DateLine: 13th February 2006
Peter Such was a perfect example of how appearances can be deceptive. Physically diminutive, with undemonstrative, almost timid body language and a genuinely self deprecating line in interviews, he twice proved to be the scourge of Australia. He took 6-61 on Test debut at Manchester (remarkably, in the first innings of the match), comfortably outbowling his spin twin Phil Tufnell. However, that match was where Shane Warne bowled that ball, and as England lost so Such’s fantastic start was overlooked. The rest of the pitches that series were less friendly, although he played five out of the six Tests as the bowling attack constantly changed around him. He was overlooked in favour of Ian Salisbury and Tufnell for the winter tour to the Caribbean, although he returned the following summer to bottle up an average New Zealand side as the pacemen won the series. Several other spinners were tried and discarded before England returned to him for the Ashes tour of 1998/9. At Sydney he took 5-81 in the Australians second innings and, usually for an off-spinner, gave a wonderful demonstration in how to finish off the tail, although England lost the match after being MacGilled on a typically turning SCG track. His Test career ended where it had began at Manchester, in the Third Test against New Zealand in 1999. The pre-match hype was that the pitch was of a colour never seen before, and that it could be a two day shootout. The pitch played well enough though, even under typically drizzly Mancunian skies, and Such won a near standing ovation for a 51 ball duck, after his fiddling and dead bat blocking had silently contributed to a partnership of 31 with Mark Ramprakash. Although the match ended in a draw, he had again bowled better than the left-arm artful dodger, although it was the Middlesex man who was retained for the Fourth test at The Oval. Such started his career with Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire, before contributing very usefully to Essex’s Championship winning seasons of 1991 and 1992. His approach to the crease was lengthy and dainty, and began with a small cough into his hand. He was no great ripper or bamboozler, although he did show that Test wickets could be taken simply through a high level of competence and understanding of his craft. He was one of the last few out and out rabbits in Test cricket, although that of course gave its own entertainment value to the game.
(Article: Copyright © 2006 Matthew Reed)