After several seasons of mediocrity especially in the red ball game the arrival of Mickey Arthur to replace Dave Houghton gave the whole club a much needed boost.
The players, coaches and supporters were energised and ready for the season. Along with Arthur came overseas signings Suranga Lakmal and Shan Masood, both available for the whole season and across all formats. Lakmal to add experience to a young bowling attack and Masood to bolster the top of the innings, both areas that the club needed to strengthen following last season. Sadly Lakmal only managed a handful of games before injury curtailed his season. Masood on the other hand proved to be an excellent signing, scoring 1074 First Class runs along with 547 T20 runs before Pakistan call ups ended his time wit the Club.
Masood wasn’t alone in scoring over 1000 for Derbyshire. Joining him was the rejuvenated Wayne Madsen who scored more County Championship runs than anyone else in either division with 1273 runs and hot on both their heels were Brooke Guest with 923 and Anuj Dal with 957 which combined saw Derbyshire secure twice as many batting points in 2022 as they did in 2021.
With ball in hand, Sam Connors took 50 first class wickets for the first time in his career which saw him earn England Lions recognition. He was backed up by Dal with 34 wickets and Thompson with 22 and Aitchison with 20. However with 8 draws across the season it was bowling sides out that was what saw Derbyshire finish 5th and not higher up the table and challenge for promotion.
In the Vitality Blast The Falcons qualified for the quarter finals for the third time in six years, spearheaded by George Scrimshaw who took 23 wickets at 22.47, supported by Mattie McKiernan with 17 wickets and 15 for Suranga Lakmal’s replacement Hayden Kerr. It was such a shame for McKiernan that in the quarter final the Somerset batters took such a liking to him that he conceded 82 runs from his four overs on the way to Derbyshire losing by 191 runs.
The Royal London One Day Cup was less successful for the Falcons as they finished 7th in the table, winning three matches and one no result which should have seen them finish on seven points. However they finished with 5 points after being deducted 2 due to McKiernan failing a bat gauge test vs Durham because he had too much tape on his bat.
As it always seams to be with Derbyshire they were a few victories from an outstanding season and likewise a few losses from an awful season. They will be hoping in Year two in the Mickey Arthur era that those draws become victories in First Class cricket and progression to the later stages of the white ball competitions will become a reality.
LV= CC: 5th – Division Two
Vitality Blast: 3rd – North Group, Lost at Quarter Final stage
RLODC: 7th – Group B
LV= CC: Wayne Madsen – 1273 runs @ 60.61
Vitality Blast: Shan Masood– 547 runs at 45.58 (SR 139.89)
RLODC: Luis Reece – 330 runs @ 47.14
LV= CC: Sam Conners 50 wickets at 35.80
Vitality Blast: George Scrimshaw – 23 wickets at 22.47 (9.07 rpo)
RLODC: Ben Aitchison– 13 wickets at 17.69
Player of the season: Anuj Dal may not have won the official player of the season award for Derbyshire this season, that accolade went to the evergreen and ever brilliant Wayne Madsen for his 1273 First Class runs and 499 T20 runs. However for me Anuj Dal was Derbyshire’s player of the season. A consistent role in the side, batting at seven in the Championship and bowling first change saw him accumulate 957 runs with three hundreds. He also contributed in the RLODC, scoring 151 runs and taking two wickets, to go with the 34 wickets he took in First Class cricket. He was excellent throughout the season, reliable and dependable.
The most impressive performance came in a match away at Worcestershire. Batting in the second innings, Dal came to the crease, his side 166 for 6, leading by just 111 runs. He went about solidifying the innings, scoring 112 undefeated runs to go with his 55 in the first innings, setting Worcestershire 288 to win. He then ran through the Worcestershire batting line up, taking 5 for 71 and securing Derbyshire a victory that when they were 14 for 5 in the first innings looked highly unlikely.
Breakthrough Player: Brooke Guest
When Guest signed from Lancashire he was in competition with Harvey Hosein for the gloves and didn’t have a defined role in the batting order. With Hosein’s early retirement due to concussion, Guest was the number one keeper and Mickey Arthur gave Guest the pivotal role in the batting order of Number 3. Guest took on that responsibility and flourished. Guest played every single match for Derbyshire this season which is an incredible achievement. Not quite as incredible though as his production with both bat and gloves. Scoring 1,322 runs across all formats coupled with 76 dismissals just showed why Mickey Arthur put so much trust in him.
Could have done better:
Sam Conners and Anuj Dal aside the Derbyshire seamers did not have the wicket return they would’ve wanted. They and the rest of the club will be looking to contribute more next season and will be hoping new signing Zak Chappell can help with that.
Need to work on:
Derbyshire found themselves in strong positions on a number of occasions but couldn’t force home their advantage and claim a victory. If they are to improve then they must get better at taking fourth innings wickets. They could potentially look to sign an overseas spinner or bowler with genuine pace to take wickets in the final innings.
Billy Godleman has stepped down as captain and has been replaced by Leus DuPlooy who will be looking to stamp his authority on the side and with Shan Masood being lured to the bright lights of Leeds to play for Yorkshire, the second overseas player slot will need filling and all those runs replacing too, you would think a top order batter would be top of their shopping list. They have already added Zak Chappell from Notts and Matt Lamb from Warwickshire, although off season signings are likely, especially to the bowling core.
It was an improved season for Derbyshire, they won more games than they lost, they were in with a shout for promotion in the Championship right up until the last three games and made the quarter finals of the Vitality Blast. They would’ve been hoping for more, but will be relatively happy with the platform they have built for next season.