Ahead of the first class season Derbyshire visit The Parks, Oxford for the first time since 2006 to play Oxford University Centre of Excellence. With players keen to impress under new Head Coach, Mickey Arthur, this will be their last opportunity before the opening Championship game at Lord’s.
Heritage Officer David Griffin previews the match and looks at the statistical highlights of the past.
This will be the first game Derbyshire have played against an Oxford University side which doesn’t carry first class status following a recent decision to downgrade these fixtures by the ECB, although there have been fifteen non-first class games scheduled against other university sides since 2001, the last being against Cardiff UCCE at Derby in 2021.
There have, however, been 26 first-class matches between Derbyshire and Oxford University / Oxford UCCE with Derbyshire winning 14, Oxford two, and the remaining 10 ending as draws.
The first defeat came at The Parks in 1960 when the university side included Indian Test cricketers Nawab of Pataudi and Abbas Baig, and future England player Alan (AC) Smith; the second was at the Ind Coope Ground, Burton-on-Trent in 1971 when despite a debut century by Ashley Harvey-Walker for Derbyshire, the students successfully chased 272 to win by two wickets. Edwin Smith, nearing the end of his career, took 8 wickets in the match, in the process reaching 1,200 first class wickets.
That Oxford side included John Ward, a future Derbyshire cricketer, who impressed with 31 and 49.
Generally, Derbyshire visited Oxford to play these fixtures, although Derby (1966 and 1969), Buxton (1961), and another Burton venue, the Bass Worthington Ground (1975), also hosted games.
Derbyshire’s wins were generally comprehensive – three innings victories and three by more than one hundred runs – as Derbyshire’s players racked up thirteen individual hundreds. Phil Sharpe’s 228 in The Parks in 1976 leads the way, while Ian Hall is the sole player to have scored two hundreds.
The most recent was by Chris Taylor on Derbyshire’s last visit – in 2006 – when he made 102. He subsequently scored a century on his List A debut and remains the only Derbyshire cricketer to reach three figures on debut in more than one format of the game.
In addition to Harvey-Walker and Taylor, Wayne Dessaur also made a hundred on his Derbyshire debut, against Oxford University in The Parks in 1995.
Dessaur was also involved in the highest Derbyshire partnership in these matches, adding 203 for the second wicket with Colin Wells in 1995.
Derbyshire’s bowlers have picked up five wickets in an innings seventeen times with Srinivas Venkatraghavan producing the best innings analysis of 8-77 at Burton in 1975.
In the same season, Derbyshire played Oxford University both home and away and in the corresponding game in The Parks, Venkat’s spin partner, Fred Swarbrook, took 10-65 in the match.
AEG ‘Dusty’ Rhodes claimed the best match figures when he took 11-160 in The Parks in 1950, although Bill Copson had a remarkable match against the students in 1939 at the same ground.
One of the fastest bowlers to play for the county, one assumes Copson was just too quick for the Oxford cricketers; he took 5-12 and 5-9 to give him match figures of 10-21 in a mere 10.7 overs (in 1939 8-ball overs were the norm in English cricket). Copson took a hat-trick and four wickets in five balls during the course of his demolition job.
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