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openers

memorable
comment,

moments
and this
analysis

month’s
news,
XI
The

bespectacled
cricketers
Never mind Twenty20,
what about 20:20 vision?
Not for these fellows, as
Will Finch discovers

1 Daniel Vettori
“Skinny white men with glasses
shouldn’t do hakas,” Vettori
said recently. Christened ‘Harry
Potter’ by a jealous Australian
media, the New Zealand captain
is used to the name-calling – he’s
been wearing glasses since the
age of three. After a brief and
uncomfortable experiment with
contacts, he is now a poster boy
for spectacle-wearing Kiwis,
appearing in an advert earlier
this year encouraging five-year-
olds to wear sunglasses. He has
patrick eagar

also used his bookish image to


help a government-sponsored
campaign extolling the virtues of
reading and using libraries.

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2 3 4

openers
XI bespectacled
cricketers
expert eye Andy Atkinson
2 Geoffrey Boycott
Boycott suffered a ruptured spleen
as a child but he was shattered
9 Geoff Lawson
Although Geoff Lawson preferred
contact lenses to glasses on the
Time to grass up the pitches
by the news, at 14, that he would pitch, he deserves a special mention
have to wear glasses. “His world 5 6 7 for qualifying as an optometrist It was very disappointing to see how bland some The key to a good pitch is to leave some grass
had fallen apart,” recalled his while still playing for New South of the pitches were during England’s recent Test on the surface. I’m not talking about a raging
Uncle Algie in Don Mosey’s 1985 Wales. He took a year off to tour series in the West Indies. Most of them are new green-top. You see pitches in Australia that have
biography. But specs certainly India and Pakistan with Australia pitches laid specifically for the World Cup in 2007 a beautiful covering of grass but it’s white grass.
didn’t hamper Boycs. He wore in 1979-80, and eventually and yet they seem to have deteriorated since then. Generally speaking, the more grass you take off
them with conspicuous success completed the four-year course at As the ICC’s pitches consultant, I was heavily the surface, the lower the bounce. The ball skids
until 1969 when he decided to the University of New South Wales involved with the preparation of the Caribbean quicker off the grass, which acts almost as a
switch to contact lenses. The initial seven years after it began. Spurred venues and I thought we produced some pretty lubricant, than against the bare earth.
transition was problematic – he on by his recent experiences in good wickets at the time. The main function of the grass is that the
averaged only 38 in 1969, compared Pakistan, Lawson now acts as an With the huge amount of one-day and roots suck out the moisture from underneath.
to 64 the previous season. ambassador for World Sight Day, in Twenty20 cricket around the world, it seems Leaving grass on the pitch extends the roots
which optometrists donate their that some people have forgotten the art of under the ground and allows moisture to escape.
3 Clive Lloyd fees for a day to the vision charity preparing a five-day pitch. The quality of the If you cut the grass really short then the roots
Nicknamed ‘Supercat’ for his Optometry Giving Sight. surfaces might be improving but that doesn’t die. When you roll a pitch, the soil will only
prowess in the field, Lloyd 8 9 10 mean the pitches are better for cricket as a compact to a depth of an inch (25mm). Below
damaged his eyesight when 10 Devon Malcolm whole. It’s about getting the right balance and it that it can only compact by drying out so if
breaking up a fight as a schoolboy. Devon Malcolm was wearing is now too far in favour of the batsman. It needs there are no roots for the moisture to escape
“In some ways it worked for me,” contact lenses when he took 9 for to come back towards the bowler. through then you just get a hard crusty surface
he said in his autobiography. 57 against South Africa at The One of the great myths is that the ICC wants and putty underneath. Result: low, slow pitch.
“Other players used to say ‘who’s Oval in 1994, the eighth-best Test to standardise pitches. Nothing could be further The more grass you keep on a pitch, the longer
this fellow coming in who can’t figures of all time, but he began from the truth. The ICC the roots, the dryer and
see?’ They thought they were funny his England career in bottle-top wants to preserve the
} Some of the harder it gets down below

canberra times, patrick eagar (4), hulton archive/getty images (4), PA Photos
until I exploded with a few cuts glasses, kept on his head by an primacy of Test cricket and the more pace and
and drives.” Those cuts and drives elastic band and before that, as and part of that is having equipment being bounce. But increasingly

