Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer 20

I watched a 30 year anniversary documentary last night about Botham and the 1981 Ashes series, which for people of my generation will always be the Ashes series. I was somehow relieved to see John Major, Elton John, Mick Jagger and Stephen Fry, among others, talking obsessively about it, just as I do. It is probably hard now to explain that a sporting event could have such a profund grip on national consciousness.

I thought the documentary ought to have mentioned Graham Dilley in the Headingley test, without whom Botham’s great innings could never have happened. Indeed my recollection is that it was a couple of sparkling cover drives from Dilley that sparked Botham into what I am sure, at the start, was just the idea of having some fun, rather than slowly grinding to grim defeat. Dilley eventually got out when caught at cover off a drive as truly hit as any ever was, just short of his fifty. With the Aussie attack visibly on the ropes I was hopeful that Chris Old, the hook nosed Yorkshireman with a reputation for really belting it, would also go to town, but he never really got going – after thirty years I remember him as having made 26, not sure how accurate that is, but I don’t want to change any particle of my memory of this particular occasion. But the genius, the aura of Botham!

Then the great Bob Willis and those knackered knees, which didn’t get mentioned last night either – sorry for the cavilling, it was a brilliant documentary.

I watched it all with my friend Martin on a tiny black and white TV, on a narrow boat on the Oxford canal, with Blenheim Palace shimmering in the heat haze. Our two lovely girlfriends were doing all the boating and loch opening work, and cooking the meals, while wearing very little and looking wonderful, while we drank wine and watched cricket. Aah, the days when such unabashed sexism was considered strange by nobody, how I miss them!!

It its thirty years since that Botham summer. Happy memories. A couple of weeks after the Headingley test, of course, we had the Charles/Diana wedding. The truckload of royal bilge that must be in preparation by the media will soon clear my nostalgia.

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20 thoughts on “Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer

  • dreoilin

    And you’re being unabashedly provocative, and I’m not taking the bait.

  • Tom Welsh

    I don’t think you can have a truckload of bilge. Maybe a tanker? Or better still, a fleet of supertankers.

  • Tom Welsh

    Although I gave up on cricket (like soccer) decades ago, I do remember Botham – how could one ever forget? But the main thing I remember him for (apart, of course, from “A Question of Sport”) is what I call “the Botham Effect”. Although he practiced it in cricket, it applies to almost any adversarial sport. What it amounts to is this: if you can’t win by playing well, try the effects of playing badly. After some opposing batsman had racked up an unreasonable number of runs, dismissing fast and slow bowlers alike to the boundary with lordly indifference, Botham came on a bowled a slow long hop. Joy abounding! It worked: the batsman took a huge swipe at it, hit it right up in the air, and was easily caught.

    Such is true greatness.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    I doubt very much whether the main broadcasters will be keen to indulge in much nostalgia about Charles and Diana’s wedding, since it might risk reminding everyone, at every turn, of how her life ended.

  • Paul Johnston

    @Dreolin, hope your talking about Craig’s description of Chris Old 🙂
    David Bairstow was the one at Yorkshire who as you say “belt it”, really sad how David ended his life.
    Back to the subject it will always be remembers as Botham’s ashes but Dilley and Willis will always be remembered for their huge contributions.

    On a cricketing theme did you see that:
    “On 24 May 2011 Davis’ conviction for the 1974 raid on the London Electricity Board was quashed by three judges at the Court of Appeal. One of the judges, Lord Justice Hughes, said that the conviction, based on dubious identification evidence, was unsafe but that the court was not able positively to exonerate Mr Davis”
    Never dull in Leeds is it 🙂

  • craig Post author

    Yes – I still don’t think they should have dug up the Test pitch, though. Couldn’t they have done something less harmful, like blow up parliament?

  • Paul Johnston

    Love how the cricinfo website puts it:

    Match was abandoned as a draw after vandals, campaigning for the release from prison of a convicted criminal, sabotaged the Rugby Ground end of the pitch with knives and oil.*
    Edmonds took 5 wickets on his debut*
    Underwood became the 4th bowler to take over 200 wkts for England after A.V.Bedser,F.S.Trueman and J.B.Statham.

