To mark the 50th anniversary of overseas players coming to county cricket in large numbers, we’ve asked an expert on each county to pick their top three for that club. Northamptonshire’s are chosen by Lawrence Booth, Wisden Almanack editor and Northants loyalist.
1. BISHAN BEDI
Bedi sometimes applauded batsmen who hit him for six. That’ll do for me. Mainly, though, he took wickets, bags of them, with his beguiling left-arm spin. In six successive Championship summers at Wantage Road before his acrimonious departure at the end of the 1977 season, Bedi was often unplayable: his seasonal wicket hauls ranged from 51 to 86, his average from 18 to 24. He was an overseas star in an age before the concept became hopelessly vague.
2. MUSHTAQ MOHAMMAD
The Pakistani all-rounder who was said to have invented the reverse-sweep. Like Bedi, his Northamptonshire career came to a bitter end – Mushtaq was signed by Kerry Packer – but not before he had scored nearly 16,000 first-class runs and taken over 550 wickets with his leg-breaks and googlies. He was also captain in 1976, the club’s most successful summer, when they won the Gillette Cup and were beaten to the Championship title by Middlesex.
3. MIKE HUSSEY
In the days before he cracked Australia’s middle order, Hussey spent three summers with Northamptonshire – and spent them mercilessly flogging opposition bowlers. Between 2001 and 2003, he totalled a ridiculous 5,131 Championship runs at an average of 80, with 16 centuries – including three triples and three doubles. The man was insatiable. His tally of 2,055 in 2001 was the club’s highest since Dennis Brookes in 1952 (though Brookes had 20 more innings), while his unbeaten 331 at Taunton in 2003 remains their highest first-class score.
Pick up issue 7 of Wisden Cricket Monthly, featuring a 21-page special to mark the 50th anniversary of overseas players in county cricket