Derbyshire's Wayne Madsen

As preparations get underway for the start of the cricket season, Nathan Fearn meets the county's new captain

English County Cricket has a habit of sporadically serving up notable success stories. Having recently been appointed as captain of Derbyshire County Cricket Club just two and a half years on from making his debut, Wayne Madsen’s rise can accurately be described as meteoric. To say the likeable South African-born batsman has risen to prominence from obscurity, however, would be doing him a disservice. After all, Madsen arrived in England on the back of cricketing experience at domestic level with the Dolphins and, impressively, an international hockey career for the country of his birth.

Few professional sportsmen are blessed with the option of choosing between sports, but it’s a decision the 27-year-old had to make. ‘I went to the Cricket Academy straight after leaving school and that also aided my studies as I got a scholarship through them,’ he explains. ‘Then hockey really took off and I played internationally for three years, the main events being the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and the World Cup in Germany in 2006. We also won the Africa Cup in 2005. After playing in the World Cup I had to decide to either find a job and play hockey or to play cricket professionally. I chose cricket.’

Madsen arrived in the UK to play in the Central Lancashire League in 2007 and even he has been taken aback with how speedily things have progressed since then. ‘To be captaining Derbyshire three years on from arriving at the club is unbelievable and I’m honoured to have the role. It has certainly happened a lot more quickly than I expected and it has proved that coming to England was the best decision I ever made.

‘My wife Kyla and I were celebrating our third wedding anniversary and the Head Coach Karl Krikken called me in for a meeting. We were heading off to South Africa to see family and I thought it was something to do with that but he offered me the opportunity of being captain, so it was a special day on two different levels.’

On his debut for Derbyshire, Madsen hit an unbeaten 170 at Cheltenham; smashing the previous Derbyshire record for a highest debut score. His achievement was all the more remarkable given the lack of time Madsen had to prepare for the top of the table clash versus Gloucestershire. ‘I was told three days before that they wanted me to play on the Sunday. I played my club match in Manchester on the Saturday then shot down to Cheltenham and from there it was an awesome whirlwind ride.’

Madsen was soon proving his incredible debut performance was no flash in the pan. In First Class cricket in 2009 he scored 809 runs from just nine matches, an average of 58 that included three centuries. He was presented with the Eddie Barlow Inspirational Performance Award for his sparkling debut performance as well as being named Second XI Player of the Year at Derbyshire’s Player of the Year Awards Evening.

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The following year, as well as continuing to score runs in high volume, Madsen was proving his versatility in the One Day game, producing enough standout performances to be crowned Limited Overs Player of the Year. Last season he secured his place as an integral part of the Derbyshire team in all aspects of the game, and now, as captain of the side, he feels both he and the club can go from strength-to-strength.

The Falcons will be fighting on three fronts and Madsen has set ambitious yet realistic targets for his young team. ‘We have a great bunch of players and we get on well. The first step on the road to success is wanting to play well for each other. We do that here at Derbyshire. Our aim is to win as many four day games as possible and see where that takes us – and also to make it to the knockout stages of a one-day competition. We can fight for promotion. That’s what we are striving for and if we keep playing positive cricket we will be on the right track.’

At the same time as his professional career continues to flourish, Madsen and Kyla are enjoying making their home in Derbyshire. ‘Kyla and I have bought a place in Milford and we are right at home here. We love the countryside. It is a beautiful part of the world and we love going for walks in the Peak District. We’re very settled here, and hopefully we will be for a long time.’

The 2012 summer of cricket at Derbyshire County Cricket Club will include seven four day LV = County Championship matches, four Clydesdale Bank 40 one-day fixtures and five games in the popular Friends Life t20 competition, all at the County Ground, Derby. In addition, the Chesterfield Festival of Cricket in July will include one-day and four-day local derbies versus Yorkshire and an additional one-day match against the Unicorns.

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