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.
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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