Such was the magnitude of his emergence on the international cricket scene, it was too much for one mere human’s spine. Hence why everyone wrote off the chances of Dennis Lillee returning to cricket when he broke down with a stress fracture.
But Lillee’s determination to say “fuck you” to these doubters (among many others down the line, no doubt), saw him go around with his torso in plaster for a while, before returning to decimate England in the 1974-5 Ashes series.
In Jeff Thomson and Rod Marsh, he found the perfect partners in crime: one to scare the batsmen shitless from the other end, the other to glove all the nicks he drew batsmen into playing (and conspire with against captains).
355 Test wickets taken with that distinctive action aside, Lillee’s also remembered for his crazy non-bowling antics on and off the field:
- Using an aluminium bat against England in1979, before hurling it halfway around the world when Mike Brearley got upset and grassed him up to the umpires.
- Betting with Rod Marsh on some match at Headingley in 1981 where the seemingly possible had to happen for his wager to pay off. Oh yeah, they were also playing in said match.
- Having a school playground-style fight with Javed Miandad out in the middle at the WACA in the same year. He claimed that Miandad started it.
- Suggesting that some matches should be arranged where profits went to the players, since they weren’t really making much of a living from the game. This idea eventually got to Kerry Packer, and evolved into World Series Cricket, which changed the nature of cricket forever. Nice one, Dennis.
T’Ashes Hero Moment
Taking 31 wickets at 17.67 on the 1972 Ashes tour to England made everyone aware of his quality, but saying that he put that wager on the Headingly Test because the odds were “stupid for a two horse race” does cut it close.