Home > Features >

Dennnis Lillee: 15 anecdotes you must know about the great paceman

Happy-Birthday-Dennis-Lillee!
Dennis Lillee is widely regarded as one of the greatest pacers to step on cricket pitch

Few would argue that Dennis Lillee, born July 18, 1949, was one of the finest fast bowlers in the history of cricket. However, not only was Lillee a ruthless fast bowler, he was also one of the most intriguing characters of the sport. Abhishek Mukherjee looks at a unique personality, the kind of which has dried out from cricket.

Dennis Lillee was the first to the 350-wicket mark in Tests and the 100-wicket mark in One-Day Internationals (ODIs); he formed one of the most menacing bowling pairs with Jeff Thomson, terrorising batsmen all over the world with their pace and brutal aggression; he would also feature in nine out of ten all-time World XIs we have been making since our childhood days.

With the white shirt clinging to his torso, a moustache matched by few others, a run-up that sent a chill down the spine of the hapless batsmen, and pace like fire, Lillee was one of the characters that cricket in the 21st century craves for. Some of them led to controversies; some others were humorous; while some others were completely harmless. Let us have a look:

1) During his second Test at Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) (he had taken five on debut at Adelaide Oval), Lillee walked up to the Monty Noble Stand: he had spotted Keith Miller on the stands. He asked Miller for Ray Lindwall’s address: “He [Lindwall) might be able to teach me to bowl”.

2) Lillee had reached WACA for the second “Test” against Rest of World in 1971-72. He felt extremely weak after sending down a couple of overs, and went to Ian Chappell with a plea: “Want a break, skip”. Chappell and Graham McKenzie coaxed Lillee to bowl a third one. He went on bowling, and finished with his famous spell of eight for 29 when he had bowled out a power-packed Rest of World for 59 (and added another wicket in the same session).

3) Lillee was the ultimate perfectionist: on one occasion at Headingley he sent down a few wide balls, and while walking back to his bowling mark, he kept on telling himself: “Come on, Dennis. What is that, Dennis?”

4) Lillee went for Keith Fletcher in the famous 1974-75 Ashes. When Fletcher walked out to bat Lillee greeted him with the words “Good luck, Fletch. You’re going to need it,” and promptly hit Fletcher on his head with a searing bouncer. Another of his sledges was aimed at Mike Gatting: “Hey, Gatt [Mike Gatting], move out of the way, I can’t see the stumps.”

5) Lillee’s most famous sledge, however, was a perpetual one, used on numerous batsmen: “I know why you’re batting so badly. You’ve got some shit on the end of your bat.” When the batsmen had a closer look, Lillee promptly said, “Wrong end, mate.”

6) Trust Lillee to walk out with an aluminium bat during a Test. When Greg Chappell, annoyed by Mike Brearley’s complaints and the horrendous clunk of the leather hitting metal, asked Rodney Hogg to get Lillee to replace it, Hogg refused: “All I could see was me getting hit over the head with an aluminium bat in front of millions of people on television.” Chappell walked out with Lillee’s (wooden) bat, and saw the aluminium bat flying over his own head; he gave Lillee the willow, and calmly walked out with the aluminium bat.

7) Lillee was never on good terms with Kim Hughes. In fact, along with Greg Chappell and Rodney Marsh, Lillee had started a mutiny of sorts against Hughes. It came to an all-time low during the iconic 1981 Ashes tour. Before the final day of that Test at Headingley, Lillee and Marsh waged £5 each against Australia after Ladbrokes offered 500:1 odds.

8) It can, however, be debated whether the bet had to do with the anti-Hughes mindset. Lillee’s bouncers to Hughes in the nets certainly were not. He went on bouncing Hughes while he bowled a length to the others. The confrontation reached a nadir when Lillee apologised after bouncing on one occasion. When the amicable Hughes responded with “oh, that’s okay,” Lillee’s retort was spontaneous: “Sorry I didn’t f**king hit ya.”

9) The combat — or, rather, near-war — with Javed Miandad was possibly the most notorious on the list. The incident is well-documented, so it is probably not worth going into a detailed discussion. They still disagree on what had happened: while Miandad claims Lillee had kicked him, the fast bowler sticks to the fact that Miandad had struck him with the bat when they passed each other. The iconic photograph is Tony Crafter standing in the way, trying to protect Lillee from Miandad, who was brandishing his bat like a spear.

