Drawing: Joe Root

ROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOTTT is the battle chant for the popular and prolific Yorkshireman cricketer and New England captain Joe Root. And there was plenty of it on the opening day of the first test again South Africa at Lords yesterday. It was a ‘dream’ start to his captaincy, scoring a majestic unbeaten century on the hallowed slope at the home of cricket.

It was his 12th test ton and once again rescuing his side from a precarious position. After winning the toss and electing to bat, England were in early trouble at 17/2 when he came to the crease, slumping further to 74/4. But at the close of play, Joe was still there on 184, guiding his team to a satisfying 357/5. However it seems it’s not unusual for English captains on debut to score a century. Joe is the sixth to achieve the feat.

One of the truly nice guys in sport, Joe always has time for his numerous fans and he signed this sketch for me after the historic ODI match against Ireland at Lords last month.

Advertisements

Drawing: Lance Cairns

lance-cairns

“The method was identical,the timing was superb and the spectators at long-on are now an endangered species,” said Channel 9 commentator Frank Tyson, describing New Zealand’s crowd-pleasing Lance Cairns batting heroics against the old foe Australia at the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground on a hot February afternoon in 1983. It was the final of the World Series Cup, Lance carried more of a wooden club than a bat, with cutaway shoulders and a massive blade, which became known as ‘Excalibur’ The veteran all-rounder hit six 6’s in ten balls, including a one-handed hit to the longest boundary in one of the world’s biggest sporting stadiums of the legendary Aussie quick Dennis Lillie. NZ may have lost the match and the series but few overseas players ever receive such sustained acclaim for a performance against the home side as Sir Lancelot did that day.

He probably didn’t hear much of it since he has been profoundly deaf since the age of 17, but I’m sure he was aware of the adulation that is still spoken about today. The following month back in NZ he hit the English spinners to all parts of the ground, including a gigantic six at the Basin Reserve in Wellington that cleared the inner-city ground and sailed down the street never to be seen again.

His bowling style was unique-an awkward wrong footed right arm ‘Harvey the helicopter’ delivery action that he thought was orthodox, but it produced big lethal medium quick in-swingers that harvested a lot of wickets. I have captured the just before release in this sketch which was part of a series of the best 11 NZ cricketers I did in 1991 and all signed through the mail for me. I have described the energetic biro technique before as the ‘epileptic expressionism’… more scribble than careful draftsmanship,  but as Jackson Pollock said “technique is just a means of arriving at a statement.”

Drawing: Bert Sutcliffe

bert-sutcliffe

Back in the early 1990’s I did a series of NZ cricketers, essentially the best kiwi 11 that had played the game to that point. I adopted what could be best described as an ‘epileptic biro’ rendering technique, which only lasted momentarily. One of the first picked was Bert Sutcliffe, the legendary left-handed batsman who was named one of Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year for his outstanding achievements during their tour of England in 1949. He was later to be named as NZ Champion Sportsperson of the 1940’s Decade in 2000. However it was one particular innings that has engraved Bert into kiwi folklore.

It was Christmas Eve,1953 at Ellis Park in Johannesburg. NZ was being routed by the South African fast bowler Neil Adcock on a very green wicket. Bert suffered a near fatal blow to the head and was taken to hospital. But he returned swathed in a large head bandage to continue his innings.It was an injury that would affect him for the rest of his life. He later said, “I must confess I was fortified to some extent by a generous helping of Scotland’s chief product… and I don’t mean porridge.”

Another sombre event affected the team that day. Back in NZ, 151 people lost their lives on the Overnight Express passenger train which was derailed when the Whangaehu river bridge collapsed at Tangiwai. NZ bowler Bob Blair’s fiance, Nerissa Love was one of them. He was too distraught to play, so stayed back at the hotel. When the ninth wicket fell, Bert was unbeaten and started to leave the field. Then Bob appeared, walking to the middle. 23,000 spectators fell silent, not a dry eye on or off the field.

It was one of the most poignant days in the history of sport and Bert’s words to the grieving youngster have been immortalized in what has been regarded as one of the defining chapters in NZ sport, “C’mon son this is no place for you. Let’s swing the bat at the ball and get out of here.” And that they did, putting on 33 in ten minutes before Bob was dismissed, leaving Bert on 80 not out. He passed away in 2001 at the age of 77.

