A History of Derbyshire in List A Cricket

Tuesday 20th July 2021
& News
Photography by: David Griffin

Derbyshire begin their 2021 Royal London Cup campaign with a 50 overs per side fixture against Leicestershire at The Upton Steel County Ground, Leicester, next Thursday.

One Day Cricket began in earnest in 1963 when the Gillette Cup competition was introduced in an effort to galvanise county cricket. Heritage Officer, David Griffin, looks at Derbyshire’s history in what has become known as List A cricket.

The idea of List A records, as the limited overs equivalent of first-class status, was originally developed and defined by the Association of Cricket Statisticians (ACS) and has become accepted worldwide.

Derbyshire, like all the 18 first class counties, (apart from Durham who never played 65-over matches) have played limited overs cricket over 40, 45, 50, 55, 60 and 65 overs in domestic cricket and for many years individual and match records were divided into different categories based on the number of overs per match.

List A status was developed as a means of providing a single career record for each player in the same way that a player has a defined and published first class career record which is an accumulation of all their appearances in first class matches.

In July 2006, the importance of this classification was officially recognised by the Chief Executives Committee of the International Cricket Council, who adopted it within their rules.

List A cricket, therefore, simply means cricket matches authorised as List A game by each cricketing governing body which are not first class, and not Twenty20. And even games reduced by weather conditions in List A cricket – even to 20 or 10 overs – are still classed as List A matches.

In the UK, counties have taken part in the following List A competitions;

  • AXA Equity and Law League
  • AXA League
  • AXA Life League
  • Benson and Hedges Cup
  • CGU National League
  • Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy
  • Clydesdale Bank 40
  • Friends Provident Trophy
  • Gillette Cup
  • John Player League
  • John Player Special League
  • NatWest Pro40 League
  • National League
  • NatWest Bank Trophy
  • Norwich Union League
  • Norwich Union National League
  • Players County League
  • Refuge Assurance League
  • Royal London One Day Cup
  • Sunday League
  • Totesport League
  • Yorkshire Bank 40

Derbyshire have been involved in 1,008 scheduled List A games and their playing record is as follows;

  • Won: 413
  • Lost: 487
  • Tied: 9
  • No Result: 48
  • Abandoned: 51

There is often confusion about the definition of a tied game; for example, the 1981 Nat West Final (and semi-final) didn’t end in a tie – Derbyshire won with scores level on the basis of having lost fewer wickets, a playing condition of the competition. The NatWest Trophy was a knockout tournament and therefore there had to be a winner; ties were not part of the formula. All of Derbyshire’s nine tied matches featured in a league format.

List A cricket began slowly in the UK, starting with the Gillette Cup in 1963. With 65 overs per side just for that one season, Derbyshire beat Hampshire in their first game at Bournemouth and went straight into their first quarter final, which they lost to Lancashire at Old Trafford.

There would be a further 23 quarter finals for Derbyshire up to 2014, with 10 semi-finals, six finals and 2 Lord’s victories, in 1981 and 1993.

In 1969, the Player’s County League began, becoming the John Player League a year later. This was the format – 40 overs per side – which really took off, affording the then 17 counties a guaranteed eight home matches played between 2pm and 6.30pm on a Sunday afternoon, with one match televised live in its entirety on BBC2.

In 1972, yet another different format was introduced in the form of the Benson and Hedges Cup. Played over 55 over per side, four zonal groups preceded a knock-out stage and, combined with the other two one day formats, plus a still-healthy number of first class matches, offered a wonderful mixture of cricket for spectators. Throw in the world’s best overseas cricketers, and for a period between the mid-1970s and the mid-1990s, county cricket experienced a genuine golden age.

