Campaign Throwback: T20 in 2017

Monday 25th May 2020
Photography by: David Griffin

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. 

Marie wrote to us about the 2017 T20 season telling us how much she enjoyed it.

Marie wrote, “Derbyshire had reached the T20 quarter-final in 2005 but didn’t manage it again until 2017. It was great to see Imran Tahir at Derbyshire – I loved his celebrations. Can we have a reminder of that T20 season please?”

Our Heritage Officer, David Griffin, writes;

Derbyshire endured a difficult season in 2016, failing to win a County Championship match, and when Kim Barnett took on the role of Cricket Advisor for 2017, he made it clear from the outset that there was one way to try and change Derbyshire’s cricketing fortunes.

Barnett argued that for the smaller counties with limited resources the shortest form of the game was the easiest to achieve quick success in; other counties, notably Leicestershire and Northamptonshire had proved that, and in order to achieve that he unveiled a new coaching structure.

John Wright and Dominic Cork, bona fide legends of Derbyshire cricket arrived as the Specialist T20 Head Coach and Specialist T20 Bowling Coach, respectively, and player recruitment brought the world-leading South African leg-spinner Imran Tahir to the club as well as New Zealand’s Matt Henry.

Hardus Viljoen and Luis Reece arrived during the close season, the former a fast bowler, and the latter a seam-bowling all-rounder.

Daryn Smit, an experienced wicket-keeper batsman and Gary Wilson, a former Surrey player also joined the staff which already included Wayne Madsen, Billy Godleman and Alex Hughes, bringing a new level of experience to the side.

Matthew Critchley was developing into a quality all-rounder and two other young players, Ben Cotton and Callum Brodrick would feature during the season, but with 8 players taking part in every game – Madsen, Godleman, Reece, Hughes, Henry, Smit, Viljoen and Tahir – the side had an air of permanence about it which hadn’t always been the case in T20 cricket.

The opening game at Northampton saw a full house ready to see the 2016 T20 champions open their account with a regulation win. Derbyshire, however, had other ideas.

Wilson won the toss and Northamptonshire batted first with the main contributors being Duckett (69) and Cobb (38). At 100-1 in the twelth over Northamptonshire would have been eying 200, but Tahir’s 3-28 helped to put the brakes on and 179-6 was competitive, but nothing more.

Ben Slater was out in the second over and Godleman in the eighth, but Reece, with an impeccable 75 not out batted beautifully in tandem with Madsen who made a quickfire 37 from 22 balls as Derbyshire made inroads into their target.

Nonetheless, with Reece and Wilson together there were still 18 required to win from two overs.

The experienced Wilson had been recruited for situations just like this. Eighteen off two overs became one off one over as he struck two huge sixes in the penultimate over and he and Reece left the field having secured an excellent victory by seven wickets with five balls to spare.

Yorkshire were next for Derbyshire in the sunshine of Queen’s Park, Chesterfield. It was blisteringly hot as Derbyshire batted first and quickly lost Slater, Godleman and Reece before Madsen with 42, Henry (28 from only 10 balls) and then Smit (30 not out) gave the innings some respectability.

Chasing 166 to win, Yorkshire lost the dangerous Kohler-Cadmore to Madsen off the second ball of the innings. Madsen opened the bowling in 11 of Derbyshire’s 14 matches and often took early wickets, although it was Tahir, taking three wickets for the second successive match who made vital breakthroughs removing David Willey, Peter Handscombe and Jack Leaning.

Tahir’s trademark, chest-beating celebration was hugely enjoyed by a large Derbyshire crowd, and when Bresnan holed out to Reece off Henry to bring the game to an end, the noise was deafening, Derbyshire winning by just three runs.

Reece, Tahir, Henry, and Wilson had all delivered in the opening two games, and it was good to see the new recruits having such a positive impact early on.

A five-wicket defeat followed at Old Trafford with both sides using four spinners each. Madsen scored 52 and Critchley – opening the batting – 40, but Jos Buttler’s 42 saw Lancashire home with 9 balls to spare.

Despite that defeat, the side rallied to produce a good performance in front of the television cameras at New Road, Worcester.

The home side posted 186-5, Madsen taking 2-20, before Godleman with 70, and Madsen with 58 not out off 35 balls ensured a return to winning ways with ten balls remaining.

Two defeats followed – to Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge and to Birmingham Bears at Edgbaston.

