Pick # 1: “They came to see me bat, not you umpire."
Humility was never WG Grace’s virtue. He just didn’t believe in wearing his fame lightly. The bearded giant knew he was the greatest cricketer of his times. Having amassed 50,000 runs, 2800 wickets, 800 catches and over a 100 hundreds in first class cricket, WG righteously assumed that the crowd had gathered around to see him play. So when he was given out plumb lbw in an exhibition match, he is said to have chided the umpire and demanded a reversal of decision. The umpire couldn’t refuse and the amazing Mr. Grace went on to make 400 not out!
Pick # 2: “If it had been a cheese roll, it would have never got past him.”
That was Graham Gooch commenting on Mike Gatting after he was bowled by Shane Warne’s ‘Ball of the Century’. Being a lover of food, wine and women (not necessarily in that order), ‘Gatt’ must have laughed his head off when he read Gooch’s take. Somehow one can’t imagine the same today. If Aswin castles Clarke, all we get to hear is a symphony of clichés from Ravi Shastri and his over-the-top ilk.
Pick # 3: “Mate, if you just turn the bat over, you’ll find the instructions on the other side.”
Australian pacer Merv Hughes with his big mousch and bigger mouth was always a character to face. Sledging came more naturally to him than the inswinger. He and English batsman Robin Smith had many run-ins. On one particular day, when Robbie was playing and missing many times over, Merv unleashed this below-the-belter.
Pick # 4: “Coach is something you travel in, to get to and from the game."
Shane Warne never hid his disdain for Coach John Buchanan. He publicly ticked off Buchanan by criticising him for ‘over complicating issues’ and ‘lacking common sense’. The unkind cuts obviously cheesed off Buchanan. As make good, they say, Warnie was called to a boot camp and made to push a car, uphill.
Pick # 5: "Geoffrey is the only fellow I've ever met who fell in love with himself at a young age and has remained faithful ever since"
Dennis Lillee was not just a tearaway fast bowler but also a pugilist with repartees. Unlike today’s ‘you-scratch-mine’ players, Lillee spared no punches in taking pot shots at his illustrious peers. He had a special fondness for Boycs as Geoffrey was a thorn in the flesh during the Ashes ’77 series. Their rivalry continues to this day.
Pick # 6: “So how’s your wife and my kids?”
Rod Marsh’s welcome message when Ian Botham trotted to his crease is the stuff sledgehammers are made of. But Botham was totally unflappable. He replied without batting an eyelid: The wife’s fine – kids are retarded!