David Daniel Masters
April 22, 1978, Chatham, Kent
Right hand bat
Right arm medium fast
David Masters was a cricketer seemingly destined to be damned with faint praise - descriptions of a nagging medium-paced journeyman might have been designed specifically for him - but he earned prominence in 2011 when he destroyed Leicestershire (one of his old counties) with 8 for 10 as they were bowled out for 34 at Southend.
But Masters' career was not identified by a single notable performance as much as years of toil with seam bowling verities to the fore. When he finally packed it in at 38, he had 672 first-class wickets at 25.15 (940 wickets in all) and Ben Stokes, then England's premier allrounder, was moved to tweet that front pads all around the country would be sighing with relief.
In 16 seasons with three counties, Masters had always been a dependable performer, but his move to Essex at the start of the 2008 season seemed to spur him on. At the age of 33, he claimed 93 first-class wickets at 18.13 in 2011 - an average he bettered the following campaign. His skill, consistency and longevity won widespread admiration. With Essex not always possessing strength in depth in their seam attack, he carried a big responsibility.
Masters began his career with Kent before a four-year spell with Leicestershire, followed by a switch to Chelmsford, unheralded at the time, whereupon he soon became the metronomically reliable leader of Essex's attack in four-day cricket. His lack of pace made him somewhat less effective in the shorter formats, but no county batsman doubted Masters' undemonstrative virtues as he nibbled the ball this way and that whenever there was the slightest encouragement in the surface.
One of the few old-fashioned players to turn their focus away from cricket over the winter, Masters worked as a builder - hence his nickname "Hod". Carrying bricks, he said, was a more interesting way of keeping fit than spending months in the gym. His fitness was briefly a concern in 2014, when injury prevented him from passing 50 wickets for the fifth season running, but he won another year's contract for 2016, and had passed his 38th birthday, speed now hovering around the mid-70s, before retiring.
"After joining Essex in 2008, I feel I found my home," he said. A promotion season, with his bowling partner Graham Napier also calling it a day, was a perfect way to go.
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