LAST IN THE TIN BATH by DAVID LLOYD (2015, Simon & Schuster, 306pp) ∗∗∗∗
Blurb: With his infectious enthusiasm for the game, David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd is one of the most popular cricket commentators around, blending immense knowledge and experience with an eye for the quirky detail and an unending fund of brilliant stories. This new autobiography recalls his childhood in Accrington, Lancashire, when, after a long day playing cricket in the street, he would get his chance to wash himself in his family’s tin bath – but only after his parents and uncle had taken their turn first. From there he moved on to make his debut for Lancashire while still in his teens, eventually earning an England call-up, when he had to face the pace of Lillee and Thomson – with painful and eye-watering consequences. After retiring as a player, he became an umpire and then England coach during the 1990s, before eventually turning to commentary with Sky Sports. Packed with hilarious anecdotes from the golden age of Lancashire cricket, and behind-the-scenes insight into life with England and on the Sky commentary team, Bumble’s book is a joy to read from start to finish.
I am a huge fan of David Lloyd, who as a commentator for Sky TV delivers his observations with passion, pragmatism and a playful sense of humour. As a player he was a dogged fighter and as a coach he was an innovator ahead of his time. I read his last book, Start the Car: The World According to Bumble, a few years ago and really enjoyed his wry observations on cricket and life in general. This book is billed as an autobiography, but in reality is a mixture of autobiography and opinion never quite fulfilling its billing.
The title of the book comes from his working class upbringing in Accrington, Lancashire, where Friday night was bath night and the youngest member of the family was the last to use the communal water. Lloyd gives some lovely anecdotes from this period of his life and takes us through his cricket career as both player and coach then later as commentator. Lloyd uses the last quarter of the book to give his views on the England team set up and the current state of the game across the world. He sets out his position very persuasively amply demonstrating his no-nonsense and common-sense approach to situations – particularly around cricket politics. But we find out little more about the man outside of the game. This may have been deliberate on Lloyd’s part to keep his family life private and concentrate this book on his life inside cricket and his philosophy on the game. Lloyd is never short of an opinion and he eloquently states his case on the issues surrounding the game today.
Whilst as an autobiography Last in the Tin Bath lacks the depth one might expect, it remains an entertaining and even thought-provoking read for cricket lovers out there.