Dennis Lillee, full name Dennis Keith Lille, is a former Australian cricketer and was known for his fast bowling style of play during his time and even argued to be one of the best of all time. He was also known for his persistence and refusal to give up, which worked well for him and was the reason he was admired by his fellow cricketers and fans alike.
Due to his fast bowling style, Dennis suffered several stress fractures on his back which almost put him out of commission. But with the help of a strict fitness regime, he was able to get back on his feet and was better than ever before.
He retired back in 1984 when he held the world record for most Test wickets and had cemented his status as one of the most recognizable and renowned Australian sportsmen of all time. He was inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame on 17th December 2009.
Dennis Lillee Cricket Career
Dennis Lillee made his first-class debut at the age of 20, playing for the Western Australia team back in the 1969-70 season. He impressed a lot of people with his extraordinary pacing and skills. This marked the start of Dennis Lillee’s journey to greatness.
The following season of 1970-71, saw Lille’s debut in the Sixth Test at Adelaide in the Ashes series. He showed an immense level of skill and prowess but this was only the beginning of his journey. Lille played well in the following games but, during the following season, in their match series against the Rest of the World XI.
He began to destroy a batting lineup that included Garry Sobers, Clive Lloyd Rohan Kanhai, and Sunil Gavaskar which was no easy feat to accomplish, also earning him his career-best in an inning. He then continued to show more and more skill and prowess in the coming matches.
The price of Success
Due to his play style and tenacity, Lille had suffered various stress fractures in his back which almost put him out of commission for good. He underwent rigorous physiotherapy and with the help of sports scientist Frank Pyke, Lille was able to make a full recovery, though the injury led him to change how he bowled. Even with these changes, Lille did not let up and continued with his fast pace bowling.
Ashes to Ashes, dust to dust…
After recovering from his injury, Lille was then paired with Jeff Thomson, a New South Wales fast bowler. This marked the birth of a golden duo. With their relentless fast bowling style of play, these two would go on to lead their team to victory after victory.
Their notoriety increased immensely when the Sydney newspaper The Sunday Telegraph ran a photo of the duo with the caption “Ashes to Ashes, dust to dust, if Thomson doesn’t get ya, Lillee must” written underneath.
Lillie and his controversies
During a test match at the WACA Ground back in December 1979, between Australia and England, Lille stepped into the field with a bat made of Aluminium, which surprised and shocked many people. Back then there were no rules regarding the use of Aluminium bats but as the game went on, he earned the ire of his captain and that of England’s captain. After a long discussion, Lille was made to change his bat, which he did so reluctantly.
Another controversy that surrounded Lille was when he made a bet with Rod Marsh on their match against England during Australia’s tour of England back in 1981. Australia was the favored to win and during the break, the bookmakers at the ground showed the odds of 500-1 against England to the players.
The two men decided to make a joke out of it and decided to place bets against their team. Though many speculated that this had affected their play, many others did not believe so. Both the players were not punished but these actions have been subject to re-examination.