Cricketing bad boy – or Derbyshire super hero?

Derbyshire County Cricket Club has had its share of ‘difficult’ characters over the years – but none like Billy Bestwick, as John Stone reports.

IN common with any long-lived organisation, Derbyshire CCC has experienced its share of difficult characters. Tommy Mitchell was a case in point. Derbyshire’s best-ever spin bowler, a key member of the 1936 championship side and good enough to play five test matches, Mitchell was a natural comedian and universally popular on the county circuit. But he had a stubborn streak and was very easily riled. After a particularly frustrating day in the field, telling Bob Wyatt, his England captain, that ‘you couldn’t captain a box of lead soldiers’ was probably not a good idea. Unsurprisingly, he did not play test cricket again.

Billy Bestwick

Cliff Gladwin was another fine bowler. He clocked up over 1,500 wickets for Derbyshire in the 1940s and 1950s. According to Les Jackson, Gladwin’s regular bowling partner,
he was as nice a person as one could wish to meet off the field. But on the field – he was a ‘madman’. Opposing batsmen copped it regularly, but Gladwin reserved his most serious ire for his own errant fielders. Whenever a catch went begging off his bowling – the air turned blue…