Warwickshire legend Dennis Amiss runs through his greatest XI from his time with the Bears.
- Dennis Amiss
- John Jameson
- Rohan Kanhai
- Alvin Kallicharran
- MJK Smith
- Geoff Humpage
- Tom Cartwright
- David Brown
- Gladstone Small
- Bob Willis
- Lance Gibbs
Last year, Warwickshire’s fans emphatically voted Dennis Amiss and John Jameson to be the Greatest Ever Bears Opening Pair – so it’s only right that Dennis accepts our invitation to include himself in the pair at the top of the order in his My Bears XI .
“I’ll go in with John because we batted well together,” Dennis said. “We had a great understanding, as you do when you bat together for a long period of time.
“John is definitely my number one. He was a marvellous player of fast bowling and I’ll never forget his 80 runs off about eight overs off the great Imran Khan. Imran kept bowling length balls and John kept hitting him for six over mid-wicket.Dennis Amiss
“He could change a game and was a great partner to bat with because if I was in trouble with the quicks, as I sometimes was, he’d come down and say: ‘I’ll take those.’
“He could turn a match and would have been brilliant in Twenty20. Not sure about his fielding, mind – he was always a big lad!”
Warwickshire legend Amiss was a pillar of the great side which won the 1972 County Championship. That team was peppered with England and West Indies internationals, so it’s no surprise that it is heavily represented in Dennis’s My Bears XI.
“At three and four, it’s got to be Rohan Kanhai and Alvin Kallicharran,” he said.
“Rohan was a great player and marvellous to bat with. He could take command on any wicket against any attack and played some great innings against some of the best bowlers around. He was one of the all-time West Indies greats and we were lucky enough to see the best of him at Warwickshire.
“Alvin was a little left-hander…and what a player. I remember we played one game at Worcester when Vanburn Holder was charging in and Alvin came in and I said to him ‘Vanburn’s been on for a while now so probably only has one or two overs left in this spell so we can just see him off.’
“So Alvin faces his first ball from him and it’s a bouncer and he hooks it out of the ground. Next ball is pitched up and he smashes it through the covers. Then another bouncer – another six.
“He takes about 20 off the over then comes down the pitch and says to me ‘that’s another way to see him off, Dennis.’ I never thought of that way!”
“At five…MJK Smith. A wonderful player and captain. I really enjoyed playing under him because he was prepared to risk losing a game to win one. He used to set some great targets and then manipulate those targets by tweaking his bowlers very skilfully. We had some fantastic victories and some really good games of cricket under his stewardship. He scored a huge amount of runs too, more than 3,000 in one season, and is one of Warwickshire’s all-time greats.
“For my keeper it’s a real toss up between Deryck Murray and Geoff Humpage. I saw the best of both of them and they are both true Bears but, on track record, I think Humpy probably edges it because of his stats. Deryck would have the edge on keeping but Humpy was such a good batsman and could change a game, just like John Jameson. He was a real thumper of the ball and scored hundreds in county cricket.”
Into the bowlers and Dennis picks a beautifully balanced attack, starting with a king of swing.
“Tom Cartwright was a wonderful bowler who used to swing it a lot, then suddenly discovered that, by hitting the seam, with his great wrist action he could move it either way,” he said. “He was very mean. Like Derek Underwood he absolutely hated to concede runs. He bowled so straight, didn’t give anything away and always did something with the ball. A great bowler with a great record for Warwickshire.
“David Brown was another a great performer for Warwickshire and who also did well in Test matches for England. Browny hit the deck hard and hit the seam and always gave it 100 per cent. Just a great bloke and team man. You would want him in the team for who he is, never mind his bowling.
“Then it’s Gladstone Small – a top bowler with good pace and who could worry the best. I remember when Viv Richards played against us at Taunton, he had about 70 at lunch and the ball had done nothing all day. Then the first ball after lunch from Gladstone made it bounce and it lifted past Viv missed his gloves by a whisker…and he went on to get 300. Fine margins in cricket!Dennis Amiss
“Gladstone was another true team man and great performer.
“Then it’s Bob Willis. Bob didn’t enjoy county cricket because he played so much for England and that took a lot out of him, but more than 300 Test wickets says it all about his quality. He had real pace and everything you want from a fast bowler.
“Then, finally, my spinner is another player who helped us to win the championship in 1972 – Lance Gibbs. He was a tall man, who got bounce as well as turn. He had long fingers and a great wrist action which meant he got a lot of revs on the ball. Also a good man to have in the dressing room, always having a laugh and a joke and putting people at their ease – but such a good bowler.”