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From Knights of Ivalice

The world according to Bumble! Cricket's most popular son, David Lloyd, on England, Accrington and 'the board taking a dim view...'
By [/home/search.html?s=&authornamef=Paul+Newman+for+the+Daily+Mail Paul Newman for the Daily Mail] [ ]
Updated: 11:25 BST, 30 May 2010

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'It's the voice.

I was born to talk about cricket. It's the most enjoyable job I've ever had. I'll be 67 when my contract runs out but don't tell anyone! I want to carry on.' So says, in that inimitable Accrington burr, David Lloyd.

A man who, as a former Lancashire and England player and coach, first-class umpire, after-dinner speaker and raconteur, has done it all.
For the past 10 years he has been the leading cricket commentator on television.

Not only that, the man known universally as Bumble is, apart from having unparalleled experience in a variety of roles, probably the most popular man in cricket. Everybody loves Bumble, both those in the game and the legions of supporters who relish his unique style.

It is impossible not to. He is infectious.

Infectious: David Lloyd's enthusiasm has served the game of cricket well for 40 years

We are sitting in a London hotel doing what we do so often on tour with England, talking and laughing about cricket.

Only this time we are doing it to promote his new book. It is a great excuse to hear his perfectly told stories delivered with the timing and expertise of a highly successful comedian. But first, let's talk about the voice.

‘My accent is mellow Accrington,' insists Bumble, still full of energy and looking a decade younger than his 63 years.
‘Not full on. People wouldn't understand a word if it were full on. I'm posh Accrington!

'People from my town, and also Blackburn and Burnley, miss out words completely when they talk and you can't do that on the telly.'

Bumble is never short of a word.

And none of them are ever missed out. He is the jewel in Sky's crown for the way he talks knowledgeably about cricket but also entertainingly, including the viewer without patronising. It is as if he is sitting in your front room having a chat about the game but informing you at the same time.

That perfect blend of serious and fun, which Bumble also brings to Sportsmail each Thursday in the World Of Cricket, has now been transferred to print in the form of what must be the best cricket book of the year.

It is laugh-out-loud funny, even stories that Bumble, whose voice is captured brilliantly by his ghost, Richard Gibson, has told many times before.

But it makes many serious and constructive points, too.

Jewel in the crown: Bumble has developed cult-hero status in his role as Sky TV commentator

‘It all started with me messing about on Twitter,' says Bumble, who keeps his 68,500 followers entertained with regular tweets.

‘I'd got quite prolific on that and a publisher got in touch asking me if I would turn it into a book.

‘So I met up with Gibbo at Ugly Mugs café in Headingley, where they do a lovely transport breakfast with 48 pieces of toast and a flagon of coffee. Then it went from there.

'I wanted it to be irreverent as well as entertaining, and a bit of a rant. It's a bit laddish, I suppose, but I'm pleased with how it's turned out.'

He should be. This is quintessential Bumble. A journey through his life in the game with insights about his fellow commentators and the many characters he has known and worked with in the game.

In particular, the England team to whom he was a father figure — or perhaps an eccentric uncle — when he coached them in the Nineties.

‘They were all different,' smiles Bumble. ‘There were some right oddballs in my team but they were all good fun. We had a backbone of Stewart, Atherton, Thorpe, Russell and Fraser.
Then you had Gough and Caddick, real competition between them and never a dull moment.


Bumble was a gifted opener in the Seventies, when he faced up to the likes of Lillee and Thomson in Ashes battles

'Headley the philosopher. He could talk a glass eye to sleep, could Dean. Cork would be a jack in the box, still is. Great bunch of lads.

‘I was deadly serious about my coaching and I was there to inject passion into the England team.
Well, I can do that in spades. I wanted to protect the players, and maybe I was a bit over-protective at times, but I thought the world of them all.'

It is time for the serious side of Bumble. He could be intense when he was a coach all right, getting himself into trouble notably when he said that England had ‘flipping murdered' Zimbabwe and when he strongly hinted that Muttiah Muralitharan had an illegal action when he took 16 wickets against England for Sri Lanka at The Oval.

‘I don't regret anything,' he says.

‘I was always determined to be me. The way I described that draw in Zimbabwe was just how I would have talked about it down the pub with my mates. Or if Accrington Stanley, my team, had drawn after dominating a game.

'But the trouble was I was England coach.
And I was trying to choose my words carefully by saying Murali was unorthodox.

‘Simon Hughes asked me on TV if I was happy with his action and I just said that if it was legal then we should be teaching it. I thought he looked odd and so did the players and I was trying to get that point across.

‘Thing is, Murali's a fabulous mate now.

My wife, who works for Lancashire, looked after his well-being when he played at Old Trafford.

‘I've seen what he can do now. He can put his fingers on his wrist, which I've never seen anyone else do before.

'And I've watched him bowl at 2,000 frames a second and I know now that his elbow is damn near straight and it's just his wrist that is all over the place.
And his shoulder seems to disjoint when he lets go of the ball. So he's a one-off.

‘But I did get myself into some scrapes. Tim Lamb, who is also a great mate now, was my boss at the ECB and he would send me letters or call me and the first words were always: "The board takes a dim view..."

Out-spoken:Muttiah Muralitharan's bowling action drew criticism from Bumble, but the pair are now good friends

'We had an outspoken physio called Wayne Morton and he would get into the same trouble with Tim.

I formed the ‘‘dim view club with Wayne!'

