Cricket legend opens Wymondham nets
“Deadly” Derek Underwood is hoping Monty Panesar's Test success can inspire a new generation of left-arm spinners for England.The former Kent and England matchwinner, who opened Wymondham College's new six-lane cricket nets yesterday, declared himself a big fan of Panesar, who has already taken 101 Test wickets in just over two years in international cricket.
“Deadly” Derek Underwood is hoping Monty Panesar's Test success can inspire a new generation of left-arm spinners for England.
The former Kent and England matchwinner, who opened Wymondham College's new six-lane cricket nets yesterday, declared himself a big fan of Panesar, who has already taken 101 Test wickets in just over two years in international cricket.
But Underwood warned that the 26-year-old Northamptonshire spinner should not be burdened with too much expectation.
“I rate Monty extremely highly,” he said. “I think the trouble is when you go a couple of matches and you don't get wickets, everybody starts questioning things.
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“What we want from Monty is, when the ball does turn, he bowls a side out and we win a Test match. That's what you look for in a spinner but there are times when you have to do a containing job and bowl 30 overs.
“He's a fine bowler and it's a pity there are not more left-arm spinners coming through to challenge him. We've had Ashley Giles and Phil Tufnell before him, but there are not many of them about.”
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Underwood, who took more Test wickets than any England spinner - 297 in 86 matches from 1966 to 1982 - will become the new MCC president in October, succeeding his former Test captain, Mike Brearley.
He said: “I'm absolutely thrilled. It is a great honour, all the more because Mike asked me to take over.
“Cricket is at an interesting phase at the moment with Twenty20 dominating and huge sums of money coming into the game, and lots of new developments. It's an Ashes series next year, too, which makes it all the more memorable for me to be president at that time.
“The MCC are the guardians of the rules of the game. Their role has changed quite dramatically because they used to be very much involved in Test cricket but MCC still has a vital role to play in that the views of committees are very highly regarded.
“An example is the latest switch-hit that we've seen Kevin Pietersen play. The MCC were asked to study the ins and outs of that and try to work out how best, not to combat it, but to deal with it and encourage it if necessary and work out when to give people out lbw.”
Underwood, 63, is a director of Club Turf Cricket Ltd, the company that installed the college's new nets.
He said: “I've been involved in the cricket facilities business for the last 20 years. This is particularly pleasing because this is a six-bay development whereas perhaps normally with clubs and schools we're looking at two bays. I can already see that although it's only been down a short space of time it's been well used and this is what we want to see - the development of youth cricket.
“This is a keen cricket school and there are many. We want to encourage more cricket, more matches.”
Wymondham College runs cricket teams in all age groups and students are currently raising funds for their own tour of Barbados.
Said Underwood: “I don't have great memories of Barbados. I never played in a Test there because I was dropped for the game in Barbados on Mike Denness's tour in 1974 and my parents had flown out specifically to see the Test match, which was a bit of a shame. But in that Test, Lawrence Rowe scored 302 for the West Indies, so perhaps it was a good one for me to miss.”
Pupils too young to remember Underwood's exploits were not regaled with tales of his great bowling achievements, however. Instead he told them about his long-held record of 19 Test ducks for England, finally broken by Mike Atherton in 2001.
“I wasn't sure whether I should send him a letter of congratulation,” he said.