Derek Shackleton 1924-2007 September 28, 2007

Derek Shackleton dies aged 83



Derek Shackleton: Shrewdly varied, and utterly accurate © Cricinfo
Derek Shackleton, who played seven Tests for England and took a record 2669 wickets for Hampshire, has died at the age of 83. Only six men have taken more wickets than his total first-class haul of 2857, and none of those operated entirely in the post-war period.

Shackleton was a seamer - not fast but metronomic in his accuracy - who was desperately unlucky not to have be called on more by England. Unfortunately for him, he played in an era when Alec Bedser, Fred Trueman and others dominated. "Shrewdly varied, and utterly accurate," wrote John Arlott, "beating down as unremittingly as February rain". He was also economical, conceding under two runs an over. Initially he relied on late outswing, but he later developed an equally late inswinger, and he could also cut the ball either way off the pitch.

His seven Tests came in two bursts separated by almost 12 years, but he was not as penetrative at the highest level. He played once in 1950 and 1951 and then toured India in 1951-52, finishing with the most wickets but only one more Test. He had to wait until 1963 for a recall, taking 14 wickets at 34.53 against West Indies, including 3 for 93 and a best 4 for 92 at Lord's.



Shackleton bowling against West Indies in 1963 © Cricinfo
He made his debut for Hampshire, who spotted him while he was playing services cricket, in 1948 and was taken on as a batsman who bowled occasional legspin. Bereft of quick bowlers, Hampshire asked him to give it a try. He took 21 wickets in his first season and a hundred in his second. In a career which lasted until 1969 he took 100 wickets in a season 20 times consecutively, his haul of 172 in 1962, a year after he had helped the county to their first Championship, being the best. Few bowlers have got through so many overs, and those that have have been spinners.

In 1955 he took match figures of 14 for 29 against Somerset (including 8 for 4 in their first innings) and five years earlier took five wickets in nine balls for no runs, but not including a hat-trick; that was about the only achievement that eluded him.

In all Shackleton took 2857 first-class wickets at 18.65; his 18 Test wickets cost him 42.66.

After retiring he coached and acted as groundsman at Canford School in Dorset and had a brief spell as an umpire in 1979. He was one of Wisden's Five Cricketers of the Year in 1959.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo

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