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
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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.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY HumungousFungus on | June 15, 2013, 21:12 GMT

    Dean Headley is one of the great "might have beens" of English cricket. His injury occurred just when Caddick and Gough were nearing their respective peaks, and the three of them together would have been an excellent combo for England. On his day, he was capable of serious speed (94 mph in Australia 1998-99), movement in the air and off the seam, and his marathon spell at Melbourne to win the 1998 Boxing Day Test was as good as anything any England bowler delivered during what was largely a forgettable decade for English cricket...It remains a terrific shame that his career ended so prematurely, not least because he demonstrated a happy knack for getting Steve Waugh out, which not many England bowlers did, in my experience...

  • POSTED BY on | June 15, 2013, 15:16 GMT

    @Jassu Sushil.He did make it count. 60 wickets in 15 Tests at 27 is a fine return. It's even better when you consider that one of those Tests included the aborted Sabina Park game in which he never bowled and that 13 of the Tests he featured in were against Australia, West Indies, and South Africa. His record against Australia (6 Tests, 35 wickets at 24) is outstanding. A seriously good bowler who was dreadfully unlucky with injury.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | June 15, 2013, 12:26 GMT

    a very good fast bowler...

  • POSTED BY android_user on | June 15, 2013, 12:24 GMT

    a very good fast bowler with a lot of promise & talent but couldn't make it count.

  • POSTED BY HumungousFungus on | June 15, 2013, 21:12 GMT

    Dean Headley is one of the great "might have beens" of English cricket. His injury occurred just when Caddick and Gough were nearing their respective peaks, and the three of them together would have been an excellent combo for England. On his day, he was capable of serious speed (94 mph in Australia 1998-99), movement in the air and off the seam, and his marathon spell at Melbourne to win the 1998 Boxing Day Test was as good as anything any England bowler delivered during what was largely a forgettable decade for English cricket...It remains a terrific shame that his career ended so prematurely, not least because he demonstrated a happy knack for getting Steve Waugh out, which not many England bowlers did, in my experience...

  • POSTED BY on | June 15, 2013, 15:16 GMT

    @Jassu Sushil.He did make it count. 60 wickets in 15 Tests at 27 is a fine return. It's even better when you consider that one of those Tests included the aborted Sabina Park game in which he never bowled and that 13 of the Tests he featured in were against Australia, West Indies, and South Africa. His record against Australia (6 Tests, 35 wickets at 24) is outstanding. A seriously good bowler who was dreadfully unlucky with injury.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | June 15, 2013, 12:26 GMT

    a very good fast bowler...

  • POSTED BY android_user on | June 15, 2013, 12:24 GMT

    a very good fast bowler with a lot of promise & talent but couldn't make it count.

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  • POSTED BY android_user on | June 15, 2013, 12:24 GMT

    a very good fast bowler with a lot of promise & talent but couldn't make it count.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | June 15, 2013, 12:26 GMT

    a very good fast bowler...

  • POSTED BY on | June 15, 2013, 15:16 GMT

    @Jassu Sushil.He did make it count. 60 wickets in 15 Tests at 27 is a fine return. It's even better when you consider that one of those Tests included the aborted Sabina Park game in which he never bowled and that 13 of the Tests he featured in were against Australia, West Indies, and South Africa. His record against Australia (6 Tests, 35 wickets at 24) is outstanding. A seriously good bowler who was dreadfully unlucky with injury.

  • POSTED BY HumungousFungus on | June 15, 2013, 21:12 GMT

    Dean Headley is one of the great "might have beens" of English cricket. His injury occurred just when Caddick and Gough were nearing their respective peaks, and the three of them together would have been an excellent combo for England. On his day, he was capable of serious speed (94 mph in Australia 1998-99), movement in the air and off the seam, and his marathon spell at Melbourne to win the 1998 Boxing Day Test was as good as anything any England bowler delivered during what was largely a forgettable decade for English cricket...It remains a terrific shame that his career ended so prematurely, not least because he demonstrated a happy knack for getting Steve Waugh out, which not many England bowlers did, in my experience...