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Tuesday, 12 March, 2002, 08:33 GMT
Randall recalls centenary fireworks
Derek Randall
Randall's 174 was not enough to save the match
On the 25th anniversary of the Centenary Test, Derek Randall looks back on a thrilling match, with BBC Sport Online's Thrasy Petropoulos.

Twenty-five years on, Derek Randall's memories of the Centenary Test between England and Australia are as vivid as ever.

There was Dennis Lillee's astonishing bowling effort -six for 26 in helpful conditions on the first day and five for 139 as Australia wore down England's resistance on the fifth afternoon.

"If Lillee was going to take wickets he was bloody well going to have to earn them.

Derek Randall
There was the shambles of England's first innings - all out for 95 in response to Australia's 138 - which must have made the organisers of the match fear that it would end inside two days.

And then, of course, there was Randall's wonderfully idiosyncratic 174 to take England within touching distance of an improbable victory on the final day at the MCG.

Randall had dared to doff his cap to Lillee when the great fast bowler almost pinged him with a bouncer in the first innings.

He told the incredulous bowler: "No good hitting me there mate, nothing to damage."

And he played the clown when he was upended by another short-pitched ball in the second innings, doing a backward summersault and then theatrically rising to his feet.

Notts legends

But it is the pre-match dinner that Randall remembers most fondly.

"We were surrounded by old cricketers who were just fascinating to talk to," he said.

"I was sat between two Nottinghamshire greats, Harold Larwood and Bill Voce, so you can imagine how excited I was.

"I even followed Larwood into the toilet so that he could carry on his stories.

"I remember him telling me how he was sponsored by Home Ales who had sent out beer for him to have with his breakfast every morning.

"They were so friendly, you wouldn't believe they tried to kill each other on the cricket field."

Lillee genius

Ask an England supporter for their memories of the Centenary Test, however, and they are unlikely to see past Randall's innings.

Surprisingly, though, he was far from certain to make the starting XI.

Dennis Lillee
Lillee was at his blazing best
"I'd had a tough tour of India and needed runs just to stay involved with the side," Randall recalls. "There were 110,000 people at the MCG, an incredible atmosphere.

"It did a bit early on and wickets tumbled to great bowlers on both sides.

"Where Lillee really showed his genius was in the second innings. The pitch had panned out to be slow and low.

"If Lillee was going to take wickets in the second innings he was bloody well going to have to earn them.

"He tried everything, a shorter run up, bowling over after over and eventually he bowled Australia to victory."

Easy atmosphere

That the match was so entertaining was due largely to the fact that, as a one-off Test, the Ashes were not at stake.

"It took a lot of the pressure of representing our country off us," Randall explained.

"The atmosphere was brilliant, even down to Lillee asking for - and getting - the Queen's autograph as she was introduced to us during a tea interval.

England captain Tony Grieg
England skipper Grieg was a miserly off-spinner
"I saw a video of the match just recently and marvelled at David Hookes hitting those five fours off Tony Greig - a hell of an achievement because Greigy hated giving runs away."

Randall favourite moment, though, was when Australian wicket-keeper Rodney Marsh called him back after umpire Tony Brooks had given the batsman out caught behind.

"It's how the Aussies play - hard, but fair. I honestly don't think it would have made any difference if we were playing for the Ashes.

"It was Rodney's way. He was such a competitor but above all he values cricket. It's marvellous that he's in charge of the Academy now."

Typical of the man, Randall had not finished entertaining the public when he was dismissed.

By taking the wrong exit as he made his way back to the dressing-room he ended up climbing to the Queen's enclosure.

"She was very nice about it," he said "She smiled. Someone else quickly put me right."

See also:

01 Jul 01 | Cricket
19 Jan 04 | The Ashes
16 May 01 | Test Match Special
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