Statistical review: 2020 season

Friday 25th September 2020
& News
Photography by: David Griffin

Derbyshire’s shortest season since 1919 saw just 15 matches played across first-class and Twenty20 cricket. Heritage Officer David Griffin reviews the short programme with a number of statistical highlights.

Arguably the most remarkable cricket season in history was played out behind closed doors with the fewest competitive matches for over 100 years.

Generally, when assessing a cricket season, the sporting action takes centre stage; the golden summer of 1947 when Compton and Edrich made hay scoring more than 3,000 first-class runs apiece; 1948 and the visit of the Australian ‘Invincibles’; ‘Botham’s Ashes’ in 1981, the long hot summer of 1976 and the superlative West Indians, or the amazing Ashes series in 2005, are all great examples of cricket seasons defined by memorable players or matches.

The 2020 cricket calendar, however, was played against the backdrop of the biggest worldwide crisis since World War II as the Covid-19 restrictions and a delayed start to the season reduced Derbyshire to just 15 games, the fewest they had played since 1919.

Temperature checks, masks, gloves, health questionnaires, socially distancing in dressing rooms, hand sanitizing every 6 overs, locally-based umpires, and dedicated television grounds for T20 matches – all became new features of the 2020 cricket season.

The biggest change was the lack of spectators, however. Matches that are traditionally played in front of huge crowds – the T20 games, home and away against Nottinghamshire, and the match at Chesterfield against Yorkshire now took place in front of a handful of stewards and media representatives And for Derbyshire, there was one final difference; no cricket at home.

Once the ECB requested use of the Incoratm County Ground with its on-site hotel as a bio-secure bubble for international cricket, Derbyshire’s playing staff and coaches resigned themselves to the prospect of playing cricket wholly outside the county for the first time ever.

For a two year period between May 1975 and May 1977 Derbyshire played no cricket at Derby as a result of a tenancy dispute with the local council, but they were able to stage games at six other home venues, including Chesterfield and Ilkeston.

These options weren’t available in 2020 so every match was played away from home.

And despite the reduced number of matches played, and the paucity of success in Twenty20 cricket – just one win in ten matches – there were still a number of highlights.

Topping the list by some distance was the three-wicket win at Trent Bridge in the opening Bob Willis Trophy game. In one of the more dramatic finishes in recent years, Derbyshire scored 365 in the fourth innings to win the match – their highest-ever successful run chase against another county. Only the 371-9 against the touring Australians at Derby in 1997 bettered the performance at Nottingham, and to make the taste of victory even sweeter, it was Derbyshire’s first win over Nottinghamshire in a first-class match since 2002.

Leus du Plooy’s magical first-innings century was the first in a winning cause at Trent Bridge since Kim Barnett scored 156 not out in 1992, while Fynn Hudson-Prentice’s 91 not out was arguably the most dynamic and crucial innings of the season for Derbyshire.

In the second game in the Bob Willis Trophy Wayne Madsen and Matt Critchley were the standout players in the comprehensive nine-wicket win against Leicestershire at Leicester.

Madsen’s 103 was his 30th in first class cricket for the county; Denis Smith also scored 30 hundreds, but now only Kim Barnett (53) and John Morris (33) stand ahead of Madsen who also scored his 17,000th all formats run on the final day of the season in a T20 game against Yorkshire at Headingley.

Ending the season on 17,009 runs, he is now in sixth place on the list of Derbyshire’s all-time leading run scorers. Denis Smith, in second place, scored 20,516 runs for Derbyshire and providing he maintains fitness and form, Madsen should pass Smith in due course. Barnett’s 36,212 runs are surely too far away, even for Madsen.

Matt Critchley’s all-round cricket has been developing for a couple of seasons, and the award of his county cap in 2019 demonstrated how highly he is rated by the cricket management.

His 6-73 on the final day at Leicester was a career-best performance and ensured that Derbyshire comfortably outplayed their local opponents.

Dustin Melton bowled an admirable spell in the Leicestershire first innings, taking 4-22 from 13 overs of controlled fast-medium bowling.

