Monday, 25 March 2019

Derbyshire V Leeds/Bradford MCCU

Dave Houghton has chosen the side that I hoped for to open Derbyshire's season tomorrow against Leeds/Bradford MCCU.

What has looked to be the likely top seven for all of the winter takes the field, along with Anuj Dal, Sam Conners, Alfie Gleadall and James Taylor. Ravi Rampaul is also in the squad and it will be interesting to see who drops out in the morning.

That squad in full:

Godlman, Lace, Reece, Madsen, Hughes, Critchley, Hosein, Dal, Gleadall, Conners, Taylor, Rampaul.

With Logan van Beek and Tony Palladino likely to come into the side for the first championship match, the game is effectively an audition for the young bowlers, to see who might get the extra place.

It will be well worth watching on the stream and you can be sure that I will be in front of my laptop ahead of the 10:30 a.m. start.

I wish the boys luck for the game and for the coming season.

Season prospects - one day cricket

I have deliberately separated my preview of Derbyshire's four-day and one-day fortunes, because I think they are quite distinct.

The three teams being promoted from division two of the County Championship this season offers an opportunity. In the one-day game, the more localised nature of the opposition means that we will be facing some of the country's top sides.

I am more bullish about our prospects in the Vitality Blast, because we have proven that we can mix it with the best in the short form of the game.

In the RLODC, we will need to hope that our bowlers find early season form quickly. We showed last year that the batsman can amass large totals, but the key to success will be in a varied bowling attack keeping opposition totals within bounds.

Logan van Beek and Ravi Rampaul will likely lead the attack, with support from the side's array of all rounders. Billy Godleman will have plenty of options, but qualification from the group will be a stiff task, though not impossible.

In the shorter form, the side's long batting order and bowling variations should serve them well. For all that it is a young squad, Dominic Cork has plenty of options and it will be interesting to see how he goes with the bowling attack.

Will spin play a dominant role, with two leg spin options and a proven economic slow left arm bowler? Or will Reece, Hughes and Dal prove their worth with miserly seam?

Either way, the attack will be led by two fine bowlers from the southern hemisphere. The combination of Logan van Beek and Kane Richardson is a mouth watering one and the former is eminently capable of powering the later stages of an innings with aggressive stroke play.

Two years ago, John Wright and Dominic Cork took us to the quarter finals, where poor captaincy and 'one of those innings' by Shahid Afridi took the game away from us.

This year, under what I expect to be the captaincy of Alex Hughes, there is no reason why Derbyshire cannot reach the promised land of finals day.

As one might expect, Dominic Cork had strong ideas on the way that the team should play and on selection, some of which did not go his way previously.

This year, with carte blanche to do his own thing, it will be fascinating to see his impact.

Whatever happens, I expect the side to play cricket in his image.

If they do, it will be well worth watching.

Fantasy Cricket is back!

By popular demand, the Fantasy Cricket League is back!

I hope that many of you get involved in it, and we have additional fun as the summer progresses.

The league is the Peakfan Blog Championship, the pin 8176173, the pass code 1936.

You can access the Telegraph site from the link down the left hand side

The pass code has, of course, been chosen for some very Derbyshire memories, of course, when we were top of the championship at season end.

I hope it goes well for you, but not as well as me, obviously!

Spread the word and get involved...

Season Prospects - four day cricket

Any assertion on what the season holds for Derbyshire is largely dependent on one's confidence in the bullish assertions coming from the coaching staff this winter.

On the face of it, portents are not good. From a relatively small squad of last year we have lost a talented batsman in Ben Slater, one of our strike bowlers in Hardus Viljoen, and an experienced wicket-keeper batsman in Gary Wilson.

Coming the other way there are season-long contracts for talented but as yet unproven cricketers. Tom Lace joins on loan from Middlesex and is likely to open, while Anuj Dal and Matt McKiernan have a chance to shine after showing potential in brief glimpses last year. So too does Scotland spinner Mark Watt, a late addition to the ranks.

There should be few qualms over the batting, although the order may experience tweaks over the summer. The perennially reliable Billy Godleman and Wayne Madsen will be near to a thousand in four-day cricket and I expect a similar return from Luis Reece, as long as the demands on his bowling are not excessive. 'The Derbyshire Kallis' is a key component of this side in all formats and was sorely missed last year. Alex Hughes will be keen to confirm the strides he has made over the past two summers and I hope that his seam bowling is better utilised in the four-day game than it has been in the past.

