Caddick's appeal for respect

Iain Fletcher meets the 'outsider' accustomed to feeling the pressure
Click to follow
The Independent Online
The case for the defence of Andy Caddick should be fairly simple: he and Darren Gough are England's top wicket-takers in this summer's series with 11 each and England are enjoying their best spell in international cricket for... well, too long to quantify. Enough said, surely?

Apparently not - any analysis of the recent offerings from the columnists and TV pundits will show an infatuation with the bouncy, cherubic Yorkshireman Gough, and a cold indifference towards the natural- ised New Zealander Caddick.

Perhaps the collective consciousness has been subtly altered by the constant praise that one BBC commentator heaps on Gough - "it was a leg stump 'arf-volley but that's because he's always trying something to get batsmen out". Or maybe it is because Gough is media-friendly whereas Caddick is rather stilted and comes across as aloof? Whatever it is, it is time to re-examine Caddick.

To bowl Australia out in the first innings of a series for 118 was a magnificent effort, by Gough and Caddick in particular, but - and here the old pro's regular advice "look in the scorebook" comes to mind - it was Caddick who took five wickets.

"Everything went brilliantly at Edgbaston," Caddick said last week. "My bowling relies on rhythm and at Edgbaston I was running in hard, hitting the crease hard and hitting the wicket hard. When I do all those things I bowl well." He bowled a number of steepling leg-cutters at Steve Waugh before finally inducing the nick and it is the bounce that his 6ft 5in frame generates that is his real asset.

However, any slight misfiring in his rhythm means he tends to lose pace and bounce, as in the first innings at Old Trafford where he bowled poorly. "My problem is that if I'm not completely settled I tend just to float the ball down the other end and this is what happened at Old Trafford. The groundsman left the covers on the run-ups and they were damp when we played. I'm heavy-footed and as I was running up I couldn't grip which meant that I wasn't attacking the crease."

To perform at his best Caddick needs to feel that everything is just so, and most of the problems he experiences are magnified in his mind. His is an insecurity that is masked by an unconvincing arrogance, for Caddick is not at all arrogant, but more of an outsider searching for acceptance. His aloofness has even led some to suggest he is not a team man, and this angers him: "They know nothing. Just because I don't leap around doesn't mean I don't care."

His Somerset team-mates appreciate his value and desire to play for the side. When he returned from the last West Indies tour he was injured as the shin muscle was detaching itself from the bone, but he kept bowling, wincing with every delivery, as the team needed him. On several occasions the then Somerset captain, Andy Hayhurst, tried to replace Caddick with another bowler, only to be met with a withering glare and a curt "no you're not" as Caddick marched back to his mark.

Eventually he had to stop and the injury nearly finished his career. "I had two operations drilling holes in my shins, spent three weeks on crutches and in a wheelchair and had to crawl around the house on my hands and knees because I was in agony," he said. "If the second operation hadn't been a success I wouldn't be playing today."

During the Zimbabwe trip before Christmas he was not playing any day as an alleged rift between him and the management occurred. Caddick shrugged his shoulders and said: "Athers [Michael Atherton] is a strong man and has strong opinions," before adding with a smile, "I did well in New Zealand though." With Dean Headley's spectacular arrival on the Test scene and the doughty Mark Ealham as a seam bowling all-rounder, Caddick needs a good performance at Headingley to stay in the side.

"Now Devon [Malcolm] has gone I feel under pressure as it is probably my place under threat if they change the bowling. Dean bowled superbly at Old Trafford and caused lots of problems for the left-handers, so he will get the new ball, which I really want. The next two Tests are on slow seamers and then it is The Oval where Devon will be in contention again."

England need an in-form Caddick: when he bowls well, England look dangerous. And even though his features are easily caricatured and the action plagiarised from Sir Richard Hadlee, the unintended humour is entirely his own. In this years Cricketers' Who's Who he has nominated Nasser Hussain as his young player to look out for. Hussain is 29 years old, one year older than Caddick.