Neil Alan Mallender
August 13, 1961, Kirk Sandall, Yorkshire
Right hand bat
Right arm fast medium
Neil Mallender received his big chance late in life, and seized the opportunity wonderfully well. Selected for England at the age of 30 to play against Pakistan on a seaming Headingley pitch in 1992, his was the epitome of a "horses for courses" selection. He took 5 for 50 and eight wickets in the match (the best figures by an English debutant for nine years), helping to win the game and thereby ensuring his selection for the final Test of the series. He found conditions harder at The Oval, but stuck to his task well on a good batting track. It was felt that he would struggle on Indian pitches and he was discarded before the tour to India and Sri Lanka, a decision that Richie Benaud, among others, described as "disgraceful."
Nickmaned "Ghostie" on account of his almost albino complexion, Mallender was born in Yorkshire, but began his first-class career for Northamptonshire in 1980, having impressed on a tour of the West Indies with England Young Cricketers. A right-arm fast-medium bowler, and an increasingly useful lower-order batsman, he was capable of bowling at a sharp pace, operating within himself and using the conditions expertly. He won his county cap in 1984, but moved to Somerset in 1987. He was an important part of the rebuilding process at Taunton, and soon became popular with members and players alike. He had come close to selection twice previously for England, both times in New Zealand, when the touring side were struggling with injuries. In 1983-84 and 1991-92 he missed out narrowly as England searched for replacements to injury-hit squads.
Neil Mallender spent several winters (1983-84 to 1992-93) playing for Otago in New Zealand, for whom he became something of a local. He captained the side for two years (1990-91, 1991-92) and generally revelled in the New Zealand conditions, always featuring near the top of the bowling averages. He scored his only first-class century in 1991-92 against Central Districts and was awarded the rare honour, to a foreigner, of a testimonial. Always whole-hearted and sometimes inspired, he left Somerset after a richly deserved benefit season in 1994 to return to Northamptonshire. But the length of time between injuries became ever shorter, and the body could clearly take no more. He called it a day in 1996 with 937 first-class wickets, and nearly 5,000 runs.
He became a respected first-class umpire, having been appointed to the list
in 1999, and quickly rose through the ranks to stand in his first one-day
international when England played Pakistan at Lord's in 2001. He made his umpiring Test debut at Lahore in October 2003.
Wisden Cricinfo staff (June 2004)
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