Derek Randall Shimmering brilliance with willow and electric …

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Derek Randall: Shimmering with willow and electric

Derek Randall © Getty

Derek Randall, born 24, 1951 was an attractive batsman he got going and one of the best ever produced by England. Arunabha  looks back at the career of the man who his cap at Dennis Lillee after about avoiding a bouncer.

The that characterises Derek is ‘sparkling’. His career progressed a sequence of brilliantly formed bubbles, a large number of perhaps remained short-lived, but of which ever failed to

With which incredible do we start?

With those cartwheels executed to perfection deliveries as he stood at cover? impish moments of mimicry the severe authority of the Indian patrolling the boundary finished against the titters of laughter — the madman from Retford looking away when the turned suspiciously towards

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Or do we recall the innings during the Centenary at Melbourne? In front of the hundreds of Ashes greats and in the presence of the — when he scored 174 in defiance of the Australian bowlers, was struck on the by a Dennis Lillee bouncer but to bat, and doffed his hat when bounced again?

What the handspring at Headingley?  His way of celebrating the win of 1977. Standing in the covers, with a low centre of gravity, with incredible anticipation and for hurling himself around, he was of in the same breath as Colin and Neil Harvey.

And when the triumphed, he was prone to celebrate in a way added an extra item to the entertainment.

However, perhaps the of Randall can be summarised with a of his feats at Melbourne in January

In the first innings, Randall had to a hook shot essayed off the ball. England, facing a of 142 runs, started the second disastrously. Geoff Boycott first ball.

David Bob Willis and Ian Botham were ill or injured.

And Randall picked up his 2 lb 7 oz bat its extra layer of rubber on the murmuring, “Come on, Rags, needs you.”

He stayed at the for the little short of 10 hours, chattering to himself. “Wake up, concentrate. Get stuck in. You idiot, Concentrate, Rags, come on, on. Come on England.” He batted a technique of his own, underlined by his shuffle, sometimes moving to hide all three stumps.

He hardly played two balls the way. And he made 150, over the Australian bowlers and the temperatures of 105 degrees. England won by 93 and effectively secured the Ashes. It was Randall’s second Test — the Centenary Test had seen the one.

And, for a player of his and irrepressible attitude, it was incredibly the century in the history of cricket the two countries.

He was mostly a buoyant on the cricket ground, but when the demanded he could sometimes hard as nails — nails were chiselled and crafted exquisite artistry. Unfortunately, did not happen too often, but when it even the stiffest upper would spread into smiles.

In the Centenary Test, being hit by a Lillee bouncer, he doffed his cap after another streaked past his nose, over his shoulders to avoid a When yet another short from the menacing Australian was flat-batted to the midwicket boundary, the Wisden jotted down rare poetic flourish,  “He it to the midwicket fence with a and power that made a rheumy eye turn to the master of the the watching Sir Donald Bradman. cannot recapture the joy of that

Randall could make the spectator delight in the luminous of the game.

Early days

was born at Retford, Nottinghamshire, in 1951. He attended the Sir Frederick Secondary Modern School, but very little cricket

However, his cricketing education was early enough. Randall’s Frederick was a local player of repute and younger brother was always enthusiastic. The two brothers with their father in the garden, picking up the basics of the

Randall joined Retford, in the Bassetlaw League. The side was led by Hall, also the skipper of the Second XI side. From to the Trent Bridge staff was a step. When he joined the in 1970, the first side was led by other than Sir Garry .

It was in 1972 that Randall made his mark, striking well timed sixes in 78 against Essex on his First-Class The bowling attack of Essex Keith Boyce and John and hence it was quite an achievement. He did not sustain the momentum, but it was obvious a young batsman had arrived, a refreshing approach and a penchant for the ball hard. Additionally, his proved to be breath-taking. He enjoyed moment on the ground and his brisk from cover would take the possibility of sharp out of the equation.

Within a few seasons, he developed a reputation for his throws as well. It was the of long hours spent at a single stump.

In 1973, got his Nottinghamshire cap. That he did not really have an excellent with the bat, but represented England against the West

Three years later, made his way into the side for two One Day (ODIs) against the visiting Indians. On his debut at Lord’s, he hit 10 and a six in a lone hand of 88 against Roberts, Michael Holding, Julien and Vanburn Holder. In the game at Birmingham, he struck fours in a 29 ball 39.

England both the matches, but Randall was Man of the Series for the hosts.

Doffing cap at Dennis Lillee has never a good idea, but trust Randall to come up with like that © Getty

Test cricket as a comedian

The Randall was ushered into the for the tour of India in 1976-77, was to be followed by the Centenary Test. He his time to get used to the wickets. On his he scored a fighting 37 in Calcutta. He did go on to get a big against South Zone, but the Indian spinners did not quite him to enjoy his trips to the wicket in the matches.

His knock on debut was by Test match scores of

However, he did have a significant to play in the English fortunes. the astute orders of captain Greig, he delighted the crowd acrobatic stunts on the field, and mimicry on the fence. He borrowed the and gun of the patrolling policemen on the boundary and along the fence, leaving the in splits. It was part of Greig’s to win the crowd over, and it ended in success.

England won the series 3-1, and the was often vociferously behind

The Centenary Test

Following his series, Randall flew to for the Centenary Test. Perhaps his memorable triumph. With needing a colossal 463 to win at Melbourne, he in at 28 for one. What followed was an of surprising bravado and nonchalance.

Lillee looking as menacing as Randall counter-attacked, pulling him marked disdain.