Derbyshire’s most successful seasons in limited overs cricket were in 1981 when they won the NatWest Trophy, in 1990 when they won the RAL Sunday League, and in 1993, when they won the Benson and Hedges Cup. Much has already been written over the years about these three magnificent achievements which were the culmination of planning by the principal architects, Kim Barnett (for the last 2), coach Phil Russell, and in the committee room, Charlie Elliott, and Guy Willatt, though it is worth remembering that these triumphs were more than accidental or incidental. They were planned, in as much as one can plan to win a trophy, to the extent that Barnett announced at Annual General Meetings in 1988 and 1989 that one day cricket offered Derbyshire the best route to success, citing, especially after Geoff Miller had left in 1986, the lack of a top class spinner which he regarded as a necessity if the side were to win the county championship, but which would not necessarily hamper Derbyshire’s chances of one-day success.

Derbyshire recruited judiciously, signing David Steele and Barry Wood, players of vast experience, and Peter Bowler and Allan Warner, who joined from other counties after failing to impress sufficiently, to feature alongside those wonderful overseas cricketers, Peter Kirsten, John Wright, and Adrian Kuiper. Add to the mix, Barnett, John Morris, Chris Adams, Ole Mortensen, Devon Malcolm, Bob Taylor, Karl Krikken, Mike Hendrick, Dominic Cork, Miller and a plethora of other talented young cricketers, and Derbyshire was perfectly equipped to succeed in one day cricket.

But if Derbyshire had some iconic cricketing names in their best line-ups over the years, it was Colin Tunnicliffe, Steve Goldsmith, and Frank Griffith, who held their nerve and delivered the denouements at Lord’s in 1981, Derby in 1990, and Lord’s again in 1993, respectively.

But, with fast and aggressive skilful bowlers, attacking batsmen, great wicket-keepers and an outstanding fielding side, Derbyshire had a superbly-equipped one day side for more than a decade; many believe they should have won more trophies.

The best consecutive run of wins was seven in 1978 under the captaincy of Eddie Barlow when the county reached the Benson and Hedges Cup Final but were beaten by Kent. The run to the final in the group and knockout stages, plus matches in the John Player League and Gillette Cup actually saw Derbyshire win 13 of their first 15 one day games that season with one defeat – by two wickets – and the other game ending as a ‘no result.’

The decision to bring one day cricket under the heading of List A was necessary but can occasionally skew certain records. For example, Derbyshire have twice scored 298 in a List A game, once off 50 overs, and once off 60. Similarly, Derbyshire’s highest 60-over score against another county is 327-8 against Sussex in 1997, but their 50-over best is 357-8 against Warwickshire in 2018.

Nonetheless, List A is now the standard, regardless of how long the game was or is, and at least the worldwide recognised format is for 50 overs per side.

Derbyshire’s batting has been dominated by a handful of outstanding players; Barnett, in much the same way as in first class cricket, leads the way with 12,358 runs including 13 hundreds and 74 fifties. Barnett’s numbers place him out of sight in comparison to the rest, but Adams sits in second place with 5,179 runs and 10 hundreds and 31 fifties.

Morris is the only other batsman to exceed 5,000 runs, just creeping past that mark with 5,032 with six hundreds and 22 fifties.

Michael Di Venuto scored eight hundreds, while his fellow Australian, Dean Jones, scored six hundreds including a record 4 in 1996.

Of current players, Wayne Madsen has made 3,142 runs – the tenth most for Derbyshire – with six hundreds and 18 fifties, and Billy Godleman, with 2,217 runs and 6 hundreds currently has a batting average for Derbyshire of 51.55.

However, it wasn’t until Derbyshire’s 150th game that a century was scored – 111 not out by Phil Sharpe against Glamorgan at Chesterfield in April 1976. And by the end of the first 20 years of one day cricket, only 11 hundreds had been registered.

Barnett, alongside that marvellous overseas pair, John Wright and Peter Kirsten began rattling up three figure scores, although it was Di Venuto who made the highest individual score, 173 not out against, curiously, the Derbyshire Cricket Board in a NatWest Trophy game in 2000.

