Darren Lehmann was twice the batsman Mike Hussey is. That’s not a fat joke, nor is it meant as a put-down for Hussey, who we rate very highly – it’s just that Darren Lehmann was magic.
Some players have a really good season where they stand head and shoulders above everyone else. A lot of players manage to live off such a season for the rest of their careers. Darren Lehmann stood head and shoulders above everyone else, every season, for about 20 years. He was outrageously superior for an astonishing length of time.
He hit 3,000 one-day international runs, won two World Cups, averaged 45 in a 27 Test career and finishes as the top run-scorer of all time in Australian domestic cricket, but still he didn’t get as much success as he ought to have done.
He was unfortunate to find himself competing with Steve and Mark Waugh for Test batting spots, but we’re not sure they were his betters. Their reputations were largely forged in Test cricket and we suspect Lehmann would have fared just as well give more of a chance, but we’ll never know.
To watch Lehmann bat was to watch someone totally in command of their own game and the confidence that brought allowed him to deal with any match situation. In his final season playing for Yorkshire, he rose to the occasion in all the big games. Or at least he appeared to. In reality he was on top form from first to last – you can’t raise your game when you’re already at the summit.
In three Roses matches against Lancashire, traditionally Yorkshire’s biggest fixtures, Lehmann hit a hundred in each of the first-class games and a mere 92 in a one-day game (off 69 balls). In a match against Kent, Lehmann came to the crease at 34-4 and promptly hit 193. In the return fixture he hit 172 out of Yorkshire’s total of 310. The next highest scorer was Anthony McGrath with 41.
This is all in one season. Oh no, wait – there’s more. In the final match of the season, his final match for Yorkshire, with the whole county desperate for him to get a hundred, he did. In fact once he passed 100, he felt okay, so he got another. And another. His final innings for Yorkshire was 339. He’d hit three sixes and 52 fours.
So when he turns out for South Australia on Friday in the Pura Cup, it might be worth keeping an eye on him. Lightning never strikes twice in the same place, but lightning has nothing to do with scoring runs in first-class cricket. So far Darren Lehmann’s proved that you can score a first-class run 25,628 times.
The man’s a machine. A big, bald, lardy, run-scoring machine.
Darren Lehmann posts from the past – some are quite good. We like the one where we say: “How much more better could he be? The answer, of course, is ‘none’. None more better…”