England cricket legend and greatest ever spinner Derek Underwood dies aged 78

England cricket legend Derek Underwood has died at the age of 78, it has been announced.

Kent Cricket confirmed the passing of the legendary spinner, who made over 900 appearances for Kent across three decades.

The left-arm spinner took 2,523 wicket for the county between 1963 and 1987, as well as starring for England.

Underwood played 86 Test matches for England after making his debut against West Indies at Trent Bridge in 1966.

He took 297 wickets at Test level, making him England’s sixth highest wicket taker and remains the leading spinner on the list.

Former England and Kent bowler Derek Underwood has died at the age of 78

Underwood’s record is 42 higher than England’s next best spinner Graeme Swann, despite his decision to play in Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket and the first rebel tour of South Africa.

The spinner, who also took 32 wickets in ODIs, debuted for England in 1966 and made his final appearance in 1982.

At Kent, Underwood won three County Championships, two One-Day Cups, three National Leagues and three Benson & Hedges Cups.

He became affectionally known as ‘Deadly’ due to the havoc he could cause on rain affected pitches.

Underwood was named Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1969 and was awarded an MBE in 1981.

He served as the president of the Marylebone Cricket Club in 2009.

The same year saw Underwood named as one of 55 inaugural members of the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame.

Underwood, right, led Queen Elizabeth onto the field as president of the MCC back in 2009

Underwood, right, led Queen Elizabeth onto the field as president of the MCC back in 2009

‘The Kent Cricket family is in mourning following the passing of one of its greatest ever players,’ said Simon Philip, Ken Cricket chair. 

‘Derek was an outstanding contributor to both Kent and England, winning trophies for Club and country and etching his name in the history books forevermore.

‘Watching Derek weave his unique magic on a wet wicket was a privilege for all who were able to witness it. His induction into the ICC Hall of Fame shows the esteem in which he was held in world cricket.

‘An advocate for growing our game worldwide whilst protecting our sport’s rich heritage, Derek also made substantial contributions off the field as well as on it, and he will be sorely missed by everyone at Kent Cricket.’

The Annexe Stand at The Spitfire Ground St Lawrence was renamed the ‘Underwood & Knott Stand’ in 2011.

The stand recognised Underwood’s achievements at Kent and his partnership with another club icon, Alan Knott. 

Flags have been lowered to half-mast at County Championship matches in honour of Underwood. 

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