Episode 68: The magisterial Imran Khan: the inspirational Lingard Goulding

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.

“I expected a bit more from England”, says a magisterial Imran Khan, at the start of  the latest podcast from Peter Oborne and Richard Heller, rebuking the recent cancellation of England’s short cricket tour of his country. In a clip from an extended interview with Peter Oborne, the Pakistan Prime Minister and former captain suggests that England still think they are doing Pakistan a favour by playing them at all: they would not dare treat India in the same way, because of its financial power over international cricket. He says that there was no security reason for cancellation of the England tour or the earlier one by New Zealand: the latter was prompted by false information from an Indian source. 1-3 minutes

Then Peter and Richard hear more from the amazing multi-layered life of Lingard Goulding, especially his inspirational cricket coaching and mentoring of children in two continents.

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Commenting first on the reluctance of some England players to go to Australia, he recalls Alec Bedser’s account to him of the trials and tribulations of postwar Ashes tours, when the players travelled by sea and had no time with their wives and families. 6-7 minutes

Lingard then turns to his career as headmaster of the celebrated Headfort preparatory school in Ireland. He begins by explaining its striking philosophy: “Your children are not your children,” drawn from a beautiful passage of Khalil Gibran’s “The Prophet”. The school did not treat its children as possessions and  replicas of their parents but sought instead  to launch them on their individual paths in life. 10-13 minutes

Lingard describes the application of that ideal in the school’s cricket: its playing standards rose dramatically but the game always had to remain enjoyable, especially for players of lesser ability. 14-16 minutes The wickets were always a joy to play on, while all of its cricketers had the encouragement of seeing their achievements in his annual production of the school’s version of the Wisden almanack. Its name, the Cicada, leads him to describe Julius Caesar’s little-known prowess as a cricketer. 18-20 minutes

He discusses basic principles of batting, with Marcus Trescothick as an illustration, and shares prep school memories of the inspirational Hampshire captain, Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie. 16-18 minutes

Headfort School became co-educational in the 1970s, shortly before he assumed the headship. He describes the impact of this on its cricket, and the early prowess of its alumna, Clare Shillington, who went on to captain the Ireland women’s team. 20-23 minutes

Lingard describes fixtures against other schools which gave him an early sight of a well-built 12-year-old all-rounder: Eoin Morgan. He compared his impact to that of his Winchester school contemporary, the Nawab of Pataudi. 23-26 minutes

He expresses some pungent views about helmets, limits on children’s bowling spells,  and the health and safety culture in general in children’s sport. 26-30 minutes He reflects on bad behaviour by parents at cricket matches, and suggests from some dramatic examples that it is becoming common in other sports too. 30-32 minutes

Lingard describes his induction into the Goodwood Cricket Club in Adelaide, surprising them by his revelation that he was a 61-year-old Irishman. He praises its immaculate administration, and the dedication of the children he coached there. 33-34 minutes He describes some memorable encounters in Australia, including his regular squash marathons against Carl Hooper (a decade younger). 35-37 minutes He had a long friendship with Neil Dansie,  Sheffield Shield player, top administrator and trencherman. Dansie was unlucky enough to be the partner of Don Bradman in his last innings in Australian club cricket. Few of the crowd agreed that the Don was out for 38 and even fewer stayed on to watch Dansie bat afterwards. 37-39 minutes

Finally, Lingard shares a memory of Eileen Ash, the oldest Test cricketer in history, now on the edge of her 110th birthday – who, aged 105, demonstrated yoga to the then England Women’s captain, Heather Knight. 42-43 minutes

Get in touch with us by emailing obornehellercricket@outlook.com, we would love to hear from you!

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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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