Former English sailor Mike Hendrick dies aged 72 72

English sailor Mike Hendrick bowled with incredible economy and played a part in two Ashes triumphs, but lacked the luck needed to get out of the shadows of Botham and Willis.

  • Mike Hendrick has died aged 72 after battling colon and liver cancer
  • Sear took 87 wickets in 30 Tests for England at an average of 25.83 each
  • Hendrick starred in two winning Ashes series and excelled in ODIs
  • But he was an unlucky bowler and developed a reputation for beating the bat
  • It was Hendrick’s accident that his career coincided with Botham and Willis

There may never have been a less fortunate bowler than Mike Hendrick, the former sailor of England, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire who has died aged 72 after battling colon and liver cancer.

Not only did his testing career coincide with Bob Willis and Ian Botham often causing him to be relegated to the first change, but he also developed a reputation for beating the bat with no reward.

In 30 tests he never got a five-for, but still had an average of 25 – the same as Willis, better than Botham.

Mike Hendrick, who has died aged 72, arms raised after firing India’s Dilip Vengsarkar from Lord’s during their 1979 UK tour

Tall, slightly stooped and usually unobtrusive, Hendrick was considered by Mike Brearley, one of his England captains, to be “more stable and consistent” than his team-mates, “an admirable reflection of their adventurous flair.”

As if to prove the point, his ODI economy of 3.27 remains the best of any English bowler, as does his average of 19.

And he was the leading wicket taker at the 1979 World Cup, when he was famously launched by Viv Richards for six on the last ball of the West Indies innings in the Lord’s final.

Hendrick bowls for England against Australia in a one-day match at Edgbaston in 1981

Hendrick bowls for England against Australia in a one-day match at Edgbaston in 1981

Hendrick (center) immersed himself in a game of table cricket with English colleagues Bob Willis (left), Derek Randall (second from left), David Gower (second from right) and Ian Botham (right) before flying to Australia in 1978

Hendrick (center) immersed himself in a game of table cricket with English colleagues Bob Willis (left), Derek Randall (second from left), David Gower (second from right) and Ian Botham (right) before flying to Australia in 1978

Hendrick in the MCC colors prior to a 1977 touring match with Australia

Hendrick in the MCC colors prior to a 1977 touring match with Australia

Hendrick was convinced he had Richards lbw at 22; usually the referee disagreed.

Some felt he would have been even more successful had he thrown the ball higher, and Ken Barrington – the former Test batsman who became England’s tour manager – would encourage him to get the batsman ‘in two-man’s land’.

Hendrick, whose modus operandi was successful enough to bring him 770 first-class wickets from just 20 each (including nearly 500 for Derbyshire), found the criticism vexing.

“It was often said that I bowled too short and that if I had bowled more, I would have gotten more people,” he told Wisden. ‘All I’d say is, ‘How does anyone know?’

When the troops were with him, such as during a four-for-three-in-eight bout against Pakistan at the 1979 World Cup, he was more than a handful. “I probably got lucky once,” he said.

He played the last of his tests at the 1981 Ashes, although he missed the epic at Headingley at the last minute after Willis convinced selectors chairman Alec Bedser he was fit.

Hendrick takes revenge on Rod Hull's Emu, cricket ball in beak, in a photo from 1981

Hendrick takes revenge on Rod Hull’s Emu, cricket ball in beak, in a photo from 1981

Hendrick’s invitation, which was sent by post to the players’ counties at the time, had to be intercepted by Derbyshire officials before he could open it.

On the final day of the test, Willis took eight for 43, with England winning after the next.

Hendrick then took part in England’s first rebel tour of apartheid in South Africa in 1981-82, retiring after his third season with Notts in 1984.

He recently told Mike Atherton about his cancer: “I’m in the departure lounge, but the flight hasn’t completely left yet.”

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