Derbyshire's best tailenders

Tuesday 9th June 2020
Photography by: David Griffin

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Greg Watts emailed us about the entertainment occasionally provided by numbers 10 and 11 with bat in hand.

Greg wrote; “There’s nothing more exciting than seeing a number 10 or 11 come in and start to smash the ball all over the place. But who have been some of the more remarkable Derbyshire tailenders in recent years?

Our Heritage Officer, David Griffin, writes;

For players and spectators, it can be tremendous fun to watch numbers 10 and 11 smashing the ball to all parts of the ground, and even better if the strokeplay is unconventional. The opposition tend not to be amused, however.

Only two Derbyshire batsmen have registered hundreds batting at number ten; the first was John Chapman as part of the 283-run ninth-wicket world-record partnership with Arnold Warren against Warwickshire at Blackwell in 1910, the other was Tom Poynton who took part in the third-highest ninth-wicket partnership ever of 261 with Wayne Madsen at Northampton in 2012.

There have been 91 tenth-wicket partnerships for Derbyshire which have accrued 50 or more runs, with four of them extending into three figures. Alan Hill and Martin Jean-Jacques top the list with their 132-run joint effort against Yorkshire at Abbeydale Park, Sheffield in 1986.

There were 41 partnerships of 50 runs or more during the first 100 years of the club’s existence. In the last 50 years there have been 50 such partnerships, which suggests the combination of better pitches, and lower order players paying more attention to their batting skills has reaped dividends.

A distant backwards glance sees Bill Bestwick, Tommy Mitchell, Les Jackson, Mike Hendrick, Ole Mortensen and Devon Malcolm all taking part in numerous 50+ runs last-wicket partnerships, and 21st century demon tailenders include Lian Wharton, Ian Hunter, Steffan Jones, Mark Footitt and Ravi Rampaul. And with the greatest of respect to these players, little was expected in the way of batsmanship or runs when Bestwick, Mortensen or Footitt arrived at the crease, which made any runs they did score a real bonus.

In the first 20 years of the new century, there have already been 28 50-run last wicket partnerships and it was Rampaul who achieved a unique feat in 2019 when he shared partnerships of 50 and 51 for the tenth wicket against Glamorgan at Derby with Anuj Dal. This was the first time there had been a fifty-run partnership for the tenth wicket in each innings of a first-class match for Derbyshire.

Nick Walker burst onto the scene in 2004 with a six-wicket debut against Somerset at Taunton and one month later in the return fixture at Derby he scored 80 batting at number 11, at the time, the highest score by a Derbyshire last man.

He memorably hit Andrew Caddick for three sixes over extra cover, mid-wicket, and square leg in the space of five balls and in all he struck four sixes, 11 fours and an all-run five.

Walker remained at number 11 and just two matches later at Oakham School, he made 63 not out against Leicestershire, the highest score of the innings.

In this innings he batted for just nine overs, facing 32 deliveries, hitting four sixes and seven fours.

His success at number 11 did little for him in terms of promotion up the order. During the rest of his first-class career with Derbyshire he was the last man apart from two innings where he batted at number 10, and once when he was promoted to the heights of number nine.

Mohammad Ali was a distinctly brisk left-arm bowler who memorably put bat to ball in a heavy defeat at Trent Bridge in 2004 when Derbyshire followed on 331 runs behind. Derbyshire were still 40 behind when the ninth wicket fell in their second innings as Ali joined Hasan Adnan at the crease.

Ali decided to attack and made a hugely entertaining 32-ball fifty with 10 fours and a six. His 50 runs were scored out of a last wicket partnership of 62 and at least meant that Nottinghamshire had to bat again.

Steffan Jones was a hugely popular cricketer in Derbyshire, taking 56 Championship wickets in 2006 before leaving to join Somerset, and then returning for two further seasons in 2009 and 2010.

In 2009, against Kent at Canterbury, Jones became only the sixth batsman to make a half century batting at number 11 scoring 53 not out, but he bettered that by some distance in the game against Worcestershire at New Road a year later.

The home side made 559-8 declared and Derbyshire were still almost 400 behind when Jones joined Tim Groenewald to produce an exhilarating last-wicket partnership of 123, the second highest tenth-wicket partnership in the county’s history.

Batting conventionally to start with, Jones moved quickly through the gears, carving the ball to all parts of the ground to the frustration of the Worcestershire bowlers and fielders, and the delight of the watching Derbyshire team and their supporters.

Jones’ share was 86 – the highest ever score by a Derbyshire number 11 – and there was genuine sympathy from the Worcestershire crowd as he left the field to a standing ovation. It seemed as though few in the ground begrudged Jones a century.

Although last man antics have generally been fun, there can be a serious side to this occasionally vital batting position, none more so than at Northampton in 2018.

The game against Northamptonshire was a classic – Northants 255, Derbyshire 222, Northants 199, Derbyshire needed 233 to win.

Tom Lace scored 39 and Wayne Madsen made a solid 62, but when the ninth wicket fell, Derbyshire were still nine runs short of the target.

Harvey Hosein played if not his highest, then his most important innings for Derbyshire, making 54 not out in over two hours, and as Ravi Rampaul walked out to bat, all results were possible.

Five runs were scrambled between the pair before Rampaul found himself facing the final ball of Sanderson’s 27th over. A small, but animated crowd, most on the edge of their seats, rose in either anguish or delight as Rampaul flicked the delivery off his hip down to the fine leg boundary for four. Hosein leapt several feet off the ground in delight, the Derbyshire players hugged each other on the pavilion balcony, and Rampaul strolled off as though it was all in a day’s work.

As out-and-out batting rabbits are becoming a less familiar sight in the game, it’s quite likely that we’ll see more runs scored at the bottom of the order, and who knows, maybe even that elusive hundred by a Derbyshire number 11?

Here are the intrepid number 11s who have scored a first class half century for Derbyshire.

Season Player Score Opponent Venue
11 July 1914 Horsley J 55 Lancashire Derby
04 June 1986 Jean-Jacques MJ 73 Yorkshire Sheffield
23 May 1990 Base SJ 58 Yorkshire Chesterfield
19 May 2004 Walker NGE 80 Somerset Derby
02 June 2004 Walker NGE 63* Leicestershire Oakham School
18 June 2004 Mohammad Ali 50 Nottinghamshire Trent Bridge
31 July 2009 Jones PS 53* Kent Canterbury
17 May 2010 Jones PS 86 Worcestershire Worcester

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