The game at Nottingham was a high scoring affair, the home side scoring 222-5 and Derbyshire falling just short, despite Madsen’s superb 86 from only 44 balls, but the game at Edgbaston was a disappointment. Derbyshire never threatened the home side’s 197-4 with only Reece scoring more than 25.

However, in this format games come around thick and fast and when Lancashire arrived at Derby, the home side were determined to get back to winning ways. Reece made a superb 97 not out including 10 fours and 4 sixes. He faced just 55 balls and thoroughly deserved to reach three figures.

Smit scored a brisk 42 off 20 balls and although Lancashire were 103-2 in the tenth over, six wickets then fell for 49 runs, including Buttler for one, and Derbyshire closed the game out, winning by the comfortable margin of 35 runs.

A washout against Northamptonshire at Derby followed before two more wins against Leicestershire, also at Derby, and against Yorkshire at Leeds.

Leicestershire posted a meagre 104-9 in their 20 overs, Henry taking 3-18 and although Derbyshire had lost 3 wickets for just 21 after three overs, Madsen’s unbeaten 49 and Alex Hughes’ 36 not out saw Derbyshire home with 6.1 overs and seven wickets in hand.

It would become a question on the lips of many Derbyshire (and Yorkshire) followers over several seasons; “When are Derbyshire going to get their comeuppance against Yorkshire in T20 cricket?”

At the time of writing Derbyshire are enjoying a six-match winning streak over their northern rivals, and in 2017, when the two teams met at Headingley, Derbyshire were seeking a first win in four years in Leeds.

Yorkshire’s 180-5 seemed above par but Godleman (67), Madsen (47) and Wilson (33 not out) all played well to secure a five-wicket win with two balls remaining.

After ten games, Derbyshire’s record was six wins, three defeats and one abandoned – two more wins would probably guarantee a quarter-final, and hopes were high.

Nottinghamshire took the spoils in yet another close game, setting Derbyshire a target of 190. At 95-2 in the tenth over, Derbyshire were favourites, but other than Reece (53) no-one could play the decisive innings required to take Derbyshire over the line.

After an 11-day break, Derbyshire took on Durham at Derby and with Henry taking 3-42, the visitors were restricted to 161-7, and although Godleman and Critchley went early, Reece made 66 and Henry 20 (off 10 balls) to ease Derbyshire home.

Another loss followed at Leicester despite Critchley’s excellent 72 not out but no other batsman exceeded 13 in Derbyshire’s 139-7. Imran Tahir conceded a miserly 13 runs off his four overs, but Leicestershire reached their target with nine balls remaining.

The final group game saw Derbyshire take on Worcestershire at Derby in front of an expectant crowd. A quarter-final spot was just one win away but come the halfway mark, Derbyshire’s 146-8 looked rather sub-par, only Madsen, with 55, making any significant contribution.

Madsen struck with the second ball of the Worcestershire innings and by the end of the powerplay they were 39-5. Former Derbyshire player, Ross Whiteley revived Worcestershire’s hopes with 29 off 22 balls but Tahir proved his worth once more taking 4-17 with Viljoen snapping up 2-20.

After just 15.4 overs, Worcestershire were dismissed for 98 and Derbyshire had reached the quarter finals of the T20 competition.

No side in the country had exceeded Derbyshire’s eight wins and second place in the table earned them a home tie at the knockout stage. The quarter-final would see Derbyshire’s hopes destroyed by a former Derbyshire player, Shahid Afridi, as his brutal hundred helped Hampshire to a comfortable win meaning that a first Finals Day appearance was put on hold once again.

In 2017, Wayne Madsen was the standout player for the county; he scored 526 runs – the most ever for Derbyshire in a T20 season – at an average of almost 48 and took 13 wickets with an economy rate of just over seven.

Reece was a revelation with 433 runs including four fifties, while Godleman and Critchley also scored more than 200 runs and with the ball, Tahir (17 wickets), Henry (15) and Viljoen (14) were all impressive.

Reflecting on that 2017 season, it was noticeable how the home crowds grew as the competition progressed, and how engaged supporters were with players like Madsen and Tahir who always seemed to be in the thick of the action.

In 2018, Wright and Cork again led the T20 side, although qualification from the group was not achieved, but that 2017 experience, and the knowledge that Derbyshire were capable of mixing it with the better sides in the country certainly seemed to pay dividends during 2019 when, with Cork at the helm on the coaching side, Derbyshire reached the quarter finals once more, going one better than in 2017, and reaching Finals Day where they lost to Essex in the semi-final.

The next step, of course, is to get to Finals Day again and win the trophy. Now that would be a story.

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