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Last Updated: Friday, 6 June, 2003, 07:31 GMT 08:31 UK
Getty's lasting legacy
A View From the Boundary
England v Zimbabwe, Lord's, 24 May 2003

John Paul Getty
Cricketers are heroes to me - I come alive in their company
Sir John Paul Getty II

Following the death of Sir John Paul Getty II, Test Match Special broke with tradition in the first Test of the summer and repeated a previous interview of "A View From the Boundary".

It featured Sir Paul and the late Brian Johnston, who, as well as being interviewee and interviewer, were also great friends.

They talked about books, films and their "ridiculous" interest in Neighbours, but most importantly they talked about cricket - one of Getty's true loves.

"When I discovered cricket, it was a whole new world for me," Sir Paul declared.

That find came after an upbringing in California where he followed the fortunes of baseball's San Francisco Seals and Joe DiMaggio - "a great batsman" - and someone he compared to Denis Compton.

But Sir Paul's language gave a clear clue to his sporting passion.

Those who wield the stick in baseball are batters, "batsmen" play cricket, a sport first introduced to Sir Paul by Mick Jagger.

"Mick lived near me and used to come by my house and want to watch the cricket.

"I'd heard about this game and I had seen cricket bats. I'd always thought how can you fail to hit the ball with a bat as big as that.

"I'd ask the questions and it fascinated me. It's a very complicated game and it was a challenge to try to understand it."

The Mound Stand at Lord's
It's a very great building and it was important that it should be built
Sir Paul on the Mound Stand

Not only did he learn to understand the sport, he gave much more back.

From the redevelopment of Lord's, where he gave generous donations to help fund the building of the Mound, Compton and Edrich Stands, to becoming benefactor of Wisden, his love for the sport seemingly knew no bounds.

And Sir Paul's education was helped by some of the stalwarts of his box in the Mound Stand, Bob Wyatt and Gubby Allen.

"I love the company of cricketers, I come alive in their company," Sir Paul revealed.

"These are people I've admired and read about over the years and they are heroes to me.

"It's always fascinating talking to Bob about his days in cricket and about cricket in general and how it should be played, but it was Gubby who probably taught me more about what I understand cricket to be."

But the pair were, and would be, left aghast at some of the developments in the game.

"Coloured clothing is against everything that Gubby and I would stand for. I dislike the commercialism and also the dissent.

"Swanton received a letter from Keith Miller who said that he'd never heard 'The Don' ever complain about being given out."

"I'm probably very old fashioned but I proudly proclaim that I am."

Wormsley cricket ground
It was a stroke of genius
Sir Paul on Wormsley

And while Allen was the "King" of all he surveyed at Lord's, Sir Paul declared himself the "Master" at his own ground at Wormsley.

"I took on more than I realised when I decided to have cricket there.

"I thought you only had to shave the field off, find some stumps and play cricket. It's a good deal more than that, but it's wonderful."

He took on Wisden with a same youthful innocence that the game seemed to inspire.

"I don't know how that happened," he revealed. "It just overwhelmed me, but what would a spring be without that yellow cover."

The yellow cover remains, albeit with the addition of Michael Vaughan for 2003, and Lord's is, as 'Blowers' would say today, a picture.

That, and so much more, is thanks in a large part to Sir Paul.





Links to more Test Match Special stories


 

WATCH AND LISTEN
View from the Boundary
Peter Baxter introduces Sir John Paul Getty II in conversation with Brian Johnston from July 1993


SEE ALSO
TMS visitors' book
08 Jun 03  |  Test Match Special
Vaughan gives Wisden a facelift
23 Apr 03  |  Cricket
Billionaire Getty dies
17 Apr 03  |  UK News

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