AS a former player, umpire and coach, you’d have thought commentator David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd would have seen it all in his long cricketing career.

But nothing has quite prepared him for one of the strangest seasons of all during which the 73-year-old Accrington-born broadcaster has been notable by his absence from our screens.

“I’ve found it really difficult these last few months,” said Bumble. “Not just working but at home as well.

“I’m realistic that the TV won’t go on forever and there are other things I want to do with my life and I suppose there will come a time when I have to quietly sneak away.”

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David “Bumble” Lloyd

While coronavirus has given many of us a time to reflect, Bumble has gone one step further by celebrating the many characters he has come across in his cricketing career in a new book called Simply The Best.

“The idea was to write about the 100 best people I’d met in cricket,” he said. “We kicked off with Don Bradman who I was lucky enough to meet and then we moved on from there thinking about who influenced my early days at Accrington Cricket Club, and then finishing with the lads who play these days.

“When I met Bradman in 1974 he was still quite an active and influential bloke. He signed a bat I used which was terrific.”

Bumble was of course no mean player batsman himself, signing for Lancashire at 16 and winning nine Test caps for England, but he admits he still gets star-struck despite counting many of England’s current stars as friends.

“I still have to pinch myself sometimes,” he said. “I’m so lucky to still be heavily involved with the game, and the other day I played golf with Jimmy Anderson - I’m living the dream really.

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“When we’re together it is absolutely taboo to mention cricket - we’ll talk about football or horse racing but never, ever cricket.

“This new England regime goes out of its way to involve us - if there’s a special win they’ll sometimes invite some of us into the changing room to celebrate, which is really nice.”

Bumble moved into umpiring and coaching after his playing career ended, eventually taking charge of England between 1996 and 1999.

But it’s as a commentator on television and radio that he is best known to a new generation, with his unique sense of humour making him a crucial part of Sky TV’s cricket coverage.

“Thankfully I don’t think a lot of the players see the media as the enemy anymore,” said Bumble. “The lads are fully aware that the media have a job to do.”

Bumble played for the Red Rose until 1983, captaining them for five years after he took over from the legendary Jack Bond.

“Jack was a father figure to all of us at Lancashire,” he said. “In your formative years it’s those people who take you under their wing and care for you.

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“I don’t get down to Accrington Cricket Club as often as I’d like but I wouldn’t be anyone or anywhere without that club.”

There are a number of tales in Simply The Best about the gnarly veterans who looked out for the teenage Lloyd in the tough school of the Lancashire League and it’s clear what affection Bumble has for the amateur game.

“This season has been bloody awful for club cricket, and the difficulty coping with this disease is immense,” he said. “Social media can be a brute sometimes but there are all sorts of snippets on there about village cricket and it goes worldwide.

“You get to see all these funny incidents and people trying their absolute best to play cricket even if they’re totally overweight. The humour in village cricket is terrific.”

While it’s been a difficult summer for everyone involved in the game, Bumble, like many, has relished watching England overcome both the West Indies and Pakistan in what were thrilling Test series at times.

“We’re in debt to them for coming because we are in a dreadful state as a country,” he said. “The England team have played pretty well and we’ve been very lucky.

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“England have had an opportunity to bring young lads in and have a look at them, and it’s worked.”

A similar tactic has worked for Lancashire with the Red Rose handing out a number of First Class debuts to young homegrown players.

He added: “It has been brilliant and a silver lining to the season.

“These young lads who would have been trying to get into a 2nd XI have been pitched in and I think they’ve done really well.

“Lads like Josh Bohannon, George Burrows and Tom Hartley all look terrific to me.”

Simply The Best, by David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd, is out now, published by Simon and Schuster.