Harvey Hosein made a record-breaking debut behind the wicket for Derbyshire in September 2014. Still only 23-years-old, there’s much more ahead for the Chesterfield-born wicketkeeper who has already played 65 matches for Derbyshire, scoring over 2,000 runs, and completing 130 catches and stumpings.
Heritage Officer, David Griffin, has seen every one of Hosein’s games for the first team, and in this interview, looks back, and to the future, with Derbyshire’s current gloveman.
When did you first develop an interest in cricket?
It was secondary school, at Denstone College, having played for Matlock Cricket Club before that. I was only ten when I tried cricket at Matlock, and I kept wicket there from the word go. At Denstone, in the under-12 side, I also kept wicket and I really developed a strong interest in cricket there.
Who were your earliest influences in the game?
At that time, my dad really helped me. He would throw for hours in the nets, batting and catching. On a Sunday we would be in the nets for hours and as my interest grew, watching cricket on TV helped develop my interest and players like AB de Villiers and Matt Prior really impressed me.
Your name was being mentioned a decade ago as Derbyshire’s next ‘keeper. Were you aware that you had made an impression as a young player?
I became aware of some interest because I was in the Derbyshire under-13 age group side and that summer I played for Matlock first team as a wicketkeeper and I got called to play a second team game at Swansea and I was still only 13. At that point I thought that my name must have been discussed in terms of moving to a higher level. I was on the mini-Academy and then moved into the main Academy when I was 15. I did some wicketkeeping sessions with Karl Krikken when I was on the mini-Academy, and also with Tom Poynton and Howard Dytham. They introduced me to drills that I’d never done before and my technique went to the next level. I realised – even then – that many people in cricket don’t get through to the professional level; so many more fail than succeed, but at under-15 level I started to think that I might become a first-class cricketer. I went to the Bunbury Festival when I was 15 and was selected for the under-16 England Development squad. It was after that festival that I thought I might have a chance of a professional career.
In 2014, Gareth Cross, Dean Hodgson, and Richard Johnson all played Championship cricket ahead of you. How did your debut in the first team come about?
That summer I finished my A-levels and played in the second team and was selected to play for Derbyshire against India, although it wasn’t a first-class game, and scored a fifty. Graeme Welch called me and told me to be ready for a first team appearance but didn’t specify a game, he just said be ready towards the end of the season. I was just out of school and I was playing against Dhoni and Kohli! That week propelled my cricket forward massively and gave me great confidence. The week before the Surrey game at The Oval Derbyshire played Glamorgan and I texted Graeme and asked him for the team news. He told me to hang on and that my time would come. He then called me and told me I’d be playing at The Oval.
When Wayne Madsen won the toss at The Oval in September 2014, were you pleased when he decided to field first, giving you an opportunity to get into the action straight away?
I remember being nervous and excited at the same time. It was an international stadium and I was pleased to go out there with my team mates and get into the swing of things. And we won in three days.
You took seven catches in that Surrey first innings – four of them off Mark Footitt. What do you recall about those catches?
The large majority were straightforward, and I’d have been disappointed if I’d dropped any. Batty nicked one down the leg side off Footitt and that was the only really difficult one. As the catches kept going in, the slips were shaking my hand and congratulating me on taking so many. Alec Stewart shook my hand when I walked off and to this day, I wish I’d taken my keeping gloves off to do so!
You took another 4 catches in the second innings and broke all sorts of records – and then Derbyshire cruised to an eight-wicket victory. What was it like to be involved in such a record-breaking performance, and to win at The Oval?
The Surrey players were fine with me, chatting to me and being very kind about my success behind the wicket. It was just a great and memorable introduction to first-class cricket.
In 2015, you were first choice behind the stumps, playing 12 first-class matches, but did not get another opportunity until late in the 2016 season. How frustrating was it, having seemingly established yourself, to be out of the side?
I went straight into the side in 2015, but I was still very young to be expecting to play a full county season and on reflection I’m not sure I was ready for it. I began that season well, but I’d never experienced the ups and down of first-class cricket and wasn’t sure how to handle it at such a young age. It was a great experience, but I don’t think I was mentally fully ready. In 2016 I was frustrated at seeing others keeping ahead of me, but again, I look back now and can see that it was right for me and I did perform well in the second eleven. Now I can see that it was a good period of progression for me even though it was frustrating.
Of course, late in 2016, you returned to the side and averaged over a hundred in your four games and scored a century at Worcester. What do you remember about that innings?
