Mike Hendrick, the former England Test bowler and Ireland’s first professional coach, died yesterday after a long illness. He was 72.
Although Adrian Birrell and Phil Simmons were the coaches who took Ireland onto the world stage at three successive 50-over World Cups from 2007 – Hendo was called up by Birrell as bowling coach in West Indies – it is accepted that Hendrick put Ireland on the pathway during his four years in charge from 1995.
Less than two years after taking over, he guided an inexperienced Ireland squad to an agonising fourth- place finish at the World Cup qualifying tournament in Malaysia – the top three qualified for the finals in England in 1999 – having already won the Triple Crown and European Championship for the first time the previous summer.
On the squad’s return from Kuala Lumpur, it was Hendrick who masterminded Ireland’s first one-day competitive win over county opposition, when they beat Middlesex in the Benson & Hedges Cup, and in July 1997 he gave a debut to an 18-year-old Ed Joyce.
In his playing career, Hendrick was England’s Mr Dependable, the pace bowler who could be relied upon to bowl at the top of off stump with unerring accuracy. He played 30 Test matches and 22 one-day internationals, including the 1979 World Cup final, and took 770 first class wickets, primarily for Derbyshire before ending his county career with Nottinghamshire.
Ireland international Boyd Rankin started his long county stint at Derbyshire and yesterday paid tribute to his former mentor.
“I owe him so much personally during our time together at both Ireland and Derbyshire and without doubt I wouldn’t be the bowler that I became and I wouldn’t have played as long as I did without his coaching and guidance in those early years as a professional,” said Rankin.
Kyle McCallan, another to be given his Ireland debut by Hendrick, tweeted: “Thank you Mike. You paved the way for others to follow”, while his first captain, Alan Lewis, described him as “the man who started the cricket revolution in Ireland. Loved by players, hard but fair”.
Indeed, despite a gap of 20 years since he quit his Ireland coaching role by mutual consent, so popular was he that when news of his terminal cancer came through, a Hendo Gathering WhatsApp group was formed by players from that era with the plan to make a surprise visit to his home in September. Sadly, that will not take place. RIP Hendo.
Meanwhile, the second T20 international between Ireland and Netherlands was abandoned yesterday without a ball bowled because of rain. It has been rescheduled for today at 4pm.