Derbyshire's most successful opening partnerships

Wednesday 15th July 2020

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Ricki first watched Derbyshire at Queen’s Park, Chesterfield in 1968 when the touring Australians were the visitors. He is, however, interested in opening partnerships.

Ricki wrote; “How about a feature on Derbyshire’s most successful opening partnerships, the recent interview with Kim Barnett stimulated this question. In my era the Barnett/Bowler partnership and the Wright/Hill ones were particularly memorable. Statistically, however, what have been the most successful?”

And on a different subject, John emailed to ask if any Derbyshire player has made every individual score between 0 and 100.

Our Heritage Officer, David Griffin, writes;

I’ll take the 0-100 question first, and the simple answer is no. However, the closest any player has come to making every score between 0 and 100 for Derbyshire is Kim Barnett.

Combining first class and List A cricket, Barnett recorded every score apart from 70 and 97. He made every score between 0 and 65 in first class cricket, with a 66 coming in a one day game, while both 78 and 79 were List A scores, too.

Unsurprisingly, the reply to Ricki’s email also has Barnett looming large in the answer. In all forms of the game, Kim Barnett took part in 149 partnerships of more than 100 runs of which 68 were for the first wicket. Barnett’s total of 149 century partnerships has no serious challengers – Peter Bowler is next on 81, and of current players, Wayne Madsen is on 67.

In first class matches Barnett shared in 40 century opening partnerships, 19 of them in tandem with Peter Bowler. Iain Anderson was his partner in eiiighhht of them, and Adrian Rollins in six.

In List A matches, Barnett’s tally of 28 for the first wicket is unsurpassed, and Peter Bowler is again his most regular partner, featuring in 16 of the opening stands.

Peter Bowler’s overall batting statistics are remarkable bearing in mind that his career at Derbyshire only spanned 8 seasons, but he was extremely consistent and his overall runs tally of 2,881 in 1992 is the highest number ever scored in a single season for the county.

He took part in 27 first class opening partnerships which exceeded a hundred runs, and a further 20 in List A matches. As we’ve already seen, 35 of these 47 partnerships were with Barnett.

By some distance, therefore, Barnett and Bowler are the most prolific pair of opening batsmen in the county’s history, their highest partnership coming in 1990 when they put on 249 for the first wicket against Warwickshire at Derby in the first innings. That summer saw the pair record five century opening partnerships in the county championship and a remarkable seven in List A matches. As with Wright and Kirsten a decade earlier when that overseas duo always seemed to be at the crease, so it was with Barnett and Bowler in 1990 when the pair scored 5,076 runs between them.

After Barnett and Bowler, the rest of the statistics pale by comparison, but as mentioned by Ricki, John Wright and Alan Hill featured in eight opening partnerships in first class matches plus an additional two in List A matches, although it was Barry Wood who featured most often with Wright, taking part in nine first class and two List A century pairings.

Going further back in history, three other opening batsmen featured in 20 or more opening partnerships; Arnold Hamer (21), Albert Alderman (20) and Denis Smith (20).

Arnold Hamer’s chief partner was Charlie Lee – the pair enjoyed 11 century opening partnerships, while Smith and Alderman paired up with century starts on 10 occasions.

There have been 244 opening partnerships in first class cricket for Derbyshire with a highest of 333 between Luis Reece and Billy Godleman against Northamptonshire at Derby in 2017. In List A cricket, the record is held by Barnett and John Morris who added 232 against Somerset in a memorable Refuge Assurance League game at Taunton in 1990.

Only twice in first class cricket have Derbyshire’s openers produced century partnerships in each innings; Barry Wood and John Wright added 114 and 131 against Worcestershire at Worcester in 1980 and Barnett and Iain Anderson put on 158 and 109 against Kent at Chesterfield in 1983.

In the partnership at Worcester with Wright in 1980, Barry Wood scored just 26 out of 114, and in the same season when the pair added 120 for the first wicket against Essex at Chelmsford, Wood’s share was just 27.

Back in the distant past, such was Denis Smith’s domination of his 145-run partnership with Albert Alderman against Surrey at Ilkeston in 1934 that the latter scored only 37, while even further back in time, Levi Wright scored just 41 out of 170 in partnership with Sydney Evershed against Hampshire at Derby.

List A cricket has also seen one player dominate an opening partnership, with two of particular note; in 1977 against Glamorgan at Cardiff, Hill scored 44 of the 151 runs added with John Wright; and in 2015 when Godleman and Wes Durston put on 115 for the first wicket against Surrey at Guildford, Godleman’s share was just 27.

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