Drawing: Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram “Sultans of Swing”

Waqar Younis Wasim Akram

The Pakistan cricket team possessed the most feared bowling attack in the world during the 1990s with the demon duo of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis – nicknamed the ‘Sultans of Swing’.

Regarded as two of the greets fast bowlers in the history of the game, their trademark deliveries were their variation of swing bowling at great pace, particularly the reverse swing of the ball.

Right handed Waqar, known as the ‘Burewala Express’ or ‘Toe Crusher’ took 373 test and 416 ODI wickets and has the best strike rate for any bowler over 350 test scalps. His fastest delivery was clock at 153km in South Africa in 1993.

South paw Wasim is considered one of the founders of and the finest exponent of reverse wing bowling. He is the only bowler to this day who could produce the ‘double sings’, moving the ball twice in one delivery. His speciality was the lethal inswinging yorker. In a sixteen year career he took 414 test and 502 ODI wickets. Wisden selected him in the all-time World XI to mark the 150th Anniversary of its famous cricketing almanack.

Good team mates? Hardly! The relationship between the two greats was not convivial, with  neither speaking to each other on or off the field. Their rivalry was so intense that, “every time Waqar took a wicket, I too would get charged up to do the same,” Wasim said after they both retired. “It was the opponents who suffered from the rivalry, not the Pakistan cricket team,”  he claimed.

Time has softened the conflict. They are good friend snow and both have been inducted into the Cricket Hall of Fame.

Drawing: Colt and Goldie (Brian McKechnie and Jeff Wilson)

Double Blacks

Only seven men have played both rugby union and cricket for New Zealand. The last two – Brian McKechnie and Jeff Wilson – are both from my home province of Southland and likely to be the last dual internationals dubbed “Double All Blacks”. It is a rare achievement from a forgotten era unlikely to be repeated because rugby has morphed into a year round code.

Jeff, nicknamed Goldie, played four ODIs as a 19 year old all rounder against Australia before turning his attention to rugby where he became an All Black legend with 44 tries in 60 appearances on the wing. After retiring from footy he returned to cricket after a 12 year gap and played two more ODIs and a one off Twenty20 in 2005.

Brian, known as Colt, was an unwilling participant in controversies in both sports. In 1981 he was the batsman on the receiving end of Trevor Chappells’ infamous underarm delivery  at the end of the third final in the World Series against Australia at the MCG. Oz captain Greg Chappell ordered his brother to bowl the controversial final ball to prevent a six being hit to tie the match. It was an incident he later described as the biggest regret of his career.

Three years earlier McKechnie kicked a late penalty that gave the All Blacks a 13-12 win over Wales at Cardiff, securing the ‘Grand Slam’. Andy Haden’s ‘dive’ from a line out near full time was thought to be the reason for the penalty, but years later the referee said it was a completely separate incident – which video footage clearly verifies.

An economical right-arm pace bowler and useful lower-order batsman, McKechnie played 14 ODIs for the Black Caps. The underarm incident was his final match. He played 26 matches for the All Blacks at first five-eigth (fly half) and full back, between 1977-1981.

I drew these two caricatures of Colt and Goldie sometime in the 1990s. Twenty five prints were signed by both as part of a fundraiser for charity.

Drawing: Deeks (Robert de Castella)

Robert de Costella

Robert de Castella (Deeks) as one of the leading marathon runners in the 1980s. The colourful Australian, off Swiss-Italian descent, was the World Champion in 1983 and won back-to-back golds at the 1982 (Brisbane) and 1986 (Edinburgh)  Commonwealth Games. He also took the Boston title in 1986.

“If you feel bad at 10 miles, you’re in trouble. If you feel bad at 20 miles, you’re normal. If you don’t feel bad at 26 miles, you’re abnormal,” was one of his famous quotes.

In 2013 he launched ‘Deeks’ – a chain of grain and gluten free bakeries and cafés and for good measure earned a black belt in the traditional Okinawan style of karate, Goju Ryu.

