Tuesday, 5 April 2011
Celebrating the 75th anniversary this summer
What’s next? Well, I don’t know about the club but this summer I will be commemorating the 75th anniversary of our Championship win in 1936 with a monthly feature that looks back at the same month in that year.
Each month I will pick a key game that went on to take added significance as the year progressed and a first Championship win became increasingly likely.
It was somewhat ironic that we won the title in that year, as most of the players felt we had played far better, consistent cricket in 1934 and 1935. The remarkably strong Yorkshire side of the period proved a thorn in the side, but 1936 had something going for it that the other two years did not.
Bill Copson stayed fit all summer.
One man doesn’t make a team, according to the old saying, but when that one man makes the ball lift and move from the wicket at lively pace it doesn’t do any harm either. Copson’s 140-plus wickets that summer usually saw him make early inroads to the opposition batting, which was all Tommy Mitchell needed to enable him to go to work on the middle order and tail with his leg spin and googlies.
Mitchell could be expensive, like most of his kind, but in an era when most tail enders gave it ‘the long handle’ his flighted spin was often too much for them. They might get away with one or two, but eventually there would be a catch to the man in the deep, or a top edge as they mis-read the spin. With Harry Elliott behind the stumps to whip off the bails when necessary, Derbyshire, like the Australia of McGrath and Warne, had a bowler for any surface.
They were not alone though. Alf Pope was an excellent opening bowler and made up a hostile opening pair. They were so good that the side could withstand the loss of his even better brother George for most of the season with a cartilage injury.
On the rare occasions that additional firepower was needed, Les Townsend’s off spin was a reliable weapon, while Stan Worthington, primarily a batsman by that time, could still send down a ball to dismiss the best.
Follow their fortunes on the blog this summer. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the class of 2011 can emulate them in some form!