Darren the Great

It's the dream of all elite sportsmen to go out with a great performance, but few manage it. Even fewer can turn one on at will just when they need it. Only the very best can do that. Darren Lehmann, who has just made 339 in his final match for Yorkshire, is one such player.

His international record, though good, doesn't do him justice. For a variety of reasons, his career at the top level started too late for it ever to do that. But, as anyone who has followed Yorkshire over the past decade will tell you, this was a truly great batsman.

I didn't see enough of him live myself, although the mind's eye dwells on a good many televised dissections of impotent bowling attacks. One innings, though, was enough.

In August 2000 I had the good fortune to see Lehmann bat for Yorkshire against Somerset at Taunton, and I've never forgotten it. Mainly because I've never seen another innings in which one professional made batting look so easy against another professional team. It really was like watching an experienced adult cricketer play against a team of children. It all seemed so easy for Lehmann that the only surprise was that he didn't give his wicket away through boredom before he got to fifty. He made it to 56 before it all became too much.

This is a player who, thirty or forty years from now, probably won't be all that well remembered. When discussing great Australian batsmen of the end of the twentieth and the start of the twenty-first century all the obvious names will be there - Ponting, Hayden, Langer, both Waughs, Gilchrist.

If I'm still around I have an uneasy feeling that I'll be the old bloke in the corner who says 'Ah, but you should have seen Darren Lehmann bat...'


Blue and Brown said...

I think he's got the 11th highest first-class average ever.

If he can bump it up a bit in the next Australian season and get to 10th then maybe he will be remembered as one of the greats. More people have played first-class cricket than Test cricket, so it's arguably an even greater achievement.

Statistics don't really tell the whole story either. He's a class above.

Brian Carpenter said...

Cheers, Blue. Enjoy 'King Cricket' by the way. Your other blogs look quite, er, 'amusing' too.

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