Monday, 3 November 2014

PETER WILLEY: GLEANINGS


Taciturn. I didn't expect much else. Peter Willey is not someone you imagine using five hundred words where five will do. All fine, of course, except it can make the interview process difficult.

Ask him to speak about a subject other than himself, mind, and the words flowed (I suspect he would be better company face to face, with a beer in hand, than talking to a disembodies voice down the telephone). 


Again, you imagine him being someone of forthright, if not trenchant opinions. He was that, and, once warmed up, he also offered plenty of pithy, economical observations on his own career, which encompassed 26 Test matches, 15 against the dominant West Indies teams of the mid-70s to mid-80s. He also played in the famous victory at Headingley in 1981, the third member of that team I've interviewed after Bob taylor and Chris Old (not sure Botham, Gower, Boycott, Brearley, Willis, Gooch or Gatting are going to be quite so easy to persuade...).   

However, despite his reputation, I had intended doing a two-in-one interview (as I had with Jason Gillespie, Bob Taylor, Jimmy Adams and Gus Fraser): not just a breeze through his career for ESPNcricnfo's Gleanings, but also a chat focussed on umpiring for Talking Cricket.

I prepared several questions – on whether it was advantageous to be an ex-player; on DRS and its trickle down effect on lbw decisions and dissent; on dealing with mistakes; on over-rates, chucking, bad light; on the ICC and India; on whether he practised his 'out' signal before starting* – and didn't really get enough to warrant a separate piece. So, I amalgamated the best lines with the Gleanings. 


* NB: the best of the quotes that didn't make the final cut was probably the one in response to this, the most frivolous question (and thus the one I thought he'd think me the biggest wally for asking). His reply: "I never practised my ‘out’ signal. My first first-class game was at Cambridge University and I had five lbws before lunch. Ray Julien was at square leg spitting blood because I was 5-0 up. I gave a couple of them out right-handed because I had a sore shoulder, and it didn’t feel right. I didn’t get the same satisfaction".