England spin great Derek Underwood dies at 78

Underwood took 297 wickets in 86 Tests with his distinctive brand of brisk left-arm spin

By AFP

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England legend Derek Underwood. — X
England legend Derek Underwood. — X

Published: Mon 15 Apr 2024, 6:09 PM

Derek Underwood, the most successful spin bowler in England's Test cricket history, has died at the age of 78, his former county Kent announced on Monday.

Underwood took 297 wickets in 86 Tests with his distinctive brand of brisk left-arm spin and was noted for being particularly effective on uncovered pitches, which were in use for much of a 24-year first-class career that ran from 1963 to 1987.


He famously bowled England to a Test victory over arch-rivals Australia at The Oval in 1968 on such a surface, taking 7-50 when a draw had seemed inevitable.

Underwood made his England debut as a 21-year-old in 1966 and played his last Test in 1982.


Together with outstanding wicketkeeper Alan Knott, he formed a celebrated combination for Kent and England.

Both Underwood, affectionately nicknamed 'Deadly', and Knott might have achieved even more success for England had they not each been involved in Kerry Packer's breakaway World Series Cricket of the late 1970s and a rebel tour of South Africa in 1982.

Even so, Underwood's tally of Test wickets is 42 more than the next highest by another England spinner, Graeme Swann.

After his playing career was over, Underwood served as president of Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), the owners of London's Lord's Cricket Ground, for an annual term in 2009.

"Derek was an outstanding contributor to both Kent and England, winning trophies for club and country and etching his name in the history books forevermore," said Kent chair Simon Phillip in a club statement.

"Watching Derek weave his unique magic on a wet wicket was a privilege for all who were able to witness it. His induction into the ICC (International Cricket Council) Hall of Fame shows the esteem in which he was held in world cricket.

"An advocate for growing our game worldwide whilst protecting our sport's rich heritage, Derek also made substantial contributions off the field as well as on it, and he will be sorely missed by everyone at Kent Cricket."

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