Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Thanks, Johnners

Fantasy Bob has no shame.  He is therefore celebrating again that joyous collapse in the Test Match Special commentary box by Johnners and Aggers which followed the latter's comment that Botham couldn't get his leg over when trying to hook a bouncer from Curtley Ambrose.  That life enhancing incident occurred exactly 20 years ago today - 9 August 1991. 

An excellent blow by blow account of it can be found in Jonathan Agnew's book 'Thanks, Johnners' which has recently been issued in paperback.  This is an extended tribute to Johnners which is essential reading for all cricketers of a certain age.

The collapse took place on the second day of the final test of the series which England went into 2-1 down.  Botham was recalled as one of a number of changes following 2 heavy defeats by the W Indies side led by Viv Richards.  This was Richards' final test and he needed to score 20 in his final innings to ensure a batting average of 50.  Carl Hooper had been the dominant W Indies batsman during the series and the side still had a dusting of greatness.  Alongside the MasterBlaster, Malcolm Marshall also said goodbye to the Test arena in this game - 376 wickets at 20.94 is as good as it gets.

DV Lawrence -
 known as Syd
The game was notable for the performance of Phil Tuffnell, also brought into the side.  In the West Indies' first innings - he took 6 for 25 - his second best Test return.  It forced a follow on - the first time W Indies had had to do so against England for 20 years. He did not find things so rewarding in the second innings though - taking 1 for 150 as Carl Hooper put him into the crowd 3 times in a sparkling half century.  Instead it was Syd Lawrence who led the attack returning his best bowling figures of 5 for 106.  Within 6 months Lawrence's career would be over after he shattered his kneecap while bowling in the final test at Wellington.  He played 5 Tests taking 18 wickets.

Meanwhile the other Syd Lawrence had no connection with this match but was a leading figure in British big band music.  Although he died in 1998 at the age of 74 his band, now led by Chris Dean, remains popular and is consistently voted the best big band in Britain.

England won the match by 5 wickets to square the series.  This was Botham's first victory against the W Indies in 20 Tests.  He hit the winning runs off the only ball he faced in the second innings.

Adn Aggers' broadcasting career took off on that day - he never looked back.

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