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Former Yorkshire great Phil Sharpe, one of world's best slip fielders, dies aged 77

London: Former Yorkshire and England batsman Phil Sharpe, one of the outstanding slip fielders of his generation, has died aged 77 after a short illness, the county announced Tuesday.

Despite averaging an impressive 46.23, Sharpe played just 12 Tests during the 1960s when it was his misfortune to be vying for an England place alongside the likes of Tom Graveney, Colin Cowdrey, Ken Barrington and Ted Dexter, although his lone Test hundred only came in his final year of international cricket, in 1969 against New Zealand.

Sharpe, who was one of Wisden's Cricketers of the Year in 1963, was a key member of a Yorkshire side that won seven County Championships, scoring over 22,000 first-class runs.

But Sharpe, who spent his final couple of seasons in first-class cricket with Derbyshire, was especially renowned for his excellence in the slips at a time when general fielding standards are nothing like as high as they are in the modern game.

He took more than 600 catches in his 20-year career and Yorkshire president Dickie Bird, who played alongside Sharpe at Headingley, was in no doubt of his talent.

"I grew up with Philip in the nets at Yorkshire," Bird told the county's website.

"He was one of the best slip fielders I ever saw.

"He would be ranked amongst the very best alongside the likes of Mark Waugh, Bobby Simpson, Ian Botham and Ian Chappell," added Bird, who became one of the world's leading umpires.

"Philip was also a pugnacious batsman, who was very strong off his back foot. His trademark shot was punching the ball through mid-wicket. He picked up the length of the ball very quickly.

"In my opinion he should have played more times for England. His batting record at Test level was fantastic. Averaging over 46 is a big achievement in the international arena.

"Philip was a true gentleman, and he will be a sad loss to Yorkshire Cricket."

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