Neil Fairbrother: 12 facts about the Lancashire stalwart

Born September 9, 1963, Neil Harvey Fairbrother is a former England cricketer who played as a middle-order batsman in the late 80s and through the 90s. A diminutive player, he was the linchpin for Lancashire and played mainly in ODIs for England. On his 54th birthday, Chinmay Jawalekar looks at 12 facts about the reliable left-hander.

1.  Named after the Australian legend: His mother named him after her favourite player, the Australian cricketer Neil Harvey. Just like his namesake, Fairbrother too went on to become a distinguished cricketer and batted left-handed.

2.  Played age-group cricket: Fairbrother made his debut for Lancashire’s second XI days before his 17th birthday. He continued playing for numerous age-group sides including the National Association of Young Cricketers, which played youth teams from other countries as well. He played it for two years before going on to make his debut for Lancashire.

3.  Maiden England call-up: After finishing the 1986 season at an impressive average of 48.68 with three tons and eight fifties, Fairbrother earned his maiden call-up to the national side in 1987. He was picked for the England side that travelled to Sharjah for a quadrangular series featuring India, Pakistan and Australia besides England. He made his debut against India on April 2, scoring only 14.

4.  The Test cap: Fairbrother earned his Test cap against Pakistan in June 1987 at his home ground in Manchester. He was out without scoring. He had confessed in an interview later that he had never seen reverse swing until that day.

5.  The man who almost did it for England: Fairbrother almost won England the 1992 edition of the World Cup. In the final against Pakistan, he top-scored with 62 but it was not enough to help his side chase down 250. That was England’s third World Cup final and post that they never managed to cross to the semi-final stage.

6.  One day specialist: Fairbrother never really established himself as a Test cricketer. He was given several chances before being dumped for good. But he was an impressive ODI player and served English cricket in the limited-overs format for around 12 years. In 75 ODIs that he played, he scored 2,092 runs at an average of 39.47 with one ton and 16 fifties. He also featured in three World Cup tournaments.

7.  “England’s first finisher”: All Out Cricket magazine termed Fairbrother as “England’s first finisher” in limited-overs cricket. His tenaciousness and ability to play with the lower order and the tail helped him finish quite a few games for his side.

8.  Good First-Class record: Fairbrother had a good First-Class record. He scored more than 20,000 runs at an average above 41. His 47 centuries are a testament to his class. However, he couldn’t convert that at the highest level. In Test cricket, he averaged under 16.

9.  Managing top cricketers: Fairbrother retired from First-Class cricket in 2002 and became Director of Cricket at a sports agency that represents several leading English cricketers. The players he manages include the likes of Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler and Joe Root.

10.  Unique distinctions: In 1990, Fairbrother scored a mammoth 366 for Lancashire against Surrey at The Oval. Out of these 311 runs came in a single day and he scored at least 100 runs in each of the three sessions that day, which truly was incredible. 

11.  Lord of the Lord’s: Another milestone came in 1998, when he became the first man to play in ten one-day domestic cricket cup finals at Lord’s.

12.  Love for golf: Though cricket remains his first love, Fairbrother, like many other cricketers has a passion for golf.

(A self-confessed cricket freak, Chinmay Jawalekar is senior content writer with Criclife. When not following cricket or writing, he loves to read, eat and sleep. He can be followed at @CricfreakTweets)