Almanac Cricket: Darren Lehmann

 

 

Darren ‘Boof’ Lehmann is in my humble opinion the best South Australian batsman since Greg Chappell.

 

Back to the beginning – Darren is the son of Trevor and Lynette and originally lived in Whyalla. He remembers his first game for Weroona Bay, making a duck and taking a wicket with a double bouncer, heck he was aged 8 in the Under 13s! He did add smiling that he was a touch small. Trevor was a detective in the police force and was transferred to Elizabeth so Darren grew up in Evanston, attending Gawler High. His earliest cricket memory is David Hookes hitting Tony Greig for those 5 fours in a row- Hooksey was Boof’s first hero.

 

Darren was nicknamed ‘Boof’ by schoolmate John Giannotti when he was 13. It was because he had a big head and thus his mates called him ‘Boofhead’, a common term in Australia for someone with a large head. ‘Boofhead’ soon became just ‘Boof’. The nickname went from the schoolyard to the schoolroom and into general use very quickly.

 

Darren developed quickly and made his ‘A’ grade debut against Woodville at the age of 15 against the likes of Robbie Christiansen, Dean Sayers and Dave Kelly. Darren also played junior footy for Central Districts but while loving footy admits he was more suited to cricket. Darren has always had huge affection for Central Districts, helping out whenever he could at the Ponderosa. I fancy the bar was the winner, especially during the Bulldogs’ decade of dominance in the early 2000s, winning 8 premierships in 10 years.

 

Darren declined an invitation to join the first ever intake at the Cricket Academy. In hindsight he admits his decision would be different now but, at the time, he was comfortable working at Holden and that he was going to get all the training with South Australia anyway. He did seek advice from cricketing identities Ian Chappell and Richie Benaud, so it wasn’t done through lack of thought. We will never know whether that disadvantaged Darren’s Australian selection in future years. To Darren’s credit he is full of praise for Bob Simpson as a coach.

 

Darren quickly established himself as a fine District player and debuted for South Australia against Victoria in the 1987/88 season as a 17 year old, making 10. He didn’t play any further matches that season, but it was in the 1987/88 District Grand Final that Darren really announced his arrival to the South Australian cricket public. It was a remarkable game of cricket: West Torrens 6/392 (Nobes 215, Cassidy 54, Hookes 87no) defeated by Salisbury 8/395 (Bishop 93, Sleep 66, Jolly 77, Lehmann 78no). Salisbury captain, District cricket gun Wayne Bradbrook, adds “We had just lost a wicket and we looked as though we were in a bit of trouble and, knowing the new ball was available, I was a little concerned. As Darren was leaving the changerooms he looked me in
the eye and said, ‘Don’t worry, Skip, I’ll get these for you”, and he proceeded to do so. As a 12-year-old he displayed outstanding ability and as a 17-year-old in this Grand Final, he displayed brilliance and maturity.”

 

It truly was the ‘Boof’ we came to love so well, a human computer at work, working the ball into the gaps, showing his unique ability to seemingly hit the same ball into completely different scoring zones. It was dark and  batting conditions weren’t great but he had it under total control. Salisbury were a very talented side featuring Peter Sleep, Glenn Bishop, Harvey Jolly, Wayne Prior, Barry Causby, Bob Zadow and Anthony Heidrich, among others. It was their supreme selfbelief bordering on arrogance which all the great sides/clubs have which got them out of many tricky situations and regularly winning games from adverse situations.

 

After play on the Saturday, Geoff Wilson, David Crouch and I went to the Coopers Alehouse. In walked Glenn Bishop. “Geez, Bish, bloody hell, 400 odd.” He replied, “No dramas, it’s only four aa over (100 overs each side).” It was the perfect example of not panicking or throwing in the towel which a lot of people would have done. The night had an amusing side when the late Ian Edgley, with the customary glint in his eye, bought me in to a round just to annoy Hooksey. It worked, hook,line and sinker! Darren speaks very fondly of his time at Salisbury and has heaps of praise for Ron Threadgold, Jeff Daley and Wayne Bradbrook in particular for their influence and help through his cricket journey.

