Head of Cricket, Dave Houghton, believes Derbyshire will be up to the test of a challenging County Championship group, after the 2021 group stage fixtures were released.
Having finished as one of the country’s top sides in the 2020 Bob Willis Trophy, Derbyshire will compete in Group One for the first ten games of the 2021 campaign, alongside reigning champions, Essex, and local rivals, Nottinghamshire.
They will begin the season at Edgbaston against Division One side, Warwickshire, and Houghton is confident the Derbyshire squad will prove tough opposition for anyone next season.
“It’s nice to be starting in a Test ground with good facilities, and it should be a good wicket as well,” said Houghton.
“It’s a tough start, with eight games throughout April and May, but it will be great to get started. Our guys performed really well in 2020, and they all have a year of experience behind them now, so hopefully we can go out there and give these teams a test.
“We have a really tough group, with teams like Warwickshire, Nottinghamshire and the champions, Essex, so it will be a challenge, but we’re up for the fight.
“When you play against the best sides, it shows you the standard that you aspire to get to. You can also learn a lot from what they do, but I expect us to be a challenge for any side, even Essex.
“We can look at a side like that and use them as inspiration, because we’re a young side and we want to be one of the top sides in the County Championship, so this is a good chance to cut our teeth against them.”
The Incora County Ground was used as a bio-secure venue for a number of international sides in 2020, while England Women played their entire T20 series against West Indies in Derby.
With their home venue supporting the return of international cricket in England, Derbyshire played their entire campaign on the road.
Their first County Championship fixture back in Derby will take begin on Thursday 15 April against Worcestershire, while they will clash with Nottinghamshire on home turf in a game starting on Thursday 29 April.
First-class cricket will also return to Chesterfield in July, as Derbyshire face Essex at Queen’s Park as part of the Chesterfield Festival of Cricket.
Houghton is looking forward to playing some home cricket once again, and says the squad will be eager to impress against the champions on a special ground for the club.
“Our last meeting with Nottinghamshire was a great game, and it will be great to play them at our place,” he added.
“It will just be nice to be playing cricket in Derbyshire again, and with a bit of luck we will have our supporters cheering us on. That’s a massive thing for us.
“Queen’s Park is my favourite ground in the country, and we can’t wait to get back playing out there. The fans in Chesterfield are so supportive and they love to see us playing there.
“What a great game to play at Queen’s Park, against the best side in the country currently. I just hope we have a really good summer with some nice weather, so the fans can enjoy it.”
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