Mike Denness (1940-2013)
Cricket Scotland is deeply saddened by the news that former Scotland internationalist and England captain Mike Denness has died at the age of 72 after a long battle with cancer.
He was one of the initial inductees into the Scottish Cricket Hall of Fame in 2011 for his outstanding contribution to Scottish cricket both on and off the field, and was awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours list.
It was at Ayr Cricket Club, from the age of eight, that he learned the game under the tutelage of the club’s coach, the former Sussex player Charlie Oakes, having moved to the West of Scotland town as a seven-year-old from Bellshill, near Glasgow in Lanarkshire, where he was born on December 1, 1940.
He is probably the most famous international cricketer to have ever been produced by Scotland. Four test centuries in 28 test matches, and 25,886 first-class runs in a first-class cricket career from 1959 to 1980 are the briefest facts of his achievements.
Such a brief synopsis masks a remarkable career in its own right. Followers of the game from Aberdeen to Dumfries, from Yorkshire to Kent, knew that Mike Denness was the Scotsman who became cricket captain of England, a juxtaposition that undoubtedly caused a few raised eyebrows and questioning comments.
He certainly was not captain by accident-his appointment followed the end of the Illingworth reign which, after years of success, had ended with an unceremonious defeat at the hands of the triumphant West Indies.
Denness was plucked from English county outfit Kent and was chosen to play for and also lead England. This assignment required him to respond to the West Indies' dominance, restore his side's fortunes, establish himself as a test batsman and to successfully assert his own authority over a side carefully crafted by the hand of Ray Illingworth. He did not succeed, but neither did he fail - and in defeat he demonstrated an inner strength and dogged refusal to let the stacked odds overwhelm him both as a cricketer and as a human being.
Cricket Scotland Chief Executive Roddy Smith earlier said, ‘’Mike Denness was one of Scotland’s greatest ever cricketers, his career culminating in captaining England in both test and One Day cricket.
He fully warranted his place as an inaugural inductee into the Scottish Cricket Hall of Fame. Mike kept in regular contact with the game north of the border and was always willing to help Scottish cricket in any way he could. He was a great ambassador for Scottish cricket and will be sorely missed."
A full obituary will follow in due course.