Back in the wastelands of the 1980s, spinners were generally about as exciting as chamber music, especially to a young Reverse Sweep fascinated by the rock and roll on offer from a legion of brilliant fast bowlers.
The epitomy of this was John Emburey. Oh how we groaned when the Middlesex off-spinner came on to bowl. Whereas Bob Willis, all hair and arms, looked mentally unhinged when he ran in and Ian Botham was the ultimate cricket comic book hero, Emburey was the bowling equivalent of Val Doonican. He was boring and just like Doonican with his fetish for bright jumpers and log fires, Emburey was insipidness personified.
Granted spinners weren't exactly helped much by pitches in the 1980s, but was that any excuse for Emburey's negative tactic of boring batsmen (and spectators) out? Abdul Qadir showed how exciting spin bowling could be, but thanks to the fact that the opportunity to see him on television screens in the UK was only fleeting, his appearances were as brief as the fuss created by the New York Dolls.
Being boring was only one negative aspect of Emburey - who at this point it should be mentioned did take 147 wickets in his 64 Tests at 38 and 1608 first-class wickets.
Cricketers in the 1980s weren't paid what they are today, so the temptation to make a quick buck was probably higher, but that does not excuse Emburey's unique participation in not one but two rebel tours to South Africa.
Going for the first time in 1982 was bad enough - although it did mean that we didn't have to tolerate Emburey featuring in the England side again until 1985. But taking the soiled rand for the second time was unforgiveable especially as the Apartheid regime was on its knees by 1989 and even more desperate for any opportunity to legitimise it.
Of course the misconception that spin bowling was boring was cast aside by the arrival of a blonde Victorian leg spinner. Warne's arrival was akin to the revolution of a tired music scene by The Sex Pistols, The Clash and Punk Rock in 1976. It made Emburey seem even more like a dinosaur - albeit a toothless, docile and grass eating one.
NB: Occasionally, one of our readers (or should that be reader?) nominates an unwilling victim to be a Reverse Sweep zero. This was the case here, so thanks to @PaulFrame85 for reminding us just how boring Mr Emburey was.
Cricket Heroes: Bob Willis
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