Neil FetzGerald Williams
July 02, 1962, Hopewell, St Vincent
March 27, 2006, London, England, (aged 43y 268d)
Right hand bat
Right arm fast medium
Neil Williams, a medium-fast bowler who played one Test for England in 1990, died in hospital on March 27 after a short battle against pneumonia. He was 43. He suffered a stroke at his St Vincent home three weeks earlier from which he never recovered.
Williams' one cap came when he was drafted into the England side for the final Test against India at The Oval in 1990 after Chris Lewis withdrew with a migraine. India amassed 606 for 9 and Williams took 2 for 148 - but the victims were Sachin Tendulkar and Mohammad Azharuddin. Sent in as a nightwatchman on the second evening, he made 38 in a second-wicket stand of 74 with Graham Gooch, an achievement he rated higher than his two wickets. He was not considered for that winter's Ashes or England B tours and, when he was not even summoned when injuries hit, it was clear that at 28 his chance had come and gone.
Williams was born in St Vincent and emigrated to Britain when he was 13. He joined Middlesex after a season and a half as an MCC Young Professional, during which time he had also been playing for Hornsey. He was a deeply religious man and, when he first arrived at Lord's, refused to play on Sundays, preferring to go to church. Throughout his career he was a quietly spoken, often withdrawn, individual but one universally popular with teammates and supporters.
He made his county debut for Middlesex in 1982, one of a number of Caribbean-born English-qualified players to represent them in the 1980s - Roland Butcher, Wilf Slack and Norman Cowans were the others - and along with Barbadian Wayne Daniel, they became affectionately known as the Jackson Five.
Brisk rather than fast, Williams was accurate and had a dangerous late away-swinger - Wisden remarked that he had "moved the ball more than anyone else" in his one England outing. He was also a useful tailender and a superbly athletic fielder.
A key part of four Middlesex Championship-winning sides (1982, 1985, 1990, 1992) he also picked up winners' medals in the 1983 Benson & Hedges Cup and the 1992 Sunday League. In 1995, following a successful benefit, he moved to Essex where he played until 1998, although he was increasingly dogged by injuries. After retiring from the first-class game he briefly represented Cornwall.
During winters he played three seasons for Windward Islands and another with Tasmania in 1983-84. He had returned to live in the Caribbean and was the coach of St
Vincent's Academy for Kids at the time of his death.
Martin Williamson, The Wisden Cricketer
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