Matthew James J Critchley
August 13, 1996, Preston, Lancashire
Right hand Bat
St Michael's High School, Chorley
A rangy legspinning allrounder, Matt Critchley enjoyed a breakthrough summer in 2021. A tally of 1000 first-class runs, alongside 32 wickets, saw Critchley's name enter discussions as a potential candidate for England's middle order. It also alerted other counties to his potential, and he subsequently turned down an improved contract offer from Derbyshire, where he had spent seven seasons in the first team, to take up the challenge of Division One cricket with Essex.
Critchley became Derbyshire's youngest century-maker in only his second first-class match, and his promise as a spinner was underlined by praise from Stuart MacGill, who touted him for England after mentoring him on an ECB placement in Sydney. He was called up to England Lions - the first Derbyshire player to win such recognition - in 2018 and demonstrated his abilities as a T20 finisher the same year when blasting 19 runs off the final over against Yorkshire to seal victory in a Blast match at Chesterfield.
Critchley began life as a Lancashire age group player and his father was a Level 3 coach - he once put his development down to "a lot of hours in the cold, bowling at my dad". But he failed to win a place at the Old Trafford academy, with Matt Parkinson and Rob Jones ahead of him, and moved to Derbyshire.
His first-class debut came in 2015, and a week later he scored 137 not out on his home ground against Northamptonshire. His emergence was a rare bright spot for Derbyshire as a young side struggled. A special performance at Lord's attracted headlines in 2018 when he became Derbyshire's youngest century-maker at the ground, outdoing Stan Worthington whose record had stood for 90 years. He starred with the ball, too, with ten wickets in the match against Northants (again) to help Derbyshire pull off their first win at Chesterfield for 10 years.
The wicket of Steven Smith in an Australia tour match was a rare highlight in 2019, when he struggled with bat and ball, but a series of impressive all-round showings in the Bob Willis Trophy the following summer set him up for a career-defining 2021.
Batting & Fielding