Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The English Game: Derbyshire

by Balanced Sports columnist, Ben Roberts

The history of Derbyshire County Cricket Club is reflected in their 2010 result, last place in Division 2. Unlike the aforementioned Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire has perennially been one of the weaker teams in the County Championship.

Derbyshire has won the championship only once in its history, 1936. The period around this victory was the only time in the county's history when they competed strongly for championship honours. Early in the 20th century and for the most part post-1936 Derbyshire has not been identified as a threat for championship honours. The recruitment of international players at the club has also been limited, South African Eddie Barlow being the most high profile.

Despite a lack of success, the club has produced England representatives. The players gaining English selection have generally been serviceable cricketers, maybe great on their day. Fast bowlers Devon Malcolm and Dominic Cork are probably the most recognisable names from recent history.

Australia's Dean Jones captained the county in the 1997 season, including a great tussle with the touring Australian team. With both teams playing for a result it came down to Derbyshire requiring 370 in the final innings of the match for victory. The county team achieved this mammoth target with just one wicket remaining, Jones contributing a quick half-century. Despite the great result the match can also be noted for other reasons.

The Australian captain Mark Taylor was in the middle of a career threatening form slump. He had recently been dropped from the limited overs team, never to return, and his place in the test team was not at all certain. After failing in the first innings, early in the second innings Taylor edged to second slip where he was dropped. His second innings half century probably saved his place in the test team. Derbyshire's second slip fielder that day was Jones.

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