Monday, 10 January 2011

Eddie Barlow - a 35th anniversary tribute - Part Three

P - Eddie then signed up for World Series Cricket and Kerry Packer. Presumably he did that without Derbyshire’s knowledge? Was there any awkwardness?

Dave Griffin - My recollection of him signing for WSC was that it was great for him and Derbyshire. He was outlawed from Test cricket because of South Africa’s isolation, so most Derbyshire people saw it as a rare opportunity for him to play top class cricket.

Bob Taylor – We were playing Somerset at Chesterfield in 1976 and batting on a hot day. In the dressing room Eddie suddenly exclaimed “There's going to be a revolution in cricket.” That's all he said but it was the first we heard about what became World Series Cricket.

P - How did he find WSC?

C – He got on a plane and turned right at Mauritius - only kidding!

The beginning was not auspicious at all with all the writs flying around, but the Boards had met their match with Kerry Packer and sanity prevailed. Eddie absolutely adored Australia and once thought of emigrating there. He did not play in the World Series proper, but his main job was captain of the Cavaliers side, which was mainly made up of injured players coming back to their best. 

Eddie went to Kerry once and told him that the players were getting too many injuries. He replied "The spectators want blood, I want blood and so does Channel 9." That was the end of that! There were a few incidents where Eddie dropped a couple of West Indian players because of bad timekeeping. They accused him of racism but Kerry soon sorted that one out.

P - The 1977 and 1978 seasons were two of my favourites as a Derbyshire fan, as Eddie led the team with panache and the players responded. Did he have any favourite players from that era?

C - Eddie didn't do favourites and the players he held in the highest regard would probably have got the sternest criticism, because he wanted them to do well. I remember a youngster he was coaching many years later saying to me "Why is the Coach always riding me"? My reply was "Because he respects your talent and wants you to do the same."

P - Who were the characters of that side?

Dave Griffin – They were all characters – just ask Geoff Miller!

(Around this time Miller and Hendrick did a brilliant comedy double act of two Derbyshire miners discussing the cricket club. 'Eric Bartlett' or 'Laszlo Baslow' was often discussed, as were 'Cliff Gladstone and Les Jackman' The former used to 'baarl big benders...')

Bob Taylor- It was a very happy dressing room and there was a homely and friendly atmosphere around the club. Eddie made us more competitive but we still had a lot of fun!

P - Did many of the players keep in touch later?

C - Like most walks of life, while you are with a group of people you are great buddies, but when you part your life changes. When their paths crossed it was as if they had met yesterday and I think most of them would say they would never forget what Eddie did for them.

Mike Hendrick - Eddie's arrival at Derbyshire gave my career the kick up the backside that it needed. He gave me the understanding of the strength and fitness needed to push on to achieve a flourishing career at Test level. His encouragement was a major factor in my development. He was a great bloke, on and off the pitch.

P - What sort of a captain was he? Would he have been quiet and authoritative, or prepared to give an Alex Ferguson-style hair dryer treatment to anyone who messed him about?

Bob Taylor – I was fortunate to play under two outstanding captains in Eddie and Mike Brearley. They were both very competitive and both commanded respect. You had total belief in them and in what they did. Eddie would always confer with you and listen to your thoughts.

Eddie was a fine batsman and his bowling was always dangerous. He bowled a good line, moved it a bit either way and he had a really quick ball that caught people out. He was outstanding as a skipper and rarely missed a trick.

Harry Cartwright – Eddie treated all the players as individuals and knew exactly how to get the best out of them -which player needed and arm around the shoulder and which one might need a much sterner approach. He was, quite simply, the best captain that I ever played under.

C - He would never ask a player to do anything he was not prepared to do himself. He led by example. I never knew him give a rollicking to anyone in his team in front of another player. I only once saw him go for a member of another team and he richly deserved what he would have got if Eddie had been a little quicker!

P – What was he like in defeat?

C - If the team had played badly he would walk off the field, go into the dressing room, get changed and go home. The next day he would call a meeting and in the cool light of day they would discuss what had gone wrong. Occasionally there would be a young whipper-snapper who thought he knew better than the captain. Eddie would send him to third man and then fine leg to get him out from under his feet!

Geoff Miller – On a personal level, Eddie transformed my career and was my most important mentor in county cricket. On a team level he transformed the whole of the thinking of Derbyshire County Cricket Club from a negative to a positive approach to the game.

P - What was his secret with young players? He seems to have had a knack of turning ordinary players into good county professionals. Was that force of personality, coaching tips or something else?

C - He never talked down to youngsters, always praised their endeavours, had a fund of stories for them, was always willing to listen to them and joined in their fun, even latterly from his mobility scooter. He also had their respect, which was probably why he did so well with the young county professionals.

Alan Hill - Eddie was ahead of his time in County cricket. He instigated a fitness regime and we were the first County to do track suited pre match warm ups. He was a man of high principles and standards and a shrewd reader of people which enabled him to get the very best out of his players with outstanding man-management skills. He was beyond the level of a captain-he was a General-and that's what we called him!!!!

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