His distinctive moustache made him an ideal caricature target, which I drew and got it signed when he visited my home town in Invercargill, New Zealand, as the director of the Australian Institute of Sport.

Drawing: David Bryant

David Bryant

Whilst watching the Glasgow Commonwealth Games yesterday, I was reminded of some of its legends, as the BBC punctuated its coverage with mini profiles of its famous past participants. Among them was Englishman David Bryant, the bowls icon.

Lawn bowls as opposed to opposed to bowling of the ten pin variety in an ‘alley’. It involves rolling biased balls towards a smaller ball called a ‘jack’ or ‘kitty’. Distinctively British, dating back to the 13th Century. In fact, the game was banned by King and Parliament, fearing it would jeopardise the practice of archery which was important in battle. Given their resemblance to cannon balls, they may have been better to use them in battle instead of arrow… maybe they did. Regardless, in 1541, Henry VIII ordered that artificers, labourers, apprentices, servants and the like were forbidden to play bowls at anytime except Christmas, and then only in their master’s home and presence. A penalty of 6 shillings and 8 pence was the fine.

Anyway, enough of that and back to more recent history. David was perfect for a caricature, wearing his white cap, pipe-smoking and with his distinctive delivery style with his raised leg. The English teacher was the master of the rink. Some would say god.

Definitely one of the greatest, if not the greatest, exponents of the sport, along with Bowls Englands’s current CEO Tony Allcock. Together they won six world indoor pairs titles and individually too many to mention. David collected five Commonwealth Golds dating back to Perth in 1962. I haven’t checked if the King’s edict’s been revoked. If not, not a bad haul for an illegal activity.

At the World Championships in Auckland in 1988 (where David won the singles title and was runnerup in the pairs) he found time in between games to sign my caricature.

Drawing: Ronnie Corbett

Ronnie Corbett

Ronald Balfour Corbett is a beekeeper who keeps hives at his second home in East Lothian, Scotland. He’s also known as Ronnie Corbett, the comic legend and a half of The Two Ronnies with the late, great Ronnie Barker.

He’s best remembered for his unique monologues, sitting on a large chair (any normal chair with 4’11” Ronnie on it would look large) delivering rambling jokes that went off in divergent directions only to finally arrive at the original punchline that had long been forgotten. He’s been the biz for a long time. If fact, long enough to be awarded a CBE at Buckingham Palace in 2012. He recalls the Queen said “you’ve been doing this a long time, haven’t you?” and Ronnie replied, “over 50 years, but not as long as you.”

I like this quote I found, attributed to him: “We live in the same world, Bercow (speaker of the House of Commons since 2009) and me: not big enough to play James Bond; not small enough to be adopted by Madonna.”

I’ve met Ronnie on a few occasions in London at various premieres and press nights, but I can’t remember when he signed this sketch. I mailed it to him sometime in the 1980s when he performed in New Zealand, so it was either Auckland or Christchurch.

Caricature: Billy Connolly

Billy Connelly

Billy Connolly has made numerous trips to New Zealand, with sell out stand up shows, recorded a TV series entitled A World Tour of New Zealand and roles in films such as The Last Samurai, and a dwarf in The Hobbit series. In spite of recent cancer surgery and being treated for the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, Billy plans to undertake an extensive theatrical tour of the country next year.

I drew this caricature in the early 90’s which he signed after one of his shows. See my previous Billy Connolly post here.

Drawing: ‘Dickie’ Bird

dickie bird001

Cricket’s most famous umpire Harold Dennis “Dickie” Bird has officiated in 54 test matches, the most in a single nation (England). Between 1973 – 1996, the Yorkshireman umpired 66 tests and 69 ODIs.

This year, on his 80th birthday, he ‘selected’  his greatest test XI: Sunil Gavaskar, Barry Richards, Sir Vivian Richards, Greg Chappell, Sir Garfield Sobers, Graeme Pollock, Allan Knott, Imran Khan, Dennis Lillee, Shane Warne, Lance Gibbs. An interesting  omission – no Sir Don Bradman!

