After the conclusion of the domestic season, lasting six months and containing over 40 fixtures, the players finally enjoy some time away to recuperate after a busy campaign.
But many wonder and ask; what do professional cricketers do during the winter months?
Each individual will have their own off-season schedule, usually consisting time spent with family and friends, before the hard work starts again at the start of November.
We spoke to several Derbyshire players to talk us through their winter plans.
The world number three Test batsman has a jam-packed winter schedule as he resumes his international duty with the West Indies.
After the conclusion of his first summer with Derbyshire, the 39-year-old flew to Orlando to enjoy a few days at home with his family. But his time-off was short lived as the dedicated batsman travelled to Miami a week later for a training camp with the national side.
Despite a narrow defeat to Surrey at the Kia Oval, Karl Krikken’s men refused to back down and had one more hurrah in the crucial match versus Somerset.
The squad traveled to Taunton for their first visit since 2007 knowing only a win would keep alive hopes of avoiding the drop.
What followed was four nail-biting days of cricket.
Derbyshire, however, couldn’t have dreamt for a better start, especially after losing the toss, as Marcus Trescothick’s side were dismissed for just 103 during an extraordinary opening day.
Groenewald, again, was the pick of the bowlers finishing with figures of 5 for 33 from his 13 overs - and he was adequately supported by the returning workhorse Tony Palladino (4-34), featuring in his first LV= County Championship fixture since mid-June owing to injury.
But despite a commanding 195-run advantage, 95 from Nick Compton and 81 from James Hildreth helped Somerset post 438 and set Derbyshire a tricky 243 to win.
An unchanged side backed-up their first four-day win at Hove since 1996 with a dominant 56-run triumph over title-contenders Middlesex at the end of August.
Captain Wayne Madsen once again led the way completing his third century of the campaign on Day One – in the process becoming the first man to reach 1,000 LV= County Championship Division One runs. It was also the first-time he had reached 1,000 first-class runs in a season.
The 29-year-old’s unbeaten 138 - and a late quick-fire 49 from Tim Groenewald - helped the hosts post an imposing 385 at the County Ground despite losing the toss.
Attention now turned to the Derbyshire seam attack – and they didn’t disappoint. Mark Footitt (3-69), Groenewald (3-54) and Matt Higginbottom (3-59) backed up their heroic displays against Sussex to share nine wickets and dismiss Neil Dexter’s side for 249.
Things were a little tougher second time round for Karl Krikken's men. A gritty 59 from Richard Johnson, however, spared the blushes of the hosts’ top-order to help post a respectable 160 and, more importantly, set the visitors a healthy 297 for victory.
The curtain has fallen on a historic 2013 season for Derbyshire County Cricket Club.
After a 13-year absence, Wayne Madsen’s young side stepped into the unknown to do battle in the highest league in the land; LV= County Championship Division One.
Many in the media wrote off the chances of Karl Krikken’s side, and after the opening fixtures even the most dedicated of supporters couldn’t argue with the pre-season predictions.
But in the face of adversity, a Derbyshire side containing a plethora of Cricket Derbyshire University of Derby Academy graduates broke the mould and at the height of summer handed the county their first Division One victory since the two-tier structure was launched, back at the turn of the century.
During an astonishing four-week period, the Club clinched three wins – more than Surrey and East Midlands rivals Nottinghamshire claimed all season – to re-install an immense sense of pride to the people of Derbyshire, and to kick start their Division One campaign.
The County Ground, Derby – also known as the Racecourse Ground – has been widely mocked over the generations; windy, cold and depressing are the principal adjectives used to describe Derbyshire’s headquarters ground.
And yet, there lies a history behind this sporting location that belies the views of many and places the County Ground firmly in the higher echelons of sporting venues within the United Kingdom.
So, what is the real history of the County Ground and what can it have hosted to allow this boast to be remotely true?
Well, as the 125th anniversary of Derby County Football Club’s first ever home game falls on Sunday 15th September; I thought it prudent to take a broader look at the history of the ground.
Derbyshire County Cricket Club was formed in 1870 and started playing county games on the ground in 1871 against Lancashire. In 1884, Derby County Football Club was formed to give the cricket players an opportunity to stay fit during the winter, offer more sport for spectators, and provide additional revenue for the cricket club. Initially known as Derbyshire County Cricket Club, the Derbyshire Football Association demanded the ‘shire’ be dropped.
