Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Mike Hendrick (1948-2021)

The death of Mike Hendrick today will not have come as a surprise to anyone who read Mike Atherton's unexpectedly moving article on the England team that won back the Ashes in 1981.

Atherton told us that Hendrick had been suffering from liver and bowel cancer for a long time and, in his own words, was "in the departure lounge, but the flight has not left yet".

Hendrick was a fine seam bowler with career figures to prove it. In tests he took 87 wickets at 25.83 and in first-class cricket 770 wickets at 20.50.

One oddity of his test record is that no bowler has got so many wickets without taking five in an innings.

There were those who said this confirmed the impression that Hendrick was a uniquely unlucky bowler who beat the bat over and over again without finding the edge. Others said that if only he had bowled a little fuller and a little straighter he would have taken even more wickets.

Hendrick was playing when I saw my first day of test cricket - the fourth and final day of the 1974 Edgbaston test against India. England took eight wickets to win by an innings and Hendrick got three of them.

He was also part of the most exciting day's play I have ever seen live - England's victory over Pakistan in the 1979 World Cup. You can see the four wickets he took in the video above.

And below you can see a long interview with Hendrick about his career that he recorded only last month.

Later. I should add that Mike Hendrick was a superb slip fielder. He would scoop up any chance that came near him with his big, seam bowler's hands and make hard catches look easy.

I remember Mike Brearley, Tony Greig and Hendrick from the 1977 Ashes as the finest England slip cordon I have seen. But Graham Roope, who was generally regarded as the best slip catcher in the country in those days, played in the last two tests of that series, so there must have been changes to accommodate him.


Frank Little said...

He was condemned for being too mean as a fast bowler. Some people are never satisfied.

Matt Pennell said...

One of many fine swing bowlers in 1970s to extoll the virtues of a perfectly upright seam position - something that was drummed into me as a kid when I started playing. I never knew until his obituraries that he played for Leics, Derbys and Notts in his distinguished career. This does beg the question - what was wrong with Northants?

Such a great player, in retrospect we rarely see the like of Hendrick these days.