Joey Benjamin had to wait until he was 27 before breaking into the county game
Joey Benjamin, former England, and Surrey pacer have died at the age of 60 after suffering a heart attack.
Surrey club chairman Richard Thompson paid tribute to the St Kitts-born seamer, saying: “I’ve known Joey for 25 years and have gloried in his triumphs. I particularly remember the final Test at The Oval in 1994, where his performance earned him an Ashes tour. It was a long time coming as anyone who watched him a bowl that season would testify.” “Everything he did was with a smile and grace. He wore the brown cap very proudly with absolute distinction and will be long remembered at Surrey County Cricket Club. He has been taken too soon,” he added.
Benjamin had to wait until he was 27 before breaking into the county game, impressing for Staffordshire and at club level before Warwickshire took him on and gave him his Championship debut in 1988. His brisk pace and ability to swing the ball away from right-handers was noticed by Surrey despite limited opportunities at Edgbaston and he joined the staff at the Kia Oval in 1992, quickly establishing himself as a regular member of the County Championship side.
Increasing familiarity with his new surroundings saw him flourish with a haul of 64 Championship wickets the following season. It was in 1994, at the mature age of 33, that the best of Benjamin came through as a campaign that brought him, 76 victims, at 20 apiece earned him a crack at the international scene.
Included in the squad for the penultimate Test of the summer, against South Africa at Headingley, he missed out on the final eleven but replaced Angus Fraser in the next match at his adopted home of The Oval.
One of three Surrey players in the side – alongside county skipper Alec Stewart and Graham Thorpe – Benjamin trapped Hansie Cronje and Kepler Wessels LBW before having David Richardson caught behind and Craig Matthews snaffled in the slips to finish with 4-64 in 17 impressive overs
That he was restricted to 11 wicketless overs in the second innings owed much to Devon Malcolm’s remarkably destructive 9-57, one of the great fast bowling displays in the history of Test cricket, but his solid contribution to a series-levelling victory was rewarded by a place in England touring side to Australia the following winter.
That successful outing in the Oval Test was also some compensation for the crushing disappointment Benjamin had felt nine days earlier when he almost snatched a remarkable victory in Surrey’s NatWest Trophy semi-final thriller against Worcestershire. Few gave the hosts a chance after Tim Curtis (136no) had partnered Tom Moody (180no) in a mighty stand of 309 which sped Worcestershire to 357-2.