Where are they now?: David Steele

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The Independent Online
THE last time Australia had England on the rack for any protracted period, the chairman of the selectors, Alec Bedser, consulted his horoscope and came up with a Captain Mainwaring in pads. The level of optimism this invoked was summed up at Lord's when the debutant became lost en route to the crease and found himself in the gents.

For the rest of the summer of 1975, however, Northamptonshire's David Steele was a national hero. Fast approaching 34 and looking a good deal more ancient, this grey- haired bespectacled batsman defied Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson with such pugnacity that he subsequently won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

Known as 'Crime' - his reluctance to pay for a round of drinks was notorious - Steele struck a bet with a local butcher over how many runs and fifties he would make. By September he had stashed 365 lamb chops and four fillet steaks in his freezer.

The following season he withstood West Indian pace at Trent Bridge to record his only Test

century. One of only two specialist English batsmen to participate in all five instalments of that summer's Wisden Trophy series, he vanished as swiftly and surprisingly as he had emerged, a perceived fallibility against spin prompting his exclusion from the winter tour of India.

A county player for a further five seasons, Steele spent the last three at Derbyshire, bowling slow left- arm with sufficient guile to take a hat-trick against Glamorgan. Now 51, he lives near Kettering with his wife, Carole, and their teenage sons, Arran and Mark, the latter a highly promising batsman. A printer by trade he coaches at Oakham School and is on the Northamptonshire cricket committee.

(Photograph omitted)

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