Dean Headley June 15, 2013

'I knocked on the door for two years'

Interview by Jack Wilson
Dean Headley looks back at playing on the sidelines of his dad's matches and using his bats

First experience of going to watch cricket
It's one of those ones that if you play well, you end up playing, not watching! I went to games with my dad [Ron Headley, the ex-West Indies batsman] when he was playing in the Birmingham League, from the age of about eight. I was off with him most Saturdays and I spent most of the time playing on the sidelines.

First cricketing hero
My first hero was Michael Holding. How can you describe him? He was the Rolls Royce of fast bowling. The West Indies side at the time that I was growing up was the best in world cricket. It was a great team to watch and, in my opinion, the best team of all time - and Holding was a huge part of that.

First cricket bat
My first-ever bat was the Slazenger Geoffrey Boycott. It was a long time ago. I had a Gray Nicolls Crusader too after that. Like everyone does, I used to always pick up my dad's bats and use them. I was lucky in that they were always very light: 2.1oz, 2.2oz.

First time you had a real desire to be a fast bowler It just happened really. As a kid most people thought I'd be a batter, not a bowler. My desire was to play cricket, not necessarily professionally. Then one day someone offers you a pro contract and you're on your way. Too many people set their stall out to do certain things, but I played the game to bowl every ball and bat every ball as they came along.

First Test call-up
I'd been knocking on the door for two years before I got the call for the Test team in 1997. It was a natural progression, really. I did well at first-class cricket and for two years I'd been doing well for England A. The set-up now was like it was back then, in that you prove yourself with the Lions before playing for the Test side. England tended to go away from that for a while but it's back as it was now. You get a phone call but it just gets announced and that was it, although speculation was rife beforehand.

I was actually coming back from injury and I had to play a Universities match for Kent on a slow wicket at Canterbury and I got no wickets - or maybe one. Then on my Test debut, it was quite funny in that I ended up with eight wickets against Australia.

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