The funniest and equally informative British cricket commentator David Lloyd, known as ‘Bumble’ has been the staple diet on the TV broadcast menu since he left the England coach’s job and joined the Sky commentary team in 1999.
His credentials are second to none, having been involved in all aspects of the game. A stellar career with his home county Lancashire, including a four year shift as captain and later as coach, nine tests for England, with ‘a splendidly fluent’ 214 not out in his second test against India, a top ODI score of 116 and later as the National coach after a brief stint as a first-class umpire is a summary of his involvement of the game he knows and loves.
The nickname ‘Bumble’ derives from his similarity to facial profile to Michael Bentine’s children’s TV characters THE BUMBLIES.
I caught up with him as he arrived for the third days play of the England-Pakistan Test match at Lords last Saturday. The home team were struggling. While he was signing my sketch I asked him if the English batsman would save the day he replied, “No show,” which proved correct.
Former World Number 1 tennis player Marat Safin returned to the court last year, making his Royal Albert Hall debut at the Champions Tennis, where he was beaten in the final by another former World Number 1, Juan Carlos Ferrero. The Russian, known for his powerful offensive play and strong, accurate serve won two Grand Slam titles in a career that began in 1997 until he retired in November 2009.
He beat defending champ Pete Sampras to win the 2000 US Open and local favourite Lleyton Hewitt on his way to the Australian Open title five years later. He was also a member of the successful Russian Davis Cup teams in 2002 and 2006. Marat achieved the Number 1 ranking in November 2000, for nine weeks. His sister Dinara Safina also achieved the same status, making them the only brother/sister tandem in tennis history to do so. In 2016 he becam the first Russian to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Marat was also known for his emotional outbursts and fiery temper. By his own admission he broke 1055 racquets during his career. I didn’t enquire how many sharpies he had destroyed and thankfully he was completely the opposite when I meet him at Royal Albert Hall and kindly signed my drawing.
In 2011 he became an elected politician and member of the State Duma, representing the United Russian Party, so I’m not sure if that environment would mellow ones temperament, but I guess you do practice more diplomacy.
Dusseldorf-born professional golfer Sandra Gal began playing the sport at the age of six and competed in her first competitive round at 14. The 6′ tall 33 year-old German turned professional in 2008 after a stellar amateur career and qualified for the LPGA tour on the first attempt. In 2011 she won the Kia Classic and was a member of the successful European Solheim Cup team that same year. Sandra resides in Florida and annually hosts the Sandra Gal Charity Challenge benefiting Volunteers of America. Away from golf she models, paints and plays the violin.
I sent this sketch to Sandra during the 2017 British Women’s Golf Open at the Kingsbarnes Links in Fife, Scotland, which she signed and dedicated for me.
One of the greatest alpine skiers of all-time is Frenchman Jean-Claude Killy. I was reminded of this fact during the coverage of this year’s Winter Olympics in South Korea.
He dominated the sport in the late 1960’s, which included a clean sweep of the 1968 Olympic alpine events in Grenoble winning three golds, in the downhill, giant slalom and slalom. He also won two World Cup titles and six World Championship gold medals. I grew up watching him compete and later was a big fan of his two television series including THE KILLY CHALLENGE.
In one episode he skied down the eastern slope of the previously unskied down the side of Mt Ngauruhoe a volcano in my home country New Zealand. For LORD OF THE RINGS fans it’s the mountain used by Peter Jackson to represent Mt Doom in the screen adaption of the Tolkien trilogy. On the 35 degree slope he reached speeds in excess of 100 mph.
Jean-Claude won his first International event at the age of 18 and was included in the French team the 1962 World Championships. Unaware of his selection, he was still trying to qualify at an event in the north of Italy. On his final run, in typical reckless style he hit an ice sheet, before the finishing line, which propelled him into the air, landing on one ski, but crossing the line with the fastest time and the other leg broken. He watched the World Championships on crutches.
During this year’s Games, his name repeatedly came up in the TV commentary, so I suddenly thought I must get him to sign a drawing and quickly sent him this sketch at his home base in Geneva. He returned it within a week signed and dedicated.
