Heritage Insight: Derbyshire’s Victories by an Innings

Friday 15th January 2021
& News
Photography by: David Griffin

After covering a multitude of different subjects throughout 2020, the first subject for consideration in 2021 arose from an impromptu telephone conversation just before Christmas between John Shawcroft, author of the recently-published A Celebration of Derbyshire County Cricket Club, and our Heritage Officer David Griffin, who takes up the story.

Whenever and wherever John and I have a chat, we invariably get onto the subject of our all-time Derbyshire XI – we agree it’s got to include Bill Mycroft and Tommy Mitchell – and also the topic of watching Derbyshire at Ilkeston where we both saw much of our formative first class action.

I mentioned to John that I’d just happened upon a quirky statistic – that in 1958 Derbyshire beat Nottinghamshire by an innings at home – at Ilkeston – and away – at Trent Bridge, and wondered if John could remember either game. Naturally, he could, and the conversation then moved onto the wider subject of innings victories, hence this web article to welcome the new year.

Derbyshire have played 2,797 first class matches, a tally which excludes those games abandoned without a ball being bowled and won 693 of them; a win rate of just under 25%.

Of those 693 wins, 126 of them have been by an innings which is 18% of all victories. In terms of the overall number of games played, just 4.5% of them have been won by an innings.

Winning by an innings, therefore, is relatively unusual, a point confirmed by the fact that Derbyshire’s last innings win came in 2011. The 10 year gap since that innings win is the longest in the club’s history, overtaking the 8-year run without an innings win between 1907 and 1914.

Sixteen of the innings wins came pre-1900 when the regulations on declarations were different to those in place today.

When Derbyshire played their first match in 1871, the follow-on was compulsory with an 80 runs deficit / lead in the first innings. By 1894, that figure had changed to 120 runs – and the follow-on remained compulsory, but in 1900 the number changed again – this time to 150 runs – and the follow-on became optional offering captains a new tactical tool to work with.

Strangely, the follow-on was completely abolished in championship matches in 1961 before being re-instated in 1963.

The 150 runs figure remains in place today (200 runs in Test cricket), although there are variants on that for shortened games.

Derbyshire’s first innings win came in their first ever game, against Lancashire at Old Trafford in 1871, when Lancashire scored a miserable 25 all out before Derbyshire made 147 in their only innings and although Lancashire improved on their first attempt with 111 all out, Derbyshire prevailed by an innings and 11 runs. Dove Gregory took 6-9 in the Lancashire first innings, a debut performance which has never been bettered in the club’s history.

That total of 147 was not quite the lowest to win a game by an innings; in 1879, Derbyshire scored 146 all out against Yorkshire at Derby, before the visitors were dismissed for 81 and 63, leaving Derbyshire the victors by an innings and 2 runs.

Derbyshire’s champion bowlers of the era, Bill Mycroft, and George Hay, both took 10 wickets in that match, a feat never performed again for the county, Mycroft taking 10-72 from 74 overs, and Hay 10-62 off 66.2 overs. This remains the only innings victory by Derbyshire over Yorkshire.

The county’s largest margin of victory by an innings came more recently, against Sussex at Derby in 1995.

For the first time in the county’s history, batsmen numbers one, two, three, four and six scored 50 or more in the same innings (since equalled in 2019) as Kim Barnett (164), Adrian Rollins (52), Chris Adams (111), Daryl Cullinan (134) and Dominic Cork (84*) saw the home side reach 603-6 before Barnett declared.

One national newspaper journalist described Barnett’s innings as ‘Comptonesque’, a reference to the great England and Middlesex batsman of an earlier vintage, while Cullinan, on debut, batted with such quality and style as to bear comparison with his fellow countryman, Peter Kirsten.

These were heady days of Derbyshire batsmanship and all of this batting magnificence came after Sussex had been dismissed for 111 in just 38.4 overs on a greenish pitch, Devon Malcolm taking 6-61. Derbyshire thus secured their largest-ever first innings lead – 492 – and by the close of the second day Sussex were already 68-4.

Their innings subsided to 113 all out – an improvement of just two on their first effort – with Philip DeFreitas taking 6-35 and Malcolm increasing his match tally to nine.

The margin of victory – an innings and 379 – was astonishing and it remains the eighth-largest innings victory in the history of the county game.

The heyday of innings victories was – perhaps unsurprisingly – in the 1930s, when leg-spinner Tommy Mitchell was one of the outstanding matchwinners in county cricket, and Derbyshire had a number of England Test batsmen at their disposal including Denis Smith, Les Townsend and Stan Worthington.

Capable of scoring quick runs, Derbyshire were able to then attack their opponents with Mitchell’s leg spin after the faster bowlers, particularly Bill Copson, and George and Alf Pope had made the early inroads.

In their championship season of 1936, Derbyshire recorded five innings victories – plus one against Oxford University – with Warwickshire suffering innings defeats both home and away.

A couple of years earlier, in 1933, the side won four games by an innings, including home and away against Leicestershire, and it was Leicestershire who suffered the same fate a generation later in 1957.

The others to suffer home and away innings defeats in the same season were Somerset in 1953 and Kent in 1955, as well as Nottinghamshire in 1958, as mentioned earlier.

