Obituary, 2004

Dickie Davis

DAVIS, RICHARD PETER, who died on December 29, 2003, aged 37, had been suffering from a brain tumour since 2001, the season he became the first cricketer to play for five first-class counties. At 22, Dickie Davis, born in Margate, succeeded Derek Underwood as Kent's left-arm spinner, daunting enough even without the end of uncovered wickets, which made his task near-impossible. In 1992, he was the leading slow bowler in the country, taking 74 wickets and finishing sixth in the national averages. But that was the only year his average dipped below 30 and a year later the younger Min Patel was challenging for a place, so Davis, turning down a one-year contract, signed for Warwickshire. He appeared in most of their Championship matches in the county's miraculous 1994 season and played an important role by solving what had been the team's great weakness. But he quickly came under challenge from another young pretender, Ashley Giles, and moved on to Gloucestershire. Retirement from first-class cricket in 1997 (to become cricket development officer for Greater London) opened an even more peripatetic chapter. Likeable and sympathetic, he showed increasing promise as a coach, working with the England women's team, St Edmund's School, Canterbury and, as player-coach, Berkshire. Davis also played a few one-day games for Sussex in 1998 and in August 2001 relegation-rattled Leicestershire obtained a special registration so he could strengthen their meagre spin bowling on a Northampton dirt track; he repaid their confidence with a first-innings half-century and six for 73, his 17th five-for. Two weeks later he had a seizure and the tumour was diagnosed. "He was a pro's pro," said his Kent team-mate, Matthew Fleming, "unflashy, good in a crisis, a brilliant pair of hands, and a much better batsman than might have been obvious - he was the best hooker we had." As a bowler, however, he probably did not spin the ball enough to be truly effective in fourday cricket. Despite his wanderings, he remained close to his first county - ten days before he died, his wife's sister married the current captain David Fulton and Davis said grace. He was buried in his Kent blazer.

© John Wisden & Co