31 October, 2020

A Highlander's Low Blow

Mike Denness' stern rectitude emanates from his being a part of the cricketing establishment

A Highlander's Low Blow
When Mike Denness was appointed to lead England for a West Indies series away from home in 1974, an ominously prophetic pre-tour profile of the then 34-year-old batsman from Scotland described him as "strong-willed and with courage enough to take unpopular decisions".

After last week, there is very little doubt about that. In fact, South African captain Shaun Pollock says that just before the fateful second Test began at Port Elizabeth last week, Denness came on "very stern" in a conversation. "I am going to come down very hard on erring players," he told Pollock. But the glaring inconsistencies in his penalty-slapping spree—Pollock being let off after, arguably, Test cricket’s longest appeal—clearly undid all his ‘good’ work.

The first time Indian cricket suffered at the hands of Denness (pronounced Dee-ness) was in 1974, when he was appointed captain—Denness took over from Ray Illingworth after England were routed 2-0 by the West Indies in a 1973 home series. He led England to a whitewash of the touring Indian team. He had an outstanding series with the bat...



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