Published: 8th February, 2018
Richard Doughty proved an admirable man in a crisis for Surrey.
Going into the 1985 season full of optimism that they could make a tilt for honours, the county were reeling by midway as injuries sidelined Sylvester Clarke, David Thomas, Graham Monkhouse, Mark Feltham and Kevin Mackintosh.
It prompted manager Micky Stewart to sign Doughty, who died earlier this week aged 57.
His bustling medium-pace had earned him 31 Championship wickets at 26 apiece by the end of the summer, leaving him second in the county averages – while his hard-hitting at the end of an innings proved more than useful, especially in limited overs games. In the era of T20, he would have been an even more valuable commodity.
“He came to us just at the right time,” remembered Stewart. “Richard got the ball through at a decent pace and if there was some help from the conditions then he could make the most of it. He could also give the ball a good whack to get us quick runs. He fitted in very well and was a popular lad.”
It was appropriate that Doughty should make his debut at Sheffield against Yorkshire, given he had been born in Bridlington, although initially he tried to make his way in the game as a wicketkeeper. Unable to find an opening with his native county, he started with MCC Young Professionals and spent three years at Gloucestershire before his spell at The Oval.
His career best of 6-33 came later in 1985 as Warwickshire were crushed by an innings and 203 runs inside two days at The Oval, proving an excellent foil for Clarke’s fellow West Indian Tony Gray.
Another 31 Championship wickets came his way in 1986 but Doughty was released after two more first-team appearances in 1987.
In all at first-class level, he claimed 89 first-class wickets at 33, scoring 845 runs at 20.
He admitted that, like so many professional sportsmen, life after he left the game was not easy. Having already been diagnosed as diabetic before joining Surrey, he beat off cancer twice. Those health battles plus professional and work worries left Doughty grateful to the Professional Cricketers Association for enabling him to spend a month with the Sporting Chance Clinic to treat depression.
Doughty went on to speak courageously about his life, in the hope it would help others going through the same problems.