchful of supporters, a square cut six at Hove and a huge hit out of the Oval and across Harleyford Road.
My first sight of Lloyd was when he first came to this country as professional for Haslingden in the Lancashire League, a small mill town in the heart of industrial Lancashire. His Test career was underway with a series in India and a home series against England which included centuries at Port of Spain and Bridgetown. A good friend, Ian Brayshaw from Western Australia, was the backup professional and the clash of these two was too good to miss. Brayshaw was a well-above-average medium paced bowler he had taken ten for 44 against Victoria only a few months earlier but Lloyd savaged him. An auction barn at one side of the small Haslingden ground attracted Lloyd who lost quite a few balls in that direction. "You know, you're costing this club a hell of a lot of money," said the groundsman every time the ball failed to reappear.
Lloyd hit his third Test century that winter, (Australian summer), which included 100 between tea and the close of play at Brisbane. Real, vintage Lloyd. Yet depression set in with three and a half series, four and a half years and twenty-three Tests without a century. But at least the hundreds were coming for Lancashire.
I did not have the pleasure of seeing Lloyd's debut for Lancashire in 1968, his qualifying year when he could not play in the championship but was able to turn out against the Australians in a washed-out match which allowed time for just 70 overs and for Lloyd to get out for one. It also enabled Lloyd to play alongside Brian Statham for the only time in his career. But I did see the man make his championship debut in 1969, immediately after the end of the short West Indies tour here. The tour finished at Southampton and after the party, Lloyd made his way to Bristol for Lancashire's game with Gloucestershire. Lancashire won the toss and Lloyd, batting at number four, padded up. Opener David Lloyd laughed at him: "Have you no confidence in us?" he said. "You can get off to the pictures." Lloyd had scored 80 odd in the game at Southampton, was in good form, and determined to make his county debut one to be remembered. He scored nought and two!
He did not get a century that year but helped Lancashire win the new John Player League. I particularly remember the game that clinched the title, against Warwickshire at Nuneaton when Lloyd hit one or two massive blows on the small ground. The chrysanthemums and dahlias in the nearby back gardens are quite used to their yearly battering but one hit had everyone searching the sky for the dot of a ball. I remember a man had just reappeared from the bar with a pint in each hand and was just sitting on a bench when Lloyd let fly. Six men perched on the bench watched the ball soar and leaned back to watch the flight. Back and back they went until the bench toppled over and left them floundering like upturned turtles. The man with the beer clung to the glasses and got to his feet with a beaming smile. He had hardly spilled a drop.
When Lloyd's first century did arrive for Lancashire, in 1970, it was a little beauty. It was the second game of the season, at Dartford, and the houses at one end of the ground were so bombarded with sixes that a dear old lady called the police in an effort to stop it. The innings of 163 lasted only 145 minutes and included seven sixes. It seems that Derek Underwood, Kent's left-arm spinner, had boasted to teammate John Shepherd that he had a plan not only to restrict Lloyd's scoring shots, but to get him out. Every time the ball soared out of the ground off Underwood's bowling Shepherd, the West Indian all-rounder, would go up to him and say: "Is that the special ball you had for Clive?"
Lloyd brought joy into Lancashire cricket that year with 44 sixes, 25 of them in first-class matches. He hit another century at Oxford and his first at Old Trafford was 102 in two hours against Gloucestershire. The John Player League suited him down to the ground and his 134 not out against Somerset still Lancashire's top score in this competition took 94 minutes with four sixes. To make the season complete he also played for the Rest of the World in the series against England and got centuries at Trent Bridge and Edgbaston.
It was 1973 before Lloyd was hitting centuries for the West Indies again and it was in the middle of the 1970s that his attacking flair was seen at its best. One of several centuries for Lancashire in 1974 included one in 50 minutes and 50 balls in a Sunday game at Trent Bridge. Lloyd went into the last two balls of the innings against Nottinghamshire needing seven more runs. He hit the first for six and the last for a single. When I went into the dressing room Peter Lever told me to ask Lloyd why he had played for himself at the end. I duly asked Lloyd, from a decent distance, and he eyed me. "That guy Lever put you up to this, didn't he?" Lever broke into laughter from the far corner of the room.
Only three months later Lloyd was in Bangalore, hitting a Test century in 102 minutes against India. He went on to 163 with two sixes and 22 fours, an innings that is still the fastest century on record in West Indies Test matches. In that same series he achieved his highest score, 242 not out in a West Indies total of 604 at Bombay, an innings recalled by Indian batsman Sunil Gavaskar as "unforgettable". "He flogged the bowling about and twice hit Bedi deep into the Garware Stand." But it was 1975 that provided something special, a World Cup year, a brilliant summer in England, and six centuries for Lancashire, four of them in successive matches. Four of his hundreds were reached in 130 minutes or under and the slowest, against Hampshire at Liverpool, was barely over two and a half hours.
