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The Foot Soldier Became A General

The Foot Soldier Became A General

We are holding a special lunch on Wednesday (details below) for Jack Bond who has released his biography.

Jack recently chatted to Paul Edwards about the book, Lancashire Lad, Lancashire Leader.

At the launch of Simon Lister's biography of Clive Lloyd a few years ago, cricket writer Douglas Miller asked David Hughes and Jack Simmons to sign their names on the title page of the book. They agreed, of course, but left a space free at the top for the third signature Miller had requested. That, they explained, was where Jack Bond must put his name. He was still their captain.

And now Miller has written Bond's story. Lancashire Lad, Lancashire Leader was published this summer and on Wednesday a luncheon will be held at Old Trafford to mark the event. John Gwynne will interview Jack after the meal and there is no doubt that he will make a superb job of it. But just as a little taster, as it were, I took the opportunity to chat to the former Lancashire captain on the second day of the Roses Match at Old Trafford in June.

We met in the President's Room, the wood panelled walls of which are covered with pictures of Lancashire cricketers. Outside, I noticed that the early drizzle had stopped and an umpires' inspection was taking place. Then Jack started to talk.

"I was a bit surprised when Douglas came to me with the idea for the book," he admitted. "You expect books to be written about people who are in the higher echelons of the game. I've captained my county - and you can't get better than that - but I've never played for England, and you don't expect books to be about the foot-soldiers or the jobbing cricketer.

"And then when we about halfway through the meetings that were necessary, I became a little uneasy about opening my life to anybody who wanted to read about it. There are things that are quite private and I was a bit worried, but then the grandchildren and Florence [Jack's wife] said, "Oh, you must do it and now I feel it's lovely to have on record what has happened in my life and the people connected with it."

Before long we are talking about captaincy and the skills it required.  "I've always been a good listener," said Jack. "You never stop learning and you can learn from a young lad who's only just started playing the game. As time goes on, you might forget a few things and I was always prepared to listen to anybody and then form my own opinion.

"As as junior I'd played with people who I was probably a bit scared to approach. When you were a youngster, you were told to keep your mouth shut and that was it."

The era Bond refers to was one in which professionals, amateurs and captains all got changed in separate rooms. It was hardly an arrangement likely to foster the collective effort and togetherness upon which successful team depend. Gradually that strict separation ended, but Jack's eventual appointment as skipper was hardly an act of unqualified acclaim by the Lancashire authorities.

"Even when I was made captain in 1968, it was made very clear to me that I was doing it in a caretaker capacity while they looked to bring in somebody else," he said. "They felt that I was the only one they could turn to.

"Fortunately, though, if I made a mistake in the field I had ten people trying to get us out of trouble, and that wasn't something I had experienced previously because there was a lot of professional jealousy. Everybody wanted everybody else to do well and that made the job a whole lot easier."

It takes a moment or two to get Bond to agree that it was his leadership which helped produce this change in approach. Three Gilllette Cups and two John Player League titles followed, an achievement which led to him being regarded rather more as a folk hero than "a jobbing cricketer".

"But I had a lot of luck," he protested. I let the claim pass. There's plenty of evidence that he had a mountain of skill too. So what advice would he give to a young captain whose team contained a lot of talented cricketers, all of whom were pulling in different directions?

"As a captain you've got to earn the respect of your players," he said. "It doesn't just happen overnight. Speaking for myself, I was open to everyone and everybody. I also tried to find out about the man away from the game. That helped me to have a deeper understanding of the players and why one of them might be down in the dumps or whatever.

"The most difficult thing I found was having twelve on a team sheet and having to leave one out. I remember when I was manager I had to leave Jack Simmons out of a side in Southampton and play Steven O'Shaugnessy instead. That was difficult, but I had similar situations to deal with when I was captain.

"We were friends and we did bond together. That helped us to succeed."

That's enough for now. I hope you've been encouraged to attend the lunch and I'd certainly urge you to buy Douglas Miller's book. In an era when a young England player has only to make a few fifties before he writes his first autobiography, a sensitive account of Jack Bond's life is overdue. The book is well researched and carefully written.The greatest compliment I can pay it is that it is worthy of its subject.

Jack will be our special guest at a luncheon to celebrate the release of the new book Lancashire Lad, Lancashire Leader.

This will take place in The Point at Old Trafford this Wednesday (11th August) which is the third day of the LV= County Championship match against Durham. Tickets cost £25 and include a match ticket and two course lunch, if you would like a signed copy of the book included then tickets are £33.

Lunch will be served at 1.15pm and following this John Gwynne will interview Jack about his career. A cash bar will be available in  The Point from 12.30pm and following lunch you are free to enjoy an afternoon of cricket from the Pavilion.

To book your tickets please contact Amanda Worley on 0161 282 4053 or email dev-assoc@lccc.co.uk

Douglas Miller - Jack Bond; Lancashire Lad, Lancashire Leader:  £12.50 (inc p&p - these are Signed copies) is available from: Lancashire CCC, Jack Bond Book, Old Trafford, Manchester M16 0PX (cheques payable to Lancashire CCC)


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