DateLine: 14th November 2005
Ben Spendlove finds himself in the unenviable position of having been released twice by Derbyshire. In his maiden First-class innings he was dismissed for a duck, although he had the consolation of being dismissed by Shoaib Akhtar. Predominantly a leg-sided player, occasional shots and innings provided evidence that a player of potential lurked beneath the catalogue of cheap dismissals, even if he was at times irrelevantly chuntered about for his dyed blonde hair and earrings. There was genuine regret in the county when Spendlove parted company with Derbyshire in 2001, after being told that at the end of the previous season that his services were no longer needed, despite still being under contract and despite the Spendlove-less first team only having won twice in the Championship that season. After good performances in the Derbyshire second team and in local league cricket, Spendlove was re-engaged for the last six weeks of 2004 and the subsequent two seasons. However, eight limited-overs innings in 2004 and 2005 brought only 46 runs. Despite captaining the Second XI for much of 2005, Spendlove was again told he could leave the club with a year left on his contract, and a deal was reached to achieve this. An example of how far his batting had ceased to be considered for selection was in his inclusion in the squad for a Twenty20 tie at Old Trafford, where David Houghton brought him down solely for that fact that his occasional off-breaks may do well on the dry Manchester wicket. His finest moment in cricket may well have come in the First Test against South Africa in 1998, when he claimed two catches at short leg as a substitute fielder off the bowling of then county colleague Dominic Cork.
(Article: Copyright © 2005 Matthew Reed)