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Full name John Sullivan
Born February 5, 1945, Stalybridge, Cheshire
Died February 22, 2006 (aged 61 years 17 days)
Major teams Lancashire
Batting style Right-hand bat
Bowling style Right-arm medium
|List A span||1963-1976|
John Sullivan was a key member of the Lancashire side that won the first two John Player League competitions in 1969 and 1970 and three consecutive Gillette Cup finals between 1970 and 1972.
He joined Lancashire in 1961, making his first-class debut two years later when he was 18 in a match against Cambridge University. He played five County Championship games in 1963 but only one the following season as he struggled initially in a weak Lancashire side. He started to blossom first under the captaincy of Brian Statham from 1965 to 1967 and more particularly under Jack Bond for whom he was a regular in a settled team which for many seasons began: Wood Lloyd (D), Pilling, Lloyd (CH) and ended Simmons, Hughes, Lever and Shuttleworth. He was awarded his county cap in 1969 and in all played 154 first-class matches before his retirement from county cricket in 1976 although his averages of 20 with the bat and 29 with the ball do not do justice to his whole-hearted endeavour.
He was one of the first players for whom the term "bits and pieces cricketers" could have been invented because it was in one-day cricket that he demonstrated his true value. He made useful runs in the middle order and bowled his unremarkable medium-pace seamers with a parsimony that his captains valued highly. Above all he fielded brilliantly in a side that was full of outstanding fielders and a wicketkeeper who, in the person of Farokh Engineer, inspired by example. He featured in all the great games of that era - the three Lord's finals, the "David Hughes" 1971 semi-final victory over Gloucestershire, famously won at 8.50pm, and the 1970 win over Yorkshire which clinched the second John Player trophy. The last remains the only Lancashire game I have been locked out of. I had to travel back home on the bus in high dudgeon but soon recovered to watch on television as Sullivan and Pilling both made fifties to render Boycott's 81 meaningless and guide Lancashire to the most satisfying of Roses triumphs.
David Lloyd recalls Sullivan as an "impact player" - someone who could take two wickets or hit a powerful 30 to turn a game. In one John Player match against Leicestershire, when Lloyd had made a hard-fought 98, Sullivan came in and blasted 43 in 14 balls. These kinds of performances were always more valuable in one-day cricket than in the longer form of the game. He never managed a hundred in either form but he was the perfect squad member. He never sought the limelight and, playing in a team which included great players like Clive Lloyd and Engineer as well as local characters like Harry Pilling and Jack Simmons and England internationals like Frank Hayes, Peter Lever and David Lloyd, he was never going to get it.
Yet all of them knew that Lancashire's biggest weapon in those glory days was the strength of their team spirit and nobody embodied that spirit better than
Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff
Plays of the day from the third ODI between England and India at Trent Bridge