Lincoln author’s book reignites infamous sporting debate

A book by Lincoln-based broadcaster, journalist and author Grahame Lloyd has paved the way for speculation due to controversial allegations about a world-famous cricket ball.

His new book, Howzat? The Six Sixes Ball Mystery, is launching on the back of Lloyd’s 2008 publication Six of the Best: Cricket’s Most Famous Over.

The book strongly suggested that the ball hit for an historic six sixes by West Indian legend Gary Sobers in Swansea 1968 was not the Duke & Son ball that sold for a world record £26,400 by Christie’s in 2006.

Now, startling new evidence about the auction has sparked a row involving Glamorgan’s Malcolm Nash, who was the bowler on the receiving end of the famous feat.

Alongside comments from Nash that the ball bowled in the historic over was a Stuart Surridge, and not a Duke as was sold in the record auction, Lloyd’s work aims to put the record straight.

Ahead of the 18-month investigation into the disputed sale by the world’s leading auction house, Grahame Lloyd’s evidence also managed to persuade Bonhams to withdraw the same supposed counterfeit from an auction in May 2012.

The intriguing tale is one of extensive research, interviews and a sense of justice in the author’s search to defend his boyhood hero.

Grahame Lloyd grew up in Lincolnshire and attended De Aston school in Market Rasen before travelling the UK to gain various qualifications.

Throughout his career, Grahame has reported regularly for TV and radio news programmes, been involved in documentaries and worked freelance in current affairs and sports departments.

Howzat? The Six Sixes Ball Mystery will be Lloyd’s 8th book, with ‘Howzat’ translating simply to ‘how is that possible’.

“I knew one thing that was clear above everything else: the ball was not genuine”, said Lloyd, “But nobody noticed or seemed to care.

“When I saw the same Duke ball pop up in another auction I thought to myself ‘should I allow this to happen?'”

After the ball’s eventual withdrawal from a sporting memorabilia auction in 2012 by Bonhams, as a result of Lloyd’s “compelling and conclusive” evidence, Christie’s have now re-investigated the 2006 sale but stand by the original “good provenance” and the “signed certificate.”

Grahame said: “Although Sobers signed a certificate of authenticity to verify the ball, he didn’t profit from the auction at Christie’s.

“While he describes himself as an ‘innocent bystander’, his former agent, Basharat Hassan, has admitted receiving nearly £4,000 from the sale – and not telling Sobers anything about the payment.”

Graham Lloyd’s work tackles not only a staggering sporting story, but also delves subsequently into human nature.

Lloyd said: “It was the human aspect that was the biggest obstacle for me. There was almost a sense of embarrassment from the people involved.

“Five of the people I approached, including Christie’s, refused to comment. The current owner of the ball in India was a serial liar.

“In reflection, I may even have overwritten it. I was however determined to get to the truth and I am extremely proud of the result. It’s fair to say that I have put a lot of myself into it.”

Former Wisden Editor Matthew Engel said: “It is about the real people who play the game, watch it, love it, cling to it.”

Lloyd’s Howzat? The Six Ball Mystery is available to purchase from Amazon now, and signed copies can be obtained from Lincoln’s BookStop Cafe are also selling the publication alongside a number of locally produced works.

Latest news – Grahame Lloyd’s book has been included on the long list for the Cricket Society and MCC Book of the Year 2014, an award made since 1970 for the best writing about cricket.

A short list of books will be drawn up in February with the winner of The Cricket Society and MCC Book of the Year Award being announced at an event in the Long Room at Lord’s in May.