 

In season 1988/89, Darren was picked by the coach, genius South African Barry Richards. Darren was hit flush in the head by Bruce Reid, was knocked unconscious and temporarily stopped breathing. Darren recovered to play in the next game and made his mark against NSW, making 50 before being very controversially run out by Geoff Lawson who collided with Darren. ‘Boof’ adds he holds no ill feelings as he wasn’t concentrating as hard as he should have been and could have backed up better. He felt for Greg Dyer who was virtually forced to take the bails off as Geoff Lawson was threatening not to bowl anymore if he didn’t. Shield cricket was fiercely competitive. The incident did have a humorous side with Greg Mathews answering our taunts on the hill. We may have shocked him by being in the Members’ during the lunch lunch break. Suddenly he was doing a Marcel Marceau impersonation.

 

Darren got his revenge on NSW the following season with his maiden first class ton, a casual 228!

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hrld-mcJ5IA

It truly was a special innings! Darren then made a ton against the touring Kiwis followed by hundreds in three consecutive Shield games. With over 700 runs, he forced himself in to the Aussie squad for the Sydney Test match against Pakistan. Alas, he was 12th man  but none of us expected it to be 1998 before he finally made his Test debut.

 

Darren was then lured to Victoria by a lucrative contract offer from Carlton with John Elliott and Ian Collins involved. The deal was to play District cricket for Carlton and play for Victoria. Feeling that making runs away from Adelaide Oval seemed to have greater currency within cricket, Darren played for Victoria for two years with the highlight playing in the winning Shield side of 1990/91. Darren was lucky to play in the final having needed facial surgery after being hit in the face and his nose damaged at training.

 

In 1992/93 Darren decided to return to South Australia

 

Darren’s career overall for South Australia is staggering. The statistics show that from ’93-’94 until the
end of his career, he scored 10,500 runs at a average of 54. The highlight was the Shield win of ’95-’96.
Darren feels he underachieved and should have won more silverware. But I think we also must remember that we haven’t ever had the juiced up decks of Brisbane or Tasmania, or the pace of the deck at the WACA, let alone the old-fashioned, spin-friendly Sydney pitch at our disposal. We start at a disadvantage, let alone the current road at Karen Rolton Oval.

 

Darren had some incredible individual highlights for South Australia. His sublime 301 no v WA in 2005-06 – what a privilege to be at the Adelaide Oval!  ‘Boof’ was determined to go out with a bang, making a unbeaten 126 in a 236-run partnership with Matty ‘Herb’ Elliott to win SA the game. A week later he finished with a brilliant 167 against West Australia. I rated Darren extremely highly as a tactician and never left a game when Darren was Captain thinking that he had made a major blunder.

 

Darren played for Yorkshire from 1997 until 2006, making 8,871 runs at an average of 68.76, including his Bradmanesque year in 2001 when he made 1,416 runs at 83.29 to help Yorkshire win the title. Darren said it was a rude awakening on arrival at Yorkshire. He was required to be clean shaven, with no outer jewellery (‘Boof’ had an earring) and had to train in full whites – or face a fine! He was forced to quickly adhere as he was as sure as hell that he didn’t want to make a loss from playing county cricket!

 

Darren said it was a lesson in professionalism. South Australia, in general, can be a tad casual at times. Yorkshire expected and effectively demanded performance from their pro and didn’t ‘Boof’ deliver! Making so many runs in England blows the theory that ‘Boof’ wasn’t anywhere near as good against the quicks as against spinners out of the water. His reflexes did slow down a fraction and against the sheer pace of Shoaib Akhtar he may have looked vulnerable. If he had played more Test cricket in his prime, he would have been fine. Let’s also remember that the most important part of Darren’s time with Yorkshire was getting together with Andrea, his now wife and mother of Ethan and Amy! Andrea is the sister of Craig White the ex-England allrounder.

