He would be a strong contender for the title of greatest fast bowler of all time. But Dennis Lillee would also be a contender for the worst-behaved cricketer of all time. As a flamboyant, outspoken cricketer he was second to none. Unfortunately, Lillee also had a dark side to his character and a vicious, arrogant streak. Never afraid to court controversy, Lillee had a number of open and ugly skirmishes with opposing players and those in authority.
His totally unacceptable behaviour over the aluminium bat incident at Perth in 1979, his role in ticking off Sunil Gavaskar at Melbourne the following season when he allegedly used foul language, his serious altercation with Javed Miandad at Perth in 1981 which saw the protagonists almost come to blows before they were separated by the umpire and his betting against his own team in the Leeds Test the same year when he was playing in the match are some of the well-chronicled unsavoury incidents that have given Lillee the bad boy image.
While he was a charismatic personality who was always playing to the gallery, his conduct was not always acceptable. Certainly, he was a cricketer of the times when the behaviour of players had touched a then all-time low.
Text: Partab Ramchand