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DEREK  RANDALL
 
  Of few cricketers can it be said with more truth that figures do not tell the full story. Derek Randall, first called ‘Arkle’ when he lapped some of his Nottinghamshire colleagues on a training run, averaged only 26 after 16 tests for England before the tour of Australia in 1978/1979, yet had already had an extraordinary effect on English cricket.  In Australia, often faced with poor wickets, he made more runs (763 at 47.68) than anyone in the touring party and scored 385 test runs at 38.50 returning home an established member of the side for the first time.  
    Although he is a dedicated right-hand batsman with immense natural flair and a gift of timing, captains have always been tempted to pick him for his fielding alone and he has achieved  many phenomenal run-outs.  There has never been a keener cover-point and it is difficult to think of any faster ones.  Moreover his throwing has become increasingly accurate.  Covering some fifteen yards towards the stumps as the bowler delivers Randall is actually running as the batsman plays his stroke and his acrobatics in the field inspired his colleagues in the MCC side on his first tour, to India and Australia in 1976/77.  Thanks to Randall other fielders also began to perform super-human feats, the bowlers were themselves lifted and, although his own form was mercurial, England’s success in the next four years owed much to his influence.  
  Although normally a somewhat diffident and self-concious character, he becomes a natural clown with an audience to play to, and, despite being a very nervous starter of an innings, thrives on the big occasion.  In March 1997 he played one of the great Test innings, cutting, driving and hooking his way to a brilliant 174 in the second innings of the Centenary Test in Melbourne,. Almost single handed Randall took the fight to Dennis Lillee and turned potential anti-climax into a classic finish.  A modest series against Australia at home in 1977, interrupted by an injury, was followed by failure on the winter tour of Pakistan and New Zealand but his second test hundred, a staunch and patient innings of 150 in the second innings of the fourth Test at Sydney in 1978/79, turned a series which was delicately balanced decisively Englands way.   
  Though he still gets himself out sometimes with rash strokes, and fidgets about at the crease as the bowler delivers the ball, he remains a character, an entertainer and a batsman sometimes touched by genius, perhaps the spiritual son of another great bu eccentric cricketer, George Gunn.  He had a disastrous tour of Australia in 1979/80 and lost his place, but his test career took on a new lease in 1982 when he hit entertaining and valuble hundreds for England against India at Lords, going in at number six, and against Pakistan at Edgebaston when, against his will, he was tried as an opener.  Subsequent efforts were less successful and he batted lower in the order in Australia in 1982/83, when he played consistently and well.  
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