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Dean Headley retires from PCA England Masters 30 years on from professional debut.
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Dean Headley reflected on some of the “great experiences” he has enjoyed with the PCA England Masters after officially retiring from the touring team of legends, 30 years to the day after making his professional debut for Middlesex.
Headley, 51, has appeared for the Masters since the programme’s inception in 2002. Though unable to produce an exact figure, he believes he has made over 50 appearances for the team of ex-England stars, making him one of the most capped Masters players of all time.
As of 2021, however, Headley has officially made himself unavailable for Masters selection, as he explains below.
“I’ve been playing since the very beginning of the PCA England Masters programme, and we’re at the point where I’ve given all I can for the team,” said Headley. “I’m sure the rest of the squad will continue to do a fantastic job as always.
“I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in both of my sons’ first games for their men’s sides and stepping back from the Masters might allow me the opportunity to do that more often. If the local team needs me I’ll stand on a field somewhere and sort out the fielding positions but that’s probably all that I’ll be doing from now on!”
With the help of players like Headley, the PCA England Masters programme has raised over £700,000 for local cricket clubs nationwide during the last four years alone. Whilst he has enjoyed some competitive encounters against club teams, Headley stresses that the off-pitch side of the Masters programme has given him most of his motivation.
“The biggest part of it for me is the cause and the effect of what we do. Watching cricket clubs be able to make some money and move forward has definitely been the biggest highlight.
“The best days are when the whole club is engaged. We’re not there to play cricket, we’re there to get involved with the club and it’s most enjoyable when everyone comes together.
“As a PCA member, it’s also about getting together with old friends and getting to know some people who you haven’t necessarily played with. Cricket and the Masters in particular transcends generations like that.
“On the field, it’s just great to see people perform. I remember seeing Owais Shah and Ali Brown in full flow taking apart a bowling attack. There was a game at Ipswich where myself, Devon Malcolm and Alex Tudor all competed to see who could bowl the quickest. The batsmen probably didn’t like it too much but it was great for crowds!”
Headley’s announcement comes 30 years to the day after he made his professional debut, appearing for defending champions Middlesex against the MCC. From breaking through as a young star at Lord’s to appearing for the Masters well into retirement, Headley reflects on three decades spent playing the sport he loves.
“Of course, you always think that life could have been better in certain ways but I’ve had some incredible experiences over the years. My debut was a very strange one for me because I went from club cricket straight into the first-class game without playing for the second XI in between!
“I remember it being extremely cold, but I got one wicket and did alright. I went on to take a wicket with my very first ball in the County Championship and finish with figures of 5-46 in that innings.
“I’m 51 now, but I still think I’m an 18-year-old. It’s one of those things, but life goes very quick and you never stop learning, growing and reinventing yourself.
“At the end of the day, to be one of around 700 cricketers that have represented your country is a pretty special feeling.”
The PCA England Masters, sponsored by Greene King IPA, gives recreational clubs and schools a vehicle to raise significant funds for their community. Visit thepca.co.uk where you can find more information.