For every dashing No.3 with an expensive hairdo, hefty pay-packet and Twitter fanbase, there’s an undervalued No.5 with a receding hairline and a strike-rate south of 40 who has set up win after win for his side without ever receiving his dues. We’ve asked a handful of players and writers to pick out their unsung heroes – the players who deserve the headlines but rarely take them. We’ll feature them over the next two weeks. First up, it’s All Out Cricket editor Phil Walker, writing in praise of Andy Caddick.
Prickly, unEnglish and just a little bit gauche, Andrew Caddick was never quite embraced by the resolutely underachieving England of the Nineties. Brought in at Old Trafford in ’93, for the start of what would become a botched and one-sided Ashes, his 62nd and final Test came at Sydney in 2003, where he became the first man, and thankfully still the only, to take 10 wickets in his final Test. Dropped the following summer, he’s been vocally grumpy about it ever since.
It had been a tricky decade. Test caps were doled out as prototype zero hours contracts. Players went much quicker than they came, to return a little less secure than before. The travails of Hick and Ramprakash have been well documented, but less visited is Caddick’s case, who himself was dropped and recalled numerous times. Perhaps sharing the stage with his good mate Gough may not have helped. Viewed next to the self-proclaimed lionheart, Caddick always had to try that little bit harder to sway the punters – and the frequently exasperated management – that he was more than just a Kiwi chippy with a good outswinger over here to ply his trades.
Yet a Test average a touch under 30 puts him in the bracket with Anderson, Broad, Hoggard and Gough. He sits 11th in the list of all-time wicket-takers for England. His 234 wickets, while spread sporadically across bouts of maddening ineffectuality, contain some series-defining spells, his crowning summer undoubtedly coming in 2000 when he ransacked the West Indies, Lara and all, first at Lord’s and then at Leeds; the latter, a two-day Test, delivering his single finest moment: one over, four wickets. He was a master of control at his best, with an action grooved on the angular precision of his homeboy Hadlee, whose height lent him that steeling bounce which he’d exploit beautifully on his day.
He carried on long after England had finished with him, Somerset enjoying him into his 41st year. In the summer of 2007, four years after his last appearance for his adopted country, he was still, at 38, the highest wicket-taker on the county circuit.