Together, We Are All Derbyshire: 1969 Gillette Cup semi-final

Wednesday 1st April 2020
Photography by: DCCC Heritage Archive

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Alan Roe emailed us and asked for an overview of the Gillette Cup semi-final between Derbyshire and Sussex at Chesterfield in 1969.

Heritage Officer, David Griffin, writes;

The Gillette Cup semi-final between Derbyshire and Sussex on 30 July 1969 was probably the most dramatic game of cricket to take place at this famous ground.

This was Derbyshire’s 21st one day game, the Gillette format having been introduced in 1963, although in 1969 the Players County League had just begun, and Derbyshire’s average innings score in their first 20 games was just 147.

Their opponents, Sussex, were the first one-day kings, having won the competition twice and been losing finalists three times in the first six years.

The week preceding the game had seen heavy rain – so heavy that it ran under the covers – and many in the huge crowd assumed that the start would be delayed. Most also assumed that the captain winning the toss would bowl first.

However, the game did begin on time, and Derek Morgan, successful at the toss, elected to bat first on a warm and sunny day but on a very slow pitch.

Peter Gibbs and David Smith added 34 for the first wicket, Gibbs (44) producing the best innings of the day but batting was difficult against John Snow and Tony Buss, the latter taking 4-27 from 10.4 overs.

There was an element of controversy about the second half of the Derbyshire innings as Derek Morgan took root and batted for almost 30 overs scoring 26 not out.

Subsequently, Morgan and other colleagues explained that they felt the Derbyshire pace attack would outgun the Sussex attack, provided the batsmen could give them a reasonable target to defend.

At the time, sections of the crowd disagreed, and Morgan and the lower order came in for some criticism as the run-scoring slowed to almost nothing and a total of 136 all out from 56.4 overs appeared far too few.

Alan Ward took the new ball – from the Pavilion End – with his senior partner Harold Rhodes, opening from the Lake End. Rhodes generally bowled down the hill, but Ward was the new quick on the block and got first choice of ends.

This didn’t prevent Rhodes bowling at a recorded 95mph during his seven over spell, of which six were maidens. Just four runs came from the other over, and they were through third man.

With the fourth delivery of his opening over Ward caused Lenham to chop an in-swinger on to his leg stump and for five overs the score remained one for one, the run, a no-ball, having come in the first over. Then, to a huge roar from the partisan crowd, Ward removed Cooper’s stumps: 5-2.

However, statistics cannot adequately illustrate the drama of that afternoon; first the hush as each bowler roared into the attack, followed by bursts of applause as maiden followed maiden, with Jim Parks and the left-handed Ken Suttle hanging on.

After 14 overs, 11 of them maidens, Sussex were 10-2; at tea they were 27-4, requiring 110 in 38 overs. But in Peter Eyre’s fifth over Parks was caught by Morgan – with 16 he was the only player to reach double figures – as Eyre then ran through the Sussex batting line up, the innings subsiding for 49.

There ensued great scenes as spectators swarmed onto the outfield to cheer the Derbyshire players from the pitch and to crowd around their hero, Peter Eyre.

Eyre had the greatest cricketing day of his life: 10.2-4-18-6 including 6-11 in 40 balls, and won the Man of the Match Award, adjudicator Don Kenyon commenting that “…Eyre’s direction and length were impeccable…”

Ward’s analysis was 8-5-11-2, Rhodes 7-6-4-0, Fred Rumsey 9-3-13-2 and Ian Buxton one over for one run.

The crowd – the number disputed over the years – was formally recorded by the club as 10,582 who paid £3,520 12s 0d. By comparison, in recent years, the crowd for the Yorkshire T20 game has hovered around 5,000.

The final against Yorkshire saw their northern neighbours triumph by 69 runs, but for the majority of Derbyshire spectators present on that amazing July day. The game will live long in the memory.

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