I started that season in the seconds and I’d scored runs, and I was told that I’d play the remaining first team games. I got a fifty and felt good and just had a purple patch when I seemed to just keep scoring runs. I wasn’t nervous other than when I was on 96 and nine wickets were down. I was batting with Ben Cotton, but he stayed with me and when that hundred arrived it felt such a relief and settled me down in my mind that I could score a first-class hundred. We lost the game, but from a personal perspective, that match and the three which preceded it, confirmed to me that I could contribute with the bat as well as the gloves.
In 2018 you played half of the first-class games and by 2019 you were an ever-present in first class and List A cricket. What was it like securing a regular place in the side, and playing every game?
I look back at 2015 to 2017 and forget just how young I was. At the start of 2019 I was only 22 and to be given the nod as the front-line keeper gave me a lot of confidence and I felt more ready to do the job. Certainly, more confident, and prepared than I was in 2015.
You’ve yet to establish yourself as a Twenty20 player; is that something you continually work on?
Well, I’m not too sure. I think I’ve developed over the last two years in white ball cricket and I’ve worked on my batting. I captained the Second Eleven side in the T20 campaign and opened the batting so I’m working on that side of my game and certainly have ambitions to play T20 cricket. I’m definitely ready to play T20.
As a wicketkeeper, you will always be compared to the two outstanding Derbyshire ‘keepers of the last 50 years, Bob Taylor and Karl Krikken. Have you ever modelled yourself on any particular wicketkeeper?
I never saw either of them play, other than a bit of TV footage, but I’ve really only worked on what works for me, rather than try to copy others.
How do you endeavour to improve your ‘keeping skills?
I definitely think I challenge myself to improve. Concentration is vital and being sharp is essential. I’ll do drills on movement all the time because unlike batting, when you don’t always need a net on the day of a game, with keeping, I need to keep repeating my drills over and over. I can never practice enough. I can never do enough movement drills.
The days are long gone when a pure ‘keeper could maintain a place in the side irrespective of their batting capabilities. How hard is it to work on your batting when you’re trying to be the best wicketkeeper possible?
Ever since I started the keeper has had to be able to bat. There’s an expectation that if the gloves were taken from you, you could play just as a batsman which I did do for Derbyshire in 2017 and 2018. It can be hard work combining the two roles, but at least I have two shots at the target. If I keep badly, I can score some runs, and vice versa. In terms of training it’s not an issue and I have a great schedule for training and I’m fortunate in that the other batsmen have to bowl in the nets which I don’t have to!
You have played alongside some talented cricketers at Derbyshire. Which ones do you admire the most?
I’m still so young but I’ve seen lots of different players in the side. Wayne Madsen is the standout player; I’ve played alongside Amla, Pujara, Guptill and others, but Madsen’s approach and all-round skill in all formats of the game is remarkable. The most enjoyable time of my career to date was when I batted with Guptill at Bristol when he got 227. We added 61 runs together before I got off the mark. It was amazing batting.
The best bowler I kept to was Mark Footitt in 2014 and 2015. He was exceptional at that time and was hitting the gloves very hard. There were some games when I stood back further for Footitt than any other bowler.
It seems from a distance that, especially, during four-day cricket, there’s a lot of chat in the slips cordon – with Wayne Madsen, Alex Hughes, and Matthew Critchley. What do you talk about all day?
I enjoy their company although we don’t admit it to each other. Most of the chat is about cricket, about how to get a batsman out, but Critch and Alex make us laugh. Critch is loud and funny, and Alex is quite dry. They keep me going during a long day in the field.
Although you weren’t part of the Twenty20 squad in 2019, it must have been enjoyable and rewarding to be part of a Derbyshire set-up which reached Finals Day. Do you sense that this side is on the cusp of bigger things?
Yes, definitely, and particularly in Championship cricket. I look at 2019 and there were a couple of games – maybe three – which we should absolutely have won. That would have seen us get promotion. Northants at Chesterfield saw us dominate for three quarters of it and a crazy session cost us. It’s frustrating that we got close in games and hopefully the experience of losing games we should have won will make us a stronger side. We want to get promoted and just need greater consistency. Finals Day was great, too, and there is great confidence that we have a squad which can do that again, only go step further and win it next time.
You’re only 23-years-old, you could have another two decades ahead of you in professional cricket; what are your ambitions?
Well I never really think too far ahead because things change very quickly. In the short term, I definitely want to be a consistent and regular performer for the team as we seek promotion in red ball cricket and who knows, that might be enough for my name to be considered for an England Lions spot.
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