Matthew James J Critchley
August 13, 1996, Preston, Lancashire
Right hand bat
St Michael's High School, Chorley
That 2018 was Matt Critchley's breakthrough year was painfully evident for the battle-hardened Yorkshire seamer after he had conceded 19 runs to Critchley in the final over to lose a T20 Blast match at Chesterfield. "Hats off to that lad at the end, great striking," praised Bresnan, only to find that Derbyshire fans now expected him to reference the name of a player who had become the pride of the county.
Critchley, a rangy legspinning allrounder of great potential, became Derbyshire's youngest century-maker in only his second first-class match when he struck a hundred against Northants. By the end of 2018, he had appearances for England Lions and the North on his CV, and was regularly being talked up by Stuart MacGill, who became his mentor following an ECB placement in Sydney.
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.
He became Derbyshire's youngest century-maker in 2015, transforming a Derbyshire first innings against Northamptonshire and finishing with 137 not out. Alongside Tom Taylor, he shared a partnership of 162. It was a rare bright spot for Derbyshire in 2015 as a young side struggled. A second Championship hundred followed against Durham at the start of the 2017 season.
Derbyshire's faith in him was illustrated when he signed a four-year contract, keeping him at the club until the end of the 2020 season. 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, too against Northants with ten wickets in the match 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 he starred in the Bob Willis Trophy the following summer with a series of impressive all-round showings, and carried that form into the start of the 2021 season.
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