Mike Hendrick has died aged 72 – pictured with Rod Hull and Emu in 1981


Mike Hendrick, the fine Derbyshire and England pace bowler who has died aged 72, came as close as anybody to replicating the perfect sideways-on bowling action of Fred Trueman.

With a run-up at the same curving angle as Trueman, Hendrick gathered himself in a crescendo at the bowling crease and, on his day, delivered out-swingers that would take or beat the edges of right-handed batsmen. 

It made a magnificent sight, and one which cannot be seen in English professional cricket any more, as bowling coaches do not approve of the impact of the sideways-on delivery on the spine. But Hendrick was durable enough to take 770 first-class wickets, 87 of them in Tests.

Making his England debut in 1974, Hendrick grew up before limited-overs cricket became popular, so he did not need the multiple skill-sets of the pace bowler today. It was sufficient that he swiped a few hits at No 11, caught well in the slips, and bowled his stock fast-medium ball shaping away with good bounce but without much variation.

He was part of the England side that reached the 1979 World Cup final and helped Derbyshire to the 1981 Natwest Trophy. Had he varied his length more and pitched fuller in English conditions, he would surely have secured that five-wicket Test haul which eluded him. He is the world record holder for most Test wickets without taking five in an innings.

Mike Hendrick bowls against Australia at Edgbaston in 1981


Competing with some outstanding contemporaries, like Ian Botham, Chris Old and Bob Willis, Hendrick never enjoyed the security of a long run in the England team, which might have suited the sardonic sense of humour which kept him going through his battle with cancer.

In addition to his feats in English conditions, Hendrick had an excellent overseas series in Australia in 1978/79, when he kept beating the bats of the rookies who formed their Test team in the absence of World Series players. He took 19 wickets at 15 each as England won 5-1. Hendrick’s Derbyshire team-mate Geoff Miller also cashed in to be the most successful English off-spinner in Australia since the First World War.

His last two Tests were in the 1981 Ashes when he was famously picked for the Headingley Test ahead of Bob Willis by Alec Bedser, before Willis persuaded Bedser of his fitness and Hendrick was left out. Hendrick spent 12 years at Derbyshire before moving to Nottinghamshire where he became cricket manager when he retired. 

He was renowned as a hard judge but also a sympathetic coach who did much for Ireland’s development for five years from 1995 before returning to Derbyshire as bowling coach. He was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2019.