Together, We Are All Derbyshire: Cork against Lancashire 1994

Monday 20th April 2020

During these challenging times for all, we want to help keep everyone associated with the club and wider community positive and engaged. We’re in this together and Together, We Are All Derbyshire. 

Matt Thomas has been in touch about a remarkable, but rarely mentioned, Benson and Hedges Cup first round game against Lancashire at Derby in 1994.

Matt wrote; “It was an immediate repeat of the previous year’s Lord’s final, and what was achieved by Dominic Cork in that game was perhaps even more astounding than what he did in the 1993 final.”

Our Heritage Officer, David Griffin, writes;

Derbyshire and Lancashire were excused preliminary round duties in the 1994 Benson and Hedges Cup competition courtesy of their performances in 1993 when they had combined to produce a wonderful, and nerve-jangling final at Lord’s. Derbyshire had triumphed on that occasion by six runs and precisely ten months to the day the sides met again at Derby.

Tuesday, 10 May, 1994, was a cool and overcast day and the BBC – presumably hoping for a re-run of the 1993 final – were in attendance at Derby in front of a reasonable crowd for an early season, mid-week one day game, with a large following from Lancashire.

Derbyshire’s side was quite different to the one which appeared at Lord’s; Barnett was injured and awaiting knee surgery, and Morris had left for pastures new at Durham. Malcolm was also unavailable and Griffith – despite his last over heroics at Lord’s – was not selected.

Adrian Rollins, who had made his debut in 1993, replaced Barnett at the top of the order, and Colin Wells had arrived from Sussex to bolster the lower middle order.

Mohammad Azharuddin was also back at Derbyshire for his second spell with the county, having scored more than 2,000 first-class runs during his initial tenure back in 1991.

However, the big close season signing was that of Philip DeFreitas, as high a profile English-qualified player ever to move to Derbyshire. DeFreitas was still an England Test cricketer, and would represent his country while on Derbyshire’s books.

Azharuddin replaced Barnett as captain and the two sides which took to the field were as follows;

Derbyshire; Bowler, Rollins, Adams, Azharuddin, O’Gorman, Wells, DeFreitas, Cork, Krikken, Warner and Mortensen

Lancashire; Gallian, Atherton, Crawley, Lloyd, Speak, Watkinson, Austin, Hegg, Martin, Yates and Chapple

Azharuddin won the toss and Lancashire were asked to bat first and the visitors made steady progress against indifferent bowling and although Gallian was run out for 39, the visitors passed 200 with only one wicket down.

Atherton, who had arguably batted far too slowly in the 1993 final, scored a fine even 100, before Krikken superbly stumped him down the legside off Wells, the second wicket partnership with John Crawley producing 131 in 26 overs.

A total of 300 looked likely, but the last nine overs failed to produce the expected batting charge, and four wickets were lost, Allan Warner taking 2-57 in his 11 overs.

However, 280-5 would win most one day games in the 1990s – regardless of the number of overs available – and Derbyshire needed to break their one day record batting second to win.

They made a bad start when Bowler fell leg before to Martin but Rollins and Chris Adams settled into a pleasing partnership of 104, albeit at a rate which most observers felt needed to quicken. It was forcing the pace which accounted for Rollins who had batted extremely well for 70 with 10 fours, as 116-1 became 125-4 with Adams and Azharuddin perishing in quick succession to Yates.

O’Gorman and Wells added 49 for the fifth wicket, but when the former, and then DeFreitas were dismissed, Derbyshire were 192-6 with a further 89 runs required and only 49 balls remaining.

Cork began sketchily before getting into his stride, mixing conventional shots with some of the outrageous strokes he had demonstrated at Lord’s a year earlier. He was dropped at long off by Yates off Peter Martin when he was on 30, and 59 were still required from five overs.

That became 29 off two overs and still the odds were in Lancashire’s favour, but the penultimate over, bowled by Ian Austin cost 18 as Cork and Wells managed to find ways of reaching the boundary so that when the final over arrived – to be bowled by Mike Watkinson – Derbyshire required 11 to win.

Cork, to groans of anguish from the now hugely animated Derbyshire supporters, attempted a reverse sweep off the first ball and missed it completely, but then two scampered twos and a lofted pull to square leg for four meant three runs were required from the final two balls.

Not for Cork any suggestion of tip and run – he put his left leg down the pitch and swung across the line, and stood mid-pitch as the ball sailed over the mid-wicket boundary to cries of jubilation from the Derbyshire supporters, many of whom would enjoy the opportunity to watch the BBC highlights of the game later in the evening.

While not underestimating Wells’ contribution – 47 off 54 balls – Cork’s unbeaten 63 came from a mere 34 balls, and he was rightly named as the Gold Award winner, although Atherton must have expected to be the recipient throughout much of Derbyshire’s reply.

Ray Illingworth, the chairman of England selectors was at the game and being able to witness Cork’s brilliance at first hand couldn’t have harmed the Derbyshire all-rounder’s further international ambitions, having already represented his country three times in One-Day Internationals  in 1992 and 1993.

Of his own performance, Cork said after the game that “…it was probably a better innings than the one in last year’s final. Some days everything works.”

In later years, when asked to select the best Derbyshire XI of his lifetime, Gerald Mortimer, the Cricket Correspondent at the Derby Telegraph for over three decades, said that Cork was the first name on the team sheet. He added that his decision was based not on Cork’s career record – hugely impressive though it is – but on Cork’s outstanding record as a match-winner.

Most Derbyshire supporters who witnessed the many outstanding match-winning moments in Cork’s career will undoubtedly concur.

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