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We have few celebrities in Northamptonshire still alive. Diana princess of Wales died in an explosion of irony whilst Roger Moore and Des Oconner have long since gone (thank God). We still have Jeffrey from Rainbow and some burnt out rockers festering in the local villagers. Allan Lamb is our biggest sporting hero just ahead of John (De`niro) Gregory of Aston Villa and jaded dartsmith Cliff Lazerenko.Quite frankly theres only one biography im going to read from that lot. Sadly “The Cliffs edge,a life in darts and “The most over rated manger in the premiership”wernt available ,so I settled for this one. Being a Northants follower now and then, Allan Lamb was the one player that really grabbed ones imagination down at a cold chilly Wantage road as a kid and beyond. We had other great hitters of the ball in Wayne Larkins and Peter Willey.But none so exciting as the impishly confident South African. He was a best captain to, and was the only leader to get the most out of our overseas players, especially Curtly Ambrose, who at times was a very laid back West Indian indeed. Anil Kumble, who Lamby discovered as a relative unknown Indian Test player, teased one hundred and six championship wickets out of him to second in the table in September modern day record in shorter season terms. The autobiography was much waited for around these parts, as he had a reputation as a bit of a lad domestically as well as internationally. The Ian Botham days are a well-trodden path in the redtops and talkshows. The reason why im reviewing a book I have had gathering dust for four years is that it was expected to reveal just how much the Pakistanis cheated on the 1993 tour of England. And of course they are still doing it now with a similar telling piece of TV showing them doing the deed. It was Lamby that stood up and said no more by pointing out the condition of the ball to the beleaguered umpires. That famous ball
now lies hidden in a Lords safe along with the controversy that is still as prevalent as ever in the sub continent game. This time around the ball tampering has been buried and the old “ump”Shephard being scapegoted for his no-ball disaster. Well it’s hard enough with all Pakistanis cheating on the pitch to have any time for the no ball line. Alan was a born and bred South African boy who learnt his cricket on the concrete hard Western Cape wickets. His career was briefly interrupted with the obligatory National Service.This proved to be the only serious scrape of his pre teen days as he rolled a military Bulldozer into a ditch. The book is surprisingly light on high jinks in his youngest days,,considering his reputation.In fact it’s a tale of cricket statistics rather than female ones as he married young to the then attractive (bit of a bruiser now)Lindsay after college in Cape Town. We are then over run by various stats and his enormous ego from his career that most of the people who purchased this read would know anyway. The bombardment continues like a West Indian Test attack right up to the last ball he bowled for Northants and the likes of Orange Free State. There s a few anecdotes from his playing days with England and the domestic fodder. One of the better inevitably involves the humble nervy wreck that is Dickie Bird.It involved setting fire to the umpires dressing room door just before a crucial match by pushing flaming bog roll under the frame. Other ones include England s greatest player and that umpire again as Lamby handed the white coated ball of nerves a mobile in the middle during a big test match.”Im expecting an emportant call Diky, if et rinngs can you take a message mate”in his clipped African brogue. Of course Botham was at the other end tapping in the numbers from the Lords pavilion. The book raps up with the controversial Imran Khan libel case where the Camb
ridge educated Pakistani pace bowler trounced the comprehensive boys in the Oxbridge lead high court case. That hit Lambys wallet so hard that he didn’t have a Krugerand to rub together. He bought a restaurant on the towns local Racecourse park about three years ago and its doing about as well as his bowling. He also runs a small management consultancy that needs to expand quicker than his belly if he is ever going to pay off the courts. The highlight of his career would have to be the four straight hundreds against the mighty 80s West Indian black shelling. He was a very gutsy and confident at the crease and always entertained the crowd.In the old days at the ground he would get some one in the crowd to put a couple of cans of beer behind the fence during the laborious three day matches. I still think he’s the best player Northants have ever had, although sadly his book and writing style are nowhere as good, and the result is a rather tedious autobiography that is not so much of a read. But the batsmen trying to scrape a big chip of his chubby shoulder. A man always on the outside of English crickets establishment through his roots and blue collar attitude. Not a very good book at all.