Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Lillee was born in Subiaco, Western Australia. His test match debut, in 1970 was against England, in Adelaide. He took 5/83 off 28.3 overs, a fantastic result for a debut match. He was one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 1973, and inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame in 2002.
Lillee started his career as an express bowler, possessing blinding pace. His run-up and delivery stride were a sight to behold. He used this extreme pace to devastating effect in the 1971-72 season while playing for Australia against a World XI. Against a batting line-up boasting players like Sir Garfield Sobers, Clive Lloyd, Rohan Kanhai and Sunil Gavaskar he returned with astonishing bowling figures of 8 wickets for 29 runs. World XI were bowled out for a mere 59 runs. After that series, Lillee enjoyed successful tours to England in 1972 and West Indies in 1973. On the latter tour, Lillee was diagnosed with three stress fractures in his back and midway through the series, he suffered a fourth. For a while, his international career seemed finished but the indomitable Lillee worked his way back to full fitness within a period of eighteen months, following a strict regimen during that period. The Ashes series of 1974-75 saw him in action again and alongwith another devastatingly fast bowler, Jeff Thompson, Lillee combined forces to inflict a 4-1 defeat upon England. Thereafter, Lillee's career was one of absolute statistical supremacy. He was the mainstay of the Australian attack during the 1970s and the early 1980s. He was the second quickest bowler to reach 200 test wickets, after Clarrie Grimmett. During the 1980-81 series against India, Lillee overtook Richie Benaud's record of the most test wickets for an Australian bowler (248). Lillee played his final test match in the 1983-84 season against Pakistan and ended up with a then world record 355 test wickets.
The Heavy Metal Incident
One of the most infamous incidents in Lillee's career occurred at the WACA cricket ground in December of 1979. Australia were playing England, and were in trouble at the end of the first day, at a score of 8/232 with Lillee not out. When the second day of play began, Lillee emerged onto the field carrying not the traditional willow bat, but a cricket bat made from aluminium. The bat, manufactured by the company of Lillee's good friend Graham Monoghan , was intended only as a cheap replacement for traditional cricket bats for schools and developing countries. Nevertheless, Lillee decided to use it in the test match, and at that point, there were no rules against using such a bat.
The trouble began on the fourth ball of the day, when Lillee straight drove a ball from Ian Botham. The ball went for two runs, and nothing appeared untowards. However, Australian captain Greg Chappell thought that the ball should have gone for a four, and instructed twelfth man Rodney Hogg to deliver a conventional wooden bat to Lillee. As this was happening, English captain Mike Brearley complained to umpires Max O'Connell and Don Weser that the metallic bat was damaging the soft, leather cricket ball.
Lillee instructed Hogg that he wasn't going to change his bat, and assumed a posture to face the next delivery. Brearley, Lillee, and the umpires held an animated discussion for almost ten minutes, before Chappell decided that the game would be held up if things continued. He emerged onto the ground, took one of the willow bats from Hogg, and instructed Lillee to be quiet and use the bat. Lillee threw his aluminium bat away in disgust, and grudgingly took the wooden bat.
Astonishingly, Lillee was not censured or disciplined for this incident. Both the umpires and the Australian Cricket Board decided to let Lillee off with only a warning. After the game, sales of the bat skyrocketed for a few months, with Monoghan giving Lillee a small cut of the profits. This only lasted a few months though, before the laws of the game were amended, specifying that bats had to be made from wood. The actual wooden bat that Lillee used is still in his possession. After the match ended, he had it signed by both teams. Brearley, realising a sales stunt when he saw one, simply signed the bat "Good luck with the sales".
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