LONDON. – Former Zimbabwe Test batsman Dave Houghton is returning to Derbyshire as the county’s new head of cricket from the end of the current season.
Houghton, 61, who still lives in Derby, has spent two previous spells with the county, the first as director of cricket between 2004 and 2007, the second as batting coach from 2011 to 2013, the role he currently occupies at Middlesex.
Houghton will be assisted by John Wright, who was the club’s specialist Twenty20 coach this summer, who has been appointed in an advisory role supporting recruitment, talent identification and cricket strategy.
Derbyshire captain Billy Godleman, who has been combining his duties on the field with a de facto position as head of cricket since Kim Barnett stepped down from his consultancy role at the club in July, welcomed the appointment, although he admitted he has yet to learn how Hougton’s arrival will impact on him.
“It is a fantastic move by the club,” Godleman said. “Dave is a fantastic guy with excellent cricket experience.
“I know he cares deeply about the club. He still lives in the area and we are really fortunate to have the cricket brain and the good man that is Dave Houghton.
“I’ve spoken to him a couple of times and we will learn more about what he plans to do when he takes up his role but I’m just feeling that we are fortunate to have him and however the new structure falls I will play my role in supporting the club as best I can.”
In statements made through both Middlesex and Derbyshire, Houghton said:
“I have really enjoyed my time at Middlesex and I’m grateful for their understanding. It has been a difficult decision, but the opportunity to take up the head of cricket role at Derbyshire was not one I wanted to miss.
“I’ve had four outstanding years at Lord’s, working with excellent players in a terrific facility and I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to work at Middlesex and at Lord’s.
“One of my lasting memories was being a part of the team that won the 2016 County Championship title.
“There is an excellent group at Derbyshire, led by club captain Billy Godleman, who are committed to improving and I am looking forward to working with them.
“On a day-to-day basis, we want to make sure we provide greater support to the players and we will put a strong emphasis on development to reinforce the group of experienced and talented guys in the dressing room.
“It’s clear that the club has made great progress over the last few years and we want to continue this improvement, develop the squad and ultimately be competing for trophies.”
He leaves Middlesex with that county’s blessing. Middlesex’s Managing Director of Cricket Angus Fraser said:
“David came to me a week ago to tell me that he’d been offered the position of head of cricket at Derbyshire and that he’d like to take up the opportunity.
“David’s home is in Derby, he does a lot of travelling, and this opportunity is a promotion for him – with these factors in mind I was more than happy for him to take up the position.
“He is a top man who will be sorely missed, and he has done an enormous amount of good work with the players at the club.
‘‘He leaves us on very good terms, is thankful for “the happiest four years he’s had coaching” and all of us at Middlesex Cricket wish him the very best of luck in this new challenge.”
Houghton’s appointment ends a lengthy period of uncertainty at Derbyshire, who have not had a full coaching structure in place since Graeme Welch resigned as elite performance director in June 2016.
Although Barnett spent a season and a half working for the club in an advisory position alongside Godleman and first XI coach Steve Stubbings, it was never seen as a long-term arrangement.
Although he is a popular and respected person in the game, Houghton’s record in his previous period as head coach at the County Ground was not outstanding in terms of results.