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England’s Greatest Spinner Derek Underwood Dies Aged 78

Derek Underwood passed away aged 78 |Courtesy-ICC

Derek Underwood, England and Kent’s greatest spinner has died at the age of 78. In 24 years of his domestic cricket playing for Kent, where he was born, Underwood claimed 2,523 wickets with an average of 19.04 in more than 900 first-class matches between 1963 and 1987. Underwood made his debut for Kent at the age of 17 and played all of his domestic matches for them only.

Underwood, also known by his nickname “Deadly,” was one of the first 55 people to be admitted into the International Cricket Council Hall of Fame when it opened for business in 2009. In addition to serving as president of the Marylebone Cricket Club in 2009, Underwood was granted an MBE in 1981.

Underwood remains the sixth-highest wicket-taker for England in Test cricket, and also the top spinner, ahead of Graeme Swann (255). He played 26 matches in One-Day Internationals (ODIs) between 1973 and 1982, including two in the first World Cup in 1975, where he claimed 32 wickets at 22.93.

In addition to winning three County Championships, two One-Day Cups, three National Leagues, and three Benson & Hedges Cups as a Kent cricketer, Underwood also received two benefit seasons, in 1975 and 1986, during his career. He eventually announced his retirement from the game in 1987.

Kent Cricket’s Chair, Simon Philip, said: “The Kent Cricket family is in mourning following the passing of one of its greatest-ever players. 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 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.”