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Cricketers on their milestones

Derek Underwood

'Ray tries to forget he was my first wicket'

Deadly Derek looks back on his first five-for and his only century

Interview by Jack Wilson

April 13, 2013

Comments: 7 | Text size: A | A

Derek Underwood looks at photographs of his ten wickets, England v Australia, 4th Test, Headingley, 3rd day, July 29, 1972
Derek Underwood: always happy to bat © PA Photos
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Teams: England

First time I was in awe of someone in a dressing room
When I first came into the Kent side, I was a teenager. I hadn't watched a lot of cricket, because at that age I was always playing - but I was totally in awe of Colin Cowdrey. I was in school and I had hardly seen Kent play before, but I knew he was a great player. It was an honour to play with him.

First first-class wicket
It would have been 1963. I was 17, and it wasn't a bad one actually, it was Ray Illingworth. I had him caught at cover by David Baker, who we used to call Doughie. I remember the wicket well, although I know Ray tries to forget it! We share the same birthday too, Ray and I.

First Test five-wicket haul
It was a special moment. In my first Test we were playing West Indies. I bowled quite a few overs without getting a wicket. My first wicket was Rohan Kanhai, in the second Test against them, and my first five-wicket haul came against Pakistan in my third Test. It was 1967 at Trent Bridge, and it was a wet wicket. The rain had got on the pitch and the whole ground was flooded. They were certainly bowler-friendly conditions.

First experience of World Series Cricket
I'd spent time watching and playing against the best - then I was playing in a World XI side. It was a great cricketing experience. It was obviously in a bit of a cloud, the whole World Series, but it was incredible to play in. It was a chance to play with people like Barry Richards and Zaheer Abbas. Watching Sir Viv [Richards] was magnificent too.

First century
Well, I actually only got one! It was towards the end of my career and I think it was at Hastings. I went in as a nightwatchman but I went on and on, and yes, it was a good day. It's just a shame I only got the one.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by aus_trad on (April 13, 2013, 22:22 GMT)

Derek Underwood: the most accurate bowler - period - I have seen in over 40 years of watching test cricket; and also the best bad-wicket bowler I have seen. He would also be a member of what I call my "nice guys" eleven, with the likes of Alan Knott, Max Walker, Derek Randall, Rick McCosker, Jonty Rhodes, Alvin Kallicharran, etc. The nucleus of a pretty good team! Just shows you don't have to have the Lillee-Chappell scowl or the McGrath sneer to play wonderfully well...

Posted by whoster on (April 13, 2013, 18:31 GMT)

Deadly was a truly great spinner. He'd get bounce where others wouldn't, and the fact that he didn't turn the ball as much as some wasn't a big deal. At the pace he bowled at, a touch of turn and a touch of bounce was all he needed to be unplayable. Both his Test and First-Class statistics indicate a spin bowler of very top quality. He could've extended his Test career by the best part of a decade had he made different decisions - and then he would've been an undisputed legend of the game. Let's also not underestimate the importance of Derek having the legendary Alan Knott keeping wicket for him at Kent and England. As the first poster commented, he was also a gentleman of the game - and I'd gladly hitch a ride on the time machine to help with the mopping up back in '68!

Posted by cloudmess on (April 13, 2013, 12:45 GMT)

Best English spinner. For me, he just shades Laker because he was still tricky on good wickets.

Posted by   on (April 13, 2013, 9:33 GMT)

His cricinfo profile has his highest test score at 45 not out!!!

Posted by   on (April 13, 2013, 9:19 GMT)

A true gentleman of the game and what a bowler. I wish I could invent a time machine only to travel back to the Oval in 1968 and help mop up before watching Deadly run through the Aussies.

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