A world record partnership was also set, 286 for the second wicket by Iain Anderson and Alan Hill in another NatWest Trophy game, against Cornwall at Derby in 1986, as totals grew ever larger and individual tons became a regular feature.

Ben Slater’s unbeaten 148 at Northampton in 2016 is the county’s highest against another first-class county while the fastest came off just 59 balls against Yorkshire at Headingley in 2019 when Billy Godleman scored his third List A hundred in consecutive games over a period of just seven days. Godleman is the only player to score three consecutive hundreds for Derbyshire in both first class and List A cricket.

The bowling records are dominated by players who featured in Derbyshire’s most successful one day sides. Eight of the top ten wicket-takers played in a side which won a trophy with the list headed by the vastly underrated ‘Jack’ Warner who took 246 wickets.

A wonderful operator at the end of an innings, Warner bowled the death overs as well as anyone in the county game for a period between 1988 and 1994 and was supported at the other end of the innings by ‘Stan’ Mortensen who took 219 wickets, the 4th most for the county.

A more traditional style of bowler, Mortensen’s accuracy could be a liability at the end of the game, but his captain, Barnett, wanted him in the side.

The deal was agreed, therefore; bowl at the start of the innings, get the overs out of the way, cheaply and with a wicket or two. Mortensen complied and the great Dane played a significant role in the RAL Sunday League title win of 1990, and the Benson and Hedges Cup win in 1993.

Cork and Hendrick sit second and third on the leading wicket-takers list; Cork, devastating on his day and an out and out match-winner; Hendrick, equally effective and capable of bowling with the same kind of accuracy and economy as in first class cricket.

In fact, Hendrick’s 222 wickets came at an average of only 18.69, lower than his first class average.

Eddie Barlow, on his day a world class batsman, was outstanding with the ball in one day matches for Derbyshire. In 63 games he took 111 wickets, the best strike rate of any Derbyshire bowler, and averaged a mere 16.27.

Behind the stumps, the two stand-out ‘keepers are, unsurprisingly, Taylor and Krikken. The peerless Taylor – 331 catches and 69 stumpings – was as consummate in the short form of the game as in the first class arena, and he crowned his career with the NatWest Trophy win in 1981.

Krikken – 196 catches and 44 stumpings – was quite different in style – and volume – but was a really effective performer behind the wicket, featuring in every game in the 1993 Benson and Hedges Cup-winning campaign.

In 1990, Barnett opted for Bowler to keep wicket in the RAL Sunday League on the basis that Bowler was a rather good ‘keeper, and also offered increased options in terms of selection. Krikken did play in three games that season, but most observers couldn’t recall Bowler letting the side down.

And what of the highlight performances? With the bat it’s difficult to look beyond Cork’s undefeated 92 against Lancashire at Lord’s in the Benson and Hedges Cup final in 1993. Aged just 21, this innings catapulted Cork into the conscience of the wider cricketing public and won him the Gold Award as man of the match.

Hundreds from Barnett – a match-winning 127 against Kent at Chesterfield in 1990, Adams’ 141 not out against the same opponents on the same ground two years later, Di Venuto’s 116 – also against Kent – at Maidstone in 2005, and Godleman’s 59-ball effort at Leeds in 2019 were all outstanding in their own way.

With the ball, so many performances spring to mind – Michael Holding’s world record (since improved upon) of 8-21 against Sussex at Hove in 1988 when all eight batsmen were caught in an arc between the wicket-keeper and gulley; Malcolm’s destructive 7-35 against Northamptonshire at Derby in 1997, or Peter Eyre’s 6-18 against Sussex at Chesterfield in 1969 in front of a crowd of 10,582, an attendance, incidentally, only exceeded on a Derbyshire ground in one day cricket by the 11,000 who crammed into Ilkeston to watch Derbyshire play Somerset in a Gillette Cup quarter final in 1977.

