He wasn't the biggest name to sign for Derbyshire. He didn't leave a protracted legacy over several summers. He wasn't an especially good three-day player. But Adrian Kuiper won Derbyshire the Sunday League in 1990 in his only season at the club, which is a pretty impressive contribution.
Kim Barnett had been on the receiving end in South Africa, watching and bowling as Kuiper hammered a 49-ball century for South Africa in the winter of 1989-90. Such a rate was astonishing at that time and the Derbyshire skipper saw him as a key part of one-day plans for the following summer. It was a very shrewd piece of work.
Had Kuiper been in his prime today, he would be a multi-millionaire cricketer, travelling the globe to play in the T20 competitions. Younger readers who didn't have the pleasure of seeing him live should think Kieron Pollard or Chris Gayle, but perhaps with a little more common sense applied in the ball to hit. Over twenty summers after his spell at the club, he remains the biggest hitter of a cricket ball that I have seen in our colours. Given any variation in width or length, Kuiper would bury the ball into the farthest reaches of stands, or over them.
The great thing about him was that he appeared to need little time to get his eye in. In that summer, he seemed at one with the pace of the pitch, the movement of the ball and size of the boundaries from the moment he went in. On several occasions he had to cut loose immediately, as we had fallen behind the clock, yet he rarely failed to deliver, required run rates of little consequence to him.
It is all the more remarkable that in an eighteen-year career he only made five one-day centuries, but there were 35 fifties and Kuiper specialised in the short, sharp, brutal assault, thirty or forty runs in a few overs that turned games on their head.
Examples? That summer in the Refuge Assurance League he averaged over 40, with an unbeaten 53 from just 24 balls crucial in a winning start at Hove. A more sedate unbeaten 62 from 82 balls saw a win at Northampton and there were breezy thirties and forties against Warwickshire and Nottinghamshire. There were important, match-winning unbeaten twenties in a couple of games, while his effort at Taunton has passed into legend.
Chasing 258 to win in 40 overs, Kim Barnett and John Morris led the chase with a stand of 200, yet the last ball arrived with Kuiper and Chris Adams needing one to win and Adrian Jones bowling. Adams prepared for a sprint and potential dive as the bowler ran in and set off as soon as Kuiper hit the ball. He got down to the striker's end to find the South African removing his gloves, having hammered the ball over mid-wicket for six.
Another crucial fifty came in the final game against Essex, one that we needed to win to take the title. Footage of this can be seen on the club's 140 years DVD, with Kuiper atoning for two earlier dropped catches with 50 from 31 balls, following it up with a brutal 74 from just 45 deliveries against Nottinghamshire in the cup semi-final that followed a bizarrely run competition that summer.
One could argue that Kuiper's scores were nothing THAT special and that the feats of John Morris, Chris Adams, Kim Barnett and Peter Bowler were equally important, but he was exactly the player we needed in a good batting side. A finisher, someone who didn't panic when the run chase was on.
He bowled useful medium pace too and was joint top wicket-taker in the Sunday League that summer. An offer was tabled for him to return as sole overseas player in 1991, having shared the role with Ian Bishop in 1990. Kuiper didn't fancy the grind of the county circuit, having averaged only 23 in his 17 Championship innings and a quiet, modest man left Derbyshire cricket forever.
Like a good few others, the South African return from the international wilderness came too late for him, though there were glimpses of what might have been. He took 26 from an over by Australia's fast and nasty Craig McDermott in 1994, then an unbeaten 61 off England that sealed a win for his side.
Not the best overseas player we've had then, but exactly the right man at the right time. We'd have to pay a lot for a peak form Adrian Kuiper in the modern T20, that's for sure.
But it would be money well spent, there's no denying that.