Chris Waters: Son of Darren Lehmann rekindles memories of Yorkshire matador

Yorkshire's Darren Lehmann celebrates a century during his playing days with the county.

Yorkshire's Darren Lehmann celebrates a century during his playing days with the county.

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THE slightest excuse to wax lyrical about Darren Lehmann’s involvement with Yorkshire CCC is never one to be turned down, and what better justification than the fact that the club have just signed his son, Jake, for the rest of the County Championship campaign.

Lehmann junior will make his debut against Lancashire at Old Trafford today almost 10 years after his father ended a nine-year association with the White Rose.

It was in September, 2006 that Lehmann senior last played for the county, and you may well remember his final innings.

Why, he scored the small matter of 339 against Durham at Headingley, just two short of George Hirst’s county record, and then modestly stated that he was glad that he did not beat the record as “George Hirst was a much better player than I am”.

As an all-rounder, that may be true, given that Hirst was one of the finest to have graced the game.

But, purely as a batsman, it is interesting to reflect on Lehmann’s place in the Yorkshire pantheon.

In terms of statistics, which is all one can really go on when engaging in the admittedly futile task of trying to compare across eras, Lehmann stands in a class of his own.

In 88 first-class matches for the club, he scored 8,871 runs at an average of 68.76.

Although he played significantly fewer matches than many of the long-accepted Yorkshire greats, and although he did not play on uncovered pitches, and so on, no-one comes close to approaching that average.

Herbert Sutcliffe, the legendary opening batsman of the inter-war period, who played a whopping 602 first-class games for Yorkshire and is their all-time record run-scorer with 38,558, averaged 50.20.

Geoffrey Boycott, who maintained exceptional standards for a quarter of a century, averaged 57.85 – the best average of any Yorkshire batsman who has played over a considerable length of time.

Len Hutton – considered by many to have been the greatest of all English batsmen – averaged 53.

Again, such players sustained their output over many years, but it nonetheless puts Lehmann’s figures into some kind of perspective.

So, where does Lehmann stand in the pantheon of Yorkshire batsmen?

In my view, he has to be right up there with the likes of the aforementioned Sutcliffe, Boycott and Hutton, deserving his place in the very highest company.

Indeed, it was interesting that when this newspaper ran a poll in 2006 to find the greatest Yorkshire XI, our readers voted him into the final team.

Lehmann, in fact, was the only contemporary player who made the cut and the only non-Yorkshireman, too.

When I told him about the poll, which attracted several thousand entries, he was genuinely moved that the Yorkshire supporters regarded him so highly.

Like so many of the greats, there was a humility about him that added to his aura.

Alas, I was not lucky enough to see Sutcliffe, Boycott or Hutton in the flesh, but I count myself fortunate indeed to have seen Darren Lehmann play.

He toyed with bowlers as a matador toys with a bull; at times, he made the game look ridiculously simple.

Now, thanks to the arrival of his son, we will see Lehmann wearing a Yorkshire shirt again.

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