Derek Randall July 23, 2013

'You've got to entertain the crowd'

Derek Randall talks about the Centenary Test, playing with Garry Sobers, and his love for Nottinghamshire
14

Garry Sobers taught me the way cricket should be played. Number one: play hard. Number two: play fair. But most important, you've got to entertain the crowd. And that was a wonderful bit of advice from the world's best player.

I batted for six and half hours in the Centenary Test, made 174, a hundred thousand in this great big stadium. Eventually I got out and I'd got no idea which way to get off the ground. I got to an exit and there was a red carpet there. I thought, "Well I've had a pretty good day, that's got to be for me."

I never thought for a minute I'd be good enough to play professional cricket. I just loved the game and things just happened thanks to a bit of good luck and divine intervention. Mike Hall, the captain of my club, Retford, was the captain of Notts second XI when I started out, so that was lucky.

I loved rooming with Eddie Hemmings. My greatest memory for Notts was when Eddie hit that four off JK Lever at Lord's, off the last ball, to win the Benson & Hedges Cup, the ball just beating the fielder to the boundary. I'd run Tim Robinson out on 70 or 80, so it made up for that, really.

Tom Graveney was such an elegant batsman. I used to like watching him. He made the game look very easy.

When I was 11 or 12 I used to turn up with my kit - Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesday nights - and when they were short, I'd field all day. And usually they were very good to young boys; they gave you a bit of a bat or a bit of a bowl. I managed to get into the Retford first team when I was 13, mainly because of my fielding.

It means a lot to me to have the Derek Randall Suite at Trent Bridge. When you walk out onto the field to represent your county - and I only played for one county - it meant a hell of a lot. I think people realised how much it meant to me, and it was really the supporters that brought it about. It was a bit of a thank you for the passion I had for the game and for Nottinghamshire cricket.

Outside of cricket I liked gardening, golf, football, spending time with the family.

I love T20 cricket. It's all action, walking out to the music, and you've got some fantastic shots they play now - scooping it over their heads… Pietersen turns around and smashes it into the stand left-handed. Marvellous.

The greatest player I played with was Sobers. As a young lad, you'd see him in the dressing room: he'd have the TV on - always horse racing - and about six Slazenger cricket bats in the corner, all about 2lb 2oz. When a wicket fell he'd just switch off the TV, pick up any old bat, and off he'd go. The bloke was an absolute genius.

It takes a bit of surviving in county cricket. If I'd had a bad season, I could have had the sack as easy as anything, so I never thought about leaving Notts.

I had millions of superstitions. Thirteen was my unlucky number. I used to hate getting on 13. I used to be on it for an hour sometimes, but I'm not sure I ever actually got out on it.

Coaches may want to take a psychology degree. Or, rather than have a qualified psychologist come in, it would be better if that psychologist taught the coaches, so the coaches could deal with that side of things, because they know the players better than anybody, the idiosyncrasies.

"When Harold Larwood went to the toilet, I went with him, just so I didn't miss a story"

The best captains I played under were Tony Greig, a great leader of men, and Mike Brearley.

I met Brian Clough many times. He was a phenomenal cricket fan - a phenomenal Yorkshire cricket fan; he was a Yorkshireman through and through, cricket-wise. A big mate of Boycott's.

The evening before the Centenary Test we had a gala dinner. There was Don Bradman, Ray Lindwall, Keith Miller. I was sat between two Nottinghamshire legends, Harold Larwood and Bill Voce. It was the most wonderful night of my life. When Harold went to the toilet, I went with him just so I didn't miss a story.

I was out of form for the 1981 Ashes. It happens: you're in and out of the side, you know.

We agreed that the way to win the 1979 World Cup final was to not lose wickets, get a good platform. People like Wayne Larkins, Graham Gooch, David Gower, myself were all good strokeplayers. So that was the best way for us to try and win the game. On reflection, Boycott and Brearley might have played a few more shots, but they might also have got out. So who can say? Whichever way you went about it was going to be difficult. They were such great bowlers - people like Joel Garner firing at the stumps - it wasn't easy to get them away.

When Clive Rice and Richard Hadlee played at Trent Bridge we occasionally lost the mower. Every week, actually.

