DateLine: 13th February 2006
Phil Newport was one of those cricketers who threw their lot in with the God of swing bowlers and hoped they wouldnít be let down. Often lethal on the county circuit, his chances on the international stage were limited, although not without some success. His debut came against Sri Lanka in 1988 (as England threw in four new caps against the then weakest team on the international roster), and he produced the sort of movement in the air which often catches subcontinental batsmen on the hop. He was joint man of the match for his 7 wickets, and a nicely made 26 showed that he could provide lower order ballast. Although his next Test was at Headingley, the Australians treated him and his bowling colleagues with near impudence as they racked up 601-7 declared. Although he again batted well (making 36 in the first innings), match figures of 2-175 were never going to be enough to save him from the merry go round which masqueraded as Englandís selection policy that summer. His last hurrah in English colours came at Perth in the last Test of the 1990/1 Ashes series, where despite again struggling to trouble the Australian batsmen he swung the bat with enough gusto (he made 40*) to help take the game into a fourth day.
Although he had decent spells in South Africa with Border and Northern Transvaal, Newport was firmly a one county man. He took over 800 First-class wickets for Worcestershire, with 85 of them coming in The Pears Championship winning season of 1988, where he was the type of dual stock/strike bowler upon whose efforts many victorious campaigns are built on. Six years later, his 4-38 in the final of the 1994 Natwest Trophy was arguably the only thing which stopped Warwickshire from quadrupally clean sweeping the domestic silverware that season. He had a very good fitness record throughout his career, and even in his last season in 1999 (his 18th on the county circuit) he was still taking his wickets for under 25. Despite his skills with the bat, he surprisingly never registered a First-class century. In fact, in ten heart breaking days in May 1990 he scored 98 against the New Zealand tourists and then followed it up with 96 against Essex. On both occasions he was dismissed in front of the Worcester crowd which would have taken so much pleasure in him reaching three figures. However, he gave the New Road faithful plenty to cheer about on countless other occasions, and although a longer international career would not have been undeserved, itís probably fair to say that his brand of line and length swing bowling would have been at itís most consistently dangerous in the generally unsettled climate of an English or New Zealand summer.
(Article: Copyright © 2006 Matthew Reed)