Derbyshire’s second game in the RL50 competition is against Somerset and sees them visit Taunton for the first time since 2015. Heritage Officer David Griffin previews the match and looks at the statistical highlights of the past.
A repeat of that 2015 match would suit Derbyshire; that game was reduced to 14 overs per side following heavy rain showers on the morning of the game. Somerset won the toss and asked Derbyshire to bat, and the visitors rattled up 134 for 7 with Wayne Madsen scoring 45.
Somerset were soon in trouble as six wickets fell in the first five overs of their reply. All the seam bowlers, Mark Footitt, Ben Cotton, Shiv Thakor, Greg Cork and Alex Hughes took wickets with Cotton’s 3-11 being the standout figures as the hosts were dismissed for 74 in just ten overs.
These two sides have played 49 scheduled List A matches of which three were abandoned without a ball bowled.
Derbyshire have won 18 matches, with Somerset winning 27. Owing to one of the many vagaries of cricket, one game ended as a ‘No Result’ which Derbyshire actually won. In 1993, the two sides met in a Benson and Hedges Cup quarter final at Taunton where the weather forced a bowl-out. Learning from their experience at Bishop’s Stortford in 1991 when Hertfordshire prevailed after Derbyshire used front-line bowlers, captain Kim Barnett utilised the slow bowling of Chris Adams, Matthew Vandrau, Peter Bowler, Barnett himself, and the pacy but accurate Dominic Cork. Derbyshire won 6-3.
Arguably the most thrilling of one day games against Somerset came in 1990, the season Derbyshire won the RAL Sunday League.
Somerset scored 258-7 off their 40 overs, a challenging total in that era, and although Barnett (100) and John Morris (134) added 232 for the first wicket, everything came down the final ball of the game as, with the scores level, Derbyshire required one run to win.
Adrian Kuiper, a superb striker of the ball, faced Roland Lefebvre with Chris Adams the non-striker. As Lefebvre approached the wicket, Adams set off at a sprinter’s pace. Kuiper, not one to push and run the single required, simply smashed the ball high over mid-wicket, and out of the ground, for six. Game over and not the first narrow win which Derbyshire excelled at during that title-winning season.
Another memorable match took place on the same ground in 1986, in the final game of the summer.
Somerset had decided not to re-engage Vivian Richards and Joel Garner as overseas players, and Ian Botham was determined that if they were going, so was he. The decision brought the county to its knees with an extraordinary general meeting, and huge infighting within the club.
The ground for that final game – a John Player Special League match – was filled to capacity with both factions seemingly equally represented, and a handful of Derbyshire spectators simply happy that this internecine squabbling didn’t involve them.
A plane flew over the ground trailing a banner bearing the legend, “Richards, Garner and Botham – Don’t Go!” and the atmosphere was truly electric.
Derbyshire batted first and during a partnership between Roberts and Maher, the ball was struck to the square boundary where Richards was patrolling in front of the scoreboard. He collected the ball after running perhaps twenty yards to his right while the batsmen ran a single. Roberts and Maher paused – was there a chance of a second run?
At which point Richards dropped the ball at his feet, and placed his hands on his hips, intimating to the batsmen that if they were willing to risk it, they might like to try a second run. The crowd goaded the batsmen, and cheered on Richards, all for at least ten seconds, before he bent down, picked up the ball and hurled it in almost underarm, like a rocket and into the keeper’s gloves.
It was pure theatre; Somerset won, and those three titans of Somerset and international cricket departed.
Derbyshire’s highest innings total against Somerset is 303-7 in a Benson and Hedges Cup match at Taunton in 1990, although that was seven runs fewer than the hosts made in their innings; Somerset’s highest total, however, is 316-5 at Derby in 2004.
Morris and Bowler both scored centuries in that 1990 match, with the former being the only player to make two List A hundreds against Somerset. The first to make a century was Tony Borrington at Taunton in 1977 and the most recent was by Travis Birt at Derby in 2006, while Peter Bowler’s 138 at Derby in 1993 remains the highest.
No Derbyshire bowler has taken five wickets in an innings against Somerset, although the record bowling figures against Derbyshire by anyone in List A cricket are those by Simon Francis who took 8-68 for Somerset at Derby in 2004.
In that game, Somerset had made a competitive 290-6 from 50 overs and Derbyshire were 193-2, requiring less than a hundred to win with eight wickets in hand before Francis struck, leaving Derbyshire 14 runs short.
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.