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Butcher was flying the flag for black cricket everywhere

MERCURIAL TALENT: Butcher often saved his county career with a superb hundred

ONE OF the most regular cricket posers of modern times is: ‘Just why are there no black men in the England Test team?’

There has been a dearth of black Britons representing the England side since Alex Tudor, below, played his last Test in November 2002.

Tudor, below, has his roots in Barbados and so did Roland Butcher, who secured his place in history when he became the first black player to represent England, making his Test debut at Bridgetown in 1981.

The respected espncricinfo.com described Butcher, now 64, as “a batsman capable of playing the most thrilling, attacking innings.

“Butcher was sadly, and frustratingly, inconsistent, his compulsion to hit every ball hard and far usually his undoing,” it continued.

“For every onslaught there were a dozen disappointments.

“More than once, he saved his contract with Middlesex with a brilliant hundred.

“Butcher moved to England at the age of 14, joined Middlesex in 1974 and was picked for two one day internationals against Australia in 1980 on the strength of county form.

“A run-a-ball fifty in the second game, allied to an unbeaten half-century in the Gillette Cup final that September, secured him a place on the tour of the Caribbean, but his technique against fast bowlers was exposed and he was never considered again.”

It added: “In 1983, he suffered a sickening injury which threatened his eyesight when struck by George Ferris, but he returned and continued to entertain and frustrate until he retired in 1990.

“One blemish in his final years was a brief involvement with the planned rebel tour of South Africa in 1989 – he withdrew when media reaction threatened the success of his benefit.

“As a fielder, he was among the best, either swooping in the outfield or, in latter years, in the slips. After retiring he pursued business interests as well as coaching a variety of sides, including Tasmania and Bermuda.”

Middlesex had a reputation for blooding black cricketers, Butcher was followed by Wilf Slack and Norman Cowans, who both represented the county – and England – with distinction.

Espncricinfo.com added: “In November 2004, he was appointed director of sports at the University of the West Indies’ Cave Hill Campus. He was a good enough footballer to play semi-pro for Stevenage and Biggleswade.”

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