A gradual but inevitable descent into cricket-based loathing and bile.

Whatever Happened To The Unlikely Lads? #44: Martin Bicknell

Posted on January 12, 2014 by in Opinion


Surrey CCC are often described as the Manchester United of county cricket and it’s easy to see why. No, not because they’ve both had a spectacular fall from grace in the recent past, as amusing as it is for the rest of us. They often share the same supporters: prawn sandwich eaters who spend time at The Oval in the summer, Twickers in the winter and the intervening seasons shopping for the ideal gilet. Both clubs also have a reputation for paying top dollar in terms of salaries meaning they can afford to steal the best young talent as well as paying over the odds for established ‘stars’, something Surrey have excelled at in recent years. This strategy was somewhat forced on them when a real life version of Out Run went a little awry in the early hours of a summer night a few years back but our lawyers Editor Steve said we can’t talk about that.


The Wimbledon Village stage gets underway

The Wimbledon Village stage gets underway

If done correctly, investment should bring success (insert your own David Moyes joke here) and as such Surrey have always supplied the national team with plenty of Australian cannon fodder, especially during our favourite decade, the 90’s. Some Surrey stalwarts were genuine Test class such as Alec Stewart, Graham Thorpe and Mark Butcher – the latter has since morphed into the second coolest guitar-playing, singing ex-cricketer on the planet, and is also this correspondent’s favourite for a Sky promotion when they finally pension off Beefy. Some of their colleagues were not Test standard and, quite frankly, this list could make up the rest of this piece. Ian Salisbury, Chris Schofield and Ian Ward have all been discussed ridiculed by us before, we have been warned off Jimmy Ormond by our lawyers Editor Steve and Adam Hollioake is far too hard to mess with so, by default, step forward…

#44: Martin Paul Bicknell

Bicknell had a Test career which spanned an impressive ten years. Unfortunately his test career spanned a less impressive four Tests, two in 1993 and a further two in 2003 – meaning he must be overdue a recall (and we’d happily take him over Boyd Rankin at this point). Under the current central contract system he would have spent the time in between being coached out of form by David Saker, but as it was he went back to Surrey and took a shed load of wickets instead.

His debut came in the fourth Test of the infamous Australian tour of 1993. Infamous for that Warne ball to Gatting but more infamous in 51allout circles for the amount of bloody bowlers England used. Unsurprisingly, various combinations of Caddick, Foster, DeFreitas, Such, Tufnell, Lewis, Ilott and McCague didn’t cause the Australian batsmen too many problems and England were 2-0 down after three matches. As a quick aside, if there is ever a list which epitomises why we write this stuff day in day out, that’s it!

Oh, and Mark Lathwell opened the batting that series #facepalm

Oh, and Mark Lathwell opened the batting that series #facepalm

Bicknell only got one chance to bowl as England lost by an innings on debut at Headingley (traditional English seamer you see), probably the sole reason he got another go following figures of 1/155 off thirty overs. In the fifth Test he took 3/99 in the first innings and only bowled three overs in the second as the Aussies won by eight wickets. Oh, and John Emburey was added to the list of shame above. There was a sixth Test at his home ground but Bicknell missed out through injury – in fact only Such kept his place, with Malcolm, Fraser and Watkin joining him. 13 bowlers used in six games, Jesus.

Alas, the call from the selectors came too late.

Alas, the call from the selectors came too late.

So Bicknell went back to Surrey and continued a very decent county career, taking over 1,000 wickets at an average of 25. The highlight was 16/119 against Leicestershire in 2000the second best match figures ever returned for Surrey. This consistency eventually earned him a recall at the age of 34, much to the surprise of everyone, as England tried to cling on to the 90s like some kind of David May fanatic.

The South African series of 2003 was delicately balanced at one game each when Bicknell replaced Steve Harmison for the fourth Test. Despite respectable figures of 2/50 and 2/75 he, yet again, couldn’t help England over the line as a solid South African 2nd innings of 365 proved too much to chase. His final Test was a cracking match in which he fully played his part. South Africa made 484, thanks to 183 from Herschelle Gibbs; Bicknell was again steady with 2-71. England responded with 604 as Trescothick played arguably his greatest innings and made 219 before England rolled South Africa for 229 (Bicknell took four alongside Harmison) and England chased down 110 with nine wickets to spare. But strangely, much like David May, he was never seen again.

For the record, he also played seven ODI’s without anyone noticing. Not outside of Kingston-upon-Thames, Guildford or a branch of M&S anyway.

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