Derek Leslie Underwood
June 08, 1945, Bromley, Kent
Also Known As
Right hand Bat
Slow Left arm Orthodox
No nickname was better earned than the "Deadly" that Derek Underwood's Kent team-mates conferred on him for the havoc he caused on rain-affected pitches. Such was his accuracy and, for a left-arm spinner, pace - either side of medium when the ball was really biting - that when conditions favoured him, an avalanche of wickets was almost guaranteed.
Underwood's wizardry brought England one of the most dramatic wins in the history of Tests when, racing the clock against Australia at The Oval in 1968, he finished with 7 off 50. That clinched a 226-run win which squared the series, despite a lunchtime cloudburst that flooded the ground, swallowing all but 75 minutes of the last four hours. In similar circumstances at Hastings in 1973, Underwood demolished Sussex by taking 8 for 9 after a bare-footed Kent team helped the fire brigade mop up another flooded ground.
Underwood's accuracy, intelligence and patience meant he was always a blessing to his captains. He adapted to conditions overseas, especially in Australia, by dropping his pace, and might have added 50-100 wickets to his England haul of 297 but for joining World Series Cricket in 1977 and then the disapproved tour of South Africa in 1981-82. A game nightwatcher and a workmanlike outfielder, he was as unaffectedly pleasant at the end of his career as when, in 1963, he became the youngest bowler to take 100 wickets in his first season in first-class cricket. In 2008 he was unveiled as the new president of MCC on a one-year term.
Batting & Fielding