LAKER & LOCK The Odd Couple by Christopher Sandford

LAKER & LOCK The Odd Couple
by Christopher Sandford

Published by:
Pitch Publishing
A2 Yeoman Gate, Yeoman Way,
Worthing, Sussex BN13 3QZ


Pages: 319

MRP: £19.99

Copies can be bought from


Christopher Sandford has added Laker & Lock to his wide-ranging array of subjects on which he has written. It was a book which I was looking forward to reading and one which has certainly not disappointed.

Jim Laker and Tony Lock were one of cricket's most fabled pairings and it is good therefore to have a book which concentrates on both of these fine bowlers rather than individual books on one or the other. They may not have been especially close and both were completely different characters, all of which comes out in this excellent book.

There is very much more to these bowlers than Old Trafford 1956, a match synonymous with one of cricket's greatest feats, and likely unbeatable. As Christopher himself mentions and quotes, there are figures which knowledgeable cricket fans will immediately recognise; 400 not out; 99.94 and 19-90. Yes, many will know that Lock took the only other wicket to fall in that famous match. I have had to look up Lock's figures (1-106) and be reminded that the one was Jim Burke, the third wicket to fall in the first innings.

Christopher mentions that books on Laker - and indeed full books written on that Old Trafford Test - concentrate much on the 19-90. If anything, I was expecting more about the Test in Laker & Lock but find that the book works well with a smaller, but very pertinent, input on that match. Spare a thought for Lock. Haven't we all read about how much quicker he bowled in that second innings? Looking at the scorecard, I am also reminded that Lock actually bowled more overs in that second innings than Laker. Other team-mates are quoted on the comparison between the two in that Test and it is a further reminder how difficult it is for the eleven individuals playing a team game.

We learn that both players were complete opposites on the field but both also had their sensitivities and concerns off. Both had their run-ins with authority. I rather enjoyed what I viewed as thinly-veiled references to how the game's etiquette, decorum and running of the game has changed between Laker and Lock's playing days and now. That said, Lock was far from being a shrinking violet, whilst the quieter Laker was one not to be taken lightly. I see admirable qualities in both of their styles. It is probably safe to say that, in the unlikely event of someone equalling or overtaking Laker's Old Trafford match analysis, that the player would not just nonchalantly hitch up his trousers.

Both made the headlines for the wrong reasons too. My prior knowledge and understanding of Laker, who went on to be a well-known and no-nonsense commentator, were challenged by what I have read in this book. Lock moved to Australia where he became a successful Sheffield Shield player and captain before coaching towards the end of his life. On a tour to Australia in 1991, our group was privileged to meet him at a Perth college and he was exactly as I had expected.

Sadly, allegations were later made against him which he vehemently denied and which he was found not guilty of. Not long afterwards, he, like Laker earlier, had died, both in only their mid-60s. There is a very good statistical section to complete the book and, as always, an index is always helpful. Laker & Lock, The Odd Couple is a fascinating book and, I would suggest, a must.