Jeffrey Archer close-up
Matthew Lloyd / © Getty Images

The Essentials

'I've taught Richards and Botham a thing or two'

Author Jeffrey Archer on his cricketer pals, the best Test he has watched, and more

What's your earliest cricket memory?
I come from the West Country, from Somerset. Back then you would regularly get 10-15,000 people for a County Championship match. My earliest memory is going to Clarence Park in Weston-super-Mare to watch Somerset.

What has been your finest achievement on a cricket field?
That would be 4 not out and 1 for 136 for my local village team, which I couldn't always get into. I'm afraid I've never been a cricketer. Just a mad, mad, mad lover of the game.

Have you played alongside "proper" cricketers?
I had the honour of playing for England and the Rest of the World. I had the honour of batting with Viv Richards, Ian Botham. They learnt a tremendous amount from me. They learnt what not to do.

Which cricketers would make likely protagonists for one of your novels?
Shane Warne, obviously, because he is such a fighter - he's competitive and determined; Dennis Lillee; and from India, Harbhajan Singh. Harbhajan is a tough guy, doesn't like losing.

I'm becoming a huge fan of Virat Kohli. I think he's a seriously great batsman.

Botham would make a good protagonist too, because he would kill you rather than lose. He's as tough as they come. He's also one of the nicest guys I know. We have been friends for 40 years, because we both come from Somerset.

What is the most memorable Test you have watched at a ground?
I didn't see two of the most memorable Tests from the ground. One was Headingley '81, when Botham smashed 149 and Bob Willis took eight wickets the following day. The other was Kolkata 2001, when Dravid and Laxman batted the entire day and beat the Australians. I had the privilege of watching Dravid score a hundred at Lord's. I was among those who gave him a standing ovation. He was a beautiful batsman.

Archer prepares to umpire in a Wisden XI v Authors XI game in 2013

Archer prepares to umpire in a Wisden XI v Authors XI game in 2013 © Getty Images

Your favourite cricket book?
I admired John Major's book on cricket. His love for the game came through. I did love the cricket match described in Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy. I have written a short story on cricket and the game has influenced me over the years.

Who is the most famous cricketer you've met?
I suppose Warne, Richards and Botham. I've pretty much met everybody. I've done a lot of charity auctions, for Muralitharan, Warne, one for every English captain. You're talking to someone who's been very lucky to meet these players, through my writing and charity work. Tendulkar has become a friend. His wife reads my books, and more importantly, his mother-in-law reads my books!

A lot of cricketers are also fans of mine. From India it would be VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble. From South Africa, AB de Villiers. And a lot of the England team too. They all read my books.

You have said that T20 is not cricket. Has that opinion changed?
It's rubbish! It's for philistines. Cricket is a Test match. One-day cricket is bearable. I want to see Kohli for five days, not five minutes. But I think the days of the Test match may be numbered.

As told to Kanishkaa Balachandran

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