Derek Underwood: Adieu Derek Underwood, Sunil Gavaskar’s nemesis | Cricket News


MUMBAI: Derek Underwood, England’s best spinner in the post-World War II era who had a knack for dismissing legendary opener Sunil Gavaskar, passed away on Monday at the age of 78.
The left-arm spinner, known as ‘Deadly,’ took 297 wickets — the highest by an England spinner — in 86 Tests in a glittering 16-year career from 1966 to 1982. He enjoyed an even more prolific time for Kent in a 24-year first-class career, in which he took 2,465 wickets.
Known for bowling quickly through the air and possessing pinpoint accuracy through a long run-up, Underwood was a terror for batsmen in an era of uncovered wickets in England and elsewhere.
From 1971-82, Underwood enjoyed many a battle with India’s famed batsmen, who were masters of playing quality spin, taking 62 wickets in 20 Tests against them.
When India famously won the Oval Test in 1971, Underwood, who took 3/72 in that second innings, was the main threat that they overcame as they chased down 173.
In the 1972-73 series in India — Sunil Gavaskar’s first series at home — he got the legendary opener’s wicket four times in 10 innings. All Gavaskar managed in that series was two half-centuries in five Tests.
Overall, he dismissed Gavaskar 12 times in Tests, the maximum times any bowler has got his number. In the 1976-77 series, Underwood took 29 wickets in five Tests to help England record a 3-1 triumph in India. Six times during that series, he got the wicket of Gavaskar.
Gavaskar and former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar, who played against Underwood in the 1981 six-Test series at home, paid rich tribute to Underwood while talking to TOI.
“That’s really sad (his passing away). What a bowler and above all what a lovely guy. Cricket is poorer with his passing away. RIP ‘Deadly,'” Gavaskar told TOI.
In an interview during his playing days, Gavaskar, when asked about the toughest spinner he faced, had mentioned Underwood.
“Among spinners, Underwood was one of the toughest I faced. He was a quicker bowler who flighted the ball occasionally. One had to be extremely watchful. He was the toughest bowler I faced along with Andy Roberts,” Gavaskar had said.
Vengsarkar said, “Underwood had amazing accuracy. I played against him in our 1981 series against England at home. During the Test in Bangalore, Gavaskar and I enjoyed a 93-run partnership. However, Underwood tied us down a lot, because he was so accurate, even as he was quick through the air. He could turn the ball too. He was a master of the art of left-arm spin. He would bowl a nagging line and length.”


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