It was a winter to remember for Matt Critchley and the Derbyshire all-rounder has already shown he is ready to contribute with bat and ball in what could be a special summer for the county.
Critchley’s batting pyrotechnics in the North-South series in Barbados made a big impression on England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) Director of Cricket Andrew Strauss who described his 64 off 37 balls as “brilliant.”
The 21-year-old has been flagged as a cricketer of considerable potential since he scored an unbeaten century in only his second first-class match as an 18-year-old and that promise has been recognised for the last two winters by selection for an Overseas Placement as part of the ECB’s International Pathway.
He has worked on his leg-spin in Australia with former Test bowler Stuart MacGill and the signs in the opening two County Championship matches have been encouraging.
Critchley played an important role in last week’s victory over Middlesex at The 3aaa County Ground and, despite bitterly cold conditions at Leicester on Sunday and Monday, again bowled well.
He readily acknowledges the influence of MacGill in helping him develop as a wrist spinner and his Derbyshire captain Billy Godleman has also noted the advances he has made as a bowler.
“I’ve spent two years working with Stuey now and we get on pretty well,” Critchley explained.
“I send him videos of my bowling to see what he’s got to say and it’s lovely to have someone of that pedigree checking everything that you’re doing.
“It’s been brilliant working with him and he’s probably the one that’s got my bowling back on track.
“In four-day cricket, I’m more of a batter who can complement the seamers and bowl 10 or 15 overs a day but I see myself as a an all-rounder and for the Lions in Antigua I played as a bowler and batted at seven or eight.”
Godleman appreciated the part Critchley played on the final day of the Middlesex game. “If we hadn’t had Critch’s wickets we may not have won,” said the skipper.
“He gave us something different in terms of wrist spin and his consistency, pace, line and length has come on leaps and bounds in the last six months.
“We’ve seen it in the nets in pre-season but to see it out in the middle is really encouraging. He’s a very level-headed character and he’s had a couple of years as a front-line bowler without a great deal of experience in himself or the attack around him.
“As he said to me, it’s good to come on with the attack we have now backing him up and he deserves that for his development.”
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