 

Boof finally was chosen to make his ODI debut in 1996 against Sri Lanka and the long-awaited Test debut against India in 1998. He made an impressive 52 coming in to replace an injured Steve Waugh. Darren played 27 Tests, scoring 1,798 runs at 44.95. If selection had gone his way and injuries hadn’t occurred at the wrong time, he may have played 100+ Tests and be remembered as an all-time great. ‘Boof’ prefers to be extremely proud of what he achieved. “Hey,Malcolm, let’s remember that very, very good players like Jamie Siddons and Jamie Cox never wore a baggy green. Stuart Law only played 1 Test match. Hell, we could go on and on.”

 

As for Darren’s playing and coaching careers, I’ve chosen to go with the highlights but can’t ignore the couple of controversies as well. Darren had some amazing highs in ODIs, hitting the winning runs at Lords in the 1999 World Cup Final against Pakistan. I asked Darren about the amazing tied game against South Africa and his missed run out the ball before. He did add with the customary ‘Boof ‘sly grin that both sides may have panicked a touch. He says that Shane Warne was incredible with his self-belief and ‘jump aboard and follow me’ attitude.

 

Darren considers the 2003 World Cup win a greater achievement in that Shane Warne had been sent home over his drugs controversy. To still win comprehensively without losing a game was huge with Australia defeating India in the final. I will add ‘Boof’s’ fielding came to the fore with a important run out of Viranda Sehwag, realistically ending India’s hope of chasing Australia’s 2/369. Darren also had the satisfaction of catching Zaheer Khan to finish the game off (becoming the only player to feature in the last play of 2 winning World Cups).

 

Darren’s fitness was often questioned, though I can honestly say I never saw ‘Boof’ throw away a dig through exhaustion. He was always batting fit and in the field he had safe hands in general as well as a good arm. The highlight in that regard was his run out of Adam Gilchrist in the second innings of my favourite game of cricket as a spectator, the 1995-96 Sheffield Shield Final. We can only speculate about the allegation whether Darren wasn’t Bob Simpson’s cup of tea or whether ‘Boof’ wasn’t considered intense enough by some in influential positions.

 

On Darren’s suspension for racial abuse against Sri Lanka in 2003, Daren was very honest, admitted he was totally in the wrong and that, correctly, he was suspended for an horrendous choice of words. I will add that ‘Boof’ wasn’t the first and won’t be the last to say something stupid or do the wrong thing when dismissed, quite often in rage against themselves. This doesn’t excuse the action whatsoever but I will defend Darren being racist until the cows come home. Darren has friends of all nationalities and the Sri Lankan players accepted his apology and moved on. He is friends with them and, as I said, ALL nationalities.

 

Darren’s initial Test hundred came against the West Indies in 2003 when he made 160 in a 315-run partnership with Ricky Ponting. He also made 66 in the second innings with Australia winning the game. ‘Boof’s’ Test hundred against Sri Lanka in 2004 was extremely emotional and the old ‘picture paints a thousand words’ certainly shows here:

 

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5pmmmZ2tra4

 

Darren adds that, on reflection, he was probably suffering from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) with the passing of David Hookes and that on many a night he was understandably distraught. Crying himself to sleep in a hotel room having lost a mate, his confidant, mentor and, in many ways, his hero in unfathomable circumstances was virtually impossible to accept and just so hard to move on from. It’s remarkable and a huge tick to Darren as a person that he performed so well on this tour.

 

Another huge highlight was being vice-captain to Adam Gilchrist in Australia’s successful tour of India in 2004-05. (Ricky Ponting missed the first three Tests of the four-match series due to injury.) Dominating against Bangladesh in the Test matches played in the far north in 2003, making his highest Test score of 177 in Cairns and being an automatic selection was satisfying.

 

Darren should be lauded for playing 27 Test matches with 5 Test tons at an average 44.75, along with his incredible record at domestic level. Darren’s left arm orthodox nude nuts bowling was basically clever – he just out-thought batsman using subtle changes of flight and pace – it definitely wasn’t spin!

 

Coaching-wise, Darren has had some incredible highs with Australia, Queensland, Brisbane Heat and Deccan Chargers in the IPL. Darren holds the unique record of winning an Indian Premier League title both as a player and as a coach.

