Nottinghamshire legend and three-time PCA award winner on his experiences of county cricket.

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2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the annual NatWest PCA Awards. To mark the occasion, the Association has been speaking to notable previous recipients of the main awards, including Sir Richard Hadlee, the first man to be named the PCA Players’ Player of the Year three times.

Hadlee enjoyed a 10-year stint at Nottinghamshire, helping the club to win the County Championship on two occasions. His individual all-round contributions helped him to pick up the Reg Hayter Cup – also known as the PCA Players’ Player of the Year award – in 1981, 1984 and 1987.

The Reg Hayter Cup is the only major individual award in English cricket that is voted for by the players themselves, and has therefore long been one of the most coveted accolades in the game. Winning the award once is no small achievement, and only a handful of players have collected the trophy on multiple occasions.

The New Zealand international was the first man to win three times, surpassing Peter Lee, Mike Procter and John Lever, who each collected the award twice. The only player to have matched Hadlee’s achievement since 1987 is England and Somerset legend Marcus Trescothick.

On Wednesday 2 October, we will find out who will follow in the footsteps of the likes Hadlee and Trescothick as the award is presented at the 50th NatWest PCA Awards ceremony at London’s Roundhouse. Alongside the main award, the winners of the PCA Young Player of the Year and NatWest Women’s Player of the Summer will also be announced.

“Although I wasn’t aware of the PCA Players’ Player of the Year award when I first arrived in England, I soon learned how it worked and it definitely motivated me to do better,” Hadlee recalls.

“People always say they just play for the love of the game but of course you want to win awards like these – the thought of winning the Player of the Year definitely lifted my performances.

“It’s great to have the respect of your fellow professionals, not only as a person but also as a professional who performs well on the field. If you are producing those results that make you so highly rated by your peers then that can only be a good thing.

“There’s no question about it. I’m very proud to be the first man to have won the award on three occasions.”

Hadlee, who was the first man to take 400 Test wickets and is generally regarded as one of the greatest fast bowlers international cricket has ever seen, still looks back on his time at Nottinghamshire as one of the highlights of his 19-year career.

1984 was a particularly special year for the New Zealander, as Hadlee scored 1,179 first-class runs at an average of 51.26 and took 117 wickets at 14.05. He almost repeated the feat three years later, but fell just three wickets short of a century for the season.

“The greatest opportunity I ever had was coming to England and playing county cricket for Nottinghamshire.

“It really fine-tuned my game, not only as a fast bowler but also my all-round skills.

“I was never supposed to be a professional cricketer. It just so happened that Nottinghamshire needed an urgent replacement for Clive Rice and I was the man on the spot in London at the time.

“Even then I was only supposed to stay for three years, but ended up being at Trent Bridge for over ten seasons.”

Known for his ability to move the ball through the air and off the pitch, Hadlee’s skillset is undoubtedly suited to English conditions. However, he particularly enjoyed plying his trade in the UK for more than just that reason.

“I was playing against some quality teams and certainly some world-class players. You were allowed two overseas players in those days – there were some wonderful West Indian fast bowlers, and of course Imran Khan as well. The competition was good which was the absolutely key thing.

“The committee and the supporters were brilliant, too. You’d always be doing fundraising activities and going to schools to coach kids. It was just a wonderful, wonderful experience all things considered.

“Coming to England really fast-tracked my cricket career and gave me invaluable experience – I’ll always be grateful for that.”

Click here to find out more about the 50th NatWest PCA Awards ceremony.

2018 NatWest PCA Awards

Go behind the scenes at last year's NatWest PCA Awards ceremony...