England’s highest Test wicket-taking spinner Derek Underwood dies at 78 | Cricket News

NEW DELHI: Derek Underwood, renowned as England‘s most successful spin bowler in Test cricket history, passed away at the age of 78, as announced by his former county Kent on Monday.
Underwood, whose illustrious first-class career spanned 24 years, from 1963 to 1987, claimed 297 wickets in 86 Tests with his distinctive brisk left-arm spin. His mastery on uncovered pitches was legendary, making him a formidable force even in challenging conditions.
One of Underwood’s most memorable performances came in 1968 at The Oval, where he played a pivotal role in England’s Test victory over arch-rivals Australia.His remarkable figures of 7-50 on a difficult surface secured an unlikely win for England when a draw had seemed inevitable.
Underwood’s international journey began in 1966 at the age of 21, and he remained a stalwart of the England team until his final Test appearance in 1982. His contributions to English cricket, both domestically and internationally, cement his legacy as one of the greatest spin bowlers of all time.
Underwood, fondly known as ‘Deadly’, formed a formidable partnership with wicketkeeper Alan Knott, both for Kent and the England cricket team. Their collaboration behind the stumps was celebrated for its effectiveness and synergy, contributing significantly to their teams’ successes.
However, Underwood and Knott’s careers faced disruptions due to their involvement in Kerry Packer’s breakaway World Series Cricket during the late 1970s and a rebel tour of South Africa in 1982.
Despite these setbacks, Underwood’s Test wicket tally remains unmatched by any other England spinner, standing 42 wickets ahead of the next highest, Graeme Swann.
Following his retirement from playing cricket, Underwood continued to serve the sport in various capacities. Notably, he assumed the role of president of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in 2009, an esteemed position within the cricketing community, showcasing his enduring commitment and contribution to the game even after his playing days were over.
“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.”
(With AFP inputs)

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