 

The ball tampering incident in South Africa had to be mentioned. Darren replied, “I’ve moved on and there were things we all could have done differently and better.” I will add that, purely by fluke, I was interviewing Wayne Phillips for https://www.footyalmanac.com.au/wayne-phillips-159-on-test-debut/ only a few days after Sandpapergate. I was standing next to ‘Flipper’ when ‘Boof’ rang him. I can categorically state that Darren had no idea of what David Warner and Cam Bancroft were going to do. Let’s be honest, if it wasn’t so serious we all would have laughed at the stupidity of it all. People can have their own opinions about whether Darren had lost the players and that they were prepared to go behind Darren’s back. Again I add my own PERSONAL thoughts, not Darren’s. If people don’t realise every nation were ball tampering, they are naive and living in cuckoo land.

 

What David Warner copped in abuse on that trip by the South African crowds was an absolute disgrace. It made Bay 13 at the MCG look like choir boys! David should have been watched like a hawk, effectively given a couple of minders by CA to not only watch him but support him. Again, PERSONALLY, if I was Jeff Crowe as match referee after suspending Kagiso Rabada only for the decision to be overturned, I would have resigned. The decision effectively made a match referee’s position redundant.

 

A lot of people just don’t know the massive difference between a footy coach and cricket coach – Darren could have been throwing a ball to a batsman during the lunch break or been involved in a corporate function. Basically, a cricket coach isn’t around the players 24-7 and isn’t necessarily the person driving the bus.

 

Darren as Australian Coach had some incredible highs – regaining The Ashes with a 5 – nil whitewash in 2013-14. (Darren was walking the victory lap, saw me and detoured to come and say ‘hello’. I mentioned that to Darren and he just smiled and nodded, “Never forget the people who support you along the journey, Malcolm.”)

 

Winning the World Cup at the MCG in 2015 was brilliant and the celebrations were certainly memorable.
What Darren is enormously proud of is the winning Test match against India after the terrible loss of Phil Hughes in 2014. Darren used his experience and knowledge gained after the death of David Hookes to mentor and guide the players. It’s staggering really that Australia managed to perform so well and play one of the all-time
great Test matches with Nathan Lyon bowling the Aussies to victory late on the fifth day so soon after Phil’s passing. The celebrations out on the ground were very emotional. Phil Hughes was a much loved person in Australian cricket and will never be forgotten.

 

 

Darren’s time as Australian coach ended abruptly but don’t ever forget the huge positive contribution Darren has given to the game and his help to so many players throughout the world. Darren is currently enjoying his role with Queensland’s Second XI side and younger players in general, helping Ryan Harris and Graham Manou (that Salisbury connection can’t be broken!). Watching Darren with his grandchild, Jake and his partner Danni with their baby Roxy he is very contented. I fancy a few more regular trips back to the city of churches will eventuate. Darren is proud of his children and their achievements. Tory who is a beauty therapist and Jake has his cricket. (Jake and East Torrens were and continue to be a fantastic support to my dad Ray when we lost my mother Margaret. Jake, along with many folk at East Torrens, always make a point of saying ‘hello’ and checking how my Dad is getting on.)

 

image1.jpeg

 

When Jake was very young, he would wander into the Chappell bar, aka The Magic Cave for grown ups. We would all bowl to him – Jake would tell us where to field. He was certainly the highlight! The barman thought it was hilarious. It was a huge part of Shield games, just like the great man Barry ‘Nugget’ Rees. Darren and ‘Nugget’ have a special relationship – Darren is one of ‘Nugget’s’ favourite people in the world and I reckon that’s reciprocated by Darren.

 

Darren has a great sense of humour and is never afraid to take the mickey out of himself.
who can ever forget the race against Kiwi Mark Richardson-

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mbCLWvB09zE

 

A passion of mine is the game of cricket at a grass roots level. I feel like shouting from the roof tops. ‘Boof’ is on the same plane – play LESS District cricket, especially Saturday-Sunday games. Sunday should be like the old days, an Under 23 competition. We have lost the older players from the game. They play 11am until 6pm on Saturdays and quite often, on Sundays, guys get to 30-odd and if they’re not a chance of playing State cricket,
quite often give the game away or go to play Adelaide Turf or in the hills. All district ‘A’ grade grounds need to have lights funded by Cricket Australia so that Twenty20 games can be played on a Tuesday or Thursday night.

