Allan Lamb is named Northants' 'greatest player of all time'

Allan Lamb in action for NorthantsAllan Lamb in action for Northants
Allan Lamb in action for Northants
Allan Lamb has been declared to be Northants' 'greatest player of all time' in an online vote staged by the official Twitter account of the County Championship.

Supporters were first asked for nominations for who is the club's greatest player, and that led to four-way vote involving Lamb, Curtly Ambrose, Dennis Brookes and David Sales.

Close to 1,000 fans then had their say, and it was Lamb who came out on top with 42 per cent of the vote, pipping Ambrose who snared 36 per cent.

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Sales was third with 18 per cent of the vote, while Brookes, the club's all-time leading run-scorer, was fourth with four per cent.

Allan LambAllan Lamb
Allan Lamb

Lamb was delighted to come out on top, and speaking to the club's website he said: "I was a bit shocked to be honest

"There have been so many great cricketers to represent Northamptonshire over the years, and I’m so lucky to have played alongside many of them."

Lamb spent 18 seasons at the County Ground between 1978 and 1995, and scored more than 30,000 runs in 600 appearances for the club across first-class and limited overs cricket.

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He also played 79 Test matches and 122 one-day internationals for England.

Allan Lamb led Northants to NatWest Trophy glory in 1992Allan Lamb led Northants to NatWest Trophy glory in 1992
Allan Lamb led Northants to NatWest Trophy glory in 1992

The South African-born batsman captained the team from 1988 to 1995, and led Northants to NatWest Trophy Final glory in 1992 when the County saw off Leicestershire at Lord's to claim only the club's third major honour.

His final season at the club was in 1995 when he came close to leading the club to its first County Championship title, eventually finishing third.

Lamb is honoured to have been voted the club's greatest player, especially as he knows all too well how many top class performers have represented the County alongside him over the years.

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“When I first started at the club in 1978 we had David Steele, Peter Willey, Wayne Larkins and Geoff Cook. They were the stalwarts of the side – and they all played for England," said Lamb.

“On his day, Wayne was one of the best batsmen I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen him murder an attack when he was in the right mood – just an incredible player. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone hit a ball more cleanly than ‘Ned'.

“Geoff played most of his career here and I took over from him as captain.

"He was a gutsy, hard-working player who batted for his life for Northamptonshire – and he stands out massively in the club’s history. Peter was a courageous guy, never fazed about talking anyone on. He played the quick bowlers so well."

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Lamb stated that his personal list of Northants greats also includes Pakistan’s Mushtaq Mohammad and Sarfraz Nawaz, and a thrio of Indian legends, Bishan Bedi, Kapil Dev and Anil Kumble.

“Anil Kumble nearly won us the County Championship in 1995," remembered Lamb.

"I wanted him to replace Curtly who was away with the West Indies that summer. The committee weren’t too happy about bringing in a spinner for a quick bowler, but I felt that was what we needed.

"Talking to Sunny Gavaskar and Mohammad Azharuddin, they said he’ll get plenty of wickets, but make sure you’ve got a good short leg fielder because everyone plays for the leg-break and you’ll get a lot of people caught there. And that’s exactly what we did.”

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Kumble claimed an incredible 105 Championship wickets, with 17 of them caught by Richard Montgomerie close in, and he also helped the County to the 1995 NatWest Trophy Final, which was lost to Warwickshire.

“It was amazing,"recalled Lamb. "No-one has taken 100 wickets for us since then, and the one to do it before Anil was Bishan Bedi – so we were lucky to have two great Indian spinners play for us."

Lamb also has words of praise for the runner-up in the poll, the giant Antiguan fast bowler Ambrose.

“To me, Curtly was one of the greatest of all time," said Lamb. "He certainly won us a lot of games during his time with Northamptonshire.

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“It could be difficult captaining him though. You’d ask if he wanted to bowl from a particular end and he’d say ‘no.’ So you’d ask what the problem was – and he’d say ‘captain! Don’t ask me – because I don’t like bowling. Just tell me, and then I’ll bowl!

"He was an incredible bowler."

Legendary batsman Brookes came fourth in the poll, and although Lamb never saw him play, he also gave the man who has the gates on the Abington Avenue entrance named afteer him a special mention.

“Dennis Brookes probably watched most of my Championship innings for Northamptonshire at the County Ground, but he wasn’t as keen on the one-day stuff," said Lamb.

“He was a very shy man – but if ever I was having a bit of a problem he would just come up to me and say ‘you’re falling over a bit’ or ‘your head isn’t right.’

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“A remarkable man – very quiet and kept himself to himself, but he knew the game of cricket inside out. Another Northamptonshire great whose record (more first-class appearances, runs and centuries for the club than anyone else) speaks for itself."

And, with a final word on his time as a player at the club, Lamb added: "I just loved playing for the county – I loved the people, I loved the crowds and I loved the players I played with.

"There was never a dull moment – let’s put it that way!”

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