Game over for Lyons after 60 fun years

In 1943, he played his first senior cricket game as a member of the Melbourne Xavier College's 1st XI.

Tomorrow morning, he plays his last, opening the batting for the Old Launcestonians - the 822nd game he has played with the club since he joined in 1953.

The 75-year-old attributes the longevity of his innings to his father, Tasmania's only Australian Prime Minister Joseph Lyons, and former Victorian State bowler Arthur Liddicutt.

His first recollection of being part of a game of cricket was in a backyard clash with his brothers and sisters when he was four or five years old.

Mr Lyons was number eight of the 12 children that Joe Lyons and his wife, Australia's first woman federal MP Dame Enid Lyons, managed to raise between their parliamentary duties, so there were always plenty of players for a backyard match.

"It would have been my father who first taught me the skills," Mr Lyons said yesterday.

"Then I had coaching at Xavier from old Arthur Liddicutt. He taught me to bowl."

The Lyons children went to school in several states - wherever it was most convenient for the politician parents at the time.

Brendan upheld family tradition as a keen sportsman.

"I played senior football and made the Tasmanian amateur side in 1940," he said.

He was also a top athlete but it was the gentleman's game which kept him so engrossed for so long.

His cricket statistics are spectacular. Mr Lyons estimates that he has played more than 1000 grade games.

In the 50 years with Old Launcestonians alone, he has made 13,868 runs, five centuries and 63 half centuries, 98 sixes and 89 ducks.

He has bowled 5326 overs, 534 maiden overs, taken 1279 wickets and recorded a best bowling record of nine for 24. In his early playing days, Mr Lyons was responsible for starting the first University of Tasmania cricket team.

Later, he organised Australia's first Masters Games, at Hobart - including a week-long cricket roster.

His cricketing stories are first- class. "Over the years, we've (Old Launcestonians) had a remarkable collection of wicketkeepers," said Brendan Lyons, the historian.

"Peter `Kanga' Harris, when denied an appeal, invariably adopted an outraged posture, gazed at the heavens and slammed the ball to the ground at his feet. Jim Hughes stood over the stumps with a most professional air and back-pedalled as the ball approached.

"Graeme `Nobby' Clark, when failing to convince the umpire of the justice of his appeal, dropped to his hands to his knees and his shoulders to his waist and stomped in a ceremonial circuit of the stumps mumbling incoherently. Brian `Butcher' Howard obtained many stumpings, many of them due to the ignorance of umpires who were not aware that the batsman was not out if the ball had been taken in front of the stumps."

Brendan Lyons, the raconteur, remembers the colourful club players.

"Bob Bilson did things in a spectacular fashion on and off the field. At Bethune Park, he was racing along the pitch with a view to reaching the other end before the ball but he dropped his bat on the way," he said.

"He remembered where he had dropped it so went back to get it - and complained when they ran him out."

Mr Lyons has stayed so long at the crease for the camaraderie.

"As I got older than normal for someone playing cricket, I stayed because I had these fellows for company," he said, pointing to practice mates and fellow storytellers Bruce Moir and Rob Kenna. They will be there to urge Mr Lyons on in his last game tomorrow, at the Launceston Church Grammar senior campus, starting at 10.30am.