DateLine: 22nd November 2005
There were surely fewer more daunting cricketing prospects in the 1980ís than that of following the incomparable Bob Taylor as Derbyshire wicket-keeper. However, it was a role which Bernie Maher gave total effort to, and with that allied to his natural ability with the gloves he was able to make the position his own for a number of seasons. His debut came in July 1981 (with Taylor playing in the Ashes), and although Maherís debut came on the same day as the royal wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, there was no airs and graces or standing on ceremony with Maherís steadily effective keeping. He saw off Mike Deakin to be Taylorís understudy, and when the great man retired in 1984 it was assumed Maher would automatically take his place. This he did, but only for the first half of the season, where a poor run with the bat cost him his place to Chris Marples. Maher was out of the First team for almost exactly a year, and ironically when he came back it was as a specialist batsman and opener, with Marples continuing to play as keeper. Maherís excellent run with the bat (including a maiden century against the New Zealand tourists) demanded his inclusion, and Marples had been squeezed out by mid August, although Maher continued to open and keep wicket for the rest of 1986. With John Wright or Peter Bowler available in later seasons, Maher was only required to subsequently open in emergencies. He appeared in almost every match from 1987-1989, although a poor season with the bat (averaging just 17.67), and the blooding of Second XI keeper Karl Krikken as a specialist batsman was a warning of changing times.
Maher only played four times in all competitions from 1990-1992, and his run in the side in May and June in 1993 only came because of an injury to Krikken. However, Maher at least had the consolation of holding the responsible position of Second XI captain from 1990-1995. However, a back problem rendered Maher unfit to replace the injured Krikken in May 1995 (or to play in more than three Second team matches that season), and his contract was terminated, in a way which seemed unnecessarily summararily. Whether that was an accurate impression or not, Maher was yet another player who had sweated in a Derbyshire shirt only to leave feeling somewhat mistreated. Maher colour commentated on Derbyshire on a a local radio station for a number of years after his regular playing days ceased, and he has since made a living from his great passion for fly fishing. Maher currently owns a Fishery in North Derbyshire, teaches angling and was the 2004 National Fly Fishing Champion.
(Article: Copyright © 2005 Matthew Reed)