Luke Jack Fletcher
September 18, 1988, Nottingham
Right hand bat
Right arm medium fast
Luke Fletcher is a strapping 6ft 6ins fast bowler whose indefatigable spells can sustain Nottinghamshire in their most challenging times. He looks something of a throwback: a burly, old-fashioned county seamer liable to grumble his way eccentrically through his most frustrating spells. It has all helped to make him one of the most recognisable and popular players on the county circuit.
There have been few more disturbing incidents on the county circuit than the ferocious straight drive by Sam Hain that struck him on the head in his follow-through in a T20 Blast fixture at Edgbaston in 2017. He was concussed, but did not lose consciousness and he was able to walk from the field aided by a physio with a towel over his head before being attended to by paramedics in the dressing-room. He suffered bruising and small bleeding in the brain and was ruled out of the rest of the season, but knew, as all those who watched it knew, that he was "lucky to be here." The incident brought calls for bowlers' protection to be developed and, although they soon seemed to be forgotten, several counties withdrew bowlers from limited-overs net sessions where risks were deemed to be at their greatest.
Fletcher represented Nottinghamshire's second XI in 2007 and played alongside the club's then bowling coach, Phil DeFreitas, for Papplewick and Linby in the Nottinghamshire Premier League. He even briefly worked as a steward at Trent Bridge as he sought to make the grade. After joining the club on their pre-season tour to South Africa in 2008 he was handed a one-year contract, making his first-class debut against Oxford UCCE at The Parks.
He impressed in the 2009 season with 29 wickets at 27.58, enough to earn him a category C contract with the England performance squad. He revealed his potential as a batsman with 92 against Hampshire at the Rose Bowl in his fourth Championship.
He enjoyed his most successful campaign in 2011, taking a total of 73 wickets across all forms of the game, including a career-best first-class return of 5 for 82 against Lancashire at Trent Bridge, after which his 2012 return of 24 wickets from only eight appearances in the Championship was somewhat disappointing, although he had some fitness issues and faced strong competition for his place.
Notts' coach Mick Newell used him as a Championship specialist in 2013 and it contributed to a solid return of 43 wickets at under 30, with only one match missed. He took career-best figures of 5 for 93 against Yorkshire at Trent Bridge, only the second five-wicket haul of his career.
He recognised a need to improve his fitness levels to be in contention in all competitions and addressed his previous white-ball shortcomings with gusto the following year, gaining a reputation as one of the most solid yorker bowlers in the land and confirming his position as a crowd favourite at Trent Bridge. The Bulwell Bomber was making his mark.
Growing competition among Notts' pace bowling ranks, though, limited his Championship opportunities over the next two seasons and led, in turn, to periods on loan at Surrey and Derbyshire. By the end of the 2015 summer, he pronounced himself "a bit fed up with cricket" and committed himself to shaping up mentally and physically for the challenge ahead.
The blow on the head from Sam Hain, which prematurely ended his 2017 season, might have sent lesser men into retirement, but after extensive medical checks and much rehabilitation he returned successfully in 2018, seemingly maturer and wiser, and logged 38 Championship wickets as well as being a virtual ever-present in the limited-overs formats.
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