Credit: Shutterstock/Brian Johnston

The bowler’s Holding, the batsman’s Willie

There might not be a more famous innuendo than the one listed above. It’s attributed to one of cricket’s all time greatest commentators, Brian Johnston. The veracity of the oft-cited off colour quote has been questioned over the years, but the truth is if anyone would have said it, it would have been Johnners.

Johnston was born in 1912 and in the interwar period worked for the family coffee business, though he admitted later he had little love for the work. When war broke out in 1939 Johnston joined the 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards and from winter 1944 through to the spring of 1945, his armored division was in the thick of the action, crossing the Rhine and fighting their way up to Bremen. It was during the war he met two BBC correspondents by chance and upon another chance encounter with them post-war, he got his interview with the BBC.

While perhaps he is best known for his cricket commentary, Johnston’s career was incredibly varied. His first ever performance was the live reporting of an unexploded bomb and it’s disposal at the bottom of the lake in St. James’s Park, London where he signed off by promising “a bigger and better bomb next week.” From there his career saw him tackle everything from riding a circus horse, being pulled out of the sea by a helicopter and providing commentary for multiple royal weddings.