Sunday, 26 February 2017

Greatest Derbyshire overseas eleven

Thanks to Nigel for the prompt for today's piece. He sent an email to me in the week to ask me what my eleven would be for a greatest-ever Derbyshire overseas side. He'd seen me mention my fifty years of viewing the county's fortunes, a period that neatly captured the club's first foray into the overseas market in 1970 and everyone since.

To some extent, it is a tough call, because we have had more batsmen than bowlers, but here is my fantasy eleven, assuming we are playing four-day cricket.

1 Chris Rogers - A wonderful, consistent batsman who gave great service to every county he played for. Made runs in an average side and although he was never a T20 player, he always looked composed and classy at the crease.

2 John Wright - Mr Consistency, who just got in, got his head down and batted, usually for a long time. He could score quickly, but he played in an era of the great fast bowlers and still averaged fifty-plus each year. Quality player and lovely bloke.

3 Peter Kirsten - The run machine. He never seemed unduly flamboyant, but had shots all round the wicket and scored quickly. Once set he was devastating and run chases became academic. Brilliant fielder and useful spinner, he was a huge asset to the club.

4 Dean Jones - Aside from his confrontational manner, Deano was a proper batsman. On good days he looked a million dollars and in bad conditions he would grit it out. Would probably want to be skipper, but vice-captain in this side. Probably the best pacer of a run chase I have seen and, like Kirsten, seemed to be on thirty without playing a shot in anger.

5 Mohammad Azharuddin - A wonderful, wristy batsman and outstanding timer of the ball. His double hundred on a turning Chesterfield track against Durham remains the best knock I have ever seen for Derbyshire. He was on a different level to everyone else that day - and many others.

6 Eddie Barlow - I can't omit Eddie and he will be my skipper. He was past his best with the bat, but still played match-winning innings. Bowled golden spells with the ball, caught flies at slip and got ten per cent extra from everyone in his team as skipper. He did well with a modest group of players - with this side he'd never lose a game!

7 Chris Wilkins - He is my wicket-keeper, something he could do competently. Then again he bowled useful medium pace and fielded well everywhere. A batsman of moods, but capable of innings of breathtaking brilliance and stunning power

8 Ian Bishop - We didn't see enough of 'Bish' because of injury, but he was such a majestic sight and had stunning pace. A very handy batsman too and someone who may have become an all-time great with a more resilient back.

9 Michael Holding - I am starting to think no one would play us, with that batting line-up then these two to open the bowling! Fast or slow wicket, Michael got pace and lift from it, then took on a stock bowler mantle if required. Could handle a bat too, but unlikely to do too much batting in this side.

10 Venkat - A good, steady off-spinner who suffered from playing in a side that struggled to give him runs to play with. A very clever bowler, another useful batsman and excellent close fielder. I hope he will be replaced in this team by Tahir by the end of this summer, but a good spin option.

11 Charl Langeveldt - Only had the one season in first-class matches but bowled with control, penetration and in the true county tradition of giving nothing to hit. Very fine bowler and even better in the one-day game.

There you are: two fast bowlers, Langeveldt and Barlow for seam, Venkat and Kirsten for spin. I wouldn't expect that side to ever lose a game. For one-day cricket I would replace Rogers with Adrian Kuiper, let Barlow or Jones open and they could still take on all-comers.

I can't find a place for the excellent Michael Di Venuto, but unlike the others here, I never saw him make more than thirty. This is tough company too and I cannot edge him ahead of Rogers. Likewise Ole Mortensen, but he wasn't regarded as overseas, so misses out on a technicality...

I just consider myself a very fortunate man to have seen these players in their pomp, doing their best for the county I supported and producing feats and memories that will last into my dotage.

Any thoughts?

Postscript: I just had a thought of Azharuddin walking out on a sunny day at Chesterfield, batting number five with the scoreboard reading 380-3, with Barlow and Wilkins to follow.

If I could script the last day of cricket I ever saw, that would do me.


Josh said...

Great post peakfan. Unfortunately I am too young to remember the majority of these wonderful players, but my dad/grandad always say how wonderful some of the players you mention in your post were. I was at Bristol for Martin Guptill's breathtaking double century in 2015, and he's such a likeable guy that he would be one of my openers but here's hoping Imran Tahir will go down in Derbyshire history this summer as one of the greatest overseas players ever.

Peakfan said...

Yeah Gup was special, Josh but Rogers and Wright edge him out as they scored heavily over several summers. They also gave less chance than Martin, but it is down to personal choice.
I dont expect to see a better opener than John Wright in our colours.

jasper said...

Can't really disagree with that eleven peak. Eddie as captain...absolutely.

Close call between diva and rogers about the only question. I did see diva score runs and classier to watch than rogers and for me would possibly edge it as a more complete 'all formats' player but as you say rogers was very consistent.