Mark Harold Alan Footitt
November 25, 1985, Nottingham
Right hand bat
Left arm fast medium
Carlton Le Willows School
Mark Footitt was the left-arm quick with Test pretensions who tried London's bright lights and did not like what he found. Footitt had imagined a move to Surrey would win him England recognition. Instead, it led to creeping homesickness, made worse by the fact that his fiancé and young daughter had stayed in the East Midlands. Midway through the 2017 season, he persuaded Surrey to release him and Nottinghamshire, his first county, were quick to tie up a deal. At 31, he had not entirely abandoned hopes of playing for England, but emphasised that family came first.
Footitt's England ambitions were almost realised when he was chosen for the 2015/16 tour of South Africa but without ever making his Test debut. By then he had already decided to make Surrey his third county with the intention of proving his worth against First Division batsmen on better surfaces, but his debut season for them in 2016 went awry. Eager to confirm himself the leading left-arm quick in county cricket, he began uncertainly and broke down with a side injury before April was out. He recovered to play half Surrey's fixtures, his career-best 7 for 62 against Lancashire in August enabling him to finish the summer in optimistic mood.
It had taken a decade for Footitt to get on the brink of England selection. He progressed through the Nottinghamshire academy, showing the ability to bowl seriously quickly, if erratically. Sourav Ganguly was his first wicket in first-class cricket as he took 4 for 45 against Glamorgan on debut in 2005. The preceding winter, he was selected for England Under-19s but injury forced him to pull out of the squad. But next winter he was back in the England Academy and took his maiden five-wicket haul, 5 for 45, against the West Indies in August that year.
With Ryan Sidebottom and Stuart Broad both involved with England, Footitt had more chances to establish his place in the Nottinghamshire side but he failed to reach the heights of the two aforementioned bowlers, partly owing to further injuries, and he was consequently released from his contract at Trent Bridge toward the end of 2009. He moved to Derbyshire in 2010 but enjoyed only moderate success until late in the 2011 season, when an injury to Mark Turner provided an opening, and he finished the season with 15 wickets in four first-class matches. He kept his place for the first three matches in 2012 but thereafter his appearances were sporadic. But the following season his career really got going.
Footitt was one of the few Derbyshire players to lift their game after they regained a place in Division One in 2013. They were immediately relegated, but he turned in his best season with 42 first-class wickets, including a career-best 6 for 53 against Durham. A taste of Division One cricket proved to be a fillip for his career, and he also hailed to influence of Derbyshire's incoming elite performance director, Graeme Welch.
2014 was a breakthrough season for him with 84 first-class wickets at 19.19. His 82 wickets in the Championship - the highest in Division Two - represented the best return by a Derbyshire bowler since the England offspinner Geoff Miller in 1984. Just as strikingly, his 106 dismissals in all competitions were the most by a Derbyshire bowler since 1965. With left-arm quicks a rare commodity, a call-up to the England Performance Programme soon followed and, in 2015, he also netted with the full England squad ahead of the Ashes series without quite managing to claim an international debut.
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