Desmond (Dekker) Curry

In an interview for BBC Radio Foyle recently, Des Curry told me he is seriously considering retiring from the sport. Mind you, Dekker’s only 40 but the problem for the truly great players - in any sport - is that as their reflexes erode they become like ordinary sporting mortals and they find that it difficult to accept.

Although I have some sympathy with his view I don’t think he should retire just yet. Genius doesn’t fizzle out quite as quickly as that.

Of course we have to remember this is a man who for over twenty years has strode through local cricket like a colossus: a swashbuckling, dogged, competitive, retiring, driven, class act. Curry approached head-on the challenges of the modern limited-over game. More than any other he has scored consistently throughout his distinguished career by being a calculated risk taker.

I recall a two day cameo in mid-summer six years ago that underlines Dekker Curry’s amazing ability. In the space of 36 hours he achieved what many good cricketers would happily live off for the rest of their lives. It was the weekend he made his maiden century for Ireland on his on his 44th appearance for his country. It came at gracious Arundel against the Duke of Norfolk XI.

That weekend should be pencilled into history for even by Curry’s lofty standards it was remarkable. The day after the Ireland ton he notched up another hundred playing against top quality opposition in the quarterfinals of the Senior Cup.

The century at Arundel was vintage Curry – the ton coming off 72 balls and it included 5 sixes and 6 fours. A reporter at the game caught the moment beautifully.

“The sponsor’s marquee emptied as the aggressive Limavdy skipper neared his 100; the pleasure of the food and the booze temporarily abandoned in the face of cricketing excellence .”

The cricket scribes had barely penned their copy by the time Curry was already beating a hasty retreat back to Ireland to captain Limavady against Brigade in the Northern Bank Irish Senior Cup.

In fact, he missed the toss – getting there just five minutes before the start of play. And when Brigade set the cup holders 247 to overhaul it looked a tricky assignment, but no challenge is too formidable for Curry, and a classy 116 helped Limavady win the match.

Two centuries in the space of 36 hours against quality opposition. Imagine the concentration levels, the fitness, the strength of mind needed to achieve that?

There are no half measures with Curry. Ivan Lapsley, the Limavady chairman, revealed that while Curry had been in England with the Ireland squad he’d been on the telephone with a series of instructions ahead of the Brigade game.

To use Dekker’s own words: “ I go wholeheartedly for it.”

He sensed that although Brigade had set them a difficult score - it was gettable.. He said at the time: “The deciding factor was that from 200 for 2 with ten overs left they added only another 47 runs.”

“It gave us the motivation we needed,” he added.

In 1999 Curry became the only player in local cricketing history to strike a century in every round of the Northern Bank Senior Cup as Limavady beat their great rivals, Donemana by eight wickets in the final with the skipper carrying his bat in the 2nd innings for 128; in the semi final against Brigade he complied 102 and his earlier scores were: 193 off the Strabane attack(138 deliveries - 11 fours and 16 sixes) and at the Bleachgreen against Ardmore he scored 115. His average for the cup run was 117. Amazing stuff.

He also topped the batting averages that year (1999) with 1903 runs at 70.01. He also took 52 wickets at 9.75.

A year earlier Curry also smashed his way into cricket history by running up the highest score for a North West batsman – 260 not out against CYM in Dublin on Saturday May 16 – 1998 in the Royal Liver Irish Senior Cup. His prodigious innings helped Limavady compile a score of 373 for 6 to record one of the most comprehensive victories ever in an Irish Senior Cup match – the winning margin was 309 runs. Curry’s onslaught on the CYM attack included 14 – fours and 17 – sixes.

In the Northern Bank Cup decider of 2002, playing against Bready, Curry again underlined his claim to genius by becoming the first and to date only man to score a hundred in each innings of the final.

And this prodigiously talented man, playing for Donemana against Bready in 1992, was just three runs short of the legendary EDR Shearer’s record score for a North West First Division league game. Curry’s 230 – in, and wait for this, a 40 OVERS CONTEST – included 25 boundaries and 17 sixes. The irony is that he didn’t realise how close he was to Shearer’s famous score of 233 for City of Derry against Killaloo in July 1933.Curry didn’t have the strike in the last over of the match. He didn’t know of course that another boundary would have made him immortal.

Add to all of this the number of championships he’s won. He was at Donemana for eight of their record breaking nine titles in a row; and he played in Limavady’s seven in a row. He’s captained Limavady to back to back doubles, that’s Senior League and Cup victories in successive seasons. Only one other captain in over a hundred years of North West cricket has achieved that feat, Raymond Mitchell at Donemana. I recall Dekker winning the Northern Ireland player of the year in successive seasons a few years back and Limavady were team of the year in the same two seasons.

And then there are his cup successes: All Ireland and North West.

Roy Torrens, the current Ireland manager, and in his day an outstanding opening bowler for Ireland, once told me that if Curry isn’t a legend he’s certainly ‘something else.’

Torrens put it like this: “He’s one of the three best cricketers to come out of the North West in the last fifty years. In fact I can’t see any player since the Second World War who has been as influential or has contributed as much to his team’s success.”