Whether Matt Critchley is a batsman who bowls or an emerging leg-spinner who can play destructive innings, it can’t be argued that the 21-year-old is enjoying a purple patch for Derbyshire and thriving on pressure sitatuions.
Critchley himself is not keen on putting players in categories and his match-winning performances in the last week only endorsed the view that Derbyshire possess an exciting talent with the potential to go a long way in the game.
Comparisons were made with Dominic Cork, a former Derbyshire captain and now the county’s Twenty20 Specialist Bowling Coach, after Critchley smashed 22 off the final over to ambush Yorkshire at Chesterfield on Saturday.
Only three days before at Queen’s Park, he bowled his team to victory over Northamptonshire in the County Championship by becoming the first leg-spinner to take 10 wickets in a match for Derbyshire since 1950.
Three days later he powered Derbyshire to victory in the Vitality Blast game against Yorkshire Vikings, striking former England bowler Tim Bresnan for 22 off five balls to improbably and thrillingly win a game that was all but lost.
The Preston-born player has already been selected by England Lions and the spotlight on him will only intensify if he continues to make the progress he has this season.
“I see myself as both a batsman and bowler,” he said. “I always want to be in the game because it gives me the most opportunities to contribute to the team so I regard myself as a genuine all-rounder.
“I’m not kidding myself that I’m going to go out and do things every time but if I’m batting at six which is a position I want to hold down and I’m the first or second spinner then it opens up a lot of options.
“I’m still learning and trying to get better every day but to be playing such a vital role at the club at 21 is only positive for me. There’s a lot of responsibility on me which is only good because it brings the best out of my cricket.”
Critchley is quick to acknowledge the role former Australian leg-spinner Stuart MacGill has played in his development following his work with him over the past two winters.
“I spoke to Stuart for about 40 minutes the other day and all the work he’s done with me is hopefully starting to pay off.
“I’m in contact with him all the time and I send him a few videos so he can give me a few pointers. He’s brilliant and I can’t repay him enough for the tricks he’s passed on and the confidence he’s given me in my bowling.”
Vitality Blast is back! Derbyshire Falcons are back at home on Friday 3 August against Birmingham Bears. Purchase your tickets in advance and save from £4. Buy online or call 01332 388 101.