DateLine: 25th October 2005
Matthew Dowmanís record Youth Test score of 267* for England in 1993 meant that his career had arguably peaked before he had even made a single First-class appearance. Unsurprisingly, that innings became something of a millstone, as his career average refused to leave the 30ís (and some seasons it didnít even reach that), despite his effortless timing being a source of great pleasure to all who witnessed Dowman in top form. The fact that he spent the majority of his career for Nottinghamshire at no.6 perhaps wasnít the best position to encourage greater shot selection. His county cap came in 1998, which was perhaps an attempt to encourage greater responsibility rather than being a reward for averaging 19 in the championship that season. Despite averaging 34.33 in 1999 (his highest ever in a season) he was released and made the short journey to Derbyshire. His first season there was fairly steady, (after an unsuccessful experiment at him opening) and batting regularly at 5 seemed to temper but not too badly affect his aggressive strokeplay. In the course of making his maiden century for Derbyshire (vs. Hampshire in August 2000) he was dropped 5 times (4 of them off Alan Mullally) and saw his wicket struck but the bails remain unmoved. Despite starting 2001 with a fine 145* against a strong Pakistani XI, he averaged a paltry 16.08 in the championship, and an equally unimpressive 17.63 in 2002, although he did captain Derbyshire in his penultimate First-class match against an Indian XI. With his sparkling strokeplay and aggressive instincts, it is perhaps a surprise that Dowman never recorded a limited-overs century, although his tidy, but gentle outswingers were more suited to the shorter form of the game. It is interesting to speculate whether his phenomenal exploits as a youth cricketer did more harm than good for his professional career (with the pressure and expectations they created), although it is undeniably frustrating that Dowman wasnít able to convert his natural talent into a more complete batsmanship. Dowman is now captain of his native Lincolnshire in the Minor Counties Championship.
(Article: Copyright © 2005 Matthew Reed)
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