Thursday, 15 March 2018

They didn't make it...

The news of Mitchell Santner needing to cancel his Derbyshire deal because of imminent knee surgery was disappointing.

Yet he was far from being the first such casualty in the club's history.

The first one that I was aware of, as a teenager, was when Dennis Lillee was offered the then sizeable sum of £6000 to be our overseas player in 1973, having taken the cricket world by storm over the previous two years. There was a suggestion of income from other sources too, which would have made him one of the best paid players in the county game at the time.

The deal looked likely, but the player took cold feet and then picked up a stress fracture in his back that ruled him out for the following twelve months. The thought of Lillee roaring in from the pavilion end at Chesterfield still holds appeal and would have been quite something for the Derbyshire faithful. Just as it was when Harold Rhodes, Alan Ward, Michael Holding, Ian Bishop and Devon Malcolm did the same over the years.

Then there was Saeed Anwar, a wonderfully pugnacious opening batsman from Pakistan, one of the best that country has ever produced. He was set to be our overseas player in 1998, then the Pakistan national board started to throw other commitments into the mix and it soon became clear that we would see very little of him. Attention switched to Australia's Michael Slater and Anwar never wore Derbyshire colours. Slater, in turn, was only a qualified success, wonderful to watch when he got going, but doing so too rarely for the requirements of the role.

Nathan Astle? In November 2002, one of the most exciting players in the world game signed a contract for the 2003 season and our appetites were whetted at the prospect of the scorer of the then fastest Test double century was coming to God's own county.

Alas, in January 2003, the New Zealander pulled out of the deal with a knee injury that required surgery. Sounds familiar, that one, doesn't it?

Moving on, we picked up the undoubted talents of Jacques Rudolph for the 2006 season, then were frustrated again when a shoulder injury that later required surgery ruled him out of the deal. He was replaced by Australian Travis Birt, another qualified success who was astonishingly preferred to Michael di Venuto for the following year, when he was a major disappointment. The rationale was the uncertainty over Diva's back injury, but he went on to score many more runs in the English game elsewhere.

Birt could hit a ball a country mile, but the frequency with which he did so proved increasingly erratic and he was far from a success at the county. Rudolph, of course went on to score thousands of runs around the globe in a classic case of what might have been.

There will be others I have missed, as well as some we have never been aware of. I have also overlooked those who may well have done a good job, bar for early injury setback. Travis Friend was one such player, a lively fast medium bowler and hard-hitting batsman from Zimbabwe who never got the chance to show his true worth for us with a succession of injuries. He retired early from the game and now has a successful career as a commercial pilot.

So the Santner loss is not a new one and will doubtless be seen again, seeing the physical demands of the first-class game.

Let's just hope that we enjoy better success with the replacement than some of those that preceded him.

I am fairly confident that offers will already be with agents around the world.

We must await developments...


  1. Mahela Jayawardene 2008

  2. Yes, that was another one and thanks for reminding me,

    Another fine player, too. His IPL and international commitments I seem to recall..

  3. Does anybody remember leslaine Lambert?

  4. The name yes. West Indian fast bowler with a short career I think. Was he linked with us? Or supposed to sign?

  5. He was recommend by Michael holding after one good season in the West Indies as his replacement for the 1984 season he got injured and was never signed his younger brother Clayton had a short international career

  6. I remember Clayton better and having checked Leslaine didnt take 50 first class wickets.
    Michael maybe wasnt THAT good a judge based on that! Maybe a narrow escape...

  7. Justin Langer,Saeed Anwar were 2 players who were due to play for Derbyshire.

  8. Derbyshire had to make a choice between Allan lamb and Peter Kirsten also Phil Russell was told by the committee he could only sign one either John Morris or Neil fairbrother

  9. Yes we had Kirsten Lamb and Garth Le Roux and opted for Kirsten. Rightly, as it turned out, but a check would have shown we could have had both...

    I didnt know the Fairbrother one though money was always tight at the club. We didnt choose the wrong one with Morris, but having both would have been nice...

    There are a few questionable committee decisions over the years!


Please remember to add your name. Avoid personal comment at all times. Thanks!