DAVID STEELE

David Stanley Steele was born on September 29, 1941, at Bradeley, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire.

David was a right-hand bat in the middle order, playing in steel-rimmed spectacles, and a slow left-arm orthodox bowler. His batting, based around a solid defence with a firm, long-striding forward stroke, frustrated many a top class bowler. He played for Bedfordshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and England. His nickname was ‘crime’ - maybe he can explain this to us?!

David played 500 first-class games (1963 -1984) and 260 List A games (1965 - 1985) as well as 8 Tests (1975 and 1976) and 1 ODI (1976) for England in his mid 30's.

His first class career comprised: 22,346 runs (30 centuries, a top score of 140 no and 117 fifties); 546 catches and 623 first-class wickets at 24.89 (5 wickets in an innings 26 times, 10 wickets in a match 3 times and a career best of 8/29). He also made 4,381 List A runs with a top score of 109.

Following the 1974/75 Ashes series blitz of Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson in Australia, the England captain Tony Greig lobbied for Steele, a fearless player of fast bowling, to be called up for the 1975 home series to face Lillee and Thomson. He then faced Wayne Daniel, Vanburn Holder, Michael Holding and Andy Roberts in the 1976 West Indies series. To his great credit, in his 8 Tests against those 2 strong sides, David scored 673 runs at 42.06 with 1 century (106 against the West Indies at Trent Bridge) and 5 fifties. He seemed to revel facing the then 2 best attacks in Test cricket. Clive Taylor of "The Sun" described him as being like a "bank clerk who went to war". Strangely, David was omitted from the winter tour to India, in 1976/77 for being a less good player of spin.

Famously, on his debut (aged 33) against Australia, at Lord's in 1975, David got lost in the pavilion on his way out to bat - he went down one flight of steps too many and found himself in the basement toilets! That series saw Steele score 50 and 45 (on debut), 73, 92, 39 and 66 with his batting being brave and solid and led to him being BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1975 and a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1976.

Ken Burney

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