Derek Pringle was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, where he first learnt to play cricket on matting pitches. His father Donald represented East Africa in the 1979 World Cup. He attended St Mary’s School, Nairobi, then Felsted School in Essex, before reading Geography and Land Economy at Cambridge, where he captained the university at cricket and won three blues.

Whilst still an undergraduate he was selected – by Peter May - to play Test cricket for England in 1982, a feat achieved previously by Ted Dexter, 24 years earlier. He also appeared, briefly, in the Oscar-winning film ‘Chariots of Fire’ as Cambridge’s vice-captain of athletics.

Derek’s earring grabbed a few headlines and some disapproving stares from the MCC members. According to Graeme Fowler, he was told to take his earring out in a Test because the chairman of selectors said it would affect his balance at the crease. Asked why he wore one earring he replied: "Because I'd look silly with two."

Derek played 30 Tests and 44 one-day internationals for England, appearing in two World Cups, one as a losing finalist in 1992. He maintains that, without two controversial not out LBW decisions by Steve Bucknor when he was bowling to Javed Miandad, the result would have been different.

Derek’s cricket career at Essex, which spanned 15 years, included six County Championship titles, three John Player League titles and a NatWest Trophy. He had a central role in the NatWest Trophy win, bowling the last over to Derek Randall of Notts. ‘Rags’ had taken 16 off the first 5 balls when, needing 2 to win, he backed away to leg. Pringle followed him and he chipped the ball firmly to Paul Prichard at midwicket.

He was involved in controversy at the end of the 1991 season. He was Essex captain in the Sunday League match against Lancashire. A team-mate, Don Topley, alleged collusion between the two sides so that Lancashire could try to win the Sunday League and Essex the Championship. In 2001, following an investigation, the ECB decided to take no action.

His warm-up routine, which involved him lying on his back and appearing to wrestle with an invisible beast, made him a cult figure.

A second career, as a journalist, saw him appointed cricket correspondent for the Independent, then the Daily Telegraph, a role he fulfilled until 2014. He now works as a freelance writer. He has recently published a book called ‘Pushing the Boundaries: Cricket in the Eighties‘. As one reviewer put it “This is so chock-full of rip-roaring tales of drinking, womanising and general excess that it is a wonder how Pringle and company ever had enough energy to play cricket.”

Martin Renshaw

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