New Delhi: The cricket fraternity is mourning the loss of former New Zealand fast bowler Derek Alexander Stirling, who passed away on Wednesday (13 December) at the age of 62. Stirling, who played for New Zealand from 1984 to 1986, was a formidable pacer who could swing the ball both ways.
A brief but impressive international career
Stirling made his international debut in 1984 against England at Lord’s, where he took three wickets in the first innings. He went on to play six Tests and six ODIs for New Zealand, taking 13 and six wickets respectively. His best figures in Tests were 4 for 51 against Australia at Adelaide in 1985, while his best in ODIs were 2 for 24 against Sri Lanka at Sharjah in 1986.
Stirling was part of the New Zealand squad that reached the semi-finals of the 1985 Benson and Hedges World Championship of Cricket in Australia, where he played a key role in the team’s victories over India and Pakistan. He also toured the West Indies in 1985, where he faced the fearsome pace attack of Malcolm Marshall, Joel Garner, Michael Holding, and Courtney Walsh.
Stirling’s international career was cut short by injuries and competition from other pacers like Richard Hadlee, Ewen Chatfield, Lance Cairns, and Martin Snedden. He played his last Test and ODI in 1986 against Australia at Sydney.
A prolific domestic performer
Stirling was a stalwart of domestic cricket in New Zealand, where he played for Central Districts from 1981 to 1988 and Wellington from 1988 to 1992. He was a consistent wicket-taker in both first-class and List-A cricket, taking more than 200 and 90 wickets respectively.
In 84 first-class matches, Stirling took 206 wickets at an average of 33.72 and an economy rate of 3.58. His best bowling performance was 6 for 75 against Canterbury at Christchurch in 1987. He also scored 1,224 runs at an average of 15.30, with a highest score of 54.
In 65 List A matches, Stirling took 90 wickets at an average of 22.26 and an economy rate of 4.23. His best bowling performance was 4 for 10 against Northern Districts at Hamilton in 1989. He also scored 365 runs at an average of 12.93, with a highest score of 36.
Stirling was a part of the Central Districts team that won the Shell Trophy in 1986-87 and the Shell Cup in 1985-86 and 1987-88. He also played for Wellington in the 1990-91 Shell Trophy final, where he took five wickets in the match.
Stirling was widely respected and admired by his teammates, opponents, and fans for his skill, passion, and sportsmanship. He will be remembered as one of the finest pacers to have played for New Zealand.