Friday, 14 January 2011

Eddie Barlow - a 35th anniversary tribute - Part Four

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!!!!
P - Did Eddie have pretty much total control over playing matters in his time at Derbyshire?

Dave Griffin - One of the reasons for signing Eddie was to raise the profile of the club. We saw him as a leader, even before he took over the captaincy. From my recollections of the time, and from all the anecdotal evidence I have heard since, only one person was in charge of Derbyshire cricket from 1976-1978….

Tony Borrington – Eddie was a truly inspirational captain and a master of motivational techniques. He led from the front with bat and ball and led in his own dynamic style. His sheer sense of presence seemed to intimidate the opposition. Individual and team performances rose measurably under his guidance and leadership and his positive impact throughout his three years at the club was quite astounding.

P - Did he ever wish that he could have come over earlier when he was in his prime as a batsman? His batting averages at Derbyshire were around 30, while his Test average was mid-forties. Though still a force, did he feel himself his batting was on the wane?

C - The ever ebullient Barlow would have thought an average of 30 was not bad for a "has been"! As for wishing he had come over earlier, I don't think it would have entered his mind. I do know that he regretted leaving when he did and said he should have stayed another season.

P - In 1978 Eddie had an astonishing season with the ball, especially in one-day cricket and led us to a Lords final. How disappointed was he in the loss against Kent after a superb campaign?

C - Mega disappointed for the team, but he didn't agonise over it. That was today, tomorrow, we win.

P - Had he decided to leave before that final, or did he feel that he’d done as much as he could on the pitch? Injuries were starting to play a part at that time.

Dave Griffin - He said at the 1978 AGM in the Grandstand that he would probably not return in 1979, and it was no real surprise that he didn’t. He always stressed the need to return to his work in South Africa.

P -What were his favourite memories of his time at Derbyshire?

Dave Griffin - His favourite memories always seemed to involve the improvement of other players…

P - Eddie was instrumental in Peter Kirsten, Allan Lamb and Garth Le Roux coming to play for the county 2nd XI and in local league cricket. Not a bad trio! Was it his decision that we took Peter as a second overseas player?

C – Yes it was.

P – That turned out pretty well! I assume Eddie was unaware of Lamb’s potential to play for England (and Derbyshire) at that stage?

Dave Griffin – That's right.

P - I've often wondered if Eddie had anything to do with the likes of Ashley Harvey-Walker, Fred Swarbrook and Phil Russell heading out to and settling in South Africa. Was that the case?

Dave Griffin -Those players had already visited South Africa, played there and enjoyed it. However, Eddie was hugely instrumental in the young Kim Barnett going to to play for Boland – and many more followed.

P - David Steele took over as Derbyshire captain from Eddie and that never really worked. Was Eddie involved in that decision? Was he surprised by how it turned out?

David Griffin - David Steele had been contacted by Derbyshire to replace Eddie as skipper during the latter stages of 1978, when it was clear Barlow would be going.

P - Eddie was an outspoken critic of apartheid. Did that cause any problems for him back home, or was his status such that this was never a problem?

C - Eddie's profile was high enough that he would not have been flung in jail unless he had put a gun to someone's head, but the day to day problems he faced while trying to run his business were sometimes intolerable. Afrikaners ran the country and if you were an English speaker you got short shrift. His pigs when he took them to market were never grade 1 (the highest prices) but 2 or 3. Eddie once asked them where he could buy the grade 2 and 3 pork but of course it was never available. Police would also come onto his farm late at night and terrorise the staff, simply because Eddie paid better wages than the Afrikaner farmers.

P - He played under fine captains in Trevor Goddard and Ali Bacher. Was he frustrated by South Africa’s exclusion from the international scene, that presumably prevented him from leading the side?

C – Yes, but he didn't dwell on it.

To be continued...

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