Legend Entertains NCLS
Any player that can claim a hundred hundreds – and to have run out Geoff Boycott* – is sure of a warm welcome at Trent Bridge and the England and Warwickshire legend that is Dennis Amiss was definitely a hit with the members of the Nottingham Cricket Lovers Society (NCLS) this week.
After fifty years in the game – thirty as a player with the Bears and England and another couple of decades in administration at county and national level – Amiss has a fund of stories and memories about cricket and cricketers.
Playing bridge with Garry Sobers, golfing with Ted Dexter were remembered with fondness, even though he came off second best on both occasions, and his long career in the game meant he straddled different eras and a remarkable assortment of great players.
In his very early days, he even managed one match batting with his boyhood hero Dennis Compton and recalled being so nervous in the great man’s presence that he couldn’t get bat on ball to get the other Dennis on strike!
A generation or more later and Dennis Amiss brought a new all-time great to the game in England when he was instrumental in signing Brian Lara for Warwickshire.
What some in the audience may not have known was that Amiss was a pioneer of the cricketing helmet. Facing the unrelenting hostility of Lillee and Thomson in Australia, he adapted a motor cycle helmet for protection…much to derision of his opponents. Things changed however when David Hookes, then a promising young Aussie batter, suffered a blow to the head and borrowed Amiss’s helmet when he returned to the game. With the safety and confidence of the helmet, Hookes took on deliveries he would have left before (and risked injury), prompting no less a figure than Richie Benaud to opine that ‘helmets are here to stay’.
Dennis Amiss had (still has) a real affection for Trent Bridge, having enjoyed a fairly profitable time for England and his county. In the only Trent Bridge test of his fifty test career, he made 138no in England’s second innings and shared a double hundred stand with Tony Grieg as England won by 38 runs against a New Zealand side including a young Richard Hadlee, making his first appearance at what was to be his home ground.
That 138 was Amiss’s highest score at the ground and his only First-Class hundred there, but he did pass fifty on seven more occasions and had a further century – 107, also not out – in a John Player League match in 1984.
Her played one ODI at Trent Bridge, coincidentally also against New Zealand, in the inaugural cricket World Cup in 1975. Dennis, though he omitted to mention it at the NCLS meeting, scored the first ever ODI hundred, in his debut match, making 105 against Australia in August 1972; one DK Lillee (of whom more later) also made his ODI debut that day with rather less success than Amiss – taking no wickets and not getting a bat!
Though he needed prompting to recall the occasion, Dennis Amiss made his last appearance in an England side at TB when he played a 36-over ‘friendly’ for an England XI v an Australian XI in aid of Derek Randall’s testimonial in 1993. He top scored for England (51) in a tied game against a side that included his old nemesis Jeff Thompson.
Tony Grieg was one of the characters that featured in Amiss’s talk as a strong personality, though Amiss – like many others – rued the famous ‘we’ll make ‘em grovel’ remark as he faced an even more than usually motivated West Indies pace attack.
Having faced both Lillee and Thompson and the fearsome Windies quartet, Dennis was naturally asked which gave him the greater bother. He reckoned the Aussie pair were the hardest to hit and did say, somewhat modestly, that “I managed to take a few runs of off the West Indies”. In fact he scored a double hundred off them not once but twice – 203 at The Oval in the now famous summer of 1976 and 262no at Sabina Park, Jamaica in 1973.
At the end of his thirty-year playing career, in 1987, he moved into cricket administration, he served Warwickshire as Chairman of the Cricket Committee, and as chief executive from 1994 until 2006.
In 1992 he was appointed as an England selector and later, November 2007, became the deputy chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board.
Dennis Amiss finished the night by signing copies of his new book, Not Out at Close of Play. Both the new book and his earlier biography, In Search of Runs, are in the Trent Bridge Library and can be borrowed by Notts CCC members.
Membership of NCLS is £15pa or entry on the night for £5 per session. The last meeting of the 2022/23 programme will be on 23 March and feature members of the Notts CCC coaching team. Details from email@example.com.
*Boycott famously ran out local hero Derek Randall in an Ashes Test at Trent Bridge and has never been allowed to forget his ‘sin’ by the Nottinghamshire faithful.