It was a shame the great South African players - Rice, Eddie Barlow, Mike Procter - didn't play on the big stage. But life is more important than sport.

I was quite late when I made my debut for the Notts first team. At Newark, it was. I was 21, a mechanical draughtsman at the time. I was so nervous. Garry [Sobers] batted me at No. 7 [No. 8]. Brian Bolus had plenty, Garry had about 50, so when I came in to bat the sting had come out of the Essex attack. That was good of them, really.

If you wanted someone to get you 50 runs for your life, it'd be Geoffrey Boycott.

Michael Holding was the quickest bowler I faced. He hit me in the mouth in Tasmania, knocked me back over the stumps, and put me in hospital for a week. But a lovely man!

I think reverse swing is a bit overrated. I don't think we've seen it done properly since Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram. You see a little bit of inswing but not that big, late-dipping swing that they got.

I enjoyed Minor Counties more than playing professional cricket. It was a bit more light-hearted. It was tough - people played to win - but it was more relaxed and enjoyable.

Retford was such an idyllic place to play cricket. On a Sunday evening you could field down at third man and hear the West Retford church bells chiming. It'd be quiet, people strolling round the boundary, a beautiful cricket ground in the countryside - it was fantastic.

When I was a young fella, I was a very good fielder, but I was one of two or three in the side. Now every side's full of great fielders. It's wonderful what they can do these days.

The best run-out? During the Ashes in '77, I ran Rick McCosker out at Headingley. That one stands out. Or the final of the 1979 World Cup - I ran Gordon Greenidge out early; a key player and to get him out early was quite a big thing, really. Shame we didn't go on and win it. A big disappointment. But they were a great side.

You can talk forever. The only thing you can do is put form right by practice and have the determination out in the middle.

I don't think I've seen anyone pick up the length as quick as David Gower. He had so much time to play the ball. We played on a rock-hard wicket in Western Australia that had a bit of moisture on the top and he was the only one, really, who could play under those conditions.

Garry Sobers told me a few weeks ago: "I said to the England selectors five years before you were picked that you should be playing for England."

I played 47 Test matches and every time I played was a wonderful occasion. I loved every one.

If I could change one thing about my career, it would be the NatWest final in 1985. We needed 18 off the last over. I hit the first three balls for four, then a couple of twos, and on the last ball, two needed, old Derek Pringle bowled me one down the leg side, which I tried to flick through midwicket. It went straight up and we lost the game by one run. If I could change one thing, I would have let that ball go through for a wide.

Scott Oliver tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • markatnotts on July 23, 2013, 21:55 GMT

    Being 36, I didn't witness Randall's England career. I did though have the wonderful experience of my parents getting me into cricket and watching my beloved Notts from 86 onwards. He was such a sparkling character, mocking himself or the oppostion with his comments, a top fielder embarrassing many younger men even at the end of his career. Oh and there were some pretty decent innings as well! A true gentleman of the game and one of the most beloved Notts cricketing sons of all time.

  • DustyBin on July 23, 2013, 10:11 GMT

    I met Derek many times in my youth, he's the pleasantest sportsman & 1 of the nicest humans I've ever met, & a test average of 40 would have better represented his huge talent, he's a legend in his home county . Best innings : a 200 in the late 80s against Derbys, including Holding & Malcolm.

  • Angry_of_Wembley on July 26, 2013, 1:15 GMT

    A great character, back before they manufactured such things. AoW

  • on July 24, 2013, 18:01 GMT

    What a player,best of all time for me,never a dull moment.That knock in the centenary test is in the memory bank forever.

  • on July 24, 2013, 16:51 GMT

    Some great tributes to one of the best loved cricketers .Ever!!

  • on July 24, 2013, 12:30 GMT

    As a young boy, I went to watch Surrey v Notts at Guildford.

    Derek was fielding on the boundary, entertaining the crowd as ever during a lull in play, obliging kids like me with an autograph.

    My mother happened to mention to him that my favourite player was Chris Broad, so he carried my autograph book with him in his shirt for about five overs until a wicket fell, then took it to the middle for the whole team to sign.

    He didn't have much luck with the outgoing Surrey batsman though!!