  • CheebaCow

    Maybe you crazy Brits think the 1981 was THE Ashes series, but all right thinking people KNOW that 1989 was THE Ashes series. Border, Hughes, Boonie, Healy, Jones, Taylor and Waugh…. you poor bastards never stood a chance. The current generation of Australian cricketers are a sorry bunch. Not because they make the English team look decent, but because they have no character what so ever. Our last interesting player (Symonds) basically quit in disgust of how boring his fellow players were.

    However the greatest media quote regarding cricket comes from the 1868 Aboriginal tour of England. The Daily Telegraph said of Australia that, “nothing of interest comes from there except gold nuggets and black cricketers.” The Aboriginal team played 47 matches were over six months, winning 14, losing 14 and drawing 19.

  • dreoilin

    I was talking about Craig’s stated nostalgia for the days of unabashed sexism. 🙂
    “sabotaged the Rugby Ground end of the pitch with knives and oil.”
    Doing what with them? The knives and oil? I imagine the best way to sabotage a pitch would be with a plough. If you had one. And if you were in favour of sabotaging pitches.
    As for blowing up Parliament, this is the kind of “sabotage” I approve of. (Ignore Fergus O’Dowd, nobody came close to being hurt.)

  • Jaded.

    I can just about remember this series, but was pretty young. Hasn’t there been some suspicion over betting on the Botham miracle match? A shame if there was something untoward involved. The first ‘lazy summer’ series I can really remember was England v India in 1985 and Gooch getting 333.

  • OldMark

    ‘The first ‘lazy summer’ series I can really remember was England v India in 1985 and Gooch getting 333.’

    Er Jaded, Gooch’s record score against the Indians was the 1990 summer test series; in 1985 it was the Aussies – losing the Ashes again. Surely you remember their vice captain Hilditch, and his ludicrous McEnroe- style headband ?

    ‘Hasn’t there been some suspicion over betting on the Botham miracle match?’

    Apparently the odds on England winning the Headingley test were at one point 500/1- and the great Dennis Lillee was indeed tempted into a punt against his own team, as I believe he sheepishly admitted later .

  • Jaded.

    Ha, maybe I was just testing. 🙂 Maybe I should consult Wisden more often too. Now I remember more clearly. It was the long, hot summer of 1990 yes. It was 20 years ago though, so allow me the error. I know Benaud would be agog at anyone being 5 years off! I don’t really the remember the 1985 Ashes too well. I have bad memories of Alderman and Lawson taking bags of wickets in the 1989 Ashes though. Very depressing viewing.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Let me tell you… I remember 1971! Now that was a team. Alan Knott was a great batsman and wicket-keeper, certainly one of the greatest wicket-keepers ever. Jon Snow, who had the opposite on-field temperament to Knott, was an amazingly versatile medium-fast bowler (and also a decent poet).

  • craig Post author


    Yes, Knott was my hero. I recall him – at Adelaide I think – playing the Aussie fast bowlers by uppercuts over the slips. The excitement of his batting isn’t really reflected in his average – I suspect because he declined a lot.

    Anyone remember Brian Close, age around 40, squaring up to the West Indies, pushing out his chest and just letting the bouncers hit him? In the days before padding and helmets. A really amazing man.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Yes, I agree, Craig, Snow could modulate the speed as required and when he was fast, as he often was, he was extremely fast; it was partly this unpredictability, I think – as well as his technique – which made him such an effective bowler.
    Funny, when I wrote the previous post, I was going to write that exactly that, that Alan Knott was my hero, too! He had that Zen thing, you know?

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Another interesting England cricketer from that era was Basil D’Oliveira, a South African who, during the Apartheid regime, had been denied entry to his own national squad on account of his skin colour. The furore around the horrible racist, John Vorster’s refusal to allow D’Oliveira to play with England in South Africa against South Africa (again, because of his colour) and the resultant tour cancellation, contributed towards the sports boycott of that country.

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