Allan Lamb: 12 facts about the South Africa-born England batsman
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Allan Lamb, born on June 20, 1954, is a former England cricketer, who played 79 Tests and 122 One-Day Internationals (ODIs). Lamb was born in South Africa but had to move to England for his career. Nishad Pai Vaidya picks 12 facts about the English batsman. 


1.  South African birth

Lamb was born in South Africa in 1954. His parents were of English heritage and had settled in the Rainbow Nation.


2.  Switching from rugby to cricket

In a chat with All Out Cricket, Lamb said that he was actually a good rugby player but then moved to cricket. As a young boy, he started off as a wicketkeeper, but gave it up for bowling. He subsequently became a good batsman and it stayed. In a Sky Sports program, he also mentioned that he was coached for some time by a few former England cricketers. David Steele was one of the players.


3.  Debut under Eddie Barlow

Lamb made his debut for Western Province at the age of 18 in 1972. He scored 58 in the first innings he batted in. Eddie Barlow was leading Western Province at the time. This was at a time when South Africa were isolated from world sport.


4.  Move to England

Due to South Africa’s isolation from the sport, Lamb had to travel to England to further his cricket career. He did not get a contract in his first visit and had to return to South Africa to work as a salesman. In 1978, he was picked by Northamptonshire and stayed with the club through to the end of his career.


5.  England call-up

Since his parents were born in England, Lamb qualified for selection. Lamb was rewarded for some great consistency at the domestic level when he waspicked into the England side in 1982 for the tour to India. He then went on to play 79 Tests and 122 One-Day Internationals (ODIs).


6.  Settling into the England dressing room

In his early days in the England dressing room, Lamb was a little apprehensive given the fact that he had moved from South Africa. Playing for an adopted country is never easy, but he was eased into the setup thanks to his teammates. In a chat with Sky Spots, Lamb revealed that on one of his early tours, he approached Bob Willis and said that he is committed to success for England. Willis replied by saying, “Don’t worry! You are one of us.”


7.  18 runs off the last over

In an ODI against Australia at Sydney in 1987, Lamb smashed 18 runs off the last over of the match, bowled by Bruce Reid, to win the game for England. Lamb hit Reid to all corners to give England a memorable win. Lamb was England’s final hope, but wasn’t looking at his best as he had hit only one boundary before that fateful over. Lamb sealed the game with a sequence of 2, 4, 6, 2 and 4 in one of the most exciting finishes in that era. Lamb finished with 77 not out.


8.  Mastering the West Indies

Through his career, Lamb performed well against the West Indies, the dominating team of that era. Though his 1342 runs at an average of 34.41 in 22 Tests may not make an impressive reading, what makes those figures compelling are his six tons. Six out of his 14 Test tons against that world-beating unit is highly creditable; mark of his guts against the most fearsome attack in the world.


9.  Scoring a ton in first Test as captain

Lamb led England in three Tests in 1990. His first Test at the helm was against West Indies at Barbados and Lamb marked the occasion with an innings of 119 in the first essay. England went on to lose the game as an eight-wicket haul by Curtly Ambrose skittled England in the second innings.


10.  Beefy and Lamby

Along with his former teammate Ian Botham, Lamb featured in television commercials to promote beef and lamb. The advertisements were conceived as Beefy is Botham’s nickname, while the other speaks for itself.


11.  Ball-tampering allegations against Pakistan bowlers

Lamb found himself in a spot when he had alleged that Pakistan bowlers tamper the ball. Osman Samiuddin notes in The Unquiet Ones: A History of Pakistan Cricket that Lamb had spoken about Sarfraz Nawaz doing it, when he was playing for Northamptonshire. Lamb was fined for those comments and he was also sued by Sarfraz, who withdrew the proceedings once the batsman said that he wasn’t witness to the alleged act. Later, Lamb and Botham lost a case against Imran Khan where they alleged that the former Pakistan player had libelled them in the Indian media.


12.  Global Sports Travel

Since retirement, Lamb has become an entrepreneur. He runs the Global Sports Travel in partnership with another firm, where they take fans to different sporting events around the world. Cricket is priority of course.


(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Mumbai-based cricket journalist and one of the youngest to cover the three major cricketing events — ICC World Cup, World T20 and under-19 World Cup. He tweets as @nishad_45)

Related story: Allan Lamb: Life and times

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