 

Summing up Darren has truly been a special part of South Australian and world cricket.

 

Thanks Boof!

 

Some thoughts from ‘Boof’s’ teammates & friends:

 

Greg Blewett – Our careers virtually coincided. The term ‘cricket tragic’ is used freely. Darren truly is just that, he loves the game, was always the first to arrive and last to leave. He loved every aspect of the game – training, playing, socialising and excelled in every aspect! Darren knew his game inside out, when to hit a truck load of balls at training and when to ease off. I truly believe the genius of Darren Lehmann is underrated in the cricketing world – just so hard to bowl to with his 360-degree ability to dispatch the ball where he liked. A pleasure to have Darren as a teammate and mate throughout my life, Thanks Boof!

 

Wayne Phillips – I was batting at the other end when Darren debuted at the MCG. Our friendship is unique as it involves our whole families. Our daughter Abbi was Darren and Andrea’s nanny for their children Ethan and Amy when Darren played for Yorkshire. When Abbi and Matt Higgs we’re married, Ethan was the ring carrier and Amy was the flower girl. We comforted and supported each other during the terrible passing of David Hookes. We hug regularly as we should now! It is a relationship so much more than purely playing together and then Coach-Captain, it’s love and mutual respect born from the greatest game of all, cricket!

 

Peter McIntyre – Darren is one of my best mates. We are godfather to each other’s children and have both played with and against ‘Boof’ – definitely preferred playing with because he was a nightmare to bowl to! Darren can be serious and emotional but always a funny side can surface. Who can ever forget him dressing up as a mummy, bandaging himself all over trying to ease the tension of the final day of our memorable Shield win.
(For anyone with a spare couple of hours, I can go through my innings ball by ball). Seriously ‘Boof’ is a caring, compassionate person who is a credit to his family and the game of cricket.

 

To see the full statistics of Darren Lehmann’s career click here.

 

Photos courtesy of Darren Lehmann.

 

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Comments

  1. Great article about one of my favourite players of all time. Shoudl have played more test cricket like his mentor

  2. A good write up Book. It was such a joy as a Sheffield Shield tragic (like you) to watch him playing as a teenager in his first few seasons at Adelaide Oval. Natural talent only matched by Hookesy a decade or so earlier. Showed great maturity which has stood him in good stead over the years.

  3. Jeff Milton says

    Absolute legend of the game. Should have played at least 50 Tests more than he did but then in 140 years he is one of only 461 to play Test Cricket for Australia. Genuinely great guy from the couple of times I have briefly met him once at kids sport when he was the Aussie coach.
    Great to finally see Alex Carey in the Test team. Why do we have wait so long to see South Aussies get their chance.

  4. Great article RB! One batsman you’d always leave the Magic Cave to go out and watch. I wonder if you got enough content to write another story about what he thought were his best knocks at any level.

  5. Really enjoyed the article RB. Boof was definitely one of my favourite cricketers to watch. When he was batting the game was always active and moving forward. If you could measure cricket IQ then Boof would be about 150 ie a genius. Very interesting thoughts about district cricket. Agree that we are losing the mentoring of the younger players by the more experienced.

  6. Guy McRedmond says

    I wasn’t aware he knocked back an offer to go to the cricket academy. Man, with a few things differently, he could have played at least 75 tests. I reckon there were times when it should have been Boof in and M.E.Waugh out.

    I also loved the YouTube links!

    And the elephant in the room, Sandpaper incident. Well written. That’s exactly what I believe is the case too. Bloody Warner has cost a couple of South Aussies with his actions 4 years ago hey !
    Great read Malcolm

  7. craig dodson says

    Great read mate.

    Such a thrill to go from a kid with Darren’s poster on my wall to have him write the Foreword for my book a few years back. Such a quality bloke and his contribution to so many charitable causes over the years really speaks volumes to him.

    What a Batsman when in full flight!

