The now 40 year old seamer was born in Lancashire but raised in Perth before returning to his native shores in 1993 to play for Kent. In the longer format, he played one Championship game and a friendly against the touring Zimbabweans without making a significant impact. His niche was one-day cricket which suited his punishing bouncer and toe-crushing yorker, and you can find one particular spell on YouTube. In only his fifth List A match, Spencer was playing in his side’s final National League fixture of the season against champions Glamorgan. Amongst the opposition was a certain Vivian Richards, at the other end of his career, playing his final professional game at 41 years of age. The tearaway 21-year-old quick trapped Matt Maynard in front of his off-stump and clearly troubled Hugh Morris, but most remarkable was his hostile treatment of the big Antiguan which culminated in the great man being out hooking off a no-ball.
Spencer’s eventual figures of 8.4 overs, one for 43 did not do justice to a spell of ferocious quick bowling that oozed class. However, the figures he delivered faded into insignificance in light of a comment from Sir Viv. The legendary batsman told the press that Spencer was the fastest bowler he had ever faced. Suddenly, Spencer’s career gained momentum. He immediately became a regular for the Western Australian Shield team, and returned again in May for another season with Kent. Unfortunately, there was no way for Spencer to know that, now a 22-year-old, he was already reaching the twilight of his career. That June, he sustained a chronic back injury that kept him further away from slinging bullets at batsmen than he could ever have imagined. Thereafter, he made two comebacks.
The first was with Western Australia in 2001, where he played several one-dayers culminating in taking two wickets in a losing cause in the final. His pace had reduced and his action was more elegant than the violent, slingy movement of yesteryear, and he managed chronic back pain with nandrolone. The only problem was that the ACB had banned the drug, and he was dealt an eighteen month ban. The second was in 2006, which would have been his fourteenth season of First Class cricket had all gone well. It was a dark mirror image of his first. He once again played two First Class matches, one in the Championship and one against the tourists. Only now, he was such a shadow of his former self that this turned out to be the end of the road. His last encore was at the end of that season when he won the Minor Counties Championship with Bucks.
His body just couldn’t handle First Class cricket. If he had been around today, there is no doubt as to the route he would have been forced to take. You see, Duncan Spencer was the perfect Twenty20 player. Small and agile in the field, he possessed arguably the most vicious yorker cricket had to offer. He, like Shaun Tait would have had to quit long-form cricket to prolong his career. With such incredible talent, cricket would be all the richer for another Duncan Spencer.
Career Stats: 36 wickets @ 39.22 in 16 First Class matches and 23 wickets @ 29.56 in 20 List A matches.
You can watch his fiery spell against Glamorgan here.