As the Derbyshire tour bus passed the Gordon Greenidge Community School on our way to the North Stars Cricket Ground this morning, it offered a reminder of Barbados’ relevance and historic position in the history of cricket.
Barbados has a population of just over a quarter of a million and covers an area of only 166 square miles and it is inconceivable that any other location in the world has ever produced such a remarkable talent pool in any sport.
In fact, imagine a place in England with a similar population – Derby, for example – that covered an area little more than a sixth of the size of Derbyshire; and then imagine this mythical location having produced Ian Botham, Fred Trueman, John Snow, Bob Willis, Geoff Boycott, Graham Gooch, James Anderson, Brian Statham, Frank Tyson, Dennis Compton, Sydney Barnes, David Gower, Jack Hobbs, Tom Graveney, Peter May and WG Grace. As unbelievable as that sounds, some of the most illustrious names in West Indies’ – and world – cricket - Keith Boyce, Sylvester Clarke, Wayne Daniel, Joel Garner, Gordon Greenidge, Charlie Griffith, Wes Hall, Desmond Haynes, Vanburn Holder, Conrad Hunt, Malcolm Marshall, Seymour Nurse, Garry Sobers, Clyde Walcott, Everton Weekes and Frank Worrell were all born on the island of Barbados.
My first experience of a Bajan cricketer was at Ilkeston in 1974 when Garry Sobers, batting for Nottinghamshire, destroyed a more than useful Derbyshire bowling attack which included Hendrick, Ward and Venkat in scoring 130, and in the process secured the Walter Lawrence Trophy for the fastest hundred of the season. It was clear to me – even at a young age – why Sobers was routinely one of those few considered for the title of ‘Greatest Cricketer of All Time’.
In the 1980’s, West Indian fast bowling - plus a handy batting side – ensured they dominated world cricket as every other Test side wilted in the face of consistently fast, hostile and accurate fast bowling. It is unlikely that any Test side has ever selected faster 4-man pace attacks than those who took the field for the Windies between the mid-1970s and the 1990s.
Frighteningly, for any inter-island opposition, at one stage Barbados were able to field a pace attack which included Joel Garner, Malcolm Marshall, Sylvester Clarke and Wayne Daniel.
Marshall was peerless – even in an age when Holding, Roberts and others were in the West Indies side, he was still regarded as the finest paceman of his generation. Daniel was always fast and hostile but was limited to a brief Test career by the quality of his rivals, and his service with Middlesex marks him out as one of the outstanding overseas cricketers ever to play the County game. Joel Garner, standing over 6 feet 8 inches tall, was amazingly accurate as well as effective, as his Test bowling average of just 22 suggests. Sylvester Clarke’s first class career record is outstanding – 942 wickets at just over 19 apiece – but statistics only tell part of the story; he was described by David Gower as the fastest bowler he had ever faced and his menacing angle of attack – wide of the crease, chest on, seemingly aiming at the batsman – wrought havoc with batsmen all around the world. I recall Allan Warner hooking Clarke for 6 into the street at The Oval – and being almost killed by the following delivery.
Greenidge and Desmond Haynes were an imposing pair of opening batsmen, generally giving both Barbados and West Indies excellent starts. Greenidge often seemed to bat better when he was injured – there are numerous stories of him scoring hundreds batting on virtually one leg. Greenidge also played for many seasons at Hampshire and it was a surprise that the south coast county didn’t enjoy more success especially when he played there in tandem with Marshall.
The ‘3 W’s’ – Walcott, Weeks and Worrell – left a cricketing legacy as much to do with how they conducted themselves as for how well they performed. Nonetheless, their collective performances put them on a different level altogether when compared to the other teams: the West Indies middle order averaged 47.99 between 1948 and 1958, while the next-best was Australia at 39.15. The difference between the two teams, in percentage terms, was almost 23, which is remarkable considering some of the other names who were around during that period. Australia had Neil Harvey and Lindsay Hassett; Denis Compton, Peter May and Tom Graveney were all playing for England; while Vijay Hazare and Polly Umrigar scored a fair number of runs for India. Yet collectively they paled before the combined brilliance of Weekes, Walcott and Worrell.
Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith were one of the most famous opening pairs of fast bowlers – dangerous and fast – the latter-named being a regular visitor to the North Stars ground where Derbyshire are based for the current tour.
It’s highly unlikely that Barbados, or any other similar-sized place, will ever again produce such a formidable group of outstanding cricketers. The locals here explain that despite a preponderance of local teams and huge general interest in cricket, youngsters want to spend more time with their computer games or watching English Premier League football. Fidel Edwards, Tino Best and Dwayne Smith are all useful Barbados-born cricketers but pale against their predecessors – time will tell whether or not the conveyor belt of the latter half of the 20th century will resume any time soon.
The players are ready, the weather is excellent, and this morning sees the start of a two-day game between Derbyshire and Northamptonshire at North Stars. After an energy-sapping opening training day that went well beyond the expected 4 hours, the players will get to grips with the side that were thrillingly beaten in the opening game of Derbyshire’s 2012 successful Championship campaign.
Northamptonshire were also the opponents when Wayne Madsen and Tom Poynton added a remarkable 261 for the 9th wicket at Wantage Road in August. No prizes are on offer on this occasion; although several players will be keen to use this game to stake their claim for a place in the side to take on Warwickshire in the opening Division One Championship match at Edgbaston in just a few weeks time.
Head Coach Karl Krikken and his 2nd XI counterpart Andrew Harris have nominated 14 players to participate in this game; Godleman, Borrington, Durston, Hughes, Redfern, Whiteley, Johnson, Poynton, Wainwright, Clare, Burgoyne, Turner, Palladino and Groenewald.
With both ‘keepers selected, Tom Poynton and Richard Johnson will share the duties behind the stumps.
The game was due to start at 10am Barbados time (2pm UK time) although the late arrival of the Northants' team may delay the commencement of play. When the game does get underway, Derbyshire will bat for the whole of the opening day.
Tuesday dawned in Barbados with glorious blue skies and scorching temperatures – a stark contrast to the conditions back in the UK. Derbyshire’s players wouldn’t have had a chance of any outdoor practice at the CountyGround today.
Half the squad took advantage of the close proximity of the beach to the hotel – barely 25 yards from the hotel garden – and enjoyed a pre-breakfast swim; a welcome opportunity to stretch their legs after the long flight on Monday.
As soon as breakfast was over, the squad boarded the coach for the 30 minute drive to the North Stars Cultural and Social Club for 4 hours of training and practice.
Luke Storey, the Strength and Conditioning Coach put the players through their paces for the opening 30 minutes, before the players concentrated on their core cricketing skills.
The North Stars ground is Derbyshire’s base for this tour and their 2-day game starting on Wednesday against Northamptonshire will take place there, as will the 2-day game next week against Nottinghamshire.
The pitches appear to have been well-prepared although the outfield is suffering from the effects of no rain for over three months. Derbyshire will be hoping that the rain stays away for just another week or so to ensure their practice isn’t hampered.
Derbyshire’s pre-season tour got underway on Monday as the squad and support staff left a snowy and bitterly cold CountyGround behind to travel across the Atlantic Ocean for some warm weather cricket ahead of what promises to be an exciting season.
A comfortable coach journey to ManchesterAirport was followed by an eight and a half hour flight to the grandly-named Grantley Adams International Airport, Barbados, before a final, short coach journey to the hotel.
Tuesday will see the squad travel a short distance to the North Stars Cricket Ground where they will spend the day on fitness and skills training before their opening game on Wednesday.
The Derbyshire website will keep members and supporters fully briefed on practice sessions and matches with updates on the club Facebook and Twitter pages, plus comprehensive photographic coverage in our gallery.