New Zealand’s Ivan Mauger, regarded as the world’s greatest speedway rider died today at the age of 78. The Christchurch-born Ivan, who won a record six individual World Championships was voted the ‘Greatest Speedway Rider of the 20th Century.’ He was also runner-up three times. In all the speedway ace won 15 world titles, mostly in the 1970’s along with countless other events and enjoyed International celebrity status.
I can’t remember when or where Ivan signed this biro sketch for me, but I have a feeling it may have been in Wellington in 1990 when he was the inaugural inductee into the NZ Hall of Fame. RIP Ivan.
Austrian Marcel Hirscher is considered the best alpine skier… ever. With a record seven consecutive World Cup titles and six World Championship gold medals he has dominated the sport like no other in the slalom-giant and combined. At this year’s Winter Olympics in South Korea he won both the combined and giant slalom titles to consolidate his status. After which I quickly drew this sketch and sent it to Marcel at his Austrian base. Even quicker than his downhill run it came back signed and dedicated.
Twenty-two year old Czech snowboarder and alpine skier Ester Ledecka made history at this year’s Winter Olympics in Pyongyang, South Korea, becoming the first person to not only compete in snowboarding and skiing, but to win titles on two different types of equipment at the same Olympics. Known for her snowboarding prowess, the double World Champion was favoured to win the gold in the Parallel Giant Slalom and duly did so.
However, with a ranking of 49 in the Super-G Alpine Ski event and not having medalled in any international ski event previously, expectations were less ambitious. But her 21.11 second run was enough to sneak past defending champion Anna Veith from Austria by 0.01 seconds to stun the skiing world and win her second gold medal in her Olympic debut.
I quickly drew this montage and sent it to her when she returned to a hero’s welcome in her home town of Prague after the Olympics and it came back signed yesterday, along with an info card, also signed.
Nicknamed ‘The Scud’ because his serve was once regarded as one of the fastest in the game, resembling a scud missile, retired Australian tennis ace Mark Philippoussis returned to London’s Royal Albert Hall last week for this years final Champions Tour event.
While he didn’t win a Grand Slam, he did reach the final of the US Open, losing to compatriot Pat Rafter in 1998 and Wimbledon in 2003 where he was beaten by Roger Federer. He won 11 career titles and reached No. 8 in the world rankings in 1999. Mark was also instrumental in Australia winning the Davis Cup in that year and again in 2003, winning both deciding rubbers.
He signed my sketch at the RAH stage door last Thursday evening before his opening match with former No.1 Juan Carlos Ferrero.
English all rounder Dannielle Wyatt made history in Canberra last week as England achieved the highest successful run chase in the history of Women’s T20 Internationals to beat Australia and draw the Ashes series. Her brilliant century, off just 57 balls was the first by an English women in T20’s. It included 13 fours and two sixes, winning her the player-of-the-match award. Chasing an impressive 178 by the hosts, England were quickly in trouble at 30/3, but ‘devastating Danni’ and captain Heather Knight put on a 139-run fourth-wicket partnership to set up the win and earn a 2-1 victory in the T20 matches and an 8-all draw in the overall series.
Twenty-six year-old Danni has been with the England team for the past seven years since her March 2010 debut in Mumbai. She was part the World Cup-winning national squad which beat India in the Final at Lords earlier this year. Her domestic T20 team, the Southern Vipers also reached the final of the Kia Super League in September, in Hove where she signed this drawing for me.
Despite having to withdraw from the ATP World Tour Finals in London this week due to a knee injury, Rafael Nadal ended the year as the world’s No.1 men’s tennis player after a stellar 2017, including winning both the US Open and, for a record tenth time the French Open. ‘The King of Clay’ achieved ‘La Decima’ on the ‘dirt’ at Roland Garros, beating Stan Wawrinka 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 in the final. He also added his 10th title on the clay at Monte Carlo and Barcelona for good measure.
To commemorate this feat (of clay) I did this ‘La Decima’ sketch and luckily got Rafa to sign it for me before he left the London’s O2 last week.