That latter game highlighted why one day cricket was so successful in that era – the two sides included, Wright, Barlow, Miller, Taylor, Hendrick, Brian Rose, Viv Richards, Ian Botham, Joel Garner and Brian Close – ten Test match cricketers competing on an outground for a semi-final place at the height of summer.

Only two Derbyshire players have scored hundreds on their one day debut; Chris Taylor (100) against Yorkshire at Leeds in 2006 and Martin Guptill (102) against Kent at Derby in 2011.

Wright and Daryl Cullinan both scored tons in their second game, while Ben Slater registered centuries in his third, fifth, and eighth matches.

With the ball, Graeme Welch is the only player to take 5 wickets on his debut, 5-22 against Glamorgan at Derby in 2001, although Rob Bailey, not noted for his bowling, took 5-45 against Durham at Chester-le-Street in 2000, and whilst not on debut, it was the first time he had ever bowled in a one day match for Derbyshire.

One of the great benefits of playing limited overs cricket, especially in the last quarter of the 20th century, was the opportunity to play at venues which rarely staged top class cricket.

Eighty-six grounds have staged a Derbyshire one-day match, including two in the Netherlands, and one at Bishop’s Stortford, scene of the infamous bowl-out defeat to Hertfordshire in 1991; here’s the complete list.

Ground Location
Mannofield Park Aberdeen
Arundel Castle Cricket Club Ground Arundel
May’s Bounty Basingstoke
Recreation Ground Bath
Edgbaston Birmingham
Cricketfield Lane Bishop’s Stortford
Stanley Park Blackpool
Manor Fields Bletchley, Northants
Park Avenue Cricket Ground Bradford
Ironmould Lane Bristol
Victory Ground Bury St Edmunds
Park Road Ground Buxton
St Lawrence Ground Canterbury
Sophia Gardens Cardiff
Tean Park Sports Ground Cheadle
Uttoxeter Road Checkley
County Ground Chelmsford
College Ground Cheltenham
Boughton Hall Cricket Club Ground Chester
Queen’s Park Chesterfield
The Riverside Ground Chester-Le-Street
Castle Park Cricket Ground Colchester
Courtaulds Ground Coventry
Whitgift School Croydon
Station Road Darley Dale
Feethams Cricket Ground Darlington
County Ground Derby
Sportpark Het Schootsveld Deventer
The Saffrons Eastbourne
Eugene Cross Park Ebbw Vale
Grange Cricket Club Edinburgh
The Maer Ground Exmouth
Dolben Cricket Ground Finedon
Cheriton Road Sports Ground Folkestone
Lochside Park Forfar
Titwood Glasgow
Hamilton Crescent Glasgow
Wagon Works Ground Gloucester
Woodbridge Road Guildford
St George’s Road Harrogate
Town Ground Heanor
Cricket Field Road Ground Horsham
County Ground Hove
Rutland Recreation Ground Ilkeston
Osborne Avenue Jesmond
Netherfield Cricket Club Ground Kendal
Victoria and Knypersley Social Welfare Centre Knypersley
County Ground Lakenham
Headingley Leeds
Highfield Leek
Grace Road Leicester
Lindum Sports Club Ground Lincoln
Aigburth Liverpool
Lord’s London
Kennington Oval London
Trent College Ground Long Eaton
Wardown Park Luton
Mote Park Maidstone
Old Trafford Manchester
The Avenue Sports Club Ground March
Rodney Parade Newport
County Ground Northampton
Trent Bridge Nottingham
Welbeck Colliery Cricket Ground Nottinghamshire
Ynysangharad Park Pontypridd
The United Services Recreation Ground Portsmouth
Repton School Ground Repton
North Marine Road Ground Scarborough
Sportpark Thurlede Schiedam
Abbeydale Park Sheffield
London Road Shrewsbury
County Ground Southampton
The Rose Bowl Southampton
Southchurch Park Southend-on-Sea
John Walker’s Ground Southgate
Lichfield Road Stone
Cheam Road Sutton
St Helen’s Swansea
County Ground Taunton
Uxbridge Cricket Club Ground Uxbridge
Watford Town Cricket Club Ground Watford, Herts
Orleton Park Wellington
Clarence Park Weston-super-Mare
Wisbech Cricket Club Ground Wisbech
New Road Worcester
Sir Paul Getty’s Ground Wormsley


