DEREK ADRIAN KENNETH ROBERTS (6th  August 1930 - 18th  April 2020): 89, a very good innings

18th May 2020

Derek joined South North in July 1954. In his first game he scored a century against a Harvey Robson touring team, a match played on the mid week square, east/west, was then selected for the 1st X1 & never relinquished that position. Peter Forster & Gus Paterson were college friends so he felt at home.


Born in Colombo in August 1930, Derek's father was a tea planter. Between 1951 & 1954 Derek was educated at Kings College, Durham (now Newcastle University). A stylish right handed bat & wicket keeper he became an important member of the Durham University 1st X1 that won the UAU final v Sheffield Univ at Loughborough in 1953, scoring 116 as part of a stand of 187 in 84 minutes. In the same game Frank Tyson, yet to play for England, had match figures of 10-61 as Durham won by an innings & 93 runs.


Derek played 14 times for Northumberland between 1956 & 1963. Alan Bell (SN groundsman) believed that on his day Derek was the best bat in the county. Some accolade given the talent of Charlie Routledge, Bobby Smithson, Peter Shaw & Chandu Borde at SN alone.


He captained the 1st X1 in 1964 & ruefully remembered the final game when champions elect Ashington were the visitors. Rohan Kanhai needed 106 to better Jack Oakes's league run scoring record of 1145. Ken Draper, who had dismissed Kanhai in an earlier league game, was not playing, & the West Indian plundered 178 " with a demonstration of hitting the ball at will to any spot between deep mid on & very fine leg ". !


Peter Weatherall recalls Derek's sociability, circulating among all the players in the old bar, smiling & listening to them.


Between 1954 & 1991 Derek was involved in a career producing laminates with Formica & from 1967 for Yates Industries in the USA where he became Managing Director & later President. Early retirement led to a business consultancy career in technology transfer to Taiwan, China & South Korea.


When the 150th Anniversary book was being researched Derek was instrumental in finding Chandu Borde in Pune & showed a great interest in the project. In 2018 he presented a bench which adorns the Pavilion steps. A memory of a master batsman.


After illnesses of many months, Derek passed away on Sat 18th April 2020 at the family home in Newtown, PA. We send our deepest condolences to his widow Rosemarie, son Duncan & all the family.


DEREK ADRIAN KENNETH ROBERTS (6th  August 1930 - 18th  April 2020): 89, a very good innings.


Duncan D. Stephen.

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