England cricket legend Derek Underwood dies aged 78

He is widely considered as the greatest English spinner ever

By Web Desk
April 15, 2024
England's legendary cricketer Derek Underwood. — ECB

England cricket legend Derek Underwood has passed away at the age of 78, confirmed his former county side Kent on Monday.

Underwood claimed 297 wickets in 86 Test matches between 1966 and 1982 and is widely considered the greatest spinner to play for England.

He played his first-class career with Kent, where he made his first-team debut at the age of 17. Across three decades, he then went on to bag a whopping 2,523 wickets at an average of 19 with the county side.

"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,” said Kent Cricket's Chair, Simon Philip, on Underwood’s death.

"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."

He is the sixth-highest wicket-taker in England history and the leading spin bowler ahead of the likes of Graeme Swann, who bagged 255 wickets.

As per the retrospective ICC Men's Test Bowler rankings, he was ranked the world’s no. 1 bowler from September 1969 to August 1973. His most notable figures came at Hastings in 1973 when he dismantled Sussex’s batting lineup on a rain-affected pitch by claiming 8 wickets for 9 runs.

He called time on his remarkable career in 1987 with three County Champions, two One-Day Cups, three National Leagues and three Benson & Hedges Cups as a Kent cricketer. Underwood was also given an MBE for his services to cricket in the New Year’s Honours list of 1981.