  8. Greg Robins says

    He was one of my favourite SA players,great to watch when up and about. I was there at Adelaide Oval when he made 300 no against WA, incredible innings. Just fantastic to watch and had a great cricket brain.

  9. Did Boof fit Bob Simpson model for a cricketer as Simpson was big on fitness (sounds funny with a side containing Boone & Merv but apparently they had good fitness levels that met Simpson requirements)

    His stint at Victoria cost him as he went from 12th man to out of contention. Australia had no tours that winter so next match was for Victoria in October. While Lehmann got injured and then got runs but not big runs at Victoria. Australia then had a glut of young batsman as evidenced with Australia A which Lehman started in but then got dropped and was suddenly had 6-10 batsman ahead of him. Was great to see him preserve and make it as his talent deserved it. Interesting Simpson was not coach and suspect that is one of the reasons why Boof had to wait.

  10. Dan Hansen says

    He would have played 100 tests if he was born in any other test playing nation. I can’t think of a better Australian batsman who couldn’t crack a regular spot in the test team.

  11. David Jenkins says

    Great job, Malcolm. Boof was a victim of his time…..although he might say he was glad to play when he did and make the friends he did. Today, he would be among the first picked for Australia because he was a genuine, if occasionally flawed, batting genius. He was almost too good. A century in his last Shield match for SA, a century in his last One-Dayer for SA, 300 in his last match for Yorkshire. He has the best batting average of any Yorkshire batsman in history and was the only non-Yorkshireman named in their Team of the Century. The most runs for SA, the most hundreds.
    .
    One of my favourite stories involving Boof. On the 2013 Ashes tour, the new coach spoke to a group of us after play one evening. Questions were invited from the audience but only one from each person was allowed. Someone asked him about the best players of his time and Boof responded, ‘Played with…..or played against?’ At that moment, one of the lads in the group yelled out to Darren, ‘You’re only allowed one question…..’. Total crack-up from all in attendance….. ;)

  12. Shayne Manuel says

    If Boof had followed his mums advice he would have played more tests for Australia but he loved proving his worth with natural batting ability just like a few of his lefty mentors in cricket bradbrook & hookes

  13. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    I thought I had the mortgage on Glenn Bishop references, such as this one from the Boofster.

    “When I was playing grade cricket as a younger lad, Glenn Bishop – who played for South Australia and Australia – used to take a little transistor radio out onto the field and listen to the races. That was obviously handy for the rest of us as far as getting results went.”

  14. david wildy says

    Boof was a natural instinctive genius as a cricketer. I remember an opposition bowler once saying Darrren was impossible to bowl to because he could hit the same ball to six different parts of the ground. All the great left handers seem to have that unique talent.(Sobers Gilchrist and Lara in particular.). Just like Hooksey , Boof was an entertainer and you knew when he came out to bat there was always the possibility of fireworks. Its a great pity he didn’t play Test cricket in his absolute prime. Unfortunately timing is just as important as ability when only eleven can be selected to play for Australia at any given time. Having said that he still carved out an incredible career.

  15. Martin Rumsby says

    Another strong article, Malcolm, which provides a balance of your personal experiences and interactions with Darren along with research about his playing and coaching careers. It was a reminder of what an outstanding player, especially at national level, Boof was. Your article peels away the layers of Darren’s outgoing personality to reveal the philosophy and emotions that lay inside. His ability to connect with players made him an ideal national coach – it was a pity that it ended in such a way that overshadowed many of his achievements in that role. Boof’s contribution to Australian cricket has been enormous and your article is a good reminder of just how significant his playing and coaching careers have been. Well done!