used is antique~
helped Lloyd make a century in the the picture shows, archetypal pitches that produce good around the world you see
inaugural World Cup final of 1975, big 1980s specs. Malcolm’s visual games, not bore draws. the first thing they do is
plus many more besides. impairment and his spectacle- They want pace and even shave the grass off then roll
wearing all contributed to the bounce but beyond that they want pitches to it rather than rolling the grass in then shaving it.
4 Bill Bowes great affection in which he is retain their local, traditional characteristics like It’s a matter of education as much as anything
Appearances can be deceptive.
11 still held by England followers. seam in England or spin in India. else but also resource. Some of the equipment
The round John Lennon specs But it might have been better had The ICC only has control over pitches for their being used in some territories is antique. You find
and thinning hair were hardly someone other than Devon shaved own tournaments and does not – and could not in places where labour is cheap that they replace
calculated to strike fear in Chris Lewis’s head on England’s in reality – take control of pitch preparation for expensive but necessary equipment with labour.
opposing batsmen but Bill Bowes tour to the West Indies in 1993- bilateral Test series, which is the responsibility of Although the ICC does not involve itself
was not a man to be messed with. 94. “There were so many cuts the home board. directly with a home board’s pitch preparation
He repeatedly bounced a 50-year- that Lewis came down the next And that is where it gets tricky for groundsmen (unless asked), there are a number of actions
old Jack Hobbs for Yorkshire at morning with toilet paper stuck because some of them do work under considerable occurring which will hopefully redress the
The Oval in August 1932, a pre- all over his head,” remembers pressure from their employers to produce a certain balance between bat and ball. The marking system
cursor to the winter when Bowes Keith Fletcher, the England coach. type of pitch, whether it be to suit the home team’s used to judge the quality of pitches has been
would be one of Douglas Jardine’s requirements or the commercially-driven desire changed so that a wicket can be now marked
executors of his momentous leg- 11 Bob Hawke for a full five days of cricket. My first Test as the down if it is too batsman-friendly as well as if it
theory tactics. Cricket-mad former Aussie PM Edgbaston groundsman in 1991 was over in four is too bowler-friendly. In addition, each February
Hawke was once 12th man for days and I was told in no uncertain terms that I from now on each country will have to state which
5 Tommy Mitchell 6 Eddie Barlow 7 Alf Valentine 8 Murray Bennett Oxford University and had played had cost the club £100,000. venues they are planning to use in the coming
A former coal miner, Tommy Known as ‘Bunter’ for his glasses When Alf Valentine arrived in Like his contemporary Dirk first-grade cricket in Sydney so In 2004, I went to Pakistan below at the year so that if we have any concerns we can check
Mitchell had the misfortune of and his build, South African England in 1950 he was a little- Wellham, Australian left-arm he was no mug. But playing for request of Ramiz Raja, then chief executive of them out. Hopefully, this should avoid a repeat of
being England’s main spinner legend Barlow was a victim of his known left-arm spinner, with just spinner Murray Bennett wasn’t Parliamentarians against a Press the board, to help with the recent abandoned
on the Bodyline tour in 1932- short-sightedness while playing two first-class appearances behind afraid to stand up to glasses- team in 1984, Hawke, 53, was the pitches for their Test Test in Antigua.
33. The dark-rimmed spectacles for Kerry Packer’s World Series him. He returned to Jamaica with related discrimination. During struck in the face by the Herald’s series against India. In
he acquired some years into his Cricket in the New South Wales 33 wickets from four Test matches, his Test debut for Australia Gary O’Neill. His glasses smashed the first Test I tried to Andy Atkinson is the ICC’s
cricketing career transformed him town of Wagga Wagga. Barlow and a pair of NHS specs which against the West Indies in and he had to have fragments please too many people chief pitches consultant. He
into a brilliant cover fielder and a woke up with a start one night to he secured when bowling using Melbourne in 1984-85, he became removed from around his eye. and took the grass has previously been head
hard-hitting batsman who loved find a “human body lying beside sticking-plaster. His team-mates the first cricketer to play in Although he retired hurt on 28, off the pitch, which I groundsman at Chelmsford,
to advance down the pitch to hit me. At least I thought it was a had known something was wrong photochromic prescription he gamely returned later to help shouldn’t have done. Edgbaston, Cape Town
fast bowlers for six. The bowling body. I can never see a thing at when he was unable to read the sunglasses, and it is still why his side to victory. Labor party But we got results and Johannesburg. He
was a given: Neville Cardus wrote night”. It turned out the body was scoreboard during a tour match. His most people remember him. This secretary Bob McMullen was later in all three Tests recently assisted with the

getty images
that “the ball had only to see a prostitute posing as a spy and glasses didn’t help him when batting is perhaps fortunate as he only carried off with concussion after which, for Pakistan- preparation of the Cardiff
those spectacles in order to start all part of an elaborate prank by – in three tours of England, he never played three Tests, taking six missing the ball while going for a India contests, was pitch ahead of the first
spinning madly”. team-mate Mike Procter. once reached double figures. wickets at an average of 54. catch in the deep. remarkable. Ashes Test in July

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