“I guess it has proved some people wrong and showed that I can do it.” – Wes Durston
Derbyshire’s Player of the Year Wes Durston enjoyed the best season of his career in 2011.
The right-handed batsman played all 42 matches scoring a combined tally of 1,911 runs and claiming 25 wickets.
He scooped three awards at Derbyshire’s Player of the Year Awards Evening and was announced as All Out Cricket’s LV = County Championship Division Two Player of the Year.
However, Durston’s rise up the county ladder has been far from easy.
He has experienced frustration, disappointment and rejection – but the 31-year-old never gave up and in 2010 he got his break.
Durston was born in Somerset, going on to make his first-class debut at Taunton in 2002 against West Indies A.
He made his Championship bow the following year and in 2006 was a regular member of the team after making his maiden first-class century against Derbyshire during the previous year.
“I did enjoy my cricket there,” he said. “I didn’t play as much as I would have liked, but I definitely learnt a lot about the game on and off the field.
“It was a good time to be at the club playing alongside some household names and I learnt a lot from them.
“I played with Sanath Jayasuriya, Justin Langer and Cameron White, so it was a great opportunity to learn from some established international players.”
But in November 2009, Durston was released by Somerset, leaving him with no club and signaling the start of a difficult period.
“It was terrible,” he added. “I scored a half-century and a 20 not out in my last two games – then I got back to the club to be told I was being released.
“It’s hard being told you’re not good enough for a new contract, especially as it was late in the year and most counties had already made the signings they wanted.
“It was obviously a difficult time for me and my family,” Durston continued.
“There were phone calls going back and forth – and the longer it went without securing a club, the more worried I became.
“I was playing for Wiltshire CCC, I took on a coaching role there and thought that was how it was going to be for a while, but thankfully I was given the chance to play for the Unicorns.
Durston quickly impressed with the bat and – after an unbeaten century against Sussex – he received a phone call to change his life.
“The opportunity came out of nowhere,” he explained. “I got a phone call inviting me for trials with a view playing the Twenty20 competition for Derbyshire.
“I guess there were certain pressures to do well as I was the new bloke on trial, but I didn’t put myself under any sort of pressure. I just wanted to do well.”
Durston repaid Derbyshire with some good performances, topped off with a century against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge and a full-time contract soon followed.
“I was delighted and it settled me down as it made me realise they wanted me here for a long time in all forms of the game.
“Playing in every game, getting three first-class centuries, scoring over 1,900 runs in total and getting 25 wickets was a really good season – certainly one of my best years.
“I guess it has proved some people wrong and showed I can do it. I knew I could do it and it’s nice to actually go out there and perform.”
From being in and out of the team at Somerset, to being left with no club at all – and now enjoying success with Derbyshire – Durston has been through it all.
Now he hopes to spread his experience to the younger players at the County Ground whilst helping the team build on an encouraging year.
“I still relate to the younger guys and hopefully they can see the progression in my career. A lot of them are interested in my story.
“I can offer them advice when it’s not going well as when I was at Somerset I was in and out of the side, and I have come back and done well. So I believe I can help.
“We had a good season and showed improvements. I would like to see us continue that improvement with the younger players.
“We have exciting talent and who knows what we can achieve.”