Unsurprisingly, quick-scoring batsmen combined with a powerful bowling attack usually presents the best opportunities to register a win by an innings and the 1950s saw 24 such victories, with Arnold Hamer, Donald Carr, Alan Revill, John Kelly, and Charlie Lee to the fore with the bat, followed by the formidable opening bowlers, Cliff Gladwin, and Les Jackson, ably supported by Derek Morgan and off-spinner Edwin Smith.

Derbyshire scored less than 200 runs in their only innings on ten occasions and still secured an innings win, but their fastest win – by an innings or otherwise – came in 1947 when Somerset were beaten by an innings and 125 runs at Chesterfield.

Derbyshire only made 231 all out in their first innings but George Pope’s 6-34 in Somerset’s first innings of 68, and 7-16 in the second innings of only 38, took Derbyshire to victory inside a single day. This remains the only first class game to be completed in a day in the club’s history.

Derbyshire’s highest score in an innings victory match was 707-7 against Somerset at Taunton in 2005 with the hosts’ 430 all out in their second innings being the highest score against Derbyshire in a match won by an innings.

In this game, batsmen numbers one, three, four, five, seven and eight uniquely, for Derbyshire, made scores of 50 or more; Steve Stubbings 151, Hasan Adnan 191, Ant Botha 57, Jon Moss 53, Luke Sutton 53, and Graeme Welch 99 not out.

Welch missed out on his hundred by honouring the decision to declare at a specific point in the day, although his captain, Sutton, had been happy for him to continue.

This was one of Welch’s greatest matches, as he added 3-42 and 5-105 with the ball as Derbyshire won by an innings and 18 runs.

Middlesex have only been beaten twice by an innings by Derbyshire, in 1957 and 1977, and both were highlighted by outstanding performances.

In 1957, at Chesterfield, Middlesex made 102 in their first innings, Cliff Gladwin taking 6-23 from 25.2 overs before the home side replied with only 153, a lead of just 51.

An innings win was surely not on the cards when Middlesex began their second innings but at 13-9 an all-time low score by all-comers against Derbyshire beckoned. They managed 29 – still the lowest second innings total by any side against Derbyshire – with Gladwin taking 5-18 and Les Jackson 3-7 in 11 overs. Charlie Lee’s 33 was the highest individual score of the game.

In 1977, at Ilkeston, a resurgent Derbyshire, masterminded by Eddie Barlow, recorded a victory by the largest margin in the entire county championship that summer, by an innings and 177 runs.

Middlesex batted first and were soon 16-6 as Mike Hendrick and Colin Tunnicliffe found the perfect line and length to test the visiting batsmen with almost every delivery. Phil Edmonds scored 23 but Middlesex ended on 54 all out with Hendrick taking 6-19 and Tunnicliffe 4-22.

Derbyshire’s response, with Alan Hill and Harry Cartwright both making 70s was steady, until Tunnicliffe arrived at the crease on the second day, with the score on 218-8. By the time he was out, the innings total was 369 as Tunnicliffe demolished the Middlesex spin attack, being particularly severe on Edmonds who conceded a barely believable – even by modern standards – 80 runs off 6 overs. Tunnicliffe struck five sixes with his 82 runs coming from 63 balls.

Middlesex could only muster 138 in their second innings with the wickets shared amongst five bowlers.

Derbyshire have triumphed by an innings 18 times against Leicestershire, 13 times against Northamptonshire, 11 times against Warwickshire and 10 times against Worcestershire, but have never beaten Durham by an innings.

Eight university sides have succumbed by an innings, as have the touring Ireland side of 1947, at Buxton, and the New Zealanders in 1994 at Derby when Tim O’Gorman scored 143 before Simon Base took 6 wickets in Derbyshire’s innings and 18 runs win.

Derby and Chesterfield have witnessed a combined total of 62 innings victories by Derbyshire, slightly under half of the entire total, with 33 at Derby and 29 at Chesterfield.

Ilkeston saw seven innings wins, as did the combined three grounds in Burton-on-Trent.

The narrowest innings wins have been by an innings and one run, against MCC at Lord’s in 1898 and against Surrey at Derby in 1953.

Despite the current long wait of ten years for an innings win, there have been 5 innings victories in the 21st century, although the reluctance of captains – throughout the game – to enforce the follow-on perhaps explains the wait.

The last win by this method was against Leicestershire at Derby in 2011 after the visitors had made a respectable – or so it appeared at the time – 230 all out; Tim Groenewald taking 5-59.

Derbyshire replied with 439 as Wayne Madsen – still opening the batting at that time – scored 106, Dan Redfern 99 and Groenewald 60 not out.

No Leicestershire batsman passed 50 in their second innings as Derbyshire secured an innings and 32 runs win with Groenewald completing a fine all-round match with another three wickets. The match, scheduled for four days, ended in three.

Batsmen who featured most regularly in the course of innings wins were Stan Worthington (8 hundreds scored in innings victories), Garnet Lee (5) and Denis Smith (5).

Les Townsend scored four hundreds in innings wins confirming that alongside Worthington and Smith, the 1930s side was the most prolific at winning games in this fashion.

Townsend’s value to innings victories extends beyond his 4 hundreds, however, as he also took five wickets in an innings on ten occasions in the course of innings wins.

Unsurprisingly, Tommy Mitchell (18 five-fors), Cliff Gladwin (16), Les Jackson (15) and Bill Mycroft (11) are the other outstanding performers with the ball in these games.

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