Drawing: David Gower

david-gower

This David Gower caricature was the final cross-hatching experimentation in my series of English cricketers who toured New Zealand in  the summer of 1991/92.  Considered as one of the most stylish and prolific batsman that has ever played the game, ‘Lord Gower’ recorded an impressive First Class record, accumulating over 26,000 runs at an average of 40.08, including 53 centuries, 18 of which were scored in Test matches, including his top total of 215 against Australia at Edgbaston during the 1985 Ashes series.

The former England captain was described by Wisden as “fluffy haired, ethereal looking, who payed beautifully until the moment he made a mistake, but somehow the mistake was put off long enough for him to play an innings of unforgettable brilliance.” He was often criticised  by the media for being too laid back and nonchalant Peter Roebuck to remark “Gower ne’er moves, he drifts,” and France Edmonds in the Daily Express wrote,” it’s difficult to be more laid back without being actually comatose.”

These days he leads the Sky Sports commentary team in his usual stylish and relaxed manner.

Drawing: Graham Gooch

graham-gooch

Yesterday I posted a caricature of English cricketer and  prolific batsman Allan Lamb which he signed for me at the Basin Reserve in Wellington during the third test against New Zealand in February 1992. The captain of the England team on that very successful tour was the enigmatic Graham Gooch, the most prolific top-class run scorer of all time with 67,059 of them in a career that started  as a 19 year-old in 1973 for county side Essex until he retired in 1997.

Journalist Matthew Engel described him as the most “uninhibited belter of the cricket ball” in his ESPN Cricinfo bio. He book-ended his test-playing career with matches against the old Ashes foe, Australia-the first in Birmingham in the summer of 1975, the last in Perth twenty years later. In that time he played 118 tests, scoring 8,900 runs notching up twenty centuries with a top score of 333 against India at Lords in 1990.

For good measure he belted a second innings 123 for a total of 456 in the match. In 125 ODI’s he scored 4,290 runs including eight 100’s. For three years in the 1980’s he was banned from playing for England for leading the first rebel tour to South Africa, so imagine what his international run tally could have been.

I drew this caricature of ‘Goochie’ in my signature 80’s cross-hatching style and he obliged with his signature in between ball-belting at the Basin.

Drawing: Allan Lamb

allan-lamb

One of the most dominant batsman during the 1980’s was England cricketer Allan Lamb.  He was also one of my favourite players. Born in South Africa to British parents, Allan joined the county side Northamptonshire in order to play test cricket for England because his native country was banned from playing International cricket due to the apartheid regime.

He made his debut against India in 1982 becoming cap number 492 and ended his 79 test-playing career against Pakistan exactly 10 years later, almost to the day. In that decade he scored 14 centuries and 18 half-centuries, amassing 4,656 runs at an average of 36.09. He also played 122 ODI’s scoring over 4000 runs with four centuries and 26 half-centuries. His last test ton was his highest, scoring 142 against New Zealand at the Basin Reserve in Wellington in February 1992, where he signed this caricature for me. During that time I used to draw caricatures with a black fine line pen and a technique that I have loosely labelled my ’80’s cross-hatch period’, combining minimal horizontal and vertical lines to define the white highlights and for the hair I rendered a much tighter, ‘frenzied’ hatch for textual contrast.

Unlike Allan, I had mixed results with the hatching, but this is an example one that I was not unhappy with.

Drawing: Alastair ‘Captain’ Cook

Alistair Cook

The England Cricket Captain and opening batsman, Alastair Cook has made a habit of scoring runs and in particular centuries. His latest came last Friday, on the opening day of the second test against Pakistan which is still in progress at Old Trafford. His 105 was his 29th Test century, equalling the great Sir Don Bradman. In May 2015 the prolific left-hander became England’s leading run-scorer in Test matches, surpassing Graham Gooch in the second test against New Zealand at Headingly and exactly a year to the day later he became the youngest batsman to score 10,000 test runs against Sri Lanka in the second test at Chester-le-street.

This penchant for passing the magic 100 milestone began right from the start. At the age of 21, while touring the West Indies with the ECB Academy side in 2006, he was called-up to join England’s tour of India side as a late replacement, scoring 104 on debut. This was to become a familiar pattern, also scoring centuries in his first Test matches against Pakistan, the West Indies and Bangaldesh.

Alastair became England’s ‘Captain Cook’ when fellow opener Andrew Strauss retired in 2012. In 130 Tests he has amassed 10,265 runs at an average of 46.87 and 3,204 runs in his 92 ODI’s. His Test total includes three double centuries, with a top score of 294 against India.

