Obituaries

Alan Igglesden

He became a patron and fundraiser for the Brain Tumour Charity

The former Kent and England seamer Alan Igglesden was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 1999  •  Getty Images

The former Kent and England seamer Alan Igglesden was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 1999  •  Getty Images

IGGLESDEN, ALAN PAUL, died of complications caused by a brain tumour on November 1, aged 57. Beset by injuries and defections to a rebel tour of South Africa, England were desperately seeking a new-ball bowler for the Sixth Test of their shambolic 1989 Ashes campaign. Team manager Micky Stewart called the Kent seamer Alan Igglesden: he was delighted, but had to wait for a neighbour to fix his washing machine before he could travel to The Oval with clean kit.
Matters did not improve when Stewart appeared to suggest at a press conference that he was England's 17th choice. He was making a point about the length of the injury list, not Igglesden's credentials, but even his endorsement contained a caveat: "He is tall, strong and quick, and has the ability to move the ball away from the bat - if he is not too tired."
It was unfortunate for Igglesden that he came to be remembered as one of the last of the 29 players used by England that summer. Between 1986 and 1998, he took more than 500 first-class wickets. Igglesden stood 6ft 6in, and used his height to great effect. "Iggy had everything when he was fit and well," said his Kent captain Chris Cowdrey. "He swung the ball out, had real pace, and bounce off a full length."
Igglesden came to Kent's attention while playing for Holmesdale in Sevenoaks, and joined the staff in 1985, making his debut the following summer. In his second match, against Surrey at The Oval, he took six wickets, but a month later suffered a side strain and missed the rest of the season. Injuries bedevilled his career, as he acknowledged: "Discs slip out at a moment's notice." He started the 1987 season with 23 wickets in four matches, including a five-for against the Pakistanis, but managed only ten more games after another injury setback. Kent were runners-up in the Championship in 1988, with Igglesden taking 37 wickets in just seven matches. "We would have won the Championship comfortably if he had stayed fit for a few more," said Cowdrey. "It was so frustrating for him and all of us that he was so unlucky with injuries."
In 1989 he did stay fit, making 20 first-class appearances and finishing as Kent's leading wicket-taker with 53. "Iggy Stardust" was a headline in The Sun after one eye-catching performance. He was considered for the Fifth Test at Trent Bridge, but there were concerns about his workload, and Greg Thomas was preferred. When Australia batted first at The Oval, he was thrust into the action, taking the new ball with Gladstone Small. He later said: "When the umpire says play, stop for a moment, have a look around, take it all in. You only bowl your first ball in an Ashes Test once." He took three wickets in the match, including Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh in the first innings.
Igglesden spent several winters in South Africa, playing for the multi-racial Cape Town club Avendale, and Western Province. In 1992-93, he enjoyed a successful season with Boland, taking 39 wickets at 11, including a career-best seven for 28 (and 12 in the match) against Griqualand West at Kimberley.
The England selectors took note, and named him in the squad for the First Test of the 1993 Ashes at Old Trafford, but he suffered a groin strain the day before the game. He was chosen again for the Third Test at Trent Bridge, but this time was scuppered by a back injury. His Kent new-ball partner Martin McCague made his debut, raising a possibility that had long tantalised Canterbury regulars: on paper they made a formidable pair, but seldom appeared side by side. Some members joked that they were so rarely seen together they must be the same player. Igglesden's 54 wickets in 1993 earned him a place on the tour of the Caribbean. He played in the First and Second Tests, as well as four ODIs, but made little impact.
His appearances for Kent dwindled - he missed the entire season in 1996 - and he left in 1998. He intended to play Minor Counties cricket for Berkshire, but suffered an epileptic fit in his second match; doctors discovered a brain tumour the size of a junior cricket ball. An experimental drug treatment reduced its size, and he was able to take up teaching jobs in Kent and Yorkshire.
Ten years after the diagnosis, the tumour erupted and he had life-saving surgery. He suffered strokes in 2018 and 2020, which left him partially paralysed. He received help from the Professional Cricketers' Trust, and became a patron and fundraiser for the Brain Tumour Charity. He raised more than £300,000 by holding golf days supported by former cricketers. "It was a privilege to have known him, and he has been a real inspiration to our supporters living with brain tumours," said the charity's co-founders, Neil and Angela Dickson. Not long before he died, a group of his old Kent colleagues visited him at home. "If I could pick a team of the nicest guys I played with," said Cowdrey, "Iggy would be inked in very early."