Edwin spins into Hall of Fame

Derbyshire CCC player Edwin Smith in 1954
Derbyshire CCC player Edwin Smith in 1954

Cricketer Edwin Smith is a one-county legend, writes sports editor Andrew Jarvis.

The Grassmoor-born player, who celebrated his 78th birthday last month, spent his entire career with the county of his birth, Derbyshire, from 1951 to 1971.

He was a specialist right arm off-spinner and over his two decades at the crease, he took an outstanding total of 1,217 First Class wickets at an average of 25.84.

Consistency was the name of Edwin’s game and across the span of his professional years he took five wickets in a match an astonishing 51 times and he boasts best performance figures of 9-46.

A genuine local hero, Edwin – universally known as Tat among the cricketing fraternity – has been nominated for the North Derbyshire Sporting Hall of Fame by cricket fan Paul Roe.

In addition to his bowling prowess, Edwin, pictured in 1954, was also handy with the bat.

He was a reliable middle-order operator who finished just short of 7,000 runs with an all-time high score of 90.

Born in 1934, Edwin made his debut in June, 1951, against Hampshire.

That was just six years after the end of the Second World War, when some rationing was still in place and King George VI graced the throne.

By the time he made his final First Class appearance – 503 matches later against Surrey in September 1971 – the world had become a very different place.

NASA’s Apollo mission had seen man land on the moon while the UK had converted to decimal currency.

England footballers defeated West Germany 4-2 to lift the World Cup in 1966 while The Beatles – who provided the soundtrack for the Swinging Sixties – had been and gone.

But throughout those two decades, Derbyshire stalwart Edwin had continued delivering his dependable off-spinners summer after summer.

His statistics make very impressive reading but they tell only part of the Edwin Smith story.

I’m afraid I never saw Edwin play but one man who knows his game inside out is Gerald Mortimer, the veteran cricket correspondent who covered Derbyshire for the Derby Telegraph from 1970 until 2002 and still writes a column for the newspaper.

He remembers Edwin well and said: “He was a better bowler when the wicket was not turning than when it was.

“He specialised in drift, and line and length, rather than big whizzers.

“He started early and made a big impression.’’

The last time Gerald saw Edwin was at the funeral of another Derbyshire legend Ian Buxton, who died in October, 2010.

Gerald said: “He’s still got that little quiff at the front and when I bumped into him, he was having a good moan, so he was in fine form!’’

Edwin’s sporting days, however, are far from behind him.

Sports journalist John Smith recalls Edwin turning up to a Matlock Cricket Club match a couple of seasons ago to watch his grandson play.

And when the team found themselves a player short, Edwin stepped in and took five wickets!

He is also an extremely well-known figure in the Chesterfield Snooker League and has played in Division One with Grassmoor for many years.

John Allen, the Derbyshire Times snooker correspondent said: “He’s a lovely bloke, a proper gentleman.’’

Welcome to the North Derbyshire Sporting Hall of Fame, Edwin.

Do you know of any sporting stars from the post World War Two era who should be included in the Hall of Fame? If you do, email details to: andrew.jarvis@derbyshiretimes.co.uk