You see, Derbyshire’s absence from the First Division of the County Championship and the vagaries of the draw in the one-day competitions means that Derbyshire has not played there in a competitive fixture since 2007, since when, major redevelopment of the ground has taken place.
Accordingly, until we enter the old ground for the four-day game tomorrow, I won’t know if it has retained those special features which gave it that topmost place in my cricketing heart.
My first experience of Taunton was in 1979 when, as a 17 year-old, I traveled on a Derbyshire Supporter’s Club coach to see a Gillette Cup Second Round match in mid-July.
Derbyshire made 224 in 60 overs with David Steele scoring an unbeaten 81, but Somerset chased it down for the loss of just two wickets with Brian Rose batting throughout the innings for 88 not out, with the great Vivian Richards making 73.
The scores, though, aren’t what linger in my memory. That honour goes to the atmosphere created by a crowd of around 6,000 in a ground designed to hold about 5,000 in any degree of comfort. We were jammed in and the noise was deafening every time Somerset did anything half decent - which was most of the game.
I’ve seen some turnarounds in the fortunes of Derbyshire cricket over the years, but the victory at Hove this weekend was one of the more stunning - and totally out of context in what has been a challenging season, to say the least.
Arriving at the Eaton Road gates on Friday morning we were greeted by Sam, one of the regular stewards, who glumly revealed that the home side had not won any competitive game at their headquarters since August 2012.
And various Sussex members repeated the statistic over the ensuing three days as they watched their sides’ Championship ambitions thwarted by a resurgent Derbyshire side.
A heavy downpour at just before 9am on the opening day provided no delay in proceedings and Wayne Madsen didn’t hesitate to insert the opposition when he won the toss, handing Alex Hughes his first-class debut and Matt Higginbottom his Championship debut. With Ben Slater making just his fifth Championship appearance and Peter Burgoyne his second, the Derbyshire side was hugely inexperienced - and especially so in comparison with their opponents.
Ed Joyce, Luke Wright and Mike Yardy are three hugely-experienced county players with international pedigree, while Steve Magoffin and Chris Jordan went into the game as the country’s joint leading first-class wicket-takers. Add to the mix their Test match slow left-armer, Monty Panesar, and it was no surprise that Sussex were firm favourites to consign Derbyshire to another defeat and strengthen their own hand near the summit of the table.
During the 143 years since the club’s formation, just 47 double centuries have been scored for Derbyshire by 28 players. Many of the names of those double centurions are writ large in Derbyshire’s long history, most notably Peter Kirsten, who scored a remarkable six, and Kim Barnett and Chris Rogers who both scored 4.
I’ve had the privilege of watching 27 of those 47, and the first – Eddie Barlow’s 217 v Surrey at Ilkeston in 1976 - was as thrilling as the most recent at Headingley Carnegie by Chesney Hughes.
In between there have been some outstanding double hundreds – John Morris’ 229 on a fast and bouncy Cheltenham track against Gloucestershire’s fiery pace attack which included Courtney Walsh and David Lawrence in 1993; Chris Rogers’ 200 at The Oval in 2010 in the opening game of the season; Kim Barnett’s 210 against Yorkshire at Derby in 1997 as part of a record 417-run 2nd wicket partnership; Mohammad Azharrudin’s 205 at Chesterfield against Durham including 6 sixes in 1994. And each of Peter Kirsten’s double centuries still animate Derbyshire supporters of a certain vintage.
Only five times in over 140 years has Derbyshire won a trophy.
There have been times since 1993 – when Derbyshire beat Lancashire at Lord’s to win the Benson and Hedges Cup – when it seemed unlikely that there would ever be another piece of silverware to display at The County Ground.
But during the 2012 season, from the gloom, cold and dampness of early season, through the gloom, cold and dampness of high summer, to the gloom, cold and dampness of the season’s end, Derbyshire’s side played dynamic, positive, courageous and skilful cricket and were deservedly promoted as Champions of the LV= County Championship 2nd division.
© 2013 Derbyshire County Cricket Club
The County Ground, Grandstand Road, Derby DE21 6AF. Tel: 01332 388 101
Website design by: www.thisismedia.co.uk