After the day, Bill Lawry that Randall’s approach dominating fast bowlers was England had been waiting for since the retirement of Ted Dexter .

The day saw Randall get to a century full of and zest. This was followed by the of bouncers with Lillee. He left for 174, acknowledging by taking off his cap, smiling and in the jaunty manner which him such a darling of the crowds.

finished at 417, losing the by the exact margin as the first Test match a hundred ago.

He returned as the great hope of England cricket. But 53 at Lord’s and 79 at Manchester in the Ashes he was soon plagued with the that would dog his entire — that of inconsistency. It required a to Australia for another glimpse of the Randall.

The final day saw Randall get to a full of valour and zest. was followed by the game of bouncers Lillee. He ultimately left for acknowledging cheers by taking off his smiling and waving in the jaunty which made him such a of the crowds

When Mike ’s team went Down to play a Packer depleted side, Randall hit 75 and 74 not out at Brisbane in a Man of the winning performance, closing the with a scintillating 96 run partnership young David Gower. It was timing from both and the drives through the covers even the partisan Australian to their feet. He then on to score that extraordinary 150 at to win the Ashes.

Ups and downs

However, tale of ups and downs continued. The Cup in 1979 saw him brilliantly running out Greenidge in the final, but that the sole highlight of a progressively summer in international cricket. had a wonderful domestic season, over 1000 runs and 209 and 146 against Middlesex to become the Nottinghamshire cricketer to score a and a single hundred in the same

He was even named one of the Wisden of 1980. However, by the time he had to Australia and played two Ashes by 1980, he had just one half to show for his 11 innings since the 150 at on his previous visit.

Randall found himself out of the England He continued to score heavily in the circuit, but it was two and a half years he got back into the national

When he did get back, it was in striking In his comeback Test against at Lord’s, Randall came in to bat England in a spot of bother, lost the fourth wicket for 96. He almost six hours, hitting 11 and a six in his 126.

He followed it up with 95 at The before being stumped off Shastri.

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The Pakistanis followed the to England that summer to three Tests. At Edgbaston, batsman who was at his best in the lower was sent up to open the innings. the game delicately poised, a slim first innings he batted with grim scoring 105 in a little more four hours, before the eighth out at 188.

England won by 113 and Randall once again had a telling contribution.

Some innings

He had another superb when he returned to his favoured of Australia. On the quick but rather Perth wicket, Randall, at No 6, hit 78 in the first innings and followed it up 115 in the second. If one looks at the scorecard it seems like a drab but during a period in the England innings it did look that could run away with the

However, Randall batted to safety.

There were more memorable knocks, all New Zealand, made special by the with Botham. The first on his home turf of Trent in 1983. The two entertainers came at 169 for five.

They were at 355, when Botham for 103. Randall did not get a hundred, for 83 to his Nottinghamshire colleague Richard However, he did have his moments the great New Zealand bowler.

Hadlee sent down deliveries, with their variations, all in the course of an over, all the potential for an edge to the waiting And Randall hit them through the each time the stroke varied, and each time crashed into the fence. It was for the gods.

Travelling to New Zealand winter, Randall found walking out to join Botham at 115 for at Wellington. This time added 242, with looking to bludgeon the ball and more intent on caressing it. left for 138 with 22 fours and two Randall was once again by Hadlee, but this time he 164 against his name, with 20 and two sixes to his credit. He got 104 in the third at Auckland, adding another 87 Botham.

It was his last Test

The tour of Pakistan that got him just one fifty. And when the Indian pace attack steaming in during the summer of Randall was sent in at No 3 at Birmingham. He to Joel Garner in both with zero and one against his He never played for England

Allan Lamb, Mike and David Gower in the middle-order did not him any more opportunities.

Randall’s career ended with 47 in which he scored 2470 at 33.37 with seven In 49 ODIs, he scored 1067 at 26.67 runs with half centuries.

He continued for the great Nottinghamshire side for more years. His runs did not as smoothly in the late eighties, but in at the age of 40, he had a superb summer with runs at 62.68 with hundreds. His fielding remained even as he crossed over to the side of 40.

Randall carried on till 1993, finishing his career with 28,456 at 38.14 with 52 hundreds.


Of a slight build, and just five feet eight Randall prowled in size 11 He was named Arkle after the racehorse. He was by far the most gifted among cricketers of his era.

He lost his way while out on a training run the cricket season, but nevertheless managed to arrive back anyone else.

His batting was not copybook, the shuffle a bit too the movement at the crease almost He nibbled a bit too much at the balls the off-stump. A nervous starter, he looked as if he was uncomfortable holding the

However, when the ball hitting the sweet spot, he was one of the rewarding sights at the crease. He had the ability to often hit unbelievable off deliveries that other would have be content to or leave alone.

Prowling in all his life, Randall was known to at least 20 runs a day with his He was seen galloping in as the bowler the crease. His long limbs and hands ensured quick and pick-ups and the expertly honed rattled the stumps with accuracy.

After retirement First-Class cricket, Randall the Cambridge University side and the School team. At Bedford, one of his was Alastair Cook. It was Randall who the young lad to the England and Wales Board (ECB) National

He also coached Bedfordshire in the County Championship.

The Derek Suite at Trent Bridge was in his honour by the Nottinghamshire County Club.

( Arunabha Sengupta   is a historian and Chief Cricket at CricketCountry. He writes about the and the romance of the game, punctuated by opinions about modern day while his post-graduate degree in peeps through in occasional pieces. The author of three he can be followed on Twitter at ) 

Published on February 25, 2014, pm Last updated on February 25, 8:32 pm

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