When I worked at Headingley back in 2000, I was in the office one day and overheard a conversation between a couple people in the finance department.
They were discussing the expenses claimed by some of the players, and if they could save some money. One particular point of consternation was that of the expenses claimed by a young player, “He doesn’t even play for the first team!” went one, “He can’t play for them, he isn’t qualified yet!” went the other “Why the hell are we paying so much money to him then?” came the reply. At this point David Ryder the then head of finance at the club stepped in and answered with “because Martyn Moxon and the rest of the coaches say he’s going to be the next big thing!”
This left the other two shrugging and mumbling about how they would wait and see etc etc. As I look back with hindsight I’m glad that the coaches, Moxon and Ryder stuck up for that young man as he went on to represent three counties, his country and win The ICC World T20 Championship in his career – a career that was brought to an end yesterday with the announcement that an ankle injury meant he was having to retire with immediate effect.
The young man they were talking about was, of course, Michael Lumb.
Lumb, son of Yorkshire legend Richard Lumb, did qualify for England and went on to play for Yorkshire first team that year against the touring Zimbabwe side, which included the likes of the Flower Brothers, Heath Streak and then captain Bryan Strang (Who I got out whilst bowling to him in the nets, but that’s another story, and one that I tell with great detail!) He made 66 runs, signalling that maybe he was indeed the next big thing.
2001 saw Yorkshire lift the County Championship for the first time in 33 Years. Sadly Lumb’s contributions were limited by a knee injury. He did, however, make his maiden first class century against Leicestershire and again put a flag in the ground for his great potential.
By 2002 he was an integral part of both the Championship and limited overs side, scoring nearly 1000 first class runs including two centuries and six fifties.
By 2005 his Yorkshire career was starting to stall and at the end of the 2006 season Lumb packed up his kit bag and headed south, for warmer climes and a fresh start at the Rose Bowl with Hampshire.
The warmer weather and life in Southampton clearly suited him, as his career kick started and he really came to prominence, especially in the shorter formats of the game. His form in the 2009 season saw him gain a contract for the glitz and glamour of the IPL playing, for the Rajastan Royals.
It was at this time that Lumb’s career really sky rocketed, and the newcomer to the international stage forged such an impressive opening partnership with Craig Kieswetter, leading England to their first ever ICC World Trophy, when Paul Collingwood lifted the World T20 trophy in the Caribbean in 2010.
Lumb went on to play 27 times in the shortest format for his country and 3 times in ODIs, where he scored a century on debut, and finished his ODI career with an average over 50.
Following his World T20 triumph, injury returned in the final year of his Hampshire contract. There was no new contract offer, but The Outlaws came to his rescue offering him a new home at Trent Bridge.
The change again worked out for Lumb, who has gone from his destructive strength to destructive strength in Nottingham.
At Trent Bridge Lumb also confounded the naysayers; those who say he is just a white ball cricketer. He scored over 11,000 first class runs in his career and over 1400 in his first year at Notts.
Despite this, it will always be Lumb’s white ball success that lives in the memory. Just last season he was part of a record opening stand of 342 with Riki Wessells, surpassing the 318 scored by Dravid and Ganguly for India. Lumb made 184 in that partnership, and it was this striking that has made him such a success on the other side of the world. With the Sydney Sixers, Lumb has won The Big Bash T20 league and become a cult hero for the men in pink.
In fact, wherever Lumb has travelled he has been liked by players and fans alike, be it for his entertaining batting or for his friendly personality or a mixture of the two.
I will always remember the cheeky young man who used to steal sweets off my desk in the Headingley office, and how friendly he was to me, but my real lasting memory will be the way he took the attack to the bowlers on the world stage as a relatively unknown and won the World T20 in 2010.
I’m sure that supporters of Notts, Hants, Yorkshire and England will all have their own memories of Michael Lumb in their colours, and will look back fondly at his career – a career cut short by injury, but a career of which he can be proud.
I sometimes wonder if those two finance people remember that conversation from back in 2010 and feel silly about questioning whether Yorkshire should have been paying so much money for him. I, for one, am glad they did and that David Ryder intervened.
Just think of all the memories we may have missed out on, if the bean counters had had their way.