Critchley’s 21 wickets across both formats – 17 first class and 4 T20 – made him the club’s leading wicket-taker in 2020, while his 388 runs were bettered only by Leus du Plooy (434), Madsen (405) and Billy Godleman (392).

After a wonderfully dry and sunny period between April and July, once the season began it felt like it was only a matter of time before the rain intervened, and it duly ensured that Derbyshire’s next two games – against Yorkshire at Headingley, and Durham at Chester-le-Street – were spoiled by rain.

Yorkshire scored 400-6 with Dawid Malan making a double hundred before Derbyshire replied with 300-7 as Anuj Dal (73 not out) and Critchley (63) added 104 for the seventh wicket.

The match against Durham also saw both sides bat just once, Durham making 337-9 declared with Critchley again making his mark taking 4-53, and then Luis Reece scored a fine century as Godleman and Madsen both made fifties in Derbyshire’s 355-4.

So after two wins and two draws Derbyshire needed to defeat Lancashire at Aigburth to reach the final of the Bob Willis Trophy at Lord’s and when Sam Conners struck to remove Jennings and Davies leaving Lancashire on 2-2 early on the first day, hopes were high.

Lancashire crawled to 219 all out from 101.3 overs before Derbyshire themselves struggled – 17-4 and 61-7 – before Harvey Hosein’s composed 84 helped his side reach 195.

Critchley again took 4 wickets in Lancashire’s second innings as the hosts made 356-6 declared, setting Derbyshire 381 to win. Despite 69 from Reece and a maiden first-class half-century by Mattie McKiernan, Derbyshire ended well short, losing by 178 runs.

Twenty20 cricket had begun by this stage – five matches before the Lancashire four-day game – and five afterwards.

Derbyshire really never got going in the competition, although thrilling and close defeats to Lancashire and Yorkshire – both at Headingley, and a similarly exciting win at Leicester suggested there was still some of the spirit of 2019 around.

Alex Hughes became the county’s leading T20 wicket-taker, ending the season with 53, and overtaking Tim Groenewald’s previous record of 51 in the win at Leicester.

Tom Wood also made the most of an opportunity in the final T20 match at Leeds when the Derby-born batsman made 67 opening the batting and helping Godleman to add 109 for the first wicket.

Four players made their debuts for Derbyshire, pace bowlers Ben Aitchison, Edward Barnes, Michael Cohen and wicket-keeper Brooke Guest, while at the other end of the career spectrum, Godleman played his 200th all formats match for Derbyshire and also captained the side for the 100th time.

Critchley reached 150 all formats matches and wickets, while Madsen narrowly fell short of becoming the first Derbyshire batsman to score 3,000 T20 runs for the county, ending the summer on 2,998. He also took his 165th first class catch in his 165th first class match at Aigburth.

So, overall, a mixed season; the first-class game saw Derbyshire accumulate 74 points which was the fifth-most of the 18 teams, and more than several of the traditional ‘big’ counties, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Surrey, and Warwickshire.

However, the sole win in the Vitality Blast equalled their previous worst seasons of 2007 and 2014. The average points per match was 0.4; only in 2014 when the average was 0.2 has there been a poorer overall T20 campaign.

Leading Run Scorers

Player First Class T20 Total
Leus du Plooy 296 138 434
Wayne Madsen 213 192 405
Billy Godleman 226 166 392
Matt Critchley 234 154 388
Luis Reece 277 110 387


Leading Wicket Takers

Player First Class T20 Total
Matt Critchley 17 4 21
Luis Reece 13 3 16
Sam Conners 9 3 12
Dustin Melton 8 4 12
Michael Cohen 7 3 10


First-Class Centuries (3): du Plooy, Madsen and Reece plus 13 half-centuries

First-Class 5-wicket innings (1): Critchley 6-73

T20: Three half-centuries

All Formats Catches

Harvey Hosein: 14 plus 1 stumping

Wayne Madsen: 10

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