From Gosport Borough to T20 franchise superstardom – the unlikely journey taken by master blaster Chris Lynn

Chris Lynn has carved a reputation for himself as one of world cricket’s top ‘guns for hire’.

Thursday, 18th February 2021, 4:33 pm
Chris Lynn in action during his 126 against US Portsmouth at Privett Park in 2008. Pic: Steve Reid.

The six-hitting superstar is a regular on the T20 franchise circuit, having played in the Indian Premier League, the Australian Big Bash League, the Caribbean Super League and even a tournament in Canada.

Just a few weeks after the Big Bash League finished, Lynn is back in action this weekend as the global franchise spotlight shines on the sixth edition of the Pakistan Super League.

There he captains a Multan Sultans squad also containing Hampshire skipper James Vince, fresh from starring for Sydney Sixers in their BBL title-retaining campaign.

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Chris Lynn pictured during his summer at Gosport

Lynn, having played in his native Australasia, Asia, the Caribbean and North America, can also add ‘Europe’ to his T20 CV - one game for Gosport Borough in the 2008 Southern Premier League Cup!

That was probably a match Lynn has long since forgotten, bearing in mind he was only 18 at the time and scored just a single in a first round defeat against Hambledon.

Though he failed in his sole T20 appearance for the club, Lynn was a stand-out performer for Borough in Division 3 of the Southern Premier League 13 years ago.

He belted 754 runs in 17 innings at 62.92, including centuries in successive Privett Park fixtures in late July and early August - 121 not out against Fair Oak and 126 against United Services Portsmouth.

Chris Lynn in action for Brisbane Heat in the Australian BBL. Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images.

Current Gosport skipper Lee Harrop played alongside a teenage Lynn and is not surprised how his career has panned out.

‘An agent sorted it all out and Chris was just 17 when he arrived, he turned 18 a few weeks later,’ recalled Harrop.

‘He was a skinny, wiry lad.

‘You don’t tend to get top drawer overseas players in Division 3 but you could tell straight away he was different class.

The Heat is on - Chris Lynn takes to the field during the Big Bash League match between the Brisbane Heat and the Sydney Sixers last year. Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images.

‘I remember watching one of Chris’ early IPL games where he was 12th man and was bringing on protein shakes. Mark Butcher was commentating and he said something like we’ll only see him again bringing on the shakes. I was thinking ‘I hope not, because I know what he can do!’’

Lynn is a regular opener in T20 cricket but for Gosport batted at No 3 or 4, as well as turning his arm over regularly - something he hasn’t carried into his professional career.

‘Chris was a big hitter even then,’ said Harrop. ‘He also bowled a bit of left-arm spin.

‘He was also one of the best fielders we’d ever seen, he was so energetic.

‘We like to say we helped Chris with his career, hopefully it helped playing on different pitches to what he’d been used to.’

Like all the club’s overseas players, Lynn helped out with coaching Gosport’s junior teams.

‘When you’re coaching the kids, sometimes an overseas player can have a bit more impact,’ Harrop explained. ‘You’re more likely to listen if you know someone’s come all the way over from Australia to play cricket.’

Lynn has certainly come a long way since hitting Southern Premier League bowlers to all parts of Privett Park.

He has written himself into the Big Bash League record books with some extraordinary exploits.

The Brisbane-born master blaster holds the record for the most sixes in the tournament’s history - a staggering 172 from 88 innings.

The second-highest total is ex-Hampshire all-rounder Glenn Maxwell’s 97 from 82 innings.

In the recent BBL, Lynn finished as the fourth highest run scorer with 458, despite missing four matches with a hamstring injury. No batsman scored more than his five half-centuries.

In 2015/16 he was the tournament’s top scorer with 378, including his maiden T20 century - 101 off 57 balls against Hobart.

The following season he struck 309 runs from only five innings at 154.5, including an unbeaten 98 off 49 balls against the Perth Scorchers - a knock which featured 11 sixes.

In April 2017, playing in the Indian Premier League for Kolkata, Lynn thrashed 93 not out off 41 balls - including eight sixes - as Gujurat Lions were thrashed by 10 wickets. Asked to chase 185 for victory, Lynn and captain Gautem Gambhir (76 not out) rattled them off in under 15 overs.

Last March Lynn blasted his second career T20 hundred, 113 not out off 55 balls - with 12 fours and eight sixes - for Lahore Qualanders against his new franchise, Multan, in the Pakistan Super League.

That was the last group game played before the tournament was stopped due to the pandemic. When it resumed last November, Lynn was unable to take part due to his Australian BBL commitments with Brisbane Heat.

There is a strong Hampshire feel to the squad Lynn captains in this year’s PSL with Shahid Afridi, Imran Tahir, Rilee Rossouw and Sohail Tanvir available for selection alongside Vince.

Rossouw, like Lynn, also hammered a century in last year’s PSL - 100 not out off 44 balls against Quetta Gladiators.

And, also like Lynn, that was his second T20 ton, having initially scored exactly 100 not out playing for Rangpur in the 2018/19 Bangladesh Premier League against Chittagong.

That match was one of the few in T20 history to feature two centuries in the same innings, with England outcast Alex Hales also scoring exactly 100 as well.

Lynn, meanwhile, is spending most of the new months in Asia. The PSL is due to finish on March 22 and the Indian Premier League begins a few weeks later.

He has been retained by defending champions Mumbai despite not playing a game in the 2020 season. Despite being handed a near £200,000 contract - bought in the draft for 20 million Indian Rupees - he was unable to dislodge regular opening pair Rohit Sharma, the captain, and Quinton de Kock.

Vince, somewhat surprisingly given his record, has never played in the IPL. Though he was contacted this year on the back of his BBL form, he decided to put Hampshire first.

‘There had been interest in my availability for this year’s IPL,’ he said this week. ‘And although the prospect of entering the auction was something that I gave consideration to, I have decided to focus my attention solely on Hampshire. I'm looking forward to leading the side during an important first phase of the season.’

Had he been snapped up in the IPL auction, Vince would have missed the first few weeks of Hampshire’s Championship season which is due to start at Leicestershire on April 8.