The 2019 fixtures are now released and Derbyshire will host the touring Australians during the height of the Ashes series, as well as back-to-back Vitality Blast derbies against Yorkshire Vikings and Notts Outlaws in July.
Heritage Officer, David Griffin, takes a look at the summer schedule for 2019.
In 1959, Derbyshire started a first-class match beginning in April for the very first time – against Cambridge University at Fenner’s on the 29th of that month. Fast forward sixty years and the publication of the 2019 domestic fixtures reveals one potentially chilling prospect, namely, first-class cricket in March.
Although some other counties have experienced playing first-class games against the MCCU sides in March, this will be the first time Derbyshire have started a cricket season this early.
Derbyshire’s curtain-raiser against Leeds/Bradford MCCU at Derby begins on 26 March, a full five days before the Daylight-Saving Time Changes, when our clocks go forward one hour.
With a scheduled end to the season on Thursday 26 September it means that the 2019 season will be the longest from start to finish of any in the Club’s history, taking in 184 days, compared to the previous longest of 177 days in 2014.
By way of comparison, 25 years ago, in 1993, the season lasted 158 days, more than three weeks fewer than 2019. However, with an ICC World Cup tournament, an Ashes Test series, plus a full programme of domestic cricket to fit in, one assumes this elongated season is the only realistic way to fit everything in.
The Specsavers County Championship gets underway on Friday 5 April with a game against Durham at Derby. Only once, on 5 April 2012, when Derbyshire beat Northamptonshire in their opening game of the season, have Derbyshire begun their championship campaign on such an early date.
A likely highlight of Derbyshire’s summer will be the touring Australians’ visit to play the Aston Lark Tourist Fixture at Derby in late August. This will be the Australians’ first visit to Derbyshire since 2015, and only the second scheduled first-class fixture against them this century. They also played at Derby in 2010, in a non-first class two-day game.
The Australia A side also visit Derby for a 50-over game on Sunday 23 June.
The Specsavers County Championship stops abruptly following Derbyshire’s second fixture – away to Gloucestershire at Bristol – for the 50-overs per side, month-long Royal London One-Day Cup.
Derbyshire’s opening North Group fixture is against Northamptonshire on 19 April and will be the county’s 1,000th scheduled List A game. Only three List A matches have ever been scheduled earlier than this – two in 2000 and one in 2005.
The 50-over local derby against Nottinghamshire takes place on a Sunday, which will hopefully encourage a good crowd, and the other home fixtures are against Warwickshire and Worcestershire.
Interspersed between the home games are trips to play Yorkshire, Durham, Lancashire and Leicestershire.
The County Championship resumes on 20 May when Glamorgan visit Derby, followed by a run of seven consecutive four-day games, interrupted only by a tour match against Australia A. This run includes home fixtures against Lancashire and Middlesex at Derby, and against Northamptonshire at Chesterfield.
Northamptonshire will provide the opposition for the seventh time since first-class cricket returned to Chesterfield in 2006, and Derbyshire will be looking to repeat their thrilling victory in July 2018 when Matt Critchley took a 10-wicket haul to spin Derbyshire to victory.
The other four games are at Leicester, Chester-le-Street, Swansea and Worcester. Having not played at Swansea for 15 years until 2018, Derbyshire now return for a second season in a row. They last played back-to-back games at Swansea in 1983/84.
In a season where three counties will be promoted to the first division, this run of games could be crucial to all sides in the second division, although there will be no let up in the schedule because after a three-day break in mid-July, Vitality Blast cricket returns.
Derbyshire’s opener could scarcely be a bigger fixture for the county – Yorkshire Vikings at Chesterfield on Saturday 20 July. Derbyshire have beaten Yorkshire in each of the last four fixtures between the sides in Twenty20 cricket, and few who attended the match in Queen’s Park in 2018 will ever forget Critchley’s clinical match-winning innings to secure victory.
Following a midweek trip to Edgbaston, Derby then hosts a busy weekend, entertaining Notts Outlaws on Friday night and Lancashire Lightning on Sunday afternoon in what are both likely to be near sell-out fixtures.
The games continue to come thick and fast throughout August – although there’s room for a four-day home game at Derby against Gloucestershire – before the final three group games against Northants Steelbacks at Derby, and Leicestershire Foxes and Lancashire Lightning away.
In keeping with recent season scheduling, each county plays 14 games in the group stages, and Derbyshire miss out in 2019 at home against Birmingham and won’t be playing away against Durham.
Similarly in the Championship where Leicestershire and Worcestershire don’t visit Derbyshire, while Derbyshire won’t be playing at Sussex or Northamptonshire. This will be the first time that Derbyshire has not played home and away games in the championship against Northamptonshire – other than when the sides were in different divisions – for the first time since two divisions were introduced in 2000.
Following what is sure to be another well-attended game against the Australians in late August, the County Championship season will be rounded off with three matches in September, at Emirates Old Trafford against Lancashire, at Derby – against Sussex – and finally, at Lord’s, against Middlesex. That game starts on 23 September and will be the latest Derbyshire have ever played a fixture at the Home of Cricket.
The game against the Gloucestershire, starting on 18 August, will be the 800th first-class game scheduled to be played at Derby and the County Ground will become only the 14th venue in the world to stage 800 games of first-class cricket, and while Melbourne is next on the list – way back on 692 matches at the time of writing – it may be some time before another ground reaches that landmark.
It’s fair to say that the fixtures list never suits everyone. Yes, the season still starts remarkably early, but both June and July include three four-day matches for Derbyshire, and while there’s only one in August, there is the bonus of the Aston Lark Tourist Fixture.
And as the nights close in and the temperatures drop, the publication of the fixtures at least offers some light at the end of the close season tunnel. Roll on March.
New benefits for 2019. Club Membership for 2019 is on sale now, giving you more from your Membership. Buy before our 1st February Early Bird deadline and save £20.