Cricketers

Graeme Hick Profile



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Graeme Hick was, during his long playing career, described variously as a genius, a choker and an enigma; sometimes all three terms would be employed by the same person. But the phrase that came to haunt him came from a comment by the New Zealand coach John Bracewell. Suggesting that Hick could pile up the runs on easy pitches but struggled when the going got tough, Bracewell dubbed him a "flat-track bully." It's not really a fair charge, and while Hick certainly does not qualify as one of the greats, his record even for his adopted country is not as bad as has sometimes been made out.

Hick's international career was harmed from the start by the way in which he was forced to wait seven years before qualifying to play for England rather than Zimbabwe, the country of his birth. During this period he played for his county club, Worcestershire, with enormous success, but it has been suggested that because Hick did not have to face the highest class of opposition at this level, faults in his technique became entrenched in his game. Had the shorter wait now prescribed been in operation then, Hick might have found it easier to adapt his technique when he did make his international debut.

Also, consider the attitude of those who played with and against him. For example, the great Australian leg-spinner, Shane Warne, has said that he was amazed that Hick was dropped from the England team after just two matches of the 1993 Ashes series. South African fast bowler Allan Donald admitted that his team were "hammered" by Hick's batting when he hit a majestic 141, probably his best innings for his country, at Centurion Park in November 1995. Hick's Test match average between 1993 and 1996 was in the high forties, a very respectable figure for any batsman. It should not be forgotten, either, that he was a capable second-string off-spin bowler.

However, it was at the county level that Hick enjoyed his greatest successes. He spent the whole of his English career with Worcestershire, and became one of only a handful of players (and almost certainly the last) to score 100 first-class centuries for a single county. Hick was a very popular player with the Worcestershire fans, who adored him on the pitch but allowed he and his family to live the quiet life they preferred a few miles away from Worcester. This lack of prima donna tendencies helped to endear him to the locals, and it was rare that a bad word was said about him at Worcestershire's picturesque New Road ground.

All in all, it must be admitted that Graeme Hick's career was not quite the diamond-studded path to glory that some had predicted in his early days, such as in 1988 when he scored 1,000 first-class runs before the end of May. He played some fine innings for England, and in one-day cricket he was quite productive, but a combination of some ill-judged dismissals and poor treatment by certain of those in charge of the England team at the time meant that he rarely had the extended run in the side which might have allowed him to settle. Even so, Hick did have his successes, some of them significant.

More about this author: David Buttery

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