When not scoring runs on the cricket field, Alastair runs a farm near Leighton Buzzard and plays the saxophone. I have meet him on a few occasions, mainly at Lords and he has always been great with the fans, taking time to sign graphs and pose for photos. I didn’t get a chance to catch-up at the first test against Pakistan at Lords last week, so sent my drawing to Old Trafford and it came back signed within two days.

Drawing: Charlotte Edwards

charlotte edwards

Described as the first lady of English-and world-cricket, Charlotte Edwards is considered the best in the business. England have played 481 matches since women’s internationals started in Brisbane in 1935, Lotte has played in 298 of them, 209 as captain spanning all three formats of the game.Making her debut as a sixteen year-old in 1995, she has scored more runs in limited-over internationals than anyone else and only one player, Janette Brittin has made more test runs. Last year she was named one of Wisden’s Cricketers of the Year, only the second woman to claim that honour and won the ICC Woman’s Player of the Year in 2008.

Having already claimed five Ashes series, Charlotte and her team found the Australians  a lot tougher in 2015 and lost the series for the first time in twelve years. Despite having her hands full she was able to fit in a pen and time to sign my sketch during the four-day test at Kent’s Spitfire Ground last month.

Drawing: Brendon McCullum

brendon mccullum

New Zealand’s inspirational Brendon McCullum is considered cricket’s best captain at the moment by the world’s media. Even the Australians have acknowledged that his positive, aggressive approach and risk-taking has “put soul back into cricket”, which is the reason that the Black Caps have emerged as the most improved side in all three forms of the game, including reaching their first final at the recent World Cup. The UK’s top cricket scribe, Mike Selvey called him “exceptional” in The Guardian. Always humble, Brendon shies away from all the plaudits that separates him from his teammates. In a recent interview with the New Zealand Herald he was quick to point out that leadership was a team effort. ‘It’s really important to lead by example in a team environment”. he said. And lead by example he does… in bucket loads! His phenomenal batting and fielding are second to none. In fact the Asian media have labelled him the ‘best batsman in the international game at the moment”. The ‘New Zealander of the Year’, finished 2014 with a triple century and two double centuries. He shared a record sixth wicket  352 run partnership against India with B.J. Watling at Wellington’s Basin Reserve last February, becoming the first kiwi to join the elite 300 group. He  finished on 302 to record the highest third innings total in the history of the game. He has the top International Twenty20 score with123 against Bangladesh in 2012 and the second highest T20 total of 158, which he’s achieved twice. In 2008 playing for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League against the Royal Challengers and more recently for the Birmingham Bears in the T20Blast against Derbyshire last month. His 158 came off only 64 balls!…and is, not surprisingly, the highest score in the English and Welsh domestic competition.

Brendon had a short spell with the Bears after the Black Caps summer tour of the UK. He signed this sketch at his final game against the Yorkshire Vikings at Headingly in Leeds on 24 July 2015.

 

Drawing: Martin Guptill

Martin Guptill

My team, New Zealand did very well at this year’s Cricket World Cup,held, jointly between my home country and our noisy neighbours, Australia. One of the key members of the ‘Black Caps’ was opening batsman, Martin Guptill. However, leading up to the tournament, he wasn’t filling the supporters with a lot of confidence, scoring three ducks (that’s 0, for non-cricketing types and aquatic bird fanciers) in warm-up matches. Thankfully that all changed as ‘Marty two-toes’ ( as he’s nicknamed due to a forklift accident that caused the loss of three toes) belted 2 50’s, a century and 237 not out on New Zealand’s way to the final. The unbeaten 237 was against the West Indies in the quarter final at Westpac Stadium in NZ’s capital, Wellington on 21 March.It is the highest individual score at a World Cup, scored from only 163 balls, including 11 sixes and 24 fours. He was the first kiwi cricketer to reach a ‘double-ton’ in One Day Internationals (ODI’s) and only one of five to achieve the milestone. The Caps went on to post 393/6, which is the best team total in a World Cup knockout match..oh yes, and we won! Martin was awarded the Best Batsman title for the Tournament,scoring the most runs.

To commemorate the feat (minus three toes), I drew this drawing and tried to get Martin to sign it in person at the Kia Oval, after their thrilling win over England in the recent ODI Series over here in the UK. But after waiting for two hours the team bus picked them up at another gate, so I missed out. I sent it to Trent Bridge in Nottingham where they played the 4th match and it came back signed.Good score!