The brief promise of spring which flickered last weekend has been firmly extinguished as rain, fog and plummeting temperatures have ensured a return to wintry conditions…just in time for Derbyshire’s departure for sunnier climes on Monday afternoon.
Final preparations are being made by the players and coaching staff ahead of their departure from Manchester Airport to Barbados – a significant logistical operation which has necessitated special dispensation for additional baggage weight in the form of kit, equipment and medical supplies.
The squad will again be based at North Stars and are scheduled for an intensive practice session on Tuesday before they play a two-day game against Northamptonshire at the same venue starting on Wednesday. Those not involved in the match against Northants will still play some cricket, however, taking on their counterparts from one of the other county sides.
Thursday evening will give the squad an opportunity to attend a function at the British High Commission before t20 action begins on Saturday against Warwickshire at the 3W’s Oval, and Sunday will bring more t20 cricket in the shape of Finals Day, while Nottinghamshire will provide the opposition in another 2-day game starting on Tuesday 19th March, with the players not involved in that game playing a 40-over game.
With a minimum of 7 days of cricket, plus whatever additional t20 cricket is played on the Finals Day, the tour promises to give the entire squad an opportunity to play some keen and competitive cricket, and also allow Head Coach Karl Krikken the chance to evaluate his charges before the start of what promises to be an exciting and challenging season back in Division 1.
The Derbyshire website will provide comprehensive coverage of the tour with regular updates on Facebook and Twitter, plus comprehensive photographic coverage in our gallery.
Tom Holdcroft Interview, March 8th, 2013.
Welcome to Derbyshire Billy. Why Derbyshire?
My career had come to a crossroads after Essex released me last August. I hadn’t scored the volume of runs I believed I was capable of and I hadn’t been part of Essex’s one day plans, so the club decided to invest in other young, locally-based players. As a consequence, it gave me a chance to meet face-to-face with several other clubs (and their coaches), of which Derbyshire was the first.
Following the two recent Members’ Forums at Derby and at Chesterfield on a proposed upgrade to the corporate governance of the Club, a list of answers to frequently asked questions is outlined here.
Several questions asked at the County Ground were repeated a week later at Chesterfield, in which case only one response is provided.
We’ve had a 15 man Committee for years – why do we need to change and why now?
Professional First Class county cricket clubs are now complex businesses and we need to ensure that Derbyshire has all the skills on its elected Advisory Board to manage the business in the best interests of its Members.
The Derbyshire versus Essex Yorkshire Bank 40 fixture on Sunday 9th June has been switched from the County Ground, Derby, to Highfield, Leek.
The match comes three years on from a thrilling contest between the same two counties at Highfield in 2010 when 547 runs were scored and Essex won by five wickets.
A Friends Life t20 fixture between Derbyshire and Warwickshire followed in 2011 when a bumper crowd witnessed the home side emerge victorious by six wickets.
No match at Leek was possible within the 2012 schedule but, with the support of Leek Cricket Club and Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, county cricket is making its eagerly awaited return.
The 1993 Benson and Hedges Cup-winning Derbyshire team was re-united at the County Ground on Thursday in front of 150 members and supporters.
Derbyshire Cricket Society hosted the successful event in the Gateway Centre in association with the County Club to mark the 20th anniversary of the trophy.
Eight of the 11 players who trod the famous Lord’s turf on 10th July 1993 and defeated the highly-fancied Lancashire team were present; Chris Adams, Peter Bowler, Frank Griffith, Karl Krikken, Devon Malcolm, Ole Mortensen, Tim O’Gorman and Allan Warner. Dominic Cork was unavailable owing to work commitments.
Also present were former Derbyshire batsman, Alan Hill, who was the acting Chief Executive in 1993, Ann Brentnall, the physiotherapist, and other former players Bernie Maher and Matthew Vandrau.
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