  16. Malcolm top job mate. Boof is one of those special people that make others fall in love with the game – an incredible talent but came across as extremely well rounded, putting cricket and sport in the right perspective in life balance. Poorly served in the opportunities he was given by eastern states’ power brokers. To not get selected for Australia until 98 was criminal. Jamie Siddons, etc as examples doesn’t right the wrongs of that decision. Boof was a player who brought people through the turnstiles. We made a special trip to Melbourne to see Australia play when he was eventually picked for the one day side – only to get to the game and see they’d made him 12th man. I think the comments from Blewy, Flipper and Macca are great summary. Well done

  17. Paul Nankivell says

    Malcolm this piece is up there with your best dissections. I loved the bit about shutting up Greg Matthews. It was missing from the 150 years a celebration almanac. You present Darren as an understated astute tactician. This skill projected him into coach of the Australian x1 at a time when straightforward appeal to players from one of their own was needed when Darren arrived at the wicket you expected action and generally got it. No weird stuff just harnessing his capacity to flog an attack. I’m watching Travis Head ( too wet to get on the header) and he has the same to unwind bowlers. An emerging dynasty of skilled attacking lefties? If this is to be then Darren started the caper. We’ll done Malcolm

  18. Terrific piece RB. Lehmann reminds me a bit of David Hookes. Both extremely talented but I felt that both never really hit the heights their ability suggested. That’s not to say that Boof wasn’t a superb cricketer. He was. Incredible Shield record. Test average of about 45 (?). Pretty good!

  19. Tim Wedding says

    What a great article, and a long time coming no doubt. Boof was the best batsman I’ve seen live and in the flesh. A left hander that when you saw take the field, you knew everything was going to be just fine.

  20. As per usual Malcolm, you’ve done a great job in bring Boof to life here. Many people, myself included feel that Darren was certainly good enough to play many more tests than he did. The problem was how to fit him in at that time. I also felt his bowling was much underrated and when called to the crease often took a wicket. I called his bowling, “our secret weapon”. His mountain of runs for SA and Victoria speak for themselves. However, your profile of the man himself as well as his stats makes compelling reading. I, like you, despite a poor choice of words, have never ever believed Darren to be racist. The same can be said for a few others that have been labelled racist for poor word usage. All of us say silly things at time in the heat of the moment that we wish we could take back. I also agree with your thoughts about the sandpaper incident – very silly, but most teams have been guilty of similar things.

  21. A fitting tribute to one of South Australia’s best-ever cricketers. Darren’s domestic cricket stats are incredible, and whilst he played for Australia at test and one-day level, I can’t help but think that he should’ve played more for Australia. His fondness for cricket and desire to make a contribution to the sport after all these years is truly admirable.

  22. Anthony Barratt says

    Thanks Malcolm for documenting so many happy (as well as some frustrating!) memories of the exploits of an SA cricketing legend. I was privileged to witness many of Darren’s best innings at Adelaide Oval for SA. I well remember that 228 vs NSW – he was still a teenager, yet he controlled the game. His in-built radar that allowed him to pick the gaps in the field was his chief weapon I believe. Time and again when SA was in trouble, a Boof innings would turn the game for us. I recall being desolate when he left for Victoria; a victim of the perception that SA-based players have to do that bit more to crack the Test side. How relieved we were when he returned 3 seasons later and set up an enduring batting partnership with Greg Blewett. I also well remember the outrage of the Lawson incident. Boof is being a little too diplomatic, re one G. Lawson. Lawson was never a favourite opponent of SA and would push the boundaries of sportsmanship to the brink. (Remember the day he took his side from the field at the first sign of rain, just as Captain Hookes was out in the middle & closing in on victory?) Anyway, I digress. I found the section on Yorkshire fascinating – Darren felt he had to smarten up but let’s remember, he led Yorkshire to its first championship in many years in 2001 with a gob-smacking season batting average of 83. A former Yorkshire team-mate Anthony McGrath describes Lehmann thus: ” His cricket brain was fantastic”. He played 7 seasons for Youkshire and his batting average is an astonishing 68.7, the highest in Yorkshire history. Says McGrath: “He’s the only overseas player to be voted in the best Yorkshire XI which is voted by the supporters and, believe me, from staunch Yorkshire members that tells you something about the guy.” “An absolute gem” was how another canny Yorkshire administrator described SA’s Boof. Yorkshire people are hard to impress & not easily won over, but up there in Leeds etc, Darren L. is royalty. A coach, batting maestro, mentor and all-round good bloke. YES, he should have worn the baggy green a lot more than he did but as Boof himself states, players of the ilk of Siddons, Cox, Hodge, Stuart Law etc either never got the chance at all or barely experienced the glory before being discarded. Darren has done it all & we SA fanatics wish him all the best for the future, especially in the light of his recent health issues. Thanks again, Malcolm.

