English County Cricket: Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire

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above: Trent Bridge

by Ben Roberts of Balanced Sports and World Cricket Watch.

Nottinghamshire

The 2010 division one champions have for the most part of their history been a strong performer in first-class cricket. Nottinghamshire have collected six county championships, the most recent being last season and 2005. Nottinghamshire have always had the benefit, and in the present day this means even more, of having a home ground where test cricket is played. The revenue generated and facility improvements made to the ground from test cricket benefit greatly the county club.

Throughout the 20th century Nottinghamshire was serviced with players from coal mining families. The no nonsense approach to cricket that these hardened men brought also flowed onto English teams throughout the years. In the 1932-33 Ashes series the Australian batsmen faced Nottinghamshire’s finest opening bowling pair in Harold Larwood and Bill Voce. Both Voce and Larwood throughout the 1920s and 1930s tore through many batsmen’s defences for their native Nottinghamshire, both finishing careers with well over 1200 wickets each for the county.

In the 1977 centenary test match the man of the match was awarded to the Nottinghamshire batsman, and also a miners son, Derek Randall. Randall, best remembered in this match for doffing his cap to Dennis Lillee after having been hit by a Lillee bouncer, made 174 in the second innings. The innings was full of courage and fight, and nearly led the English to a remarkable victory.

Nottinghamshire have an exceptional list of non-British internationals who have played for them. Sir Garfield Sobers, Clive Rice, and Sir Richard Hadlee are three cricketers of international renown who have called Nottinghamshire home.

A county legend is a little known Australian test cricketer, leg-spinning all-rounder Bruce Dooland. Dooland played three test matches immediately post the second world war but found himself left out of the 1948 Ashes touring party. Dooland elected to emigrate to England to play professional Lancashire league cricket, and ultimately obtained residency. The combination of his residency status and exceptional league performances attracted Nottinghamshire to recruit the South Australian. In the only period where Nottinghamshire were less competitive Dooland was credited with holding the team together, including his still club record of 181 wickets in the 1954 season.

For the past seven championship seasons Nottinghamshire have enjoyed the services of David Hussey. Hussey has totalled thousands of runs during his time at Nottinghamshire. There was no slowing of his run making last season, when he totalled one of the county’s highest individual scores of 251 not out (against Yorkshire). Hussey also captained the Nottinghamshire T20 team during the most recent season and had the services of his Victorian team mate Dirk Nannes.

Derbyshire

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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