Statistical Preview: Australia

Wednesday 28th August 2019
& News
Written by Stephen Martin

The 2019 Australian touring team will visit the Pattonair County Ground for the Aston Lark three-day Tourist Fixture against Derbyshire beginning on Thursday 29 August.

Heritage Officer and Statistician, David Griffin, looks at the statistical background to the game.

Even before Derbyshire achieved first class status – they were formed in 1870 and played their maiden first-class fixture in 1871 – the forerunners of the club, The South Derbyshire Cricket Club, played a game against the 1868 touring Australian Aboriginals at Derby. The South Derbyshire side was captained by future Derbyshire captain, Sam Richardson, and Dove Gregory, who would take 6-9 on his first-class debut for Derbyshire three years later, was also in the side which won by 139 runs.

The first full touring Australian side to play in Derbyshire arrived in 1880 when the visitors won by eight wickets after bowling out the home side for just 45 in their first innings at Derby. This was the first of 29 visits to Derbyshire by the Australians, although in 1919, the Australian Imperial Forces (in reality, Australia’s full Test side by another name) played at Derby and were defeated by 36 runs, largely due to Jim Horsley’s 6-56 and 6-62, including a first innings hat trick.

The ball with which Horsley took his three wickets with consecutive balls is held by his family and it is hoped to display it during the course of this tour match.

The touring Young Australia played a first-class game at Chesterfield in 1995, a side which included future Test match luminaries Ricky Ponting, Matthew Hayden, Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Elliott; and Australia A played at Derby in 2012, a game in which Tony Palladino memorable scored a first-class century.

Additionally, a two-day non-first-class game was played by the 2010 tourists at Derby.

This forthcoming fixture, therefore, is the 30th official game against the full touring Australians. Twelve of these games ended as draws, while the Australians have won 16 times, with Derbyshire’s solitary, but memorable victory coming in 1997 at Derby.

Derby and Chesterfield are the only grounds in the county to have hosted this fixture with 19 games taking place at Derby and ten at Chesterfield. The most recent game at Queen’s Park was the drawn fixture in 1977.

The Derbyshire win in 1997 was televised and against a touring side which included Mark Taylor, Matthew Elliott, Justin Langer, Steve Waugh, Ian Healy, Jason Gillespie and Shane Warne, Derbyshire scored a county record 371-9 in the fourth innings in just over 68 overs to secure a thrilling one wicket win despite Warne’s 7-103.

Two Derbyshire-born cricketers, Paul Aldred and Kevin Dean, were at the crease when the winning runs were scored.

The 1948 fixture against the Australian ‘Invincibles’ was watched by a crowd reputedly in excess of 10,000 on the opening day. Don Bradman was the main attraction in a wonderful Australian side, and local cricket supporters, starved of top-class cricket for six years during World War II, were desperate to see Bradman and other world class players like Barnes, Harvey and Miller.

The previous four Australian touring sides had played Derbyshire at Chesterfield, and the Australian Imperial Forces game had taken place in 1919, with the previous full Australian side last appearing at Derby in 1912. Accordingly, for most spectators, this was the first opportunity to see any Australian cricketers at Derby for almost 30 years.

Derbyshire’s side included remnants of the 1936 county championship-winning team in Charlie Elliott and Denis Smith, as well as the great bowling pairing of Cliff Gladwin and Les Jackson, plus AEG ‘Dusty’ Rhodes.

The Australians were far too strong, however, and won by an innings and 34 runs. Don Bradman made 62 and was bowled by Derbyshire’s captain, Eddie Gothard.

Bradman played 3 games against Derbyshire and never scored a hundred, joining such batting luminaries as WG Grace and Colin Cowdrey who also never managed to reach three figures against Derbyshire.

The 1989 game was played on a green and fast pitch at Derby, and Allan Border, the Australian captain allegedly remarked at the toss that someone was likely to get hurt on such a pitch, to which the Derbyshire skipper, Kim Barnett replied; “Well, it won’t be one of my players.”

In a match of such intensity that Barnett later described as the toughest game he ever played in, Derbyshire paired Ian Bishop and Devon Malcolm for the first time ever, and with Ole Mortensen and Simon Base as back-up, attacked the Australians with some extremely hostile fast bowling, dismissing them for 200.

Derbyshire managed a lead of 28 in their first innings, Barnett top-scoring with 76 off 85 balls before the quick bowlers were unleashed once more, bowling out the Australians for 180, with Malcolm and Bishop taking seven wickets between them.

Unfortunately, Derbyshire could not muster the 153 runs required for victory, falling 11 runs short as Alderman took 4-32 in 21 exemplary overs of fast-medium bowling.

This was the time-honoured way of playing touring sides – play your strongest side and give them as tough a contest as possible. In all but status, at times the game took on the intensity of a Test match.

The most recent visit by the Australians was in 2015 when David Warner and Shaun Marsh both scored hundreds for the tourists, while Tony Palladino made a hugely entertaining 82 – batting at number nine – from just 68 balls with four sixes and eight fours.

The Australians highest completed innings total is 625 all out at Derby in 1896 and their lowest is 123 in the drawn game of 1912.

Derbyshire’s highest innings total is the aforementioned 371-9 in 1997, and their lowest is 45 all out in that first game back in 1880.

Four Derbyshire batsmen have made hundreds against the full Australian tourists, John Wright leading the way with 144 at Derby in 1981. The other centurions are Laurie Johnson (101 at Derby in 1964), Chris Wilkins (100* at Chesterfield in 1972) and Kim Barnett (113 at Derby in 1993).

Tommy Mitchell leads the way for the bowlers, taking 7-105 at Chesterfield in 1934.

The Aussies are coming! Derbyshire face Australia in the three-day Aston Lark Tourist Fixture from Thur 29 – Sat 31 August. Buy in advance to save and see world-class Test cricketers in Derby.

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