John Lever

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John Lever
Personal information
Full name
John Kenneth Lever
Born (1949-02-24) 24 February 1949 (age 74)
Stepney, London, England
BowlingLeft-arm fast-medium
International information
National side
Test debut (cap 471)17 December 1976 v India
Last Test19 June 1986 v India
ODI debut (cap 35)26 August 1976 v West Indies
Last ODI14 February 1982 v Sri Lanka
Domestic team information
Career statistics
Competition Test ODI
Matches 21 22
Runs scored 306 56
Batting average 11.76 8.00
100s/50s 0/1 0/0
Top score 53 27*
Balls bowled 4,433 1,152
Wickets 73 24
Bowling average 26.72 29.70
5 wickets in innings 3 0
10 wickets in match 1 0
Best bowling 7/46 4/29
Catches/stumpings 11/– 6/–
Source: Cricinfo, 1 January 2006

John Kenneth Lever MBE (born 24 February 1949)[1] is an English former international cricketer who played Test and One Day International cricket for England. Lever was a left-arm fast-medium bowler who predominantly swung the ball into right-handed batsmen.

The cricket correspondent Colin Bateman remarked that "for 23 years he plied his trade with Essex, becoming the finest left-arm pace bowler in the country. Tough, astute, and entertaining in the dressing room, Lever was, as the title of his autobiography suggests, A Cricketer's Cricketer".[1]

Life and career[edit]

Lever is sometimes unfairly remembered for the Vaseline incident during his debut tour of India in 1976. It was one of the first publicised incidents of 'doctoring' (using unfair means to enhance the swing or seam abilities of the cricket ball by a bowler), when Lever was accused of rubbing vaseline onto one side of the ball so it would swing better.[2] The claim was later rejected and Lever was cleared of any wrongdoing. In that Test against India in Delhi, Lever recorded the best Test bowling figures for an English debutant (7–46),[3] a record that stood until Dominic Cork beat it by three runs on his debut against the West Indies in 1995. Lever finished the match with bowling figures of 10–70, another English debutant's record, which he enhanced with a half century while giving banter.[1]

Lever made his first-class debut for Essex in 1967 and would represent the county until 1989, in one of the most successful periods in the club's history.

He was also involved in the rebel tour to South Africa in 1982 during the apartheid era, where he formed strong links in the country. In the warm-up match against Western Province, Lever broke down after bowling two balls, and subsequent X-rays showed a curvature in his spine. The discovery came as a surprise to Lever, who had bowled with a sore back for the best part of a decade.[4] However, with an exercise regime in place to strengthen the back, Lever would recover in time to be available for the first unofficial Test match. He would later return to play a few matches for Natal in the Currie Cup.

Due to his involvement in the rebel tour, Lever was banned from representing England for three years, but continued to play well for Essex. The selectors recognized his form and selected him for one final Test cap against the touring Indians in 1986, at the age of 37.[5] After England lost the first Test, Lever was picked for the second test at Headingley, replacing Richard Ellison. In India's first innings, Lever had Dilip Vengsarkar caught behind on 61, then trapped captain Kapil Dev in front next ball. He dismissed Kapil again in the second innings to finish his final bowling innings with 4/64. Chasing 408 to win, England were dismissed for 128, Lever falling to Maninder Singh to give India victory by 279 runs, and a series win.[6]

Lever was appointed an MBE in the 1990 Birthday Honours for his services to cricket.[7]

More recently, Lever has taken up teaching physical education at Bancroft's School.[8] In 2002, he joined ITC Sports Travel as a tour host, accompanying cricket fans all over the cricket world.[9]


  1. ^ a b c Bateman, Colin (1993). If The Cap Fits. Tony Williams Publications. p. 109. ISBN 1-869833-21-X.
  2. ^ "Controversies have proved beneficial to the game". Sportstar. 29 December 2001 – 4 January 2002. Archived from the original on 13 October 2007. Retrieved 20 June 2007.
    - "Rule of thumb is that these tamper tantrums will pass". The Guardian. London. 27 August 2006.
    - "John's leverage with vaseline". The Times of India. 23 November 2001.
    - Mid-Day – Sports news, indian sports news, international sports news & lot more[permanent dead link]
    - Selvey, Mike (24 August 2006). "Sport". The Guardian. London.
    - Ezekiel, Gulu (8 September 2006). "Historical echoes of ball-tampering row". BBC News.
  3. ^ "1st Test: India v England at Delhi, Dec 17–22, 1976". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 13 December 2011.
  4. ^ "Woolmer teams up with rebels". The Times. No. 61177. London. 9 March 1982. p. 19.
  5. ^ John Woodcock (16 June 1986). "England selectors turn to an old master for new inspiration". The Times. No. 62484. p. 28.
  6. ^ "2nd Test, India tour of England at Leeds, Jun 19-23 1986". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  7. ^ "No. 52173". The London Gazette (Supplement). 15 June 1990. p. 14.
  8. ^ Bancroft's School staff list
  9. ^ Venugopal, Arun (22 December 2016). "John Lever comes back to Chennai". ESPNcricinfo.