March 31, 1995
A BOWLER WITH BITE;
WHO WOULD dare to imply that slow bowlers are never by nature
the aggressive animals of county cricket? Yet of course, who
could in honesty categorise Tony Lock as merely slow? There were
periods of his varied career when he was medium-paced or even
more. Once, at the Wagon Works in Gloucester when infuriated by
Jack Crapp's obduracy, Lock let go a bouncer which crashed into
the sight-screen without touching the ground again, way out en
route of orbit of the timorous batsman and the vainly-leaping
Sweatman behind the stumps. That was the day umpire Harry Baldwin
shouted: "Keep your hair on, Locky".
Lock, who has died of lung cancer aged 65, could be a
magnificent left-arm bowler, with interchanging talents of spin,
flight (less so), and belligerence. He played 49 times for his
country and 385 for Surrey, having established a place by 1949.
His unrelenting brilliance, in tandem with Jim Laker, was part of
cricketing folklore in the fifties and early sixties.
The impassioned competitive persona was Lock's strength as a
team man. He could win games on his own and was an integral part
of Surrey's pre-eminence as they kept winning the championship.
Against Kent at Blackheath in 1956, he took all 10. The summer
before, he had harvested 216 wickets; indeed 14 times he took
100 wickets in a season, twice progressing to 200.
But success was earned amid some anguish. Umpires monitored
his action with intermittent reprimands, mostly concerned with
his faster deliveries. He suffered, tainted as a thrower, in
England just as he did on the West Indies tour of 1953-54. His
response could be acidic; there were always chips on the
shoulder, a tetchy disposition balanced with days of much charm
and enthusiasm that was savoured by his team mates and
Lock's private thoughts can only be imagined when he was left
out of the MCC party for Australia in 1962-63. There was
brimstone as he went off, in what seemed like a vengeful
statement, to join Western Australia where ironically he soon
found himself facing Dexter's players. He stayed with Western
Australia until 1971, leading them with canny skill to the
Sheffield Shield title and, at a more sedate, civilised pace -
allied to years of pragmatic experience - producing some of his
finest and most enjoyed cricket.
During this time he became a commuting player, having three
seasons with Leicestershire, two of them as captain. The county
ended as runners-up under him; his professional approach, at
times cold as steel but reinforced by inspiring team resolve,
earned him plaudits at Grace Road, grudging approval from some
opponents. He twice toured the West Indies; went also to
Pakistan, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, India and
"Locky" was far more than an intense and brilliant bowler.
His batting, versatile and sagacious, was often of value and
should never be underrated whatever the statistics suggest. And
he takes his undisputed place among our most superb close-to-the-
wicket fielders. At backward short leg he dived and contorted his
body to pick up catches with flawless timing and instinct. There
were 830 catches altogether, some of them almost miraculous off
his own bowling. (2844 wickets, at 19.23 in total).
After his first-class cricket ended he remained in
Australia. Fate took a cruel twist towards the end when legal
proceedings, involving alleged *** *** against a
10-year-old girl, hung over him. The jury failed to reach a
verdict and plans for a retrial were cancelled because of Lock's
state of health.
Graham Anthony Richard Lock, cricketer, born July 5, 1929;
died March 30, 1995