  • Wharfeseamer on July 24, 2013, 12:27 GMT

    What a lovely, lovely man. His joy of the game is clear to see. Unlike some of the past players there is never a hint of "It was better in my day". Barmy and brilliant in equal measure.. no, that's not fair.. he was much more brilliant than barmy. When he batted you couldn't take your eyes off what was happening and barring one or two of his contemporaries his fielding was years ahead of its time. English cricket let him down. His selection for the test team was muddled at best and his legacy as a player is not what it should be. The game needs more Derek Randalls

  • baronsmirnoff on July 24, 2013, 11:15 GMT

    Saw Derek at Tonbridge Wells against Kent, he came out 5 minutes before the teams after a break and sat in the stand, nobody on the field noticed he was not on the field Benson hit the 1st ball for 4 Derek said I'd better get out there and help out, when the next ball also went for 4 he turned to the crowd and said I want a pint of what he had for lunch/tea never a dull moment when he was about

  • IndianInnerEdge on July 23, 2013, 23:50 GMT

    'Arkle' randall used to play the way he was, always with a smile and a cheery demeanour. I remember an interview in india on probably the 1993 eng tour, that interview was hilarious. he epitomises the reasons why any youngster should take up the sport. Glad to see some test newbies like Agar, Root, Kane Williamson, Pujara, Bravo play with that carefree abandon, with a smile and yet perform well and enterain us, long may their tribe reign. Kudos to Derek, Thanks for the memories, wishing him all the best in life :)

  • on July 23, 2013, 20:59 GMT

    he would always be on the move in the field lightening quick and a sixth sense for where the ball would be, an athlete and attitude that would see him walk into the current England squad.

  • markatnotts on July 23, 2013, 21:55 GMT

    Being 36, I didn't witness Randall's England career. I did though have the wonderful experience of my parents getting me into cricket and watching my beloved Notts from 86 onwards. He was such a sparkling character, mocking himself or the oppostion with his comments, a top fielder embarrassing many younger men even at the end of his career. Oh and there were some pretty decent innings as well! A true gentleman of the game and one of the most beloved Notts cricketing sons of all time.

  • DustyBin on July 23, 2013, 10:11 GMT

    I met Derek many times in my youth, he's the pleasantest sportsman & 1 of the nicest humans I've ever met, & a test average of 40 would have better represented his huge talent, he's a legend in his home county . Best innings : a 200 in the late 80s against Derbys, including Holding & Malcolm.

  • Angry_of_Wembley on July 26, 2013, 1:15 GMT

    A great character, back before they manufactured such things. AoW

  • on July 24, 2013, 18:01 GMT

    What a player,best of all time for me,never a dull moment.That knock in the centenary test is in the memory bank forever.

  • on July 24, 2013, 16:51 GMT

    Some great tributes to one of the best loved cricketers .Ever!!

  • on July 24, 2013, 12:30 GMT

    As a young boy, I went to watch Surrey v Notts at Guildford.

    Derek was fielding on the boundary, entertaining the crowd as ever during a lull in play, obliging kids like me with an autograph.

    My mother happened to mention to him that my favourite player was Chris Broad, so he carried my autograph book with him in his shirt for about five overs until a wicket fell, then took it to the middle for the whole team to sign.

    He didn't have much luck with the outgoing Surrey batsman though!!

  • Wharfeseamer on July 24, 2013, 12:27 GMT

    What a lovely, lovely man. His joy of the game is clear to see. Unlike some of the past players there is never a hint of "It was better in my day". Barmy and brilliant in equal measure.. no, that's not fair.. he was much more brilliant than barmy. When he batted you couldn't take your eyes off what was happening and barring one or two of his contemporaries his fielding was years ahead of its time. English cricket let him down. His selection for the test team was muddled at best and his legacy as a player is not what it should be. The game needs more Derek Randalls

  • baronsmirnoff on July 24, 2013, 11:15 GMT

    Saw Derek at Tonbridge Wells against Kent, he came out 5 minutes before the teams after a break and sat in the stand, nobody on the field noticed he was not on the field Benson hit the 1st ball for 4 Derek said I'd better get out there and help out, when the next ball also went for 4 he turned to the crowd and said I want a pint of what he had for lunch/tea never a dull moment when he was about

  • IndianInnerEdge on July 23, 2013, 23:50 GMT

    'Arkle' randall used to play the way he was, always with a smile and a cheery demeanour. I remember an interview in india on probably the 1993 eng tour, that interview was hilarious. he epitomises the reasons why any youngster should take up the sport. Glad to see some test newbies like Agar, Root, Kane Williamson, Pujara, Bravo play with that carefree abandon, with a smile and yet perform well and enterain us, long may their tribe reign. Kudos to Derek, Thanks for the memories, wishing him all the best in life :)

  • on July 23, 2013, 20:59 GMT

    he would always be on the move in the field lightening quick and a sixth sense for where the ball would be, an athlete and attitude that would see him walk into the current England squad.

