David Lloyd said that he was leaving Sky Sports Cricket in capable hands
David Lloyd, the former England head coach, has left his commentary role with Sky Sports after 22 years with the broadcaster. He said "the time is now right" to move on.
Lloyd’s announcement comes four weeks after he was accused by Azeem Rafiq of being a “closet racist”. Sky said last month that they was investigating messages – which allegedly included him attempting to "smear" Rafiq – but there is no suggestion from Lloyd that his departure is directly related to the furore.
Instead, Lloyd, nicknamed "Bumble", said he was leaving as "the commentary box feels a little emptier" following departures of long-term colleagues in recent years.
Lloyd has been a popular fixture in the commentary box for England Test and one-day matches since 1999, and played a key role in the launch of Twenty20 cricket.
"With the passing of Bob Willis and after the decision to move on by my good friends David Gower, Ian Botham and more recently, Michael Holding, the commentary box feels a little emptier," he said. "And so I feel it is time for me to do the same and move on to the next chapter. I leave the Sky box now in immensely capable hands led by my pals Michael Atherton, Nasser Hussain, Ian Ward and Rob Key."
Earning a close affinity with fans, Lloyd often led the Edgbaston crowd in singing Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline at T20 Finals Day. “To those that follow, cherish that mic. Inform and entertain, so the next generation can fall in love with this wonderful game. I’m done now with Sweet Caroline but in the words of Elton John, ‘I’m still standing!’"
Apology to Rafiq
Last month Lloyd issued an apology to Rafiq and the wider Asian community, as well as stating his commitment to “a more inclusive sport”. Rafiq had told MPs during his testimony about his abuse at Yorkshire that Bumble was among those who had tried to smear him.
“High-profile media people messaging other members of the media who supported me saying stuff like, ‘The clubhouses are the lifeblood of a club and Asian players don’t go in there’, ‘Getting subs out of Asian players is like getting blood out of stone’," said Rafiq.
“This guy doesn’t even know me, has never spent any time with me, is talking about my personal drinking, going out and socialising.
“That was David Lloyd, massive, been an England coach, commentator. I found it disturbing because Sky are supposedly doing this amazing work on bringing racism to the front and within a week of me speaking out, that’s what I got sent to me. And I thought, ‘Gosh, there’s some closet racists and we need to do something about it’.”
Lloyd, 74, had previously told Telegraph Sport he had called Rafiq to apologise following the hearing, adding in a statement: “I deeply regret my actions, and I apologise most sincerely to Azeem and to the Asian cricket community for doing this, and for any offence caused. I am strongly committed to making cricket a more inclusive sport."
‘One of the all-time greats’
Sky Sports had previously said it "is committed to actively championing inclusion in cricket – and in all sports – and opposing all forms of discrimination". However, in a statement on Tuesday, the broadcaster said: "’David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd has been a star of the Sky Cricket commentary box for over two decades, with an extraordinary ability to inform and entertain in equal measure.
The Best of 'Bumble'
"Perhaps his finest hour came during the Ashes Test match at Trent Bridge in 2015 – calling Stuart Broad’s amazing performance with perfection.
"A year later he was on lead commentary during an incredible T20 World Cup finale but handed the microphone over to Ian Bishop when it became obvious West Indies were going to win.
"He is much loved and respected by his fellow commentators and production team who cherish the time spent working with him. Thank you Bumble for your service."
Lloyd pictured in 1999, when he was starting out as a commentator
The news of Lloyd’s departure prompted a flow of tributes from fans and colleagues. Mark Butcher, the former player and co-commentator wrote: "Been an absolute honour to know and work with this man in his many different guises for teh last 24 years."
Matt Floyd, another co-commentator, described Lloyd as "One of the all-time greats of commentary." He added: "More importantly, a great bloke who always makes you smile. It was a massive privilege to work with you."
Rob Key, another former player and commentator wrote: "What a sad day. The best person I know. By some distance as well. Nobody does it better."
Ebony Rainford Brent said: "It has been an absolute joy working with Bumble over the last few years. Sad to see him hang up his boots but he has bought a lot of joy to a lot of people. Will be missed in the comm box."