David Capel, the former England allrounder and stalwart of Northamptonshire as player, captain and later coach, has died at the age of 57 following a long illness.
Capel, who played 270 first-class matches for Northants between 1981 and 1998 as well as 300 List A games, enjoyed an unbroken 32-year association with the club. In 1999, he was appointed the club's director of excellence in the wake of his retirement, and later succeeded Kepler Wessels as head coach in 2006.
In 2018, the same year in which he was diagnosed with a brain tumour, Capel was inducted into the club's hall of fame - joining such illustrious club names as Frank Tyson, Colin Milburn, Allan Lamb and Bishan Bedi. It was due recognition for a player who, in 1987, became the first Northamptonshire-born cricketer to play for England since George Thompson in 1910.
Capel played 15 Tests and 23 ODIs for England in a brief but eventful career, in which time he was saddled - as with several other players of the era - with the burden of stepping into Ian Botham's shoes as an international allrounder.
He did, however, play a part in a success that at the time had eluded even Botham, in England's astonishing victory over West Indies in the first Test of their 1989-90 tour of the Caribbean - a result that remains one of the most remarkable upsets of all time.
Selected as one of four seamers in a new-look England attack under Graham Gooch, Capel claimed 2 for 31 in West Indies' first-innings 164. He would later be one of England's not-out batsmen in the final moments of the third Test at Port-of-Spain, where England claim so close to securing a 2-0 series lead, only for rain and some controversial West Indies delaying tactics to deny them their final victory push.
While Capel's eventual Test averages of 15 with the bat and 50 with the ball told their own story, he did have a habit of getting the better of the great Viv Richards, whom he dismissed three times out of his total of 21 scalps.
On Test debut against Pakistan at Headingley in 1987, Capel came to the crease with England reeling at 31 for 5, with Imran Khan and Wasim Akram on a roll. He responded with a gutsy half-century, and added a Test-best 98 against the same opponents in Karachi five months later. However, he never again passed 40 in Test cricket.
Domestically, however, Capel remained an immense influence at Northants, for whom he scored 10,869 first-class runs and claimed 467 wickets. After joining the county staff as an apprentice in 1980, he made his debut against the touring Sri Lankans at Northampton in 1981 and claimed an illustrious first Championship victim the following summer against Yorkshire when he dismissed Geoffrey Boycott at Middlesborough.
In limited-overs cricket Capel scored 6,274 runs and 237 wickets. He was named Man of the Match on five occasions including the NatWest Trophy semi-final against Leicestershire at Grace Road in 1987, in which he made 46 not out and claimed 3 for 43 in an 85-run win. He scored 97 off 110 balls against Yorkshire in the Benson and Hedges Cup final at Lord's that same year, but finished on the losing side after Yorkshire's Jim Love blocked the final ball of the match with the scores level, and secured the title on fewest wickets lost.
This is devastating news. A brilliant, tough cricketer but more importantly, a lovely man. Capes had a huge impact on my career and many other players who came through the system. A true Northamptonshire legend. https://t.co/1f7KP5Y80U— Alex Wakely (@AlexWakely1) September 2, 2020
"This is hugely shocking and sad news for the English Cricket family and particularly those connected with Northants CCC," said Tom Harrison, the ECB chief executive. "David was one of the finest allrounders of his era and spent an astonishing 33 years at Wantage Road.
"I had the privilege of playing with David, a hugely competitive and determined cricketer who was never beaten - an attitude he took into his battle with his illness. A complex and private man on the surface, a kind and gentle one to those who knew him well. I will miss his friendship."
Following his departure from Northants in 2012, Capel remained actively involved in cricket, taking up a role as assistant coach to England women's team in 2013. He went on to serve as Bangladesh women's coach from 2016 to 2018.
"Very sad to hear my former team mate passed from a long suffering illness," wrote Lamb, Capel's team-mate for Northants and England, on Twitter. ""David Capel all round person and a true gentlemen both on and off the field we are going to miss you buddy . RIP and condolences to your family."
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. He tweets at @miller_cricket