TWENTY years ago, Murray Goodwin played his final Test for Zimbabwe at Nottingham in England and retreated to the world of county cricket where he helped the oldest county franchise win their first championship in 164 years.
Sussex had never been crowned champions, since the county was founded in 1839, but Murray and his teammates ended that lengthy wait by delivering the big prize in September 2003. The opening batsman was the star of the show in Hove as he hit a record 335 not out, smashing 52 fours and one six, to help Sussex pile on 614/4 declared, enough for them to win by an innings and 55 runs, after restricting Leicestershire for 179 and 380 in their innings.
“We had a fair bit of belief. A few match-winners. It was a well-balanced team,” Murray told the Cricket Monthly.
“We had lost our penultimate game against Lancashire, one of our nearest rivals.
“But, we knew that in the last game we needed just four points to make certain that we would win the Championship. When the pressure was on, our bowlers stood up.
“It was obviously the first time ever for Sussex, being the oldest county. It was all surreal to me — celebrating in the middle of the game, rather than waiting until the game was complete.
“I was a bit embarrassed. I was thinking about the Leicestershire boys and how we would feel if we were in their shoes.
“It meant so much to so many people. You had people in tears, coming up wanting to give you a hug. They were so grateful, saying “Thank you, thank you.” That was really touching.
“It made their whole supporting life for that club. I just kept batting. I wanted to get the team into a position where we could bowl Leicestershire out and not have to bat again. I didn’t know what the Sussex record was.”
Murray, who was born in Harare on December 11, 1972, went to St John’s School and moved to Australia with his family before decided to return to play for the Chevrons.
He featured in 19 Tests and scored 1414 runs, at an average of 42.84, with a highest score of an unbeaten 166. His last Test was against England in Nottingham in June 2000.
Murray also featured in 71 ODIs and scored 1818, with a highest score of an unbeaten 112, at an average of 27.13.
Now, Murray is one of the four Sussex legends who have been named by BBC Sport from whom the county cricket fans can pick their best overseas players.
It’s a measure of Murray’s legendary status at Sussex that he was named alongside some of the greatest cricketers to grace the game in the world.
He is battling against Imran Khan, who led Pakistan to the World Cup before becoming the country’s Prime Minister, legendary leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed, also of Pakistan, who was part of that championship-winning team in 2003, and former Aussie fast bowler Steve Magoffin.
“Zimbabwe Test batsman amassed 14 572 runs in 191 first-class games for Sussex (2001-2012), his 48 centuries including two triple-hundreds, the best of which was his unbeaten 344 against Somerset at Taunton in 2009 out of Sussex’s county record score of 742-5 declared,” the BBC said.
“Goodwin also made 6 495 runs in 203 one-day games.”
Brian Davidson, who was born in Bulawayo and spent 14 years with Leicestershire where he scored 18 537 runs in 303 first-class games between 1970 and 1983, was also named in the list of those vying for the award at the county.
The BBC noted that for more than 50 years, the foreign cricketers have come to the English shores and left a big impression playing county cricket. “It has now been over half a century since the doors were opened to allow overseas cricketers to start playing English county cricket on a regular basis,” BBC said.
“Most of the world’s best have since graced the county game in one form or another.
“But, at a time when the affordability of overseas players is being questioned in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, maybe now is the moment to consider who has been each county’s best overseas player.
“With the help of the BBC’s local radio cricket commentary teams, BBC Sport has whittled it down to four selections from each of the 18 counties.
“Such is the quality of choice that great names including Allan Border, Sunil Gavaskar, Sourav Ganguly, Muttiah Muralitharan, Martin Crowe, Shaun Pollock and Glenn McGrath have not made the shortlists.
“Neither has Imran Tahir, who has represented a record eight counties, nor Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who has scored nearly 6,000 first-class runs with four different counties.
“Our nominations are not based purely on runs and wickets, but on their lasting legacy and star quality — that magical ingredient which gets bums on seats, helps to win trophies and even then has the added bonus parting shot of ‘and he was a good bloke too.”
Some of the cricket legends, who can be picked as the best of their counties, are David Boon, Mark Waugh, Michael Kasprowicz, Waqar Younis, Courtney Walsh, Mike Procter, Barry Richards, Gordon Greenidge, Malcolm Marshall, Shane Warne, Aravinda de Silva, Carl Hooper, Clive Lloyd, Wasim Akram, Phil Simmons, Desmond Haynes, Curtly Ambrose, Sarfraz Nawaz, Clive Rice, Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Richard Hadlee, Joel Garner, Sir Viv Richards, Intikhab Alam, Kumar Sangakkara, Saqlain Mushtaq, Allan Donald, Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar.