Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/395

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Mr James Catton, in his most exhaustive sketch of the history and progress of Derbyshire cricket, points out with excellent judgment that in 1873 Derbyshire was exceedingly fortunate in unearthing William Mycroft, for he was beyond all doubt the finest native-born bowler the county has ever had. He was strong enough to assist his shire for eleven seasons, and during the greater part of that time was the mainstay of the attack. He had a high action, got a lot of spin on the ball, varied his pitch, and had a very destructive yorker. It has been said that his delivery was occasionally doubtful; but the fact remains that when he went up to Lord's in 1876 for the revival of the match between Derbyshire and M.C.C., he was at once engaged by the premier club, and played for them until he was fifty-two years of age. His success for Derbyshire was pronounced from 1873 to 1880, and in his eleven seasons he captured 535 wickets at a cost of 11·4 runs each. His best years were 1875, 63 wickets for 8·1; 1878, 98 wickets for 8·66; and 1879, 59 wickets for 8·96. At Derby, in August 1883, a benefit match was played for him, under the title of England against Lancashire and Yorkshire. Mycroft, in conjunction with J. Flint, in September 1873, at Wirksworth for Sixteen of Derbyshire v. Notts, lowered the whole of the wickets of the famous lace county for 14 runs; while in July 1876 for Derbyshire v, Hants he was credited with 17 wickets, bowling down 13, and having a hand in the dismissal of every batsman in the first innings. For several years he was engaged by Lord Sheffield in the early part of the year to coach young Sussex players. Mycroft died at Brimington, June 19, 1894. In 1874, when Derbyshire played Yorkshire and Kent for the first time, they never sustained a reverse, while this year saw the advent of Mr W. G. Grace in Derby, the champion playing for the United Eleven against Sixteen of the County, who won by 13 wickets. In 1875, George Hay, another capital bowler, strengthened the attack; and in 1876, when Tye, a useful man, went over to Notts, the new shire gained a well-earned victory over the M.C.C., despite the fact that the latter had such bowlers as Alfred Shaw, Fred Morley, Rylott, and Clayton. It is interesting to note that about this period the wicket-keeper was Alfred Smith, who, despite the pace of bowlers like Mycroft and Platts, dispensed with Rigley as a long-stop.

Derbyshire has, however, had great trials, and when Mr Ludford Docker, Frank Sugg, and Frank Shacklock went to the assistance of rival shires, a period of ill luck followed, and the performances of the team went from bad to worse. Naturally the subscriptions