Shaun Udal: 'I looked like Scooby Doo's sidekick about 15 years ago'
Shaun Udal, the Hampshire spinner who will tour Pakistan this winter 10 years after his first appearance for England, conducts an electronic interview with Nick Harris
Monday 26 September 2005
They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks. But Shane Warne, your other half in the "spin twins" at Hampshire, has apparently been teaching you new tricks. Explain. It is no secret, my admiration of Shane Warne. He has been brilliant for me, instilling enormous self-belief and confidence and making me really enjoy my cricket again. He has also helped me with a new delivery. It's a totally different ball to an arm ball, in that it comes more out the front of the hand and skids on. I am still coming to grips with it, but I'm getting there slowly. The guy is a genius.
What's it been like to play alongside Warne, and what does he bring to the club on and off the pitch? The single most important thing Shane has brought to Hampshire is that no game is ever lost. We have won some games that we had no right to, purely through having someone around who tells you we will still win, and then wins it himself.
The fact that you were banned from club cricket for three years in 2003, (after a charge of hitting a Cranleigh opponent when playing for Camberley in the Surrey League) has been dragged up in some quarters. Looking objectively at the facts of the case, it seems that it's been blown out of proportion. You say you took exception when an opponent nastily sledged one of your team-mates then verbally abused you, at which point there was some pushing and shoving, and then you shared a pint afterwards. What's the story? My team-mate, who I have known as a family friend since he was born was being abused and enough was enough. I was called a cheat for not walking when I hadn't touched the ball and that was it for me. I was brought up to stick up for others. I regret my reaction but you do not abuse people like that and I have come out the villain. I read this week that someone from the mighty Surrey Championship committee feels I should not go on the England tour because of my ban. My ban finishes soon and I'm looking forward to playing for my club Camberley again, for whom I am a very proud president.
On the subject of Camberley, in 1988 you set a club record highest individual score of 202 not out. If you play in Pakistan, does this mean we can expect the tail to do substantially more than wag a bit? If I play then I hope the tail wags. I can hold a bat and score a few every now and again, but as my Dad always tells me, I have to give myself a chance when I go in and not try to smash every ball. Just every other one! Your nickname is Shaggy. Is there a simple follicular explanation, or something more mischievous to report? I was Scooby Doo's sidekick's lookalike about 15 years ago. Blame Paul Terry for that.
Prior to your England call-up you were planning a winter working for a Hampshire firm selling printing equipment. Does that go by the wayside now? My winter employment has been put on hold for now, but it's important for all cricketers to get a trade behind them. Unless you are a Flintoff, we all have to go to work when cricket is finished.
Have you ever been to Pakistan before? If so, what did you think? If not, what do you expect? And do you any worries over security, given the recent bombings in Lahore? I toured Pakistan with England A 10 years ago and thought the country very interesting, but I struggled to cope with the poverty side of it, especially seeing young children begging. I have no concerns over security; if the ECB thought it was unsafe they wouldn't send us.
Your last action for England was in 10 one-dayers in 1994-95, when England won seven of the 10. What's your best memory from that period? My best memory would be the one-day games in Australia. It was the first time I had played in front of really big crowds and I loved it, especially the day-night games.
Your last international on foreign soil was a one-day win over Australia at the MCC in Melbourne in January 1995. Also playing for England that day were Gooch, Atherton, Hick, Thorpe, Fairbrother, Crawley, Rhodes, Gough, DeFreitas and Fraser. With tongue in cheek, can you rank them in order of likelihood for a recall? Gough, Crawley then Hick for a recall but only because they are the only three still playing. The others, I am sure, would politely decline the invitation!
What were the highlights of the Ashes for you? (One bowler, one batsman and one defining moment). The Ashes was about everything good in the game. The way the series was played and the atmosphere it was played in was brilliant. Warne and Freddie were superhumans and my defining moment would be Glenn McGrath stepping on that stray ball during the Aussies' warm-up before the Edgbaston Test, which England went on to win.
As the stand-in Hampshire captain for the C&G Trophy final, you became the first Hampshire-born player to lead your team to silverware. How important was that for you? Very important. I take great pride in being Hampshire born and bred and it was my greatest honour in first-class cricket to go and lift the C&G Trophy.
You've evidently been a hugely popular player at your county over the years, winning numerous awards and pocketing a Hampshire-record cheque of £241,000 from your hard-earned testimonial year in 2002. What did you spend it all on? I bought a house and invested some of it, then took the family away for a holiday. I was very lucky that I had some fabulous people helping me run my benefit year.
Attachment: The Udal low-down
* Right-hand batsman; right-arm off-break bowler.
Recalled to the England squad this month after an absence of more than 10 years.
* Born: 18 March 1969 in Cove, Hampshire. Nickname: Shaggy.
County: Hampshire, with whom he signed his first contract in 1987. Honours include being multiple winner of Hampshire player of the year award, recipient of a club record benefit cheque (in 2002), and being stand-in captain for this season's C&G Trophy final victory over Warwickshire, thereby becoming the first Hampshire-born Hampshire captain to lead his side to silverware.
* England: Picked by Ray Illingworth in 1994 to join one-day squad. Made his debut with Darren Gough against New Zealand.
* Played 10 one-day matches in 1994-95, England winning seven of 10.
Went on the Ashes tour of 1994-95 but was injured.
* They say: "Spinners can play at that sort of age and Udal, by far, is the performance bowler at the present time." (David Graveney, chair of selectors).
* He says: "In a way, hopefully I won't be selected because that will mean England are winning and Ashley Giles is fit and everything is going well."
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