But Bumble was a pioneer. He did much of the groundwork that led to a more professional England structure, not least in pushing for the central contracts that did so much to help his successor, Duncan Fletcher, finally gain success for the national team.

‘I wouldn't blow my own trumpet but during my time I felt central contracts would be the key to everything,' adds Bumble.
‘I was a good friend of Wasim Akram and when we played Pakistan in 1996 he just prepared himself for three Tests, put his feet up the rest of the time.

'By the time we played them, him and Waqar Younis were raring to go whereas Goughy, Gus and the others were turning up knackered.

‘Look at the World Twenty20 that England have just won. We were fitter, stronger and more athletic than any other team. We beat Sri Lanka in 16 overs and Australia in 17. That's a fantastic achievement and it is because England are a real team these days.
There are no agendas.

‘In the Nineties we were trying to get an academy. Well, we've got 18 now, one at each county. It's amassive improvement.'

It is one that Bumble played his part in. But there is no suggestion that he is jealous at what his successors in the role have to work with.

Only pride.

‘I can identify very strongly with Andy Flower,' he says. ‘We've all strived to get that togetherness in the team. For each player to genuinely enjoy each other's success. That hasn't always been the way. Our system worked against that.

Leader of the pack: Andy Flower's success as England coach is down to his honesty, organisation skills and staff, according to Bumble

‘What I see with England now, particularly during the World Cup, is a complete absence of selfishness throughout the whole squad.

That must come from Flower and, I would suggest, a bit of (predecessor) Peter Moores.

'Still can't see what he did wrong. Don't forget he brought in people like Flower, Richard Halsall (the fielding coach) and Mushtaq Ahmed (spin coach). Moores was a bit unlucky, but it wasn't to be for him.

‘I'm very excited about England.
We're a bloody good side now. We can give anyone a hell of a game in any form of cricket.

‘I'm very impressed with Flower, too. Totally honest, great organiser, great staff around him. You always need the response of the players when you are coach and he's got it.

I've got us as favourites to win the Ashes in Australia.'

The England team are now where Bumble always wanted them to be when he was coach, but there are wider trends in the game that he is concerned about. He talks about them as eloquently as he does the humorous side of cricket.

‘I don't enjoy player dissent,' he says.
‘It's an issue that needs addressing and I'm a big believer in the umpires having yellow and red cards. The power of the umpires is being eroded and I'm old school in that regard.

'Everyone should always have the utmost respect for the umpires. They should never be questioned or queried.

Rough with the smooth.

‘Hairy-arsed rugby players have respect for officials, but umpires are starting to come under too much pressure for me. If they make a mistake, people just have to accept it like they always did. It's the human element.'

Well read: Bumble with his book, 'The World According to Bumble'.

It is out on Thursday

Then there is corruption.

‘I'm not a fan of the IPL,' he says with a shake of the head. ‘I like the concept but if you don't have a compliance unit and there's no paperwork then you smell a rat. How kosher is it?

‘I do believe there'll be casualties in this. There's a lot still to come out. Who's got a finger in what pie? Everyone in the game thinks the IPL is a bit doubtful. And what about the commentary? How can you commentate to a script? All that ‘‘DLF maximum

'The IPL needs to get its flaming act together.'

But fun is never far from the surface. The stories just pour out of him.

‘Last year I was commentating and the camera panned to the crowd on a bloke carrying five pints of lager.
Really hot day, it was. I was just saying ‘‘I wouldn't mind two of them when a woman with the biggest chest you've ever seen came into the picture!'

Then there is one of his favourites.

‘When I'm at Old Trafford and a plane flies past I always say it's the holidaymakers coming to see the Wetlands of Wigan and the Salford Spa.

I say that there's two canals in Manchester for them to look at — the near canal and the far canal!'

And one from Twenty20.

‘When it first started grounds would put funfairs on for the kids as well as the cricket — the product speaks for itself now — and Charlie Colvile said on air ‘‘We've got all the fun of the fair and I see that the screamer's here
I said ‘‘Is she? Where?.'

It is hard to think of Bumble as ‘an incredibly shy, tiny teenager. Cricket brought me out of myself.'

This extraordinary man, 63 going on 18, has just gained his motorbike license and is planning to buy a BMW bike.

‘They're great people, bikers.'

He is a huge fan of the postpunk band The Fall (as is our own Martin Samuel, with whom he swaps Mark E Smith stories) and his biggest remaining ambition is to ride a horse. ‘It looks great, that. Riding around the country lanes.'

He seems to have a good 10 years left teasing Sir Ian Botham in the commentary box and swapping banter with his two former charges who have become close friends, Mike Atherton and Nasser Hussain.

‘I feel fit enough to keep going,' says Bumble.

‘And you have to be fit to keep on touring these days and have a bit of resolve about you. You can't be out of condition because it can become an ordeal, all those airports, flights, hotels and the heat.

‘One of my biggest disappointments is that I cannot do Bangladesh.

I've been there three times and I've been ill each time. I just get hit with chest infections and a massive fever.

'This last tour I was two weeks in a hotel room in Bangladesh with dengue fever and that's no fun. Mark Butcher took my place in the commentary box and did really well.

Mind you, they didn't pay him! I told him to put it down as invaluable experience!'

The smile is back. It is never far away with Bumble. The smile on the face of English cricket.

*Start the car: The World According to Bumble is published by HarperSport on Thursday at £18.99.