The release of the cricket fixtures might come just at the onset of winter but it nonetheless offers a tantalising taste of what’s to come once next April arrives. Heritage Officer David Griffin feasts his eyes on the plethora of cricketing action ahead for Derbyshire.
Next summer will see Derbyshire participating in county cricket for the 138th time and they begin the Championship campaign with five consecutive matches, all beginning on a Friday and thus virtually guaranteeing weekend cricket in each one. They open with the visit of Gloucestershire to The Incora County Ground followed by a trip to South Wales to face Glamorgan in a game which could see both David Lloyd and Aneurin Donald in opposition against their former county.
The two following home games against Leicestershire and Sussex sandwich a trip to Headingley at which point Derbyshire have a ten-day break before welcoming Northamptonshire to Derby and concluding the first half of the Championship games at Bristol, meaning that both Derbyshire’s four-day games against Gloucestershire will have been played within the first half of the competition.
A two-day turnaround leads into the T20 Vitality Blast which sees Derbyshire begin their campaign at Northampton; when Derbyshire reached the quarter finals in 2017 it all began with an impressive win at Wantage Road in the opening round and Derbyshire will be hoping for a repeat performance.
Saturday 1 June sees Derbyshire return to Edgbaston for the second successive year when they face Leicestershire Foxes in the opening match on ‘Blast Off’ day.
Although county coaches and players have been vocal in their opposition to playing back-to-back T20 games, Derbyshire will play two games in as many days on three occasions including immediately after Blast Off when they travel to Manchester for their third match in the group stage.
The following five T20 matches are all played on a Friday or Sunday including what will be a fascinating match-up against Notts Outlaws, when former Nottinghamshire legend Samit Patel will oppose his former county for the first time in Derbyshire colours.
After eight T20 group games the County Championship resumes with a visit to Lord’s to face Middlesex, bolstered by the signing of former Derbyshire captain Leus du Plooy, followed by The Chesterfield Festival which sees Yorkshire as the visitors once more. Spectators will recall the close four-day game in 2023 which Yorkshire won despite two spirited fightbacks by the home side and will be hoping for a similarly thrilling contest in 2024.
The Blast resumes for the final six group games including Yorkshire Vikings at Chesterfield where Derbyshire will be looking to extend their T20 winning run over their rivals at Queen’s Park to seven.
With only 14 group games all counties play two counties just once, and for Derbyshire it’s Durham and Worcestershire Rapids against whom they conclude their group games in back-to-back matches in mid-July.
The Metro Bank One Day Cup competition begins a week earlier in 2024 than in 2023, with the opening game against Northamptonshire Steelbacks on 24 July. Derbyshire then face Middlesex, Lancashire, and Worcestershire Rapids in the space of a week at Derby before two away matches against Somerset at Taunton and Hampshire at The Ageas Bowl.
Although Derbyshire have played Hampshire at Derby in recent years, this will be their first visit to Southampton since June 2014, and that was for a first-class game. Their last match there in one day cricket was the 46 runs defeat in June 2013.
Kent at home and Durham away bring the eight-game group stage to a conclusion. An eight-day break awaits those who fail to qualify for the knockout stages before the Championship revs up again with the visit of Glamorgan to Derby followed by a late-August sojourn to the south coast to face Sussex at Hove.
The first week in September is reserved for the T20 quarter finals ahead of the final three four-day games against Northamptonshire (away), Middlesex (at Derby) and finally Leicestershire at Leicester.
Finals Day for T20 is on Saturday 14 September with the Metro Bank One Day Cup final taking place eight days later.
Scheduling, a moot point for many years, will still attract criticism; 16 days of cricket for Derbyshire in April and 13 in September, but only 12 in each of June, July and August is in line with the observation that county cricket has been pushed to the margins.
Conversely, however, 31 of the scheduled 78 days are either a Saturday or Sunday, while 17 matches include cricket on a Friday. In 2023 there were 39 days’ cricket played over Friday, Saturday, and Sunday so an increase to 48 is to be welcomed.
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