A look back at Viljoen's 15-170

Saturday 17th March 2018
& News
Written by Danny Painter

With less than five weeks until the new season begins, we look back to one of the highlights from 2017 – Hardus Viljoen’s heroic 15-170 at Hove.

The paceman took 7-80 and 8-90 in Derbyshire’s 45-run win over Sussex in September, breaking many records on his way. Heritage Officer, David Griffin, looks back at a memorable day.

  • Only four other players have taken 15 wickets in a match for Derbyshire, and no-one since Cliff Gladwin performed the feat in 1952 – 65 years ago
  • Viljoen produced the fifth best match analysis by a Derbyshire bowler ever
  • No other bowler has taken 15 wickets in a first-class game in England and Wales in 2017
  • Viljoen is the first non-English bowler to take 13 or more wickets in a match for Derbyshire and only the 20th ever
  • No bowler has ever taken more than Viljoen’s 15 wickets in a first-class game at Hove
  • 15-170 are the best match figures for Derbyshire against Sussex
  • 15-170 are the best match figures by any bowler at Hove since Robin Marlar took 15-112 for Sussex in 1955
  • 15-170 are the best match figures by an opposition bowler at Hove since Jack Walsh took 15-100 for Leicestershire in 1948

They were also the best innings and match figures of the season for Derbyshire and Viljoen’s 8-90 in the second innings was only the 85th time that a bowler had taken eight wickets in an innings in the Club’s history.

But beneath these astonishing statistics lies a tale of almost 43 overs of fast, accurate and sustained hostility spread over two innings against the pre-season favourites for promotion from the second division.

After the final wicket fell, Viljoen grabbed a stump – and the ball – and walked off to a tremendous ovation from the supporters of both sides.

There were significant contributions from the entire Derbyshire side – some fine catches were held, and runs were scored at crucial times, and the other bowlers all played their part, but Viljoen’s performance will stand as one of the finest in the county’s history.

Derbyshire has a great heritage of fast bowlers, and the lineage from 1870 reads like a “Who’s Who” of fast bowling including Mycroft (who still has the best match figures of 17-103 in 1876), Hulme, Warren, Bestwick, Morton, Copson, Pope, Gladwin, Jackson (Les and Brian), Rhodes, Ward, Hendrick, Holding, Mortensen, Malcolm, Bishop, Cork, DeFreitas, Dean and Footitt.

This writer has had the pleasure of watching more than half of the above-named over almost half a century and I can think of no other comparable sustained fast bowling performance for the county than Viljoen’s.

Michael Holding’s 8-21 – also at Hove – in a NatWest Trophy game in 1988 was frightening to watch, but the bowler himself didn’t overly rate the performance; Ian Bishop took 7-34 at Southampton in 1992 and bowled quicker than anyone I’ve ever seen; but over the course of two innings, for sustained pace, accuracy, the ability to hit the stumps (Viljoen clean bowled six batsmen in this match), and in dominating the opposition in a winning cause, this must rate as the finest example I’ve seen.

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