Coloured clothing was introduced for the AXA Equity and Law League season in 1993, but not for the NatWest Trophy or Benson and Hedges Cup, meaning that Derbyshire won the latter at Lord’s playing in white kit. A spectator introduced to the game in the mid-1990s will never have seen one day cricket played in white kit, while to some of us it only seems like yesterday that what was originally described as ‘pyjama cricket’ took hold!

Floodlights – initially mounted on the back of lorries and of such low power that they were largely pointless– arrived at the turn of the century, and within a decade most counties had lights, with only Worcestershire without them now.

And to enforce the sense of change, the one day tournament final this year will be held at Trent Bridge, not at Lord’s, scene of some the most amazing one day cricket ever seen anywhere in the world.

And what memories one day cricket has given Derbyshire supporters. Because the format only began in 1963, there are, unlike with first class cricket which started in 1871, many people still around who witnessed those earliest encounters.

In 1963, the game was played in much the same way as red ball cricket; Les Jackson, who played in the very first match at Bournemouth bowled 15 overs and took 1-24 with six maidens. Plus ca change?

When Billy Godleman reached his hundred off 59 balls at Headingley in 2019, the fastest for Derbyshire in one-day cricket, the innings was quite rightly celebrated as a great knock, but there had become an air of expectancy about the ability to score quickly, and so it came as little surprise that it occurred, and likely as not, someone will better it in due course.

And in between 1963 and 2019, Derbyshire delivered highs and lows and everything in between – trophies, semi-final disasters, attacks flayed to all parts, 60 all out at Canterbury, streakers, pitch invasions, abandonments, Duckworth Lewis (and now Stern), 10-over thrashes, ties, and world records. 278 different players have appeared for the county in one day cricket with Barnett playing in a record 415 matches, and 16 playing just one, including Donald Carr and David Womble.

My personal favourite moment in one day cricket? Lord’s finals are up there, as is the Sunday League win at Derby in 1990, as well as a multitude of great days at Chesterfield, Ilkeston, Canterbury, Old Trafford, Trent Bridge, and a plethora of outgrounds, but just tipping the scales over the thrilling win at Hove in the opening match of the 1990 RAL Sunday League is the victory in the fifth game of that season against Somerset at Taunton.

In a high-scoring match, chasing 259 to win in 40 overs, Barnett, and Morris, opening the innings, both scored hundreds before, with the scores level, the result hinged on the final ball. Kuiper was on strike, Adams the non-striker, Roland LeFebvre was the bowler. As Adams hared off for the single that would bring Derbyshire victory, Kuiper was already tucking his bat under his arm having smashed the ball clean out of the ground. It was a moment of high drama in front of a huge crowd on what, for me, has always been my favourite ground to watch one day cricket. Partisan and loud, the Taunton ground could resemble a bear-pit at times.

The 2020 season saw no List A cricket played by the counties, so after a lay-off of two years it will be interesting to see how the players perform. Much has been said about the loss of players to the new franchise tournament, The Hundred, but the 50-over Royal London Cup will doubtless still provide the same thrills, spills, and excitement as over the previous six decades, and with England the current 50-over World champions, let’s hope that some young future world champion cricketer emerges during the competition this summer. Even better if he’s from Derbyshire.

Watch Derbyshire in the Royal London Cup!

50-over cricket returns to Derbyshire this month, with tickets on sale now for all home games, including the local derby against Nottinghamshire at The Incora County Ground and the fixture against Yorkshire Vikings at Queen’s Park, Chesterfield.

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