David Lloyd November 19, 2010

'Where I come from, if someone kicks you once you kick 'em twice'

The former batsman, umpire, coach and now commentator answers readers' questions on bowlers who frightened him, being diplomatic, England's dry run in the 80s and 90s, and more

David Lloyd has done everything in cricket: debuting for Lancashire in 1965 as a spinner, he ended up playing nine Tests as an opening bat for England, hitting a double-century against India in his second game, in 1974. Six months after that, Lloyd played his last Test, one of many casualties of England's 4-1 Ashes trouncing down under by Lillee and Thomson's Australia. The left-handed Lloyd was a key part of the Lancashire side that dominated English one-day cricket in the early 70s, winning the first two Sunday Leagues (1969 and 1970) and three Gillette Cups in a row from 1970. By the time he played his last game, in 1985, he had made nearly 27,000 runs all told in a 21-season career.

In retirement Lloyd turned first to umpiring and then to coaching, first with Lancashire before being rapidly promoted, to the England job. He was in charge of the national team between 1996 and 1999 before retreating to the Sky gantry. His time as England coach was mixed. Using specialist coaches alongside his own Churchillian approach to team talks, Lloyd's tenure laid foundations for the future: the win over South Africa in 1998 was England's first in a major series for 11 years and the side was at least competitive despite losing the Ashes 3-1 the following winter. But failing to win a game on tour in Zimbabwe in 1996 and the debacle of the 1999 World Cup exit cast a shadow.

Steeped in cricket and always entertaining, in his decade with Sky, Bumble has become the natural heir to Dickie Bird as cricket's No. 1 maverick national treasure, and this month he embarks on a national theatre tour to meet his public. There's plenty of them: at last count he had over 90,000 followers on his Twitter account.

When you retired as a player, did you think you would be an umpire for the rest of your career? asked Daniel Mitchell
No. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a good time in my life. But I probably knew I would go into coaching because I'd done lots of coaching badges. But when I was an umpire my ambition was to be an international umpire - and if I'd got that far, I would maybe still have been doing that, I don't know.

Who first called you Bumble? asked Andrew Grigg
John Sullivan, who was at Lancashire in the 60s. He gave me the nickname because I looked like one of the characters on Michael Bentine's show, the Bumblies that was very much like The Simpsons.

When was the first time you spoke in public? asked Mike Alderson
It would be when I was captain of Lancashire, mid-70s. I'd have a good guess at it being Liverpool Cricket Club. I think I just had to introduce the team and told a couple of anecdotes about each one. Someone in the audience said they'd like to book me to speak at a function and I said, "No, I don't do any of that." But it moved on from there...

Do you think you should you have played more times for England? asked Catherine Watson
[Emphatically] No! I came back [into the one-day side] in 1980 and I should never have been picked. Botham was captain and you know how bad a captain he was - he chose me to play in that game. He must have been mad. I couldn't see, for a start. I mean, I could see all right for county cricket but he brought me back against West Indies. And there was no chance of seeing them.

"Botham was captain and you know how bad a captain he was - he chose me to play in that game. He must have been mad. I couldn't see, for a start"

Has anyone been as frightening to watch or play against as Jeff Thomson was on that 1974-75 Ashes tour? asked Gordon Foulds
One I played with who was ferocious was Colin Croft - and against, Sylvester Clarke [of Surrey]. He was frightening. Both nasty on the field. They didn't like cricket, I think, basically. They thought the faster we can get this bloke out or kill him, the quicker I can get off.

[SPIN: Did Croft go out to hurt people?]
Well, I hope all fast bowlers go out to hurt people. That's part of the make-up: "I'm gonna hurt you, you're not going to bat". Having a ruthless streak is part of it. We had Malcolm Marshall come to Lancashire as a specialist bowling coach once and he said to the fast bowlers: "The first thing you do is break the spin bowlers' hands."

Who had the best one-day team in the 1970s: Kent or Lancashire? asked Grant Adams
There's only one winner there! Bloody hell! (Actually, Kent won six titles in five years and Lancashire won six in seven. But still.) They were good, Kent were a good side. But we kept having to go down to London to play in finals. It were bloody costly to keep going down there to play! You had to pay for your wife… you got a bob or two but you'd spend more than that. I don't think we got a share of the prize money…

Ian Austin opened the bowling for England in the 1999 World Cup. When you were England coach, were you biased towards Lancashire players? asked Nicole Bennett
[Emphatically] No. In Austin's case we canvassed every opening batsman in county cricket and asked them who were the two most difficult bowlers to play against and they said Chris Lewis and Ian Austin.

Andy Flower's set-up is very different to yours: could you be England coach now or would it not suit your style? asked Gavin Cochrane
Central contracts are the be-all and end-all. That's what made England a competent team. Andy Flower is a wonderful bloke, he has a wonderful team. His management set-up is perfect and he has a world-class team, a cracking team. We suggested central contracts when I was coach, then Duncan Fletcher took them on and now Andy is getting the full benefit of it.

Is it true that being given a Fall CD changed your musical taste for good? Who gave you the CD and what were you listening to before? Simon Waite
Paul King, who is executive producer of Sky cricket, gave me the Fall CD. And he said, "You'll either get this or you won't", and I got it immediately. But I'm still into the Rolling Stones. You're either the Stones or the Beatles… and I'm the Stones. I mean, I like Sinatra, I think he's terrific, but I'm a bit more punk rock.

What has been your greatest achievement in cricket? asked Elise Carling
Beating South Africa, when I was England coach in 1998. They were a hell of a side: Cronje, Klusener, Pollock and Donald opening the bowling. They were a good set of lads and a bloody good side. They had a team and a half.

