Derek Randall – Retford’s Rags

Known in the cricketing world by the nickname ‘Arkle’ Derek William Randall was one of the most charismatic and fondly admired characters in the game. With his, at times, non-stop antics at the crease and his superb fielding in the cover region, Randall carved out a fine career with 47 test matches, over 28,000 first-class runs, and two County Championship triumphs. Born in the market town of Retford within the county on 24 February 1951, he first appeared for the Nottinghamshire Second XI in 1969, before making his first team debut for the county three seasons later. In that game at Elm Avenue in Newark-on-Trent and playing alongside the legendary Garfield Sobers, he joint top-scored with 78 batting at number eight in his very first knock.

His breakthrough season came in 1976 when he produced over 1500 runs and notched up his maiden double century, an unbeaten 204 against Somerset. He was selected for the winter test series for England, and after managing only 86 runs in seven innings in India, he then carved out one of the most monumental innings in the history of test cricket, a magnificent 174 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground facing the might of the Australian pace attack in the likes of Dennis Lillee and Max Walker. In just under seven and a half hours, Randall smashed 21 boundaries as England fell just 46 runs short chasing a massive target of 463 in the Centenary test.

His next visit to Australia in 1978/79 saw him plunder 150 in an innings as the English easily beat the Aussies for the Ashes. During the summer Randall became the first and only Notts player to score a century and a double century in the same match – 209 and 146 versus Middlesex, opening both times in the final Championship game of the season. He was named as one of the Wisden Cricketer’s of the Year in 1980. A steady test run saw him accumulate 754 runs in ten matches during the summer of ’82 and another tour down under in ’82-83, with three hundreds and an average in the mid-40s. For the county he passed a 1000 runs in five successive seasons from 1978 to 1982, which included a Championship trophy in 1981. A visit to New Zealand in the new year of 1984 saw him have a hugely successful time with two test centuries, 164 and 104, and an average of 73. Back home, he competed in his final test against the West Indies. In 47 matches he made 2470 runs at 33.37 with seven hundreds. The summer saw him have a good time in the one-day/List A game though, with 652 runs at an average of 50 as Notts reached the semi-finals of the Benson & Hedges Cup and were runners-up in the Sunday League. It was his best run in limited overs fixtures since his remarkable feat of 972 runs at 57.17 with seven scores above 50 in 1976.

Between 1986 and 1989 he scored over 500 runs in each of the four seasons in the limited overs game with 18 fifties and two centuries. With his test career over, Randall nevertheless enjoyed his best season with the county in the summer of ’85, accruing 2151 runs at 53.77 with five hundreds and 14 fifties – the first and only time he passed 2000 runs in a season. One of the highlights of the season was his superb 66 in the NatWest Trophy final as the county lost by one run to Essex. Needing 18 off the last over, Randall smashed 16 off the first five balls (2,4,2,4,4), before being caught in the covers next ball. His magnificent 237 against Derbyshire in only five hours with 36 boundaries in September of 1988 was his highest first-class score. Despite now being aged 40, Randall actually had one of his ‘Indian Summers’ in 1991 with 1567 first-class runs in 34 innings at an average of 62.68 with five centuries and five fifties, and 1073 runs at 46.65 in the one-day matches. He was a revelation in the 40-over Sunday League with 673 runs at 44.86 opening the batting, as Nottinghamshire claimed the competition trophy for the first time. There were runs of 49, 32, 83 not out, 39, 37, 67, 83, 48, 50, and 67, as he passed double figures in all 16 fixtures. He played his final first-class game in 1993, and his last limited overs match in 2000. By that time he had moved to Minor Counties side Suffolk, with whom he had a fine career with 3935 runs at 45.75 with eight centuries. Randall went into coaching after retiring.

His final career figures saw him carve out 28,456 runs in 488 first-class matches at an average of 38.14 with 52 centuries, and 12,339 runs in 469 List A games at 32.30. Randall will always be remembered though for his antics on the field, such as his doffing of the cap to the menacing Australian paceman Dennis Lillee after a brutal bouncer during his famous innings of 174, and the run out of West Indian Gordon Greenidge in the 1979 World Cup final at Lord’s.

*Article provided by Hitesh Darji (Cricket Correspondent)

*Main image @TrentBridge Derek Randall a fun but finessed all-round cricketer.

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