Last Train from Guildford

News of Martin Bicknell's retirement led me to think over the career of one of the best English seam bowlers of his generation.

He was, as everybody has said, desperately unlucky to win just four England caps. I think he was pigeonholed early in his career as just another injury-prone young bowler, an unfair and premature verdict which condemned him to a few more hours bowling in the shadow of the Oval gasholders than he deserved.

Not that he, as a Surrey man through and through, would have seen it that way, and his sentiments about his Test career, as recorded in Jenny Thompson's interview here are admirable and heartfelt.

Because he spent so long ploughing the county furrow when he could have been playing for England I didn't see as much of him as I would have liked but I was in front of a television when he set up Jacques Rudolph with a series of away-swingers before bringing one back to kiss the top of his off-stump as he declined to play a shot.

For me, English seam bowling has never got much better than that.

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