Coming from the Nottinghamshire coalfield and from the very same district (Kirkby-In-Ashfield) as Harold Larwood (who was born in nearby Nuncargate in 1904) it’s probably no surprise that my sporting heroes are all cricketers; Notts cricketers unsurprisingly.
As a young man in the 1970’s I was often found listening to Test Match Special on the radio in the middle of the night and of course back then cricket was on the regular TV, no pay to view exclusivity. The John Player Sunday League was a delight on BBC2 which my old Dad and I would regularly watch. I would add that I think cricket has been done a great disservice by becoming significantly inaccessible on free to view TV, a penny that I think has finally dropped with the cricketing powers that be.
Randall, nick names Rags and Arkle, is my number one sporting hero; this eccentric fidgeting batsman could, on his day, take on any bowling and his fielding was probably the best the world has ever seen or ever will see.
The old saying was that when a fast bowler was required all you had to do was to call down a Nottinghamshire coal pit and one would emerge – Harold Larwood was one such miner called from the pit to break Australian hearts. What a bowler – speed and accuracy. That he was blamed for the Bodyline series down under was an utter disgrace as he was doing what his captain asked him to do. However when the sh1t hit the fan the poor working class bowler carried the can and the upper class captain all but got away with it.
It was fitting that a statue of Larwood was erected in my old home town (it’s pictured above) and whilst I have not seen it since it was moved as part of a town centre redevelopment I’m sure this old Kirkby lad will have a tear in his eye next time he sees it.
Richard Hadlee was a very accurate pace bowler and the fact that pitches at Trent Bridge were made for him is testament to his recognisable ability. A Kiwi who like all my cricketing heroes played Test Cricket, in his case for New Zealand, he was a delight to watch and batsmen hated facing him.
And then there’s the quite wonderful all round cricketer Garfield Sobers, that giant of West Indies cricket who could turn his arm over as either a medium fast or spin bowler. He was also pretty good with the bat too as this video clip from the BBC proves:-
And I say all this whilst Nottinghamshire have just completed a very poor 2018 season indeed, surviving in the County Championship Division 1 by virtue of winning just one more match than Lancashire with whom they ended up on the same number of points. If Lancs had scored just a few more runs in their last but one innings Notts would have been relegated instead of them. Oh how we need some heroes now as the present team could easily get Notts relegated to the 2nd Division again next year, indeed many Notts supporters will sadly be almost expecting that slide in the 2019 season unless some big changes are made at Trent Bridge.