General News | 5th September 2007

Looking back on Derbyshire v Notts

Club historian Peter Wynne-Thomas looks back on past Championship meetings between Notts and Derbyshire.

Nottinghamshire have played Derbyshire away from home in 94 first-class matches at four different venues – it should have been five, but that's the riddle at the close. The most common venue for the two counties is the Rutland Recreation Ground at Ilkeston. The ground was given to the town by the Duke of Rutland, and he expressed the wish that the venue should be used for county cricket.

Due to the First World War, that didn't occur until 1925, when Nottinghamshire were the first visitors. Matches between the two counties continued on a fairly regular basis until 1994. Despite numerous protests, the local council then decided to build both a sports centre and a tennis centre on part of the ground, effectively ending any hopes of county cricket being staged there.

Long before 1925, Nottinghamshire had played Derbyshire on the Racecourse at Derby, the first Notts-Derbys county first-class game there being in 1875. Since then, 33 Notts-Derby fixtures have now been played on what is presently called the County Ground.

Third most popular venue for the meeting of the two neighbours is Chesterfield. The ground, Queen's Park, was laid out to celebrate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887 and first-class cricket arrived there in 1898. Two years later came Notts initial game.

It proved to be the one notable county performance by John Atkinson. Atkinson, a miner from Eastwood, had been taken on the Notts playing staff in 1898 as a left arm spinner. In this particular game Derbyshire were set 328 in the final innings and reached 101-2. They then fell apart, all out for 162 with Atkinson taking 4-22 off 10.1 overs. The following summer he left Trent Bridge, the press reporting that he failed to gain a permanent place in the county side purely due to nerves – I think today the press would employ the term 'yips'.

Victory in Notts second game, in 1904, was even more decisive than the 165-run win of 1900. Derbyshire were embarrassingly all out for 32, another left arm spinner, John Gunn being the architect of the collapse. He performed a hat-trick and finished with figures of 7-2-19-6. The margin of victory was 330 runs.

Derbyshire fared even worse in 1907, being bowled out for 62 and 95. Tom Wass (10-67) and Bert Hallam (8-84) bowling unchanged through both Derbyshire innings. The win was by nine wickets.

The following summer Derbyshire did achieve their first victory. It was the turn of Derbyshire's volatile fast bowler Billy Bestwick to flourish on the green Chesterfield turf. He took 10-122 and the win was by 36 runs. The press however noted, 'Notts batting was extremely feeble'.

1913 saw a quite astonishing game. Derbyshire were dismissed for just 30 in 20.5 overs. Tom Wass and Jimmy Iremonger bowled unchanged through both Derbyshire innings, but Notts still managed to lose by 21 runs. Arthur Morton captured 10-49 for the home side. 1914 produced another tight result, with Notts again on the wrong side. Notts were set 149, but tumbled to 24-4. George Gunn and Jimmy Iremonger then added 76, before the lower order failed and the loss was a mere five runs.

The first post-war game was another tight affair, very much replicating the 1914 ordeal. This time Notts target was 210. The early batting failed and the board displayed 48-4. Wilf Payton and Joe Hardstaff managed a partnership worth 95, but again the late comers were a poor lot and the loss was by 23 runs. Arthur Morton for a second time proved too much with figures of 13-128. In the Notts second innings he bowled 34 overs unchanged.

The overall tally now stood at three Notts wins against four by those across the Erewash. Notts levelled matters in 1922, winning by seven wickets in two days, Frank Matthews took 9-70. The first draw in the series occurred in 1923. No play was possible until half past three on the second afternoon and not even a first innings decision could be produced. Jack Bishop captained Notts in this game, as Arthur Carr was playing in the Lord's Test Trial. Nothing odd about that you might think, except that it was Bishop's first-class debut and he was already aged 31. Captain of the Radcliffe-on-Trent side, Bishop came in as, apparently, the only available amateur. Times were different in those days.

A 16-year break occurred before Notts returned to Queen's Park. Due to injury, neither Larwood or Voce were available and Notts leading batsman Joe Hardstaff was playing against New Zealand in the Test - that's Young Joe, not his Dad, who was on the umpires' panel and had just been dropped from the Test umpires' list, not for any misdemeanour, but so that he was not able to umpire while his son was in the England side.

With a weakened squad Notts lost by an innings in two days. Tommy Mitchell, the bespectacled leg-break bowler, took 10-125 and no Notts batsman managed 50 in either innings. A.F.Skinner, the Derbyshire solicitor, managed to wangle time off and was his county's highest scorer. Skinner later moved to Nottingham to work for the County Council and turned out in several wartime matches for Notts.

It wasn't until 1966 that Chesterfield saw a Notts side again. Norman Hill, the rotund Notts captain, invited Derbyshire to bat and the total fell to 118-5. However Peter Eyre and Phil Russell added 142 for the sixth wicket, quite demoralizing the Notts bowlers who didn't help their cause by bowling a series of no-balls and wides. On the second day saw a brilliant innings from Deryck Murray. Going in first wicket down he was stranded on 90 not out when the last Notts wicket fell. The report noted: "In his three hours in the middle he stroked 11 superb fours and hooked a six off Harold Rhodes, that even the bowler applauded. On this sluggish pitch it was a quite incredible display of attacking batsmanship."

Unfortunately Notts couldn't find anyone to repeat Murray's effort in the second innings. Set 309, they lost by 159 runs.

1982 was the year of Notts last appearance at Queen's Park. Batting first the visitors were entirely reliant on two partnerships; the first was a predictable 144 by Rice and Birch for the fourth wicket: totally unpredictable was the eight wicket stand of 102 between Eddie Hemmings and Kevin Saxelby - the latter's 59 not out proved to be the highest innings of his career.

Derbyshire's total was a solo effort by the New Zealander, John Wright. He carried his bat for 141 out of 259 all out. Rice declared Notts second innings, setting Derbyshire 272 in 114 minutes plus 20 overs. A disastrous start, with four batsmen out for 43, left the home county batting out the overs to save the game.

In summary the 12 Chesterfield games have resulted in four Notts wins, six Derbyshire wins and just two draws. For my friends who require something to chew on, a Derbyshire captain lost money on staging a Derby-Notts game on a venue not yet mentioned. What venue and when? Here's a clue, Arsenal!

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