  • demigoat on July 23, 2013, 17:54 GMT

    What a lovely interview. Thank you.

  • on July 23, 2013, 11:20 GMT

    He is my favourite cricketer, when I used to watch cricket in the eighties. I used to comb my hair the way he combs his hair. He is simply lovable cricketer.

  • Biggus on July 23, 2013, 8:37 GMT

    Much loved player. Was very popular down here in Australia.

  • balajik1968 on July 23, 2013, 4:29 GMT

    The Hindu used to bring out a book with the profiles of players on both sides. My uncle had 2 of them, the 1972 and 1976 tours by England. I was very young then, but the one thing I remember about both of them was Randall's smile; his eyes crinkled.

  • balajik1968 on July 23, 2013, 4:29 GMT

    The Hindu used to bring out a book with the profiles of players on both sides. My uncle had 2 of them, the 1972 and 1976 tours by England. I was very young then, but the one thing I remember about both of them was Randall's smile; his eyes crinkled.

  • Biggus on July 23, 2013, 8:37 GMT

    Much loved player. Was very popular down here in Australia.

  • on July 23, 2013, 11:20 GMT

    He is my favourite cricketer, when I used to watch cricket in the eighties. I used to comb my hair the way he combs his hair. He is simply lovable cricketer.

  • demigoat on July 23, 2013, 17:54 GMT

    What a lovely interview. Thank you.

  • on July 23, 2013, 20:59 GMT

    he would always be on the move in the field lightening quick and a sixth sense for where the ball would be, an athlete and attitude that would see him walk into the current England squad.

  • IndianInnerEdge on July 23, 2013, 23:50 GMT

    'Arkle' randall used to play the way he was, always with a smile and a cheery demeanour. I remember an interview in india on probably the 1993 eng tour, that interview was hilarious. he epitomises the reasons why any youngster should take up the sport. Glad to see some test newbies like Agar, Root, Kane Williamson, Pujara, Bravo play with that carefree abandon, with a smile and yet perform well and enterain us, long may their tribe reign. Kudos to Derek, Thanks for the memories, wishing him all the best in life :)

  • baronsmirnoff on July 24, 2013, 11:15 GMT

    Saw Derek at Tonbridge Wells against Kent, he came out 5 minutes before the teams after a break and sat in the stand, nobody on the field noticed he was not on the field Benson hit the 1st ball for 4 Derek said I'd better get out there and help out, when the next ball also went for 4 he turned to the crowd and said I want a pint of what he had for lunch/tea never a dull moment when he was about

  • Wharfeseamer on July 24, 2013, 12:27 GMT

    What a lovely, lovely man. His joy of the game is clear to see. Unlike some of the past players there is never a hint of "It was better in my day". Barmy and brilliant in equal measure.. no, that's not fair.. he was much more brilliant than barmy. When he batted you couldn't take your eyes off what was happening and barring one or two of his contemporaries his fielding was years ahead of its time. English cricket let him down. His selection for the test team was muddled at best and his legacy as a player is not what it should be. The game needs more Derek Randalls

  • on July 24, 2013, 12:30 GMT

    As a young boy, I went to watch Surrey v Notts at Guildford.

    Derek was fielding on the boundary, entertaining the crowd as ever during a lull in play, obliging kids like me with an autograph.

    My mother happened to mention to him that my favourite player was Chris Broad, so he carried my autograph book with him in his shirt for about five overs until a wicket fell, then took it to the middle for the whole team to sign.

    He didn't have much luck with the outgoing Surrey batsman though!!

  • on July 24, 2013, 16:51 GMT

    Some great tributes to one of the best loved cricketers .Ever!!