Neil Williams 1962-2006

Neil Williams dies aged 43

Martin Williamson

March 27, 2006

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Neil Williams in full flow © The Cricketer
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Neil Williams, the medium-fast bowler who played one Test for England in 1990, has died in hospital after short battle against pneumonia. He was 43. He suffered a stroke at his St Vincent home three weeks ago from which he never recovered.

Williams' one cap came when he was drafted into the England side for the final Test against India at The Oval in 1990 when Chris Lewis withdrew with a migraine. India amassed 606 for 9 and Williams took 2 for 148 - but the victims were Sachin Tendulkar and Mohammad Azharuddin. Sent in as a nightwatchman on the second evening, he made 38 in a second-wicket stand of 74 with Graham Gooch, an achievement he rated higher than his two wickets. He was not considered for that winter's Ashes series, and when not even summoned when injuries hit, it was clear that at 28 his chance had come and gone.

Williams was born in St Vincent and was a quietly spoken player who was happy to let others grab the headlines. He emigrated to Britain when he was 13 and joined Middlesex after a season-and-a-half as an MCC Young Professional during which time he had been playing for Hornsey. A deeply religious man, when he first arrived at Lord's he refused to play on Sundays.



Williams in action for Middlesex © Getty Images
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He made his county debut for Middlesex in 1982, one of a number of Caribbean-born players to represent them in the 1980s - Roland Butcher, Wilf Slack and Norman Cowans, who also debuted in 1982, were among the others. Brisk rather than fast, Williams was accurate and had a dangerous late away-swinger, and in a 12-year career with Middlesex made 193 appearances, taking 479 wickets. He was a key part of four Championship-winning sides (1982, 1985, 1990, 1992) and in 1995, following a successful benefit, he moved to Essex where he played until 1998.

In the winters he played three seasons for Windward Islands and also enjoyed one season with Tasmania in 1983-84. He was the coach of St Vincent's Academy for Kids at the time of his death.

Mike Brearley, his first captain at Middlesex, said he was a "modest, unassuming person who always did his absolute best for the team," while Christopher Martin-Jenkins described him as a "courteous, friendly man brought up to believe in the precious traditions of fair play". Former team-mate Angus Fraser said he was "a very talented bowler who, in another era and had he not picked up so many injuries, may have played for England a few more times."

Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo

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