Cricket authors (and obsessives) Peter Oborne and Richard Heller launched a podcast early in 2020 to help deprived listeners endure a world without cricket. They’re no longer deprived of cricket, but still chat regularly about cricket topics with different guests each week – cricket writers, players, administrators and fans – hoping to keep a good line and length but with occasional wides into other subjects.
Lingard Goulding kept wicket superbly in three continents over eight decades. He also found much else to do with his life, as an industrialist, a master of early computing, an author, a Formula 5000 motor racing driver and most importantly an inspiring head master and cricket coach, mentor and recorder. He shares highlights of an astonishing portfolio career, and memories of his high-achieving family, as the latest guest of Peter Oborne and Richard Heller on their cricket-themed podcast.
Lingard begins with his grandfather, Walter Monckton, lawyer and adviser to Edward VIII in the Abdication crisis (and one of the few figures trusted by all the parties concerned), Cabinet Minister under Churchill and Eden – and cricketer. Lingard tells the story of Fowler’s Match before the Great War – among the most famous cricket matches in history – in which Walter Monckton kept wicket for the losing side, Harrow against Eton at Lord’s. A team mate of Monckton’s was a googly bowler who would become Field Marshal Alexander and succeed him as President of the MCC. 4-10 minutes
Lingard’s mother Valerie was Walter Monckton’s daughter, and, as a teenager, acted as his secret courier during the Abdication crisis. He gives an unusual sidelight to Mrs Simpson (called That Woman by the Royal Family) by telling the story of her kindness to his mother. His father was one of Ireland’s leading industrialists (and a cricketer who played a first-class match for Ireland). His parents left the neutral Irish Republic for war service in England, she in the War Office, he an RAF pilot, and he saw little of them in his early years (“dodging the bombs with my nanny”). Lingard describes his mother’s long postwar public service for polio victims in the Irish Republic, which would lead to a late political career and an enduring friendship with the Republic’s controversial Taoiseach Charlie Haughey. She served in the Senate and was considered a possible President. 10-16 minutes
Lingard’s long wicketkeeping career began in the 1950s at his preparatory school, Ludgrove, later attended by Princes William and Harry. One of his first victims was the Nawab of Pataudi, who had already established a big reputation as a batsman at a rival school. The bowler concerned took four other cheap wickets. The very next day he became an earl. When this was announced tersely to the school by the headmaster, Lingard and his schoolmates assumed that this was a reward for his bowling (he had in fact inherited the title on the death of his grandfather.) Lingard later joined Pataudi at Winchester: he shares memories of him as a batsman who scored two fifties in a County Championship match for Sussex while still at the school and as a lifelong friend. 17-22 minutes
He reflects on the art of wicketkeeping, mourning the displacement of the specialist in favour of the batsman who can keep well standing back, especially in one-day cricket. 24-26 minutes As preparation for wicketkeeping, he recommends gymnastics, squash and yoga. 36 minutes
At Ludgrove he had high expectations of a younger boy who kept wicket: rightly so, it was Mike Griffith, later captain of Sussex. He was also a godson of P G Wodehouse, and named Mike, not Michael, after the hero of his school novels.
Two early wicketkeeping idols were Godfrey Evans and Arthur McIntyre, whose Test appearances were limited by his career’s overlap with Evans’s. More recently he has admired Bob Taylor, Ian Healy (especially keeping to Shane Warne) and Sarah Taylor, who stood up to every bowler, astonished the men’s team with whom she played in Australia and was widely reckoned the best in the world. Lingard also praises Tim Paine as both wicketkeeper and captain of Australia. 27-29 minutes
Lingard shares his early passion for racing sports cars, which eventually led, at the late age of 30, to a career as a Formula 5000 driver (the then second tier.) He recalls a friendship with the future posthumous world champion Jochen Rindt and a practice lap at Monza, where, after removing the rear wing of his car, he achieved a top speed close to 200 mph. 32-36 minutes
Lingard’s later cricket career was divided between Ireland and Australia: he first played there in 1963 and was still playing in competitive club cricket in 2018, aged 78, as a wicketkeeper. He speaks of an early friendship with Bob Holland, who went on to play 11 Test matches for Australia in the 1980s after his 38th birthday, and shares the record for consecutive Test ducks. He shares his (mild) experience of being sledged in Australia and of its general cricket culture, responds to the news that the ECB had allowed Ollie Robinson to resume his international career, and emphasizes his code of respect for the umpire which he has coached into generations of children. 37-46 minutes
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Peter Oborne, Richard Heller
Peter Oborne has been the chief political commentator for the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, a maker of several documentaries and written and broadcast for many different media. He is the author of a biography of Basil D’Oliveira and of Wounded Tiger, a history of Pakistan cricket, both of which won major awards.
Richard Heller was a long-serving humorous columnist on The Mail on Sunday and more briefly, on The Times. He worked in the movie business in the United States and the UK, including a brief engagement on a motion picture called Cycle Sluts Versus The Zombie Ghouls. He is the author of two cricket-themed novels A Tale of Ten Wickets and The Network. He appeared in two Mastermind finals: in the first his special subject was the life of Sir Gary Sobers.
Oborne & Heller cricketing partnership
Jointly, he and Peter produced White On Green, celebrating the drama of Pakistan cricket, including the true story of the team which lost a first-class match by an innings and 851 runs.
Peter and Richard have played cricket with and against each other for a variety of social sides, including Parliament’s team, the Lords and Commons, and in over twenty countries including India, Pakistan, the United States, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, France, Greece, Australia, Zimbabwe, New Zealand and Morocco.
The Podcast is produced by Bridget Osborne and James Willcocks at The Chiswick Calendar.
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