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 is Tom Forrester,
or Forester as he sometimes spelled his name (presumably when in a
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
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.
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...