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Derek Underwood: Former England and Kent spinner dies, aged 78

Underwood is a legend in English cricket (PA/PA Wire)

Underwood is a legend in English cricket (PA/PA Wire)

Underwood is a legend in English cricket (PA/PA Wire)

Derek Underwood, England’s most prolific Test spinner, has died at the age of 78.

Underwood made more than 900 appearances for Kent across a one-club career spanning three decades and was considered one of the finest bowlers on the planet during his Test pomp.

Nicknamed “Deadly”, Underwood took 297 wickets at an average of 25.83 in his 86 Tests, played between 1966 and 1982. Only seamers James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Ian Botham, Bob Willis and Fred Trueman have claimed more among Englishmen.

“The Kent Cricket family is in mourning following the passing of one of its greatest ever players,” said Kent chair Simon Philip. “Derek was an outstanding contributor to both Kent and England, winning trophies for club and country and etching his name in the history books forevermore.

“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.

“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.”

The highlight of Underwood’s Test career came at the Oval during the 1968 Ashes, when he took seven wickets to bowl England to a series-levelling victory in the final minutes of the match on a ground that had earlier been flooded by a lunchtime downpour.

Following his retirement in 1987, Underwood went on to serve as president of both Kent and the MCC.

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