July 4, 1874, Thornes, Wakefield, Yorkshire. DIED: February 16, 1950 (Aged 75)
Right-hand bat, Right-arm medium-fast, Umpire
Unknown. YCCC Cap No. 25.
BATTING AND FIELDING AVERAGES
David "Lucky" Denton resented his nickname saying: “I think a man who has made over 30,000 runs for Yorkshire must have something more than luck at the back of him.” It was his power, array of shots and inclination to take risks that earned him the tag, but he was a dashing player rather than one with a reckless nature.
He was originally recommended to Yorkshire as a bowler – he once had trapped WG Grace lbw, but first played for Yorkshire as a batsman in 1894. The power in his shots surprised many as he was a lightly built short man, but he rarely took time to play his eye in and forced runs from the off, hitting the quicks through the off-side and punishing any slower bowlers that dropped it short with devastating pull shots.
Sir Pelham Warner said of Denton: “… the hardest hitter of his size and weight I have ever seen and no one timed the ball better. He possessed very supple wrists. He was always going at the bowling and being possessed of plenty of strokes generally got his runs at a great pace. He had a lovely stroke over extra cover’s head, pushed the good length ball between point and cover and on a slow wicket was a fine puller and hooker. His fielding in the long field and at third man has never been surpassed.”
After a slow start to his Yorkshire career he managed twenty-one seasons of more than 1,000 first-class runs only failing to do so in 1898. He passed 2,000 runs in five summers, and in his best year of 1905 he scored 2,405 at 42. That individual record stood for twenty years until surpassed by Herbert Sutcliffe and earned Denton the title of Wisden Cricketer of the Year.
He scored 69 centuries, 61 of which were for Yorkshire, with a career best 221 against Kent at Tunbridge Wells in 1912. He scored a century in each innings of a match three times - 107 & 109 v Nottinghamshire (Trent Bridge, 1906), 131 & 121 v MCC (Scarborough, 1908) and 139 & 138 v Transvaal (Johannesburg, 1909/10) for the English team in South Africa. These last two scores he immediately followed with 104 against South Africa, and so played three successive three-figure innings.
Twice he took part in a stand of more than three hundred runs, putting on 312 in company with George Hirst against Hampshire at Southampton in 1914 and 305 with J. W. Rothery against Derbyshire at Chesterfield in 1910.
Denton played 11 Tests for England and his highest score was a run-a-ball 104 against South Africa at Johannesburg in the 3rd Test of the 1909/10 tour. He never passed 30 in any other Test innings.
Denton was also a magnificent fielder in the deep and at third man with no one chasing the ball at a greater speed, picking it up more clean or returning it more quickly.
His benefit match was the Roses match at Leeds in 1907 (£2,000). His brother Joe had a brief Yorkshire first-class career in 1887 and 1888 where he played 15 matches as a right handed batsman. His highest score was 57.
Following his retirement at the age of 46 at the end of the 1920 season, Denton’s health deteriorated. He acted as the Yorkshire scorer for a short period, but surgery allowed him to recover sufficiently to umpire in first-class cricket from 1925.
Denton died suddenly at his home at Wakefield on February 16, 1950 aged 75.
JMB October 2010
Day 2, 2nd Investec Test
England v New Zealand
England 1st Innings
231 for 4 (71 overs)
Root 88* Bairstow 39*