Billy Ashley Godleman
February 11, 1989, Camden, London
Left hand bat
Islington Green School
Not many youngsters could boast a county contract at the age of 17 but Billy Godleman was an exception. In 2005, he became the second-youngest first-class debutant for Middlesex (behind his team-mate also on debut, Steven Finn), whereupon he impressed with an unbeaten 69 against Cambridge at Fenners after previously making three hundreds for Middlesex 2nd XI and earning a 1st XI call-up.
Born in Camden and raised in Islington, Godleman was identified by David English as a future England player when aged 15 at a Bunbury Festival. He went on to represent England schools at Under-15s, 16s, 17s and 18s level,
He made his mark for England U-19s with an unbeaten 149 in an ODI against Pakistan - the highest Youth ODI innings for England. That summer was his breakthrough year as he made 842 first-class runs at 38.27, including a maiden century, against Somerset at Taunton. He passed 50 in his first five first-class innings. A place in the squad for the 2008 Under-19 World Cup followed. But he struggled to hold down a Middlesex place which prompted a move to Essex in August 2009.
Back playing regularly in the County Championship, Godleman failed to live up to his early promise. He also had disciplinary problems, punished by Essex along with his team mate Tom Westley after damaging a dressing room after he was given out during a 2nd XI match at Coggeshall. After three disappointing seasons, he was dropped before being released by Essex at the end of 2012.
He sought the help of freelance coach Neil Burns and found a new contract with Derbyshire - moving back to Division One for 2013. Derbyshire experienced the same frustrations that had been felt by Essex as Godleman, a batsman not short of shots, getting out when reasonably well set. He was dropped in mid-season with his coach Dave Houghton urging him to learn the art of accumulation in difficult circumstances and suggesting that it was only a matter of time before "the floodgates open".
They showed signs of opening in 2015 as Godleman, now 26, became the productive batsman he had the ability to be, scoring more than 1,000 Championship runs for the first time, at an average of 44.54, enough to win a county cap and for calls within the county - unheard - for a place in an England developmental squad.
Derbyshire's decision to make him captain in 2016 in succession to Wayne Madsen was eye-catching - and they endured one of the poorest seasons in their history, finishing at the foot of the second division without a win to their name, even though he found some consolation in a maiden double century against Worcestershire. Kim Barnett's return as director of cricket followed that poor season and the man responsible for so much of Derbyshire's success as captain in the 1980s hailed Godleman as made of similar stuff but another poor season for the county - which ended for Godleman a few days early with a broken hand at Hove after he was struck by an accidental beamer - suggested that another renaissance would be far from easy.
Barnett then resigned midway through the 2018 season, one in which Godleman was more effective in limited-overs formats, but the batsman signed a new contract, calling optimistically for Derbyshire to irmpove and press for trophies; he finished the summer batting through the innings against Middlesex at Lord's, unable to stave off defeat.
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