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On working in a fish-and-chip shop, idolising a coalmine worker
February 3, 2008
I started playing cricket when I was eight or nine years old. I used to work in my uncle's fish-and-chip shop near Liverpool at the time. As I wrapped the food up in newspaper, I used to read headlines about Harold Larwood doing this and that. Gradually, he grew to be a sort of obsession with me - particularly since Don Bradman was dominating the English bowlers and England at that stage were refusing to have Larwood, who had been drummed out of the side after the 1932-33 series. This despite the fact that Larwood had topped the first-class averages for a number of years.
People ask me who I think is the best allrounder that ever played, and I say without a shadow of a doubt: "Keith Miller". Garry Sobers was an absolutely magnificent allrounder and there has never been another like him, but Miller could transform a match in the space of an hour. Larwood had the same ability: he could make a game out of something that looked as if it was dead. That was heroic stuff to me.
As a person, he was very humble. When I met him for the first time, in 1954, I wondered how a man that small could bowl that fast. George Duckworth and I had gone to Larwood's house in Sydney. We took a few bottles of beer along and we chatted about various things. He said one thing I always treasured: that he thought he was very like myself in my attitude towards bowling, which was to try and bowl as fast as you possibly could.
As told to Nagraj Gollapudi
© Cricinfo Magazine
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