Statistical Review: Specsavers County Championship

Derbyshire won four of their first-class matches this summer and finished seventh in Division Two, their best return in the Specsavers County Championship since 2014. 

Heritage Officer, David Griffin, looks back over Derbyshire’s first-class summer.

Derbyshire have won seven matches out of 28 in the past two seasons, compared to just three wins in the previous two seasons’ 32 matches. However, this summer, as in 2017, exactly half of all championship matches were lost, while three drawn games in 2018 is the smallest number in a season since 2013.

Fewer games means fewer opportunities in all disciplines, but for the first time since 2015, both a batsman surpassed 1,000 runs and a bowler claimed over 50 wickets – Wayne Madsen scoring 1,016 runs, and Tony Palladino taking 51 wickets.

Madsen scored 1,000 runs for the fifth time, the first to achieve this feat since Michael Di Venuto in 2006, and he also scored his 26th and 27th first-class hundreds for the county. This puts him level with Stan Worthington and John Wright in fourth place on the Derbyshire all-time list, and having signed a new long-term contract, he can reasonably expect to overtake Denis Smith (30) and John Morris (33) on that list. Kim Barnett, with 53 first-class centuries, is probably out of sight.

Palladino took 50 wickets in a season for the third time, and for the first time since 2012. He took those wickets at an average of 19.72, only the fourth time in the last 25 years that a Derbyshire bowler has taken 50 wickets in a season at an average under 20 per wicket. (Dominic Cork, twice, and Mark Footitt are the other bowlers).

Palladino’s renaissance was reflected by his strike rate. He took a wicket every 43 balls in 2018 – set that against a career rate of 59 – and this was an exemplary effort which went a long way to earning him a new two-year contract. He also took 10 wickets in a match for the first time in his career in the win over Glamorgan at Derby. Duanne Olivier also took ten in the game at Chester-le-Street against Durham.

Nine players made their Derbyshire first class debuts this summer – the average this century is eight – Martin Andersson, Anuj Dal, Sean Ervine, Lachlan Ferguson, Alfie Gleadall, Tom Lace, Duanne Olivier, Ravi Rampaul and Daniel Wheeldon; and it’s certainly a sign of the times that there have been 31 first-class debutants in just the last three seasons. Injuries, loans and short-stay overseas players have all contributed to more players making their debuts for the county. In all, 24 players played Specsavers County Championship cricket in 2018.

Overall, Derbyshire’s batsmen scored 6,396 runs at an average of 25, more runs, but at a slightly lower average than in 2017, while with the ball, the bowlers took 255 wickets at an average of 30.18, a significant improvement on the 181 wickets at 35 in 2017.

Chesterfield proved to be a success for Derbyshire – good crowds, excellent weather and a first win in the Championship at Queen’s Park since 2008. Matt Critchley produced the outstanding performance, scoring 37 and 51, and taking 4-88 and 6-106 to become the first Derbyshire player to score a half-century and take 10 wickets in the match at Chesterfield since Michael Holding in 1985.

More impressively, he became the first Derbyshire leg-spinner to take 10 wickets in a match since AEG ‘Dusty’ Rhodes took 11-160 against Oxford University in 1950.

Critchley’s 705 runs and 32 wickets put him in third place on the Derbyshire runs and wickets aggregate charts, and was by some distance, his best first-class season.

Wayne Madsen scored 116 in Derbyshire’s second innings at Chesterfield, becoming the 11th player to score four hundreds or more in first-class matches at Queen’s Park.

Madsen also took 25 catches, equalling Michael Di Venuto’s 21st century total in the county championship in 2003, although the latter played 16 games, compared to Madsen’s 14.

Ben Slater topped the Derbyshire batting averages, and became the first non-overseas player since Adrian Rollins, in 1999, to top the averages and depart for another county.

Luis Reece bookended an injury-hit season with a splendid 157 not out in the opening game of the season against Middlesex at Derby, and at the same ground, ended the season with a remarkable 7-20 in Gloucestershire’s first innings. Reece’s 7-20 was the most economical seven-wicket haul for Derbyshire since Bill Bestwick took 7-20 in 1920 at Burton-on-Trent. It was also the best innings analysis for Derbyshire at Derby since Dominic Cork’s 9-43 in 1995.

Billy Godleman scored two Championship hundreds, with the latter being an unbeaten 105 at Lord’s against Middlesex, becoming just the second Derbyshire player to carry his bat through a completed innings at the famous old ground.

Alex Hughes made a century at Swansea against Glamorgan and only fell 63 runs short of his season’s best 800 runs of 2017, while another Academy graduate, Harvey Hosein, produced a match-winning, undefeated half century at Northampton as Derbyshire triumphed by just one wicket.

Thank you for your support this season. Club Membership for 2019 will go on sale in October. We hope to see you at The 3aaa County Ground next summer.
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