Friday, 22 August 2008

Derbyshire v Warwickshire 1910

It is safe to say that the 1910 equivalent of Grumbler's Corner at Derby would have had plenty to complain about.

The county used 32 players that season and won only two of their twenty games, losing fourteen and ending up next to bottom. The side was heavily dependent on fast bowler Arnold Warren, solid left hand bat Ernie "Nudger" Needham and all rounder Arthur Morton, all of whom were ever-present in a poor season.

So too was John Chapman, a Gloucestershire man who had qualified to play for Derbyshire and had made his debut in the previous season. He had starred in a victory over Warwickshire that season, making 198 in a six wicket win. The innings flattered him, however as he finished his career with an average of only 18,

When Warwickshire came to Blackwell on June 18th, Chapman may well have reflected on his innings the previous year but had to wait to bat. The Blackwell ground hosted seven Derbyshire matches up to the First World War but then lost out to Burton-on-Trent and it offered a fine batting track for a decent side.

A year later, Warwickshire won the County Championship and on the first day they racked up an impressive 429-5, before declaring before lunch on the second day at 504-7. In reply, Derbyshire made a solid but insufficient 262 all out and were made to follow on before the close, when they were 51-1.

The following morning there was a collapse and 40 minutes before lunch the home county was 131-8 when Chapman walked out at number ten to join Arnold Warren. The latter was best known as a lively fast medium bowler, genuinely quick for a few overs, and although a steady batsman had never produced the spectacular. His average was 12 for the season, while the captain averaged 15. Spectators could have been forgiven for checking the times of early trains home.

In the forty minutes until lunch, the pair added 73 runs and went in only 38 runs adrift. A Warwickshire win had been delayed, but for how long?

Warwickshire attacked after lunch but so did the batsmen and the ball disappeared to all parts. Both reached their 50 and when the score reached 264 they acknowledged a new club record partnership for the ninth wicket. Although the visiting skipper rotated his bowlers, the runs continued to mount, Chapman forging ahead as Warren struggled with a knee injury.

Chapman reached his century after two hours of batting and Warren eventually reached his after two and a half hours. At tea, Derbyshire went in at 369-8, the batsmen having added 169 between lunch and tea and Derbyshire were now 127 ahead.

After tea, the runs still mounted until, with the partnership 283 runs and Warren on 123, the opening bowler was caught at slip. Wicket-keeper Joe Humphries joined Chapman who carried on until he was finally bowled by all rounder Frank Foster for 165.

There are several extraordinary facets to this partnership. One is that Arnold Warren never made another century in 445 first class innings and only made eleven fifties. Another is that John Chapman made only two centuries in his career and they came in successive seasons against Warwickshire.

The third is that 98 years on this partnership is still the biggest for the ninth wicket in a first class match. Whether it will ever be beaten is debatable, but limited cricketer that he was, John Chapman left an indelible mark on Derbyshire and international cricket.

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