VIC MARKS

Victor James Marks was born on 25 June 1955 in the quaintly named Middle Chinnock. He came from farming stock in Somerset and went to Blundell's School in Tiverton. He played for Oxford University (1975-78), Somerset (1975-89), Western Australia (1986/87) and England (1980-88).

He was principally a right-arm off-break bowler, taking 859 first-class wickets, but he was also a more than useful batsman who scored 5 first-class hundreds with a top score of 134 and an average of 30.29. His nicknames were Skid and Speedy - maybe he can tell us how he acquired those?!

Vic captained Oxford University in 1976 and 1977 and played alongside Imran Khan and Chris Tavare. At the time, Peter Roebuck captained Cambridge University and later skippered Marks at Somerset.

Vic played for Somerset from 1975 to 1989. It was a Golden Era for the county in which time they challenged hard for the County Championship, won the Gillette Cup and the Sunday League in 1979, lifted the Benson and Hedges Cup in both 1981 and 1982 and claimed the NatWest Trophy in 1983. It was a strong side which Marks played in and it included the likes of Ian Botham, Joel Garner and Viv Richards.

Matthew Engel, the former Wisden editor, described Marks as ‘a mild, nervy, self-deprecating farm boy with an Oxford degree and no enemies’. As such, he was an unlikely component of the explosive Somerset dressing room of the 1980s. Nevertheless, he was a key part of that successful side.

Vic played 6 Tests for England from 1982 (vs Pakistan at Leeds) to 1984 (vs Pakistan at Lahore) plus 34 ODIs from 1980 (vs West Indies at Lord's) to 1988 (vs Sri Lanka at The Oval). His skills were possibly more suited to ODIs rather than Tests. In those 34 ODIs he took 44 wickets at 25.79 with a best of 5/20 (vs New Zealand at Wellington in 1984) and an economy rate of 3.70 and a strike rate of 41.70.

Following his playing days, Vic became a perceptive and shrewd journalist working as Cricket Correspondent for ‘The Observer’ and ‘The Guardian’. He has been a regular summariser on ‘Test Match Special’ with much wit and knowledge.

Over the years, Vic has written several cricket books. However, it was not until 2019 that he wrote a long overdue autobiography, published by Allen & Unwin, called ‘Original Spin : Misadventures in Cricket’ which is well-written, authentic and self-deprecating.

It will be a real delight to listen to Vic recalling his cricketing life both as a player and, latterly, as a journalist and broadcaster.

Ken Burney

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