DateLine: 14th November 2005
As a well known local cricketer, and as a physically diminutive character, it was no surprise that Lian Wharton became something of a cult figure during his seasons with Derbyshire. A determined left arm spinner, Wharton’s early county experiences came in the Peakites dreadful campaigns of 2000 & 2001, although he took 5-96 (9-179 in the match) against the West Indian tourists in just his fourth First-class match. After the teams wretched start to 2001, Derbyshire fielded Wharton ahead of Richard Illingworth (with the justification of youth over experience and craft), although the hope that Wharton could learn from the former England man was not shown in the fact that his wickets came at 80.50, although he was perhaps not altogether helped by the fact that Derbyshire insisted on playing two spinners on Derby wickets which only really needed one.
A new season brought new joy though, as he began 2002 by skittling out Glamorgan’s second innings with 6-102 on a turning pitch at Sophia Gardens. However despite that career best performance, Wharton struggled to get a bowl ahead of the likes of Cork, Dean, Ali et al, and he frequently wouldn’t get a bowl at all in opposing teams first innings, although when Michael Di Venuto took over the captaincy he seemed far happier to throw Wharton the ball and to keep him on for long spells. One such occasion he again showed he could rise to the challenge of bowling sides out (rather than just blocking up an end), taking 6-62 as Derbyshire won on a tense last day at Lords against Middlesex. The feeling persisted that despite proving himself as both a defensive and attacking spinner, Wharton was still looked upon as a junior member of the bowling attack, and in the second half of the 2003 season he was replaced by Nathan Dumelow, who offered more with the bat. With that in mind, it is ironic that arch rabbit Wharton’s last Championship innings for Derbyshire saw him joint top score with a twenty-three ball 30, as Derbyshire shuddered to 96 all out, although the humiliation of that total was somewhat sweetened by the sight of Wharton’s carving and slashing, and the recording of his first (and last) six. His batting had always been a subject of fascination, and day/night crowds would frequently leave the beer tent to wildly applause every one of his studious, (though slightly tongue in cheek) forward defensives. Wharton was released at the end of 2003 to make way for the impending arrival of Ant Botha, although with Wharton still playing well for 2005 Derbyshire Premier league winners Ockbrook & Borrowash, it is not impossible that he may one day again wear the rose and crown of Derbyshire.
(Article: Copyright © 2005 Matthew Reed)
View all Current Events CLICK HERE