Lloyd's first century that year was against Surrey at the Oval when he scored 109 not out in 146 minutes and contained the biggest hit I have ever seen. The pitch had been laid towards the gasometers and Lloyd was at the Vauxhall end facing Robin Jackman who dropped one short. Jackman later claimed he had slipped, Lloyd said it was an attempted bouncer, but whatever it was Lloyd hooked it over the traffic in Harleyford Road and into the grounds alongside Archbishop Tenison School. David Lloyd, then Lancashire's captain, recalled,the shot in Clive Lloyd's testimonial brochure in 1977 - ``all of 140 yards (I measured it)'' he declared. A few minutes after the shot I went to the point where the ball had departed the ground and where one spectator was still in raptures about it. "I thought at first it was going to land in the seats," he said. "Then I thought it might hit me, but it just kept on going, over my head." He maintained the ball had cleared Harleyford Road and landed on the lawn between the school and Stoddart House. Some years later I asked the Oval groundsman, Harry Brind, about it. He had no doubts about it being the biggest hit at the ground in his years there and estimated it at 150 yards "easy" he said. From the wicket to the edge of the grass, he said, was 95 yards. "Work it out for yourself," he said. I did and reckoned another 40 yards to the railings on the other side of Harleyford Road and as it landed well beyond there, it seemed that 150 yards was about right, which must make it one of the longest hits ever. Certainly, of those I have asked who witnessed it, none has seen anything bigger. Clive himself rates it his biggest hit. "You know when you've hit a ball right from the moment it leaves the bat," he said. "I knew I'd got that one but even so I was surprised at the distance it went."
Lloyd's fastest century in 1975 came in 118 minutes against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge, but his most spectacular came in a freak of a game against Derbyshire at Buxton, his last before joining the West Indies team for the first World Cup. He scored 167 not out in 167 minutes, the last 67 runs coming in 37 minutes as he finished with eight sixes and 15 fours before Lancashire's innings closed at 477 for five on a lovely, sunny Saturday. It snowed the following Monday 2nd June! and Derbyshire were bowled out on the Tuesday for 42 and 87 to lose by an innings and 348 runs to Lancashire and an innings and 38 runs to Lloyd.
One of his finest innings ever came in the World Cup final when he scored 102 off 82 balls against Australia. He returned to Lancashire and in August hit 751 runs (average 107.28) with scores of 82 not out, 102,1,112, 44,135,100, 82 and 93 not out. His 102 was in 129 minutes against Warwickshire at Old Trafford, 112 in 169 minutes against Hampshire at Liverpool, 135 in 158 minutes against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge, and 100 in 127 minutes against Yorkshire at Headingley. That season he hit 44 sixes, 29 in the first-class game and eight in John Player League matches where he scored two centuries in 98 and 80 minutes. He went to Australia that winter and Western Australia suffered a few months later when Lloyd's century took only 78 minutes.
The heavy duty of the West Indies tour to England in 1976 was relieved by a brief visit to Torquay where Lloyd hit a ball into the railway station and another into a duck pond during his innings of 145 against the Minor Counties. More fun came at Swansea where Gilbert Jessop's seventy-three-year-old record of a double century in two hours was equalled against Glamorgan. There has been lots of mighty hitting at Swansea, several clouts into the surrounding roads or towards the Bristol Channel. Lloyd had seven sixes and 28 fours, reaching his century in 80 minutes and scoring his third 50 in 15 minutes and his fourth in 25.
Lloyd was having trouble with his knees about this time and operations were inevitable, coming in 1977 soon after one of his most stunning innings. Both knees were dicey and he shifted the weight from one to the other while hitting six sixes in a Gillette Cup match against Surrey at Old Trafford. I can still see the ball pinging its way around the pavilion. He was in such agony and his movement was so restricted that he went up and down the stairs from the dressing room one step at a time.
Another of Lloyd's centuries for Lancashire, against Glamorgan at Liverpool in 1978, took only an hour and a half, and a John Player hundred against Middlesex at Old Trafford in 1981 is still recalled by those lucky enough to witness it. Lancashire were 68 for two towards the 219 needed for victory and 87 for five when Jack Simmons joined Lloyd. Victory looked out of the question but Lloyd greeted Simmons by saying: "We can win this." Simmons contributed 24 to a stand of 94, simply giving the strike back to Lloyd who drove the fielders back to the b:oundary edge and then still drove the ball between or over them. Simmons recalled one six in particular, a flat powerful drive off Wayne Daniel that smacked into the sightscreen before long off and long on could move. Mike Brearley, the Middlesex caphin, was unable to control Lloyd who so finely timed the victory run-in that a boundary off the last ball gave Lancashire their three-wicket win.
Another single shot that is often recalled is a square cut at Hove which cannoned off the scorebox and bounced through the open window of one of the flats on the edge of the ground. The ball returned, so they say, draped in plant leaves, trailing ivy behind it.
Clive Lloyd it has been great fun watching you.
(Excerpt from "The Big Hitters", by Brian Bearshaw)