DateLine: 25th October 2005
Alan Warner served Derbyshire with distinction for 12 seasons. The seeds of his Derbyshire career were sown when he clanged a bouncer into Kim Barnett’s helmet when playing for Worcestershire. When the ringing in his ears had stopped, Barnett made a mental note that he’d rather have a bowler like that on his side. In his early seasons with Derbyshire he strove for pace too hard and too often, and it was to the detriment of his effectiveness. By 1987 though he had learnt from this, and his wickets now cost him under 30 each rather than over 40. The replacement of raw speed with accuracy and nous was ideal for a Derbyshire side not sufficiently strong enough to win the championship but certainly good enough to challenge for limited-overs silverware. He played in 13 out of 16 of Derbyshire’s fixtures in their victorious 1990 Sunday League campaign, and in Derbyshire’s improbable march to the 1993 B & H title Warner bowled 42.2 overs for just 112 runs, an incredibly frugal return, and in the final itself took 3-31, comfortably the best Derbyshire figures. Bowling on flat pitches often seemed to bring out the best in him, and his career best figures (6-21 against Lancashire in 1995) were on a docile track in the last match of a distinctly forgettable season for Derbyshire. Such a performance (in such a dead rubber of a fixture) were further testimony to his effort and professionalism at al times. Ironically, that turned out to be his penultimate First-class match, as Warner’s announcement at the start of the 1996 that it would be his last seemed to do little to endear him to new skipper Dean Jones, who preferred to field a new era of Derbyshire bowlers rather than mid 30 somethings.
Even the stuffiest adherent to the MCC Coaching Manual could take pleasure in Warner’s batting, which threatened both crowd and the laws of physics itself with the ball setting off on trajectories completely independent of where the bat had been aimed. In one of the minor sadnesses which the game throws up, Warner never did get a First-class hundred. His best was an undefeated 95 against Kent in 1993. Overnight he was 94*, and the following morning he only faced one of the one balls received before batting partner and last man Ole Mortensen inevitably nicked one behind. One sour note was the fact his 1995 benefit raised only £15,000, and several events were cancelled due to lack of interest – a grossly undeserved fate for such an unstinting servant, and surprising given that Warner had won the supporters player of the year award only 2 years earlier. Warner made 1 appearance as an evergreen 42 year old for the Worcestershire Cricket Board in the 2000 Natwest Trophy 1st round, and continued to bowl parsimonious spells in the Birmingham league well into his 40’s.
(Article: Copyright © 2005 Matthew Reed)