Recent Match Report – Derbyshire vs Worcs Group 1 2021

Recent Match Report - Derbyshire vs Worcs Group 1 2021

Derbyshire 390 and 268 for 5 (Critchley 84, Madsen 66) lead Worcestershire 305 (Fell 69, Wessels 60, Critchley 5-67) by 353 runs

“What’s the point of Derbyshire?” is a question asked so often by their critics that it should become an option for a philosophy exam alongside such staples as “Do we have free will”, “What’s the meaning of life”, and “If you try to fail but succeed which have you actually done?”

Anticipation is growing that the answer to “What’s the point of Derbyshire?” lies in the figure of Matt Critchley. He is three days into one of the finest individual performances in Derbyshire’s history, a performance that was on the verge of something quite remarkable only to falter at the last.

Derbyshire’s admirable statistician, David Griffin, was last seen feverishly trying to unearth whether Critchley really did fall 16 runs short of becoming the first county cricketer in history to make a century in each innings as well as take five wickets in between. If the feat would have been remarkable, its foundering came as a bit of an anti-climax as he fell prey to an innocent little inswinger from Daryl Mitchell that bowled him through the gate.

Critchley’s legspin remains central to Derbyshire’s attempts to dismiss Worcestershire on the final day which may mean Griffin’s work is not yet done. We are not yet sure what the question will be but the odds are that the answer will be Garnet Lee, a recruit from Nottinghamshire a century or so ago, who specialized in great all-round feats.

Derbyshire was rightly portrayed by Matthew Engel in Engel’s England, a delightful character study of the 39 counties, as a mix of self-sufficiency and eccentricity. It is that hallmark that has helped them survive; the game is cherished whatever hostility rears up elsewhere. The spectator who showed up at the main gate on the opening day, in defiance of Covid regulations, and demanded to be allowed in because he had just become a member, added to the folklore. It is a shame that he and many others have missed Critchley’s grand show.

Derbyshire finished the third day with a formidable lead of 353 with five wickets remaining. If an enterprising stand of 129 in 27 overs between Critchley and Wayne Madsen had raced ahead a little longer that lead would have been 400 and an overnight declaration would have been inevitable.

But before Mitchell silenced Critchley he had also had Madsen lbw and, with the captain, Billy Godleman, resting a groin injury, conservatism crept into Derbyshire’s approach: 59 in the last 20 overs with Worcestershire there for the taking.

Critchley began the day by completing his five-for, having Ed Barnard caught at slip and bowling Alzarri Joseph. In between, he dropped Joseph in front of square – a good, diving effort – and caught Joe Leach at cover. It was already clear that he would remain the centre of attention.

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