10) Lillee was fined A$200 for the incident. He was not happy. In a double-wicket contest at Eden Gardens in 1983, Lillee unleashed one of his famous bouncers at Miandad; the Pakistani tried to hook, missed the line, and was hit at the back of his head. Of course, Lillee apologised in the end.

11) Lillee hated the fact that his form was on the wane in the 1980s. On one occasion, on a boat trip, he apologised to Allan Lamb for “not causing him more trouble than he actually did” and kept on grumbling “I used to bowl better than that.”

12) Indian cricket fans would probably thank Lillee for sending back a diminutive youngster back from the MRF Pace Foundation. The aspiring fast bowler was too short for what he wanted to be, Lillee thought. A rejected Sachin Tendulkar went on to score a hundred international hundreds.

13) When the touring Pakistanis played an Australian Board Chairman’s XI at Perth, a 50-year old Lillee opened bowling with his son Adam; while Dennis finished with 8-4-8-3, Adam’s figures read 6-0-29-3. Pakistanis were reduced to 24 for five and lost the match. Adam also caught Ghulam Ali off Dennis.

14) Lillee featured in at least two songs:

            a) No Restrictions by Men at Work. The song had the line “Hear the cricket calling, switch on the TV, sit and stare for hours, and cheer Dennis Lillee.”

            b)   Blue Guitar by Iain Campbell Smith, which had the line “I hit a six off Dennis Lillee and I clean bowled Gavaskar.” When performing in USA, however, Smith replaced it with the line with  “I  scored thirty-seven points off of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.”

15) Finally, let us round off things with a rendezvous with Royalty. When the Australian team met Queen Elizabeth at Lord’s, Lillee came up with a somewhat non-trivial greeting: “G’day Queen!”

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Deputy Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in and can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ovshake42)

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 30, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 2, 2014 (13:30 IST)   at Cuttack

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 3, 2014 (09:00 IST)   at Khulna

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 5, 2014 (14:05 IST)   at Adelaide

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 6, 2014 (13:30 IST)   at Ahmedabad

More

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 15, 2014  at Ahmedabad

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 7, 2014  at Bengaluru

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 30, 2014  at Hyderabad

Match cancelled

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 27, 2014  at Hamilton

No result

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014  at Dhaka

Bangladesh won by 3 wkts

Photos

Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test

Videos

Tendulkar provides teaser on upcoming book

Live Cricket Score Duleep Trophy Central Zone vs South Zone, final at Delhi Day 4: KL Rahul brings up sixth FC century with six; South Zone 148/1

Live Cricket Score Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test, Day 3 at Abu Dhabi: Australia bowled out for 261

Don Bradman dismissed twice on the same day

Rohit Sharma looks to strengthen career after an inconsistent year

Yuvraj Singh — have we seen the last of the man who won India three World Cups?

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 Central Zone Duleep Trophy Duleep Trophy 2014-15 India Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Zone South Zone vs Central Zone Sri Lanka Sri Lanka tour of India 2014

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: Chance for both teams to get the No.1 ODI spot

Duleep Trophy 2014-15 final: KL Rahul century guides South Zone to 184/1 at stumps

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: Run feast expected in first ODI in Cuttack

Duleep Trophy 2014-15 final: KL Rahul completes century

Australia reeling at 239/8 at tea on Day 3 of 2nd Test against Pakistan

Don Bradman dismissed twice on the same day

Virat Kohli’s captaincy opportunities important in context of India’s succession plans

Rohit Sharma looks to strengthen career after an inconsistent year

Younis Khan equals Javed Miandad’s record of most 150+ scores by Pakistan batsman

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: Manish Pandey showing signs of fulfilling potential

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

678 Posts | 6 Fans

Video Highlights: Younis Khan century during Pakistan vs Australia 1st Test at Dubai

Why was Akshay Kumar denied permission to do the stunt sequence for The Shaukeens in Mauritius

ISL 2014 Live Score Update of FC Goa vs Delhi Dynamos FC Football Match

Gmail for Android updated with Material Design UI and support for other email services

Google extends “Ok, Google” hotword to third-party apps with six lines of code

India vs Sri Lanka 2014 1st ODI: Toss to play crucial role at Cuttack

Lingaa teaser: Rajinikanth, Sonakshi Sinha, Anushka Shetty look super stylish in this action comedy flick!

Ayurvedic treatment: 7 types of Ayurvedic massages you should know about

Beauty Tip #43 — Get fuller-looking lips with home-made sugar scrub

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here