Dickie signed my caricature at the Basin Reserve in Wellington, New Zealand during the test against Pakistan in February 1994 which he umpired with Brian Aldridge.

Drawing: Frank Sinatra, Ol’ Blue Eyes

Frank Sinatra001

Francis Albert Sinatra was one of the best selling artists of all time, winning eleven Grammy Awards and a much sought after siggy for a collector. He also won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in From Here to Eternity (1953). Elton John said that Sinatra, “was simply the best – no one else even comes close.”

In July 1974 he visited Oz, after 15 year absence. “A funny thing happened in Australia. I made a mistake and got off the plane,” he said. After calling local female journalists “a buck and a half hookers” and refusing to apologise, the ACTU blacklisted him, which threatened to end the tour. It was only the intervention of Union Chief – and later to become Prime Minister – Bob Hawke to restore normality that meant Sinatra could finish the gigs. He vowed never to return.

However, he was persuaded to do so for a concert in Queensland’s Sanctuary Cove by Clive James on 9 January 1988. I drew this caricature and sent him the original and a couple of copies to be signed at the venue. He kept the original and both copies were returned, signed…. but by who?

The number of autograph requests Sinatra received during the latter part of his career was overwhelming. A succession of secretaries, including Gloria Lovell and Dorothy Ullmen became adept at mimicking his graph and signed many items on behalf of the ‘chairman of the board’. It’s highly likely that this is not handwritten by him… but you never know!

He died in 1998 and written on his gravestone is the inscription, “The Best is Yet to Come

Caricature: Roger Bannister

Roger Bannister

The mile – 1760 yards, 1609.344 metres in metric – is athletic’s blue ribbon event.

At a meet between British AAA and Oxford University on the 6th of May 1954, at Oxford’s Iffley Road Track, Roger Bannister became immortalised.

Once thought impossible, the four minute mile barrier was broken for the first time. When the ground announcer, Norris McWhirter (who would co-publish and co-edit The Guinness  Book of Records) declared “the time was three…” the roar of the 3000 spectators drowned out the details of Bannister’s feat… 3 mins 59.4 seconds.

The early months of 1954 were an intense period of attempts on the sub-four minute mile record, with two athletes getting close. American Wes Santee recorded a 4.02.4 and Australia’s John Landy a 4.02.0 .

Bannister’s record only lasted a short while. His great rival Landy ran 3.57.9 in Finland 46 days later. However, at the 1954 British and Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, both men lined up in what was called ‘The Miracle Mile’. After leading for most of the race, Landy was overtaken on the final bend by Bannister, who went on to win the gold in a time of 3.58.8.

The mythical four minute mark has been lowered by almost 17 seconds over the last 50 years. New Zealand’s John Walker was the first man to run 100 sub-four minute miles, finishing with 135 at the end of his career. American Steve Scott broke the four-minute barrier 136 times.

The current world record, held by Morocco’s Hicham El Guerrouj, running a time of 3.43.13 in Rome in 1999.

In the late 1990’s I interviewed Lord Jeffrey Archer at his London penthouse. He showed me the actual official stopwatch that was used to time Bannister’s historical feat. In 2011 he donated the watch for a charity auction fetching £97,250 for the Oxford University Athletics Club.

After his retirement in 1955, Sir Roger became a distinguished neurologist and Master of Pembroke College, Oxford, where I sent my caricature, which he kindly signed in 1991.

Drawing: Ferg and Macca

ferg + macka001

Speed canoeists Ian Ferguson and Paul MacDonald are New Zealand’s most successful Olympians. ‘Ferg and Macca’ gained New Zealand sporting immortality at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. On the lake Casitas course they were unstoppable, Ian won gold in the K1, K2 and K4 events and Paul in the K2 with Ferg and the K4 along with Grant Bramwell and Alan Thompson.

Both followed up with gold in Seoul (1988) in the K2 500 and a silver in the K4.

There was a suggestion that their results were questionable due to the Eastern block boycott, so the following year they won gold at the World Championships in Belgium, beating crews from Eastern Europe and Russia. They had also beaten all crews leading up to the Olympics in the previous year