• Mike Denness 1940-2013

Former England captain Denness dies

ESPNcricinfo staff
April 19, 2013
Mike Denness captained England © Getty Images

Mike Denness, the former Kent and England captain, has died at the age of 72 after a battle with cancer.

Born in Scotland, he played 28 Tests and 12 one-day internationals in a career that spanned 22 years. He later became an ICC match referee.

Denness is the only Scotsman to have captained England and led the team in 19 of his 28 Tests although it was a controversial tenure especially his strained relationship with Geoff Boycott. During the 1974-75 tour of Australia Denness dropped himself for the fourth Test in Sydney although later returned after injury to John Edrich to score 188 at the MCG which, at the time, the highest score by an England captain in Australia.

In his first-class career, where he played for Kent and Essex, he scored more than 25,000 runs. He was awarded an OBE in the New Years Honours list for services to cricket.

George Kennedy, the Kent chairman, said: "This is an extremely sad day for the Club. We have lost one of our great players, a very successful captain and a good friend. It is particularly sad that this has happened during his year as president - a period when the club had two Scotsman at the helm. Our thoughts are with Mike's family and friends at this time."

Matthew Fleming, the former Kent captain, called Denness part of "fabric" of Kent. "While I never saw him play, to me Mike represented so much that is great about Kent Cricket and its history and its place in the game," he said. "There are so many great men of cricket who have represented Kent: Colin Cowdrey, Les Ames, Derek Underwood, Brian Luckhurst, John Shepherd to name just a few, and Mike Denness stands alongside the likes of those men in terms of the true greats of Kent cricket history.

"Mike was part of the fabric of Kent cricket, despite being a Scotsman, and as someone with Scottish blood too I would have no hesitation in saying that the game of cricket in general has lost a very significant figure."

Denness made his Test debut in 1969 against New Zealand, at The Oval, but it was not until 1974 that he scored his maiden hundred against India. By then he was England captain and had led the team to a drawn series in West Indies after a 26-run victory in the final Test at Port-of-Spain.

He was in his final week as Kent president when he passed away and his successor, Bob Bevan, remembered a close friend. "Michael Henry Denness was the finest cricketer ever born in Scotland by a considerable distance. Both on and off the field he epitomised the cricketing term "playing a straight bat".

"He was a man of the utmost honesty and integrity. The cricketing counties of Kent and Essex, the whole world of cricket and my wife and I, personally, have lost one of our greatest friends."

On the county scene, Denness let Kent to great success early in the one-day era. He secured six domestic trophies as captain between 1972 and 1976 - the John Player League three times, the Benson and Hedges Cup twice, and the Gillette Cup in 1974.

His time as an ICC match referee hit with controversy when at Port Elizabeth in 2001-02, his decision to sanction six Indian players, including Sachin Tendulkar, caused such a furore that the Indian and South African boards barred Denness from officiating in the next match, at Centurion. The ICC responded by withdrawing Test status from the game.

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