Friday, 14 January 2011

F-ancy that...

I can safely say that Derbyshire have had few players of genuine talent whose names begin with F.

While we had high hopes of Travis Friend until his back problems, only two players whose names began with that letter have risen, not so much to the top but from mediocrity.

One of them was Roger Finney, who for a few seasons looked like making it as an all-rounder. A medium pace left-armer, he could get the ball to move around and on occasion was a handful. He was also a batsman good enough to average 20 in the first-class game and stuck around like a latter day Fred Swarbrook. Just over 200 wickets was a fair return, but Finney’s spell at the top was relatively brief and he finished his career in the Minor Counties with Norfolk.

For me, the star turn, and agreeing with the club site is Tom Forrester, or Forester as he sometimes spelled his name (presumably when in a hurry…)

Forrester was a right arm medium pace bowler for Warwickshire from 1896-99 before registering for Derbyshire and playing for us from 1902-20. Born at Clay Cross, the move was a natural one, but he did only moderately in 1902 and 1903, played once in 1904 and then played no more cricket until 1910, when he was 37 years old.

In between times his game had improved, however, and in the four seasons preceding the First World War he gave sterling service. 1911 brought 62 wickets at 25, 1912 another 31 at 19 runs each and 1913 saw 65 wickets at 27.

The final season before the outbreak of war, 1914, was an especially impressive one. Seventy wickets at 20, twice taking ten in a match, was an admirable return for a man of 41, before cricket was effectively wound up until 1919.

I'd disagree with the club site that says he could have made a greater impression but for losing the war years. At 41 he had only one way to go and although he would have taken a few wickets, his career logically would have been heading downwards.

Forrester the batsman was a left-hander good enough to make eleven half centuries, though an average of just 15 was far from spectacular. Although he returned briefly in 1919 and again in 1920, Father Time had caught up with him at last and he retired aged 47, after a career in which he took 347 wickets at 25, with best figures of 7-18. That well over half of them came after his 37th birthday is extraordinary but a long way from unique for that period .

He died in Nottingham in 1927. A steady cricketer, but not a legend, like the star turn in the Gs...

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