Friday, October 02, 2009

Spearman ends Glos career

Craig Spearman has ended his Gloucestershire career by deciding to leave the club a year in advance of the expiry of his contract.

His eight years at Bristol brought some wonderful cricket to the West country, and his record 341 will be his lasting legacy on the club.

It was his ability to completely dominate an attack that made him such a prolific batsmen and few would argue that Spearman in his pomp was one of the greatest sights one could wish to witness on a cricket field, such was his strokemaking ability. He made 7,176 first-class runs for Gloucestershire at 38.79 including 20 hundreds and 28 fifties.

After leaving New Zealand for a banking career in London in 2001, John Bracewell tempted him down the M4 to resume his cricket and so began the entertainment, the high-point of which came in 2004 in the leafy setting of Gloucester's Archdeacon Meadow. Like the Indian's flocking to watch Sachin Tendulkar, the Glos faithful hurried into the ground to admire Spearman's mastery in becoming only the third Gloucestershire player to record a triple century on his way to the club record first-class score.

The King's school ground was also the venue for the New Zealander's highest one-day score, as he struck 153 from just 123 balls against Warwickshire in 2003. It was his ability for fast scoring that made him such a threat in the shorter form of the game. 4,211 runs at 36.62 doesn't exactly do justice to Spearman's impetus at the top of the order - he was able to drive over the top in total control and he played a vital role at the top of the order.

Hindsight will tell us that his Glos career was ended in 2008 when struck on the eye by a Johannes van der Wath bouncer at Milton Keynes. Such was the impact of this blow, Spearman would never appear on the pitch the same again and it was a disappointment to see him desperately trying to resurrect his game, but continually failing. A sad slide to the end for a wonderful player who brought so much joy to those who watched him.

Craig Spearman will always be remembered as a player who was able to provide a miraculous innings, and we did get a final hurrah with his innings at Headingley in the Friends Provident Trophy earlier this season. His 92 from 71 balls was vintage Spearman and, like many of his majestic innings, helped Glos to a memorable victory.

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