  23. Steve Fahey says

    Thanks for a great read Rulebook.

    A very very good player and coach, great contributor to the game, with a classic moniker, and like all of us, not perfect !

  24. A bloke I used to work with was in the extended state squad and told me that in the nets Boof used to sweep Dizzy from time to time just to get him angry! Enjoyed this Malcolm.

  25. Greg Robins says

    Loved watching,Boof bat, especially the 50 over games for SA. He reminded me of the late,great Hookesy who could turn a game on its head. In particular when we played the cocky New South Welshmen ! He brought out the best in his team as captain too, a natural leader. Legend.

  26. A good insightful read as always!

  27. Great read mate! ?

    Darren is so down to earth and loved watching him play ODI for Australia. I remember as a child waiting for the guy at number 5 to get out as this attacking left hand batsman ? from SA was about to enter the crease.

    Great to see Boof still involved with cricket as I was worried after sand paper saga he might never of been seen again. Absolutely loved reading what Blewett, Phillips and McIntyre had to say about their team mate and mate.

  28. Fantastic article Malcolm, really good, in fact, REALLY good. A mate of mine played at Kensington in A’s and B’s in the 80’s and said Boof was incredible as a young cricketer, could do anything and his bat seemed as wide as the pitch itself. Cheers mate and Merry Xmas.

  29. Fantastic read Malcolm, truly a legend of the game.

  30. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks folks it was a massive privilege to interview,Darren and love that he hasn’t changed as a person thru the years honest and admits his mistakes- quality bloke,Boof and huge respect and appreciation of Jake always goes out of his way re my dad-Ray thanks mate

  31. Luke Reynolds says

    Well written Malcolm, and superb insights to one of my very favourite cricketers. Loved watching Boof bat, whether for Australia or for SA. Still a very substantial international career, even made himself into a highly effective white ball bowler.

    Darren has been a great supporter of the Pomborneit CC on Twitter in recent years and it was a massive highlight when a few of us from the club met him at the Junction Oval at a Victorian one-day game a couple of years ago, he was very generous with his time. It will be a great day when we can get him down to our clubrooms for a beer at some stage!

  32. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Raj definitely and thank you,Diggers ditto,Milts agree 100 per cent,Raf privileged to get a hour or so with,Boof but probably not.Charlie v much so personally I’d love to see,Boof in a high administrative decision making role I suspect it’s not his cup of tea.Guy thank you and v much so.Craig Boof truly gets it.David yes batting genius should have been remembered as a all time great of the game would certainly walk in to our team nowdays.Shayne I suspect you are 100 percent correct.Greg well said.Rodney I reckon you’re spot on.
    Danny no doubt whatsoever.Swish I don’t that surprises us.Wilds well said.Martin greatly appreciated I admit that was the intention so v happy you felt that way Ian thank you and I feel exactly the same.Nanks thank you and I’m proud of the way it came up in the end,massive thanks to Dave Brown for editing.Dips yes there are similarities but Boof far better player of spin.Tim thank you and yes a lot of work went in to this one.
    Fisho thank you and yes I feel strongly in that regard and support Boof yes poor choice of words
    thanks folks and apologies should have replied far sooner thank you

  33. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Paul thank you and well said.Anthony glad you singled out his Yorkshire exploits while I knew they were good it blew me away to find out how good when researching for the article and to be revered by the Yorkshire folk is just as much a testament to Darren as a person as it is as a player.Steve thank you and exactly!
    Mickey I will cheque but certainly unique outrageous talent.Greg no doubt whatsoever that Darren’s hero and mentor had a significant influence.Cameron thank you.Bushy thanks mate.Nick greatly appreciated!
    Campbell thank you.Luke thank you and yes Darren gets life and appreciates and understands grass roots level of the game.Merry Xmas thanks,Boof thanks folks

  34. Loved it Book – Boof is a true legend like your good self.

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