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My Life at Middlesex - Mike Selvey

over 3 years ago | Interviews


I came up through the system at Surrey, right from junior levels through to Young Amateurs and Surrey Colts, and then into the first team. I got to finishing my university career and I was wondering whether I would get a career in cricket, and Surrey basically didn't want me. That was the thrust of it. I’d always done pretty well against Middlesex 2s, so they were very keen to sign me and Surrey didn’t want me – it was a no-brainer.


It was a different dressing room to how it was a few years later. It was the last of the players who played through the Sixties. The ones who I really got a lot from were Fred [Titmus] and JT [Murray]. Fred was an off-spinner and my bowling mentor. What Fred didn’t know about bowling wasn’t worth knowing. He knew my game very well and JT, behind the stumps, offered me some really good, solid advice along the way. As a wicketkeeper he could see things that other players on the field couldn’t.


I suppose 76 was, really. That was the year we won the Championship for the first time since the Forties, and that was really important because we did it with a team that wasn’t full of super glamorous players, but we were a really, really good team. That was a terrific achievement that year and it began the run of success that Middlesex have had since. I suppose ’78 was quite good for me – I got 100 [101 first-class] wickets so that was a bit of a rarity. That was a special year, too, and then in 1980 we had what many people consider to be one of the great Middlesex teams, and it was a privilege to play in that side.


The most remarkable match we played in was what effectively became a one-day game against Surrey in 1977. It was a three-day game – the first day was a washout, and the second day was all but a washout. We played a few overs before tea [on the second day] but it rained again and we didn’t play anymore that day. I can remember thinking, ‘We can do something here because if we bowl them out, then declare, and then bowl them out again, we can win the game’. You couldn’t forfeit [first innings] then. We bowled them out for 40-something [49], John Emburey opened the batting for a ball, then we declared, and then we bowled them out for 80 or 90 [89] the second time round and we won by nine wickets. It was a remarkable game because we got the bowling points and the win, and it was the year we tied the Championship, so the points were quite important.


I always thought I was a better bowler in 78 than I was in 76, which is when I played for England. I came into the game quite late, really. I didn’t play a lot of first-class cricket from 1968 to when I then went to Middlesex, so I didn’t have a huge amount of first-class experience behind me. By the time I joined Middlesex, I was 24. It was a bit difficult in those terms – I was a late starter and it took a while to really learn how to bowl. By ’78 I was a much better bowler than I was in ’76.


That was a team of international cricketers and Vince [van der Bijl] was probably the best player, in my view, to never play Test cricket. He was a remarkable bowler and it was just a fantastic side. You look back on it and think ‘Crikey, there were some good players in it’. It was a great bowling attack and just a pleasure to play in. It was quite difficult for me in a way with Vince coming because suddenly I was a little bit down the pecking order. Sometimes I didn’t get the new ball. With Wayne [Daniel] I always insisted that I get the first over with the new ball because that’s when it was shining. Wayne wasn’t someone who particularly concentrated on hitting the seam. Suddenly I wasn’t a new-ball bowler anymore, but Vince was terrific and he was a wonderful team player. It took him a little while to adjust his game because he’d been so used to playing on Southern Hemisphere pitches where you hit the deck really hard. I think he found that the lengths he bowled there didn’t work here and it took him a while to adjust, but when he did he was remarkable.


Probably leaving the club. I suppose there comes a time, but I didn’t want to leave the club. Not winning the Championship [outright] in ’77 was quite disappointing. We needed one more bonus point – that was the thrust of it – in the last game of the season at Blackpool. We were nine down and I think we were one run [two runs] short of a bonus point. I was batting and Jack Simmons was bowling around the wicket and he bowled a swinger which pitched outside leg. I tried to turn it around the corner, got hit on the pad, he appealed, and I was given out. There’s no way it was out! But we didn’t get a bonus point and a little while later we heard that Kent had beaten Warwickshire, so we tied the Championship. That was a bit of a bummer.


The most influential people that I played with were probably Wayne and Vince. They were both wonderful players for the club. But Fred got 2,800 wickets and JT was the world’s leading wicketkeeper – these were fantastic cricketers. I can’t tell you what a privilege it was to play with people of that calibre. Phillipe [Edmonds] and John [Emburey] were wonderful bowlers, but the most fun I had was bowling with Wayne and Vince.

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