Why did England go 11 years without a major series win in the 1980s and 1990s? asked Peter MacKenzie
Well, we were playing fewer major series for one thing: we were just embarking on split tours - an odd game here and two Tests there - I remember in '96 we were just getting our teeth into what would now be a fantastic series against India, but it was over after three matches. We won that 1-0, then Waqar and Wasim's Pakistan came with a great side and beat us 2-0 and we beat them 2-1 in the one-dayers. The ultimate in that came straight after that South Africa series: we'd given everything to beat them 2-1 and then they stuck a single Test against Sri Lanka at The Oval onto the end. You might as well have played on Galle beach. We just gave Murali a pitch that he wanted. I was up in arms about that. He took 16 wickets and it was just like an exhibition: "Look at these lovely chaps." They turned us over good and proper.

Did you find it hard to keep schtum and be diplomatic when you were England coach? asked Corinne Bellamy
I wouldn't do it. I wouldn't tow any diplomatic line. If that's what they wanted when they employed me, then they had the wrong bloke. I come from an area where if someone kicks you once you kick 'em twice. So it wasn't difficult for me! I wouldn't change it. I wouldn't be anything different. I assumed they knew what they were getting.

Was that 1974-75 Ashes tour England's nadir during your whole time following of being involved with or following the England team? asked Alex Everitt
The result was terrible, but as a tour it was enjoyable... I'd never been out of England before. I come from a rough area. We didn't go abroad. I didn't come from Weybridge or Maidenhead, I came from Accrington! And there were plenty more on the trip who'd never been out of England. I know Ken Shuttleworth, who went in 1971, had never been out of England...

How much have you grown into your role at Sky? How "cast" is it? Don't you wish you could play the grumpy old man sometimes? asked Ben Markham
No, no, they pay for what they get and I ain't changing. I like a bit of fun, I enjoy myself - but I can be serious and fight my corner. There's no casting. But there are plenty of times where they despair and they've got their heads in their hands!

Who is the funniest man in cricket? asked Alex Kemp
The man who I think is fantastic - in fact, he's on my ringtone - is Bill Lawry. "Got him!" I think he's fabulous. Just the enthusiasm… he's well into his 70s and his patriotism, his love of the game and his enthusiasm is fantastic. He was a dour player, a very dour player. But as a commentator he brings it all alive. But my all-time broadcasting hero is Fred Trueman. He was the first northern voice on commentary, as far as I can remember. The first one who didn't speak like Mr Cholmondeley-Warner.

Lancashire won the first two 40-over Sunday Leagues, in 1969 and 1970. Was that tournament the Twenty20 of its day: half of cricket people saying it will save the game and half saying it will kill it? asked Richard Moss
Yeah, it's a great comparison. John Player cricket came in because the rest of it was completely on its arse. Playing a Sunday League you had the Sunday Observance lobby to get past as well: there were certain players who wouldn't play on Sunday. I had to reconcile it with my dad. We were a real big church family. We'd go two or three times to church on a Sunday, but my dad said, "Play - it's what you do."

You're known as an Accrington Stanley fan. Who was your football hero? asked Daniel Salter
Duncan Edwards. I was 11 when he died in the Munich air disaster. But he was the complete footballer.

Who is the best player you've seen who never made it at the highest level? asked Kevin Shortley
Don Shepherd of Glamorgan. Spin bowler. Just check his record: 2000-plus wickets! [2200 wickets at 21 each, between 1950 and 1972]. I played against him. He was playing into the 1970s and he's still totally involved in the game now, at 80-odd. He overlapped Jim Laker a little bit, and Fred Titmus and Ray Illingworth, so he never got a chance with England. But he was a wonderful bowler. The lad who's missed out right now is Glen Chapple. It's just never quite happened for him: wrong place, wrong time… he's been in that many squads and missed out.

Should England players be banned from tweeting? asked Stuart Lewin
No. Definitely not. I'd be quite the other way. Engage with the fans. Graeme Swann and Jimmy Anderson are very clever with it. They tell you if they've had a bad day - but don't go into any details - but there's also little nice snippets. Swanny's a card, he'll have some fun. But they don't go into anything in-depth that they shouldn't do. It's vital. In any sport, players are so isolated from the public - particularly soccer - you just never see them about now.

"My all-time broadcasting hero is Fred Trueman. He was the first northern voice on commentary, as far as I can remember. The first one who didn't speak like Mr Cholmondeley-Warner"

Do you find it odd that we don't have a 50-over domestic competition in England, when international cricket is still 50 overs? asked Russell Hanson
Yeah. I think you've got to try and mirror international cricket. The 18 counties rule the roost because they are the ECB. But my mild criticism is that I'm not sure they put the England team on the pedestal. I think it should be.

Everything should be geared towards the England team, and I'm not sure all the counties take that on board. I'd like the distribution of wealth to be a bit more thought out. Not to give 18 counties £1.5m every year and let them spend it on what they want. It's unbelievable that so many of them are struggling, on those terms. I like the Australian model. Take the WACA: the money goes to the Western Australia Cricket Association and the state teams get money from the WACA, but a lot of money goes on grass roots. And - just in my opinion - the English game is awash with money, awash with it, and I'm not sure the money gets to grassroots the way it should do.

Have you ever "died" when you have been doing after-dinner speaking? asked James Foster
Loads of times! Loads. But I haven't done after-dinner speaking for years. This tour isn't like after-dinner speaking. I don't have to sit next to some bloke I've never clapped eyes on before for four hours and drink water... I got out of that game a long time ago because standards were dropping. People were chatting on their mobile phones while you were up there doing your best and getting home at two in the morning. So I took a view: why am I doing this? I could be tucked up in bed!

David Lloyd's Start The Car tour takes in Buxton, Norwich, Derby, Malvern and Salford, between October 29 and November 17. This article first appeared in the November issue of the Spin magazine. Click here to subscribe