Reeve's career is ended by injury

Cricket: Pakistan 297 and 158 Warwickshire 310 and 148-3 Warwicks win by seven wickets
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MICHAEL AUSTIN

reports from Edgbaston

Pakistan 297 and 158 Warwickshire 310 and 148-3 Warwicks win by seven wickets

The Reeve's tale is over. The fairy story of Warwickshire's success that their captain Dermot Reeve turned into reality ended with his retirement yesterday, ironically when the team, in his absence, beat Pakistan.

Reeve was in a Cambridge hospital, having undergone surgery on the right hip that made his decision final on the day that Allan Donald confirmed he will be back next summer, as a player, not just in his present capacity as bowling and fitness coach. As a postscript, the opener Nick Knight scored a selector-nudging 90 not out.

A severe hip cartilage tear that has prevented Reeve from playing since the County Championship match against Yorkshire almost five weeks ago ended an active part in his benefit season.

His autobiography is also due to be published soon. He said yesterday: "I am still in a shocked state. I hoped that this decision would not be made until the end of the season.''

Under Reeve, Warwickshire regained the charisma that they had lost since the "kippers and champagne'' breakfast that Alan Smith promised his team before they won the title at Trent Bridge in 1972. Twenty-two years on, they lifted it next under Reeve, far from a Smith lookalike, or in mannerisms.

Reeve, 33, has been a nervous box-twitcher, adjusting his midriff, regularly, doing curious stretching exercises and generally transforming the opposition's calm into chagrin as he turned lost causes into victory. With three Test and 29 one-day internationals behind him, Reeve's contribution was still under-estimated. A mini- Botham has been his role, way beyond the subtle arts of captaincy. Maybe a Test career unfulfilled, with his slower ball still resembling an armoured car heading towards the stumps of the unwary in one-day matches. Thinking cricket has been Reeve's game.

No fielder enjoyed his batting; he unnerved them. He "threw away'' the bat this season when facing the spinners to avoid being caught on a turning pitch, setting a rare cricket precedent in a game of longevity. Reeve led Warwickshire to six trophies over the past three seasons. His somewhat clipped speech would have identified him as someone maybe from South Africa, not Hong Kong, the country he represented in the ICC Trophy in 1982, a World Cup qualifier, before moving on to Sussex and joining Warwickshire in 1988.

Donald, 29, has taken a break this summer, although he is playing for Rishton in the Lancashire League. He has the full backing of Dr Ali Bacher, the managing director of the United Cricket Board of South Africa, to play for the county again. Warwickshire have talked to Dr Bacher but Donald will be unavailable in 1998 as South Africa are touring England and for the following year when there will probably be a moratorium on overseas players in England and Wales. "I am looking forward to coming back as a player,'' Donald said yesterday.

As for Pakistan, less than a week away from the first Test at Lord's, they lost this three-day game soon after lunch, against a team with only five capped players. Knight made his runs from 94 balls with 13 fours and a six, confirming fitness after suffering a fractured right index finger that cost him two Test appearances against India. David Lloyd, the England coach, watched this match; Knight's expectation levels are somewhat low after Alec Stewart's two half-centuries as his deputy-successor. Still, the armour might have been slightly tarnished but Knight's innings was shining bright.

Dermot Reeve fact file

1963: Born Kowloon, Hong Kong, 2 April.

1981: On MCC groundstaff.

1983: Makes Sussex debut.

1986: Capped by Sussex. First of three man of the match awards in NatWest Trophy finals

1987: Leaves Sussex.

1988: Makes Warwickshire debut.

1991: Makes Test debut for England

1993: Appointed Warwickshire captain. Leads them to NatWest Trophy.

1994: Captains Warwickshire to county cricket's first treble of Championship, Benson and Hedges Cup (the county's first), and Sunday League.

1995: Captains Warwickshire to Championship and NatWest Trophy. Picked for World Cup squad. Awarded OBE.

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