Stuart Christopher Meaker
January 21, 1989, Pietermaritzburg, Natal, South Africa
Right hand Bat
Right arm Fast medium
When Stuart Meaker was called up for England's Test series in India in 2012, having made his ODI debut a year earlier, he was considered among the most exciting quick-bowling prospects in the land, a skiddy bowler blessed with authentic pace comfortably above 90mph, although suggestions that he was clocked at 96mph may be overcooking it. Injuries then took their toll, leaving him with a challenging task just to keep his county career on track, but always with the knowledge that England's interest had never entirely waned.
Meaker's succession of injuries, some of which needs surgery, was so bad that he felt he was "bordering on the yips". He was unsure whether injuries had curtailed his speed and effectiveness or whether his technique and confidence had simply deteriorated. He became prone to great inconsistency from one day to the next. "It was a very bad place for me," he said. Although a long way from England contention, Meaker reanalysed his action with the help of Kevin Shine, England's fast bowling coach, at the national performance centre in Loughborough and England Lions came calling again in 2016 after a solid Championship season for Surrey which brought him 37 wickets at 31.
Pietermaritzburg-born and raised before his family moved to England in 2001, and a graduate of Cranleigh School, in 2003 he won the Telegraph fast bowling award, the Channel 4 outstanding team player award and the AA Thompson fielding award. He finished his school career by winning the EW Swanton cricket prize and within a fortnight of leaving he received an England Under-19s call-up, having played some pre-season friendlies for Surrey. He made his Surrey debut as a 19-year-old in 2008 and had a spell in grade cricket that winter in Sydney, returning in 2009 with better accuracy to join his pace. Meaker was also the first recipient of the ECB's Harold Larwood Fast Bowling Scholarship to Australia and despite struggling, with the rest of his team-mates, in 2010 made an excellent start to the 2011 season. His efforts bore fruit when he made his debut for England Lions against Sri Lanka A that summer and he was then capped twice by England in the ODI series in India at the end of the season.
In 2011, Meaker took 44 Championship wickets at 22.56; a year later, he returned identical figures. Still below his mid-20s, it was compelling stuff. "I was flying: swinging the ball both ways, knocking people's poles over for fun and thinking this is fantastic, I'm the new Allan Donald," he said. He continued to interest England, playing in two T20s at the end of another India tour in 2012. But his progress was undermined by repeated injuries and, on the rare occasions he was fit, a tendency to bowl too many four balls striving for extra pace.
A knee operation at the end of the 2013 season scuppered his chances of an Ashes series in Australia. On other occasions, his injuries just made him seem unfortunate. He was struck in the groin in pre-season nets in 2016 and realised that he was not wearing a box. He needed an emergency operation and by the time he returned for Surrey he felt that, at 27, even his county career could not be entirely guaranteed, but recovered form enough to fire up his ambitions yet again of a bright future. His captain, Gareth Batty, told him just to run in and bowl fast, and the hope was that the swing and consistency that had also characterised him at his peak would return.
But despite a decent Blast in 2017, he struggled for regular cricket over the next few seasons due to a combination of inconsistency and regular injuries. He left The Oval despite having a year left on his contract ahead of the 2020 season, moving to Sussex in an attempt to get his career back on track.
Batting & Fielding
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List A Matches
|Sussex vs Glamorgan||23||2/58 & 1/22||04-Jul-2021||Hove||FC|
|Sussx 2nd XI vs Yorks 2nd XI||--||4/31||24-Jun-2021||Arundel||OTHERT20|
|Sussx 2nd XI vs Warwcks 2nd||0||1/23||24-Jun-2021||Arundel||OTHERT20|
|Sussx 2nd XI vs Hants 2nd XI||16||1/31||15-Jun-2021||Hove||OTHERT20|
|Sussx 2nd XI vs Hants 2nd XI||12||1/34||15-Jun-2021||Hove||OTHERT20|