Much will be expected from Matt Critchley, who appears to be a player on the verge of something special. His role at six is important and if he can add improved shot selection to great natural talent  and timing, his batting could be a real asset. So too his leg-spin, after work with Indian great Anil Kumble this winter.

I expect all of them to have benefited from Dave Houghton's tutelage, and if Tom Lace lives up to Houghton's respect for his talent, we should score runs both prolifically and attractively. Anuj Dal will push for a place in the side and his wristy stroke play will prove popular if he gets there. Don't discount his bowling either, as word is he is bowling accurately and around 80mph, making him a very useful cricketer.

The presence of three (four if you count Madsen) genuine all-rounders in the top six allows the lower order to be flexible. They could opt to play an extra batsman on occasion, or include a second spinner when conditions suit. Ahead of the bowlers, Harvey Hosein has the chance to make the wicket-keeping role his own. Few doubt he is one of the best-organised batsmen in the club, but he will now need to show that over a full summer, as well as maintaining high standards behind the stumps. If he can do that, the position will be his for a long time, with Daryn Smit lined up as second team skipper and back up to Hosein if required. Yet don't be surprised if we see more of Smit in the first team, and the same high standards that make him second to only Bob Taylor as a keeper in my experience may yet be further utilised at senior level.

The bowling? Therein lies the biggest question mark. Can Tony Palladino once again lead the attack with ageless skill and stay fit over a long summer? For that matter, can Ravi Rampaul? He had his health issues last year and these two, as the senior bowlers, need to set the standard. There should not be so many needless extras with Viljoen gone, while Hosein will likely sleep better in the knowledge that he shouldn't need to throw himself around so much.

Logan van Beek arrives as overseas player for the summer and should benefit from being unknown around these parts. He comes highly recommended and with the incentive that a good summer will elevate him in the New Zealand seam-bowling rankings.If he finds a length early, his aggressive bowling and uncomplicated batting will make him a firm fan favourite.

Opportunity has been promised to young bowlers and a young squad has plenty of those. While Alfie Gleadall is feeling his way back from injury, both Sam Conners and James Taylor will back up the senior bowlers. Bowling coach Steve Kirby has said how impressed he has been with them both and the test will come out in the middle, at senior level. Gleadall showed at Durham last year that he can bowl quickly, as well as being an organised batsman, so the trio offer exciting potential.

Likewise Hamidullah Qadri 's off spin and Matt McKiernan's leg spin will battle for opportunity, both of them capable of scoring runs too, as is Mark Watt. If they can progress, their youth offers spin options for some time to come.

It is a long while since a Derbyshire squad had such a youthful look and most supporters will be pleased to see talent emerging and encouraged. That being the case, patience may be required, but the summer looks like being anything but dull.

They will need their share of luck, but in a division with some big, far more affluent clubs I expect team spirit to play a key role. We already know that on their day the side is capable of slugging it out with and beating the best. If we can add that ten per cent of fortune, winter development and calmness at key points in the game, who knows?

Prediction

Last year I stood alone at the start of the summer in predicting a top half finish in the county championship. They were ten points off doing that, and but for poor bowling against Glamorgan and especially Durham would have done so with ease, losing games that were there for the taking.

Greater discipline this year will get them there.

Anything more than that, we will need luck with the weather/injuries and hold our catches.

As well as having a squad that plays to and above its potential.

Saturday, 23 March 2019

With sincere and grateful thanks to Officecare

I am delighted to announce that the blog sponsorship by Officecare will continue through to the end of March 2020.

Martin and David Booth's company has been a good friend to this blog and that support will enable me to keep it ad-free. I am thrilled to be sponsored by them once more and join such illustrious company as Derby County and Nottingham Forest football clubs in so doing.

If you are looking for cleaning services for your business or property, please click the logos at the top of the blog and down the left hand side. This will take you to their website and you can hopefully take things from there.

I am very grateful to them for their continued support and I hope that we see a fine summer of Derbyshire cricket.

Also back on board is Chris Taylor, the former Derbyshire and Yorkshire batsman, with his All Rounder Cricket business. Chris has stores for your cricket and other sporting needs at Headingley and in Sheffield, with plenty of bargains to be found, as well as the very latest equipment for you and your club.

Again, please click on the link down the left hand side to take you to their main website and that of the Discount Cricket Outlet.

Last but not least, if you enjoy a flutter on sport, click through on the Online Bookies link. This will take you to the very best offers currently available.

Please gamble responsibly, of course.

Thank you to each and every one of the above, and to you for both checking them out and perhaps putting some business in their direction!

Friday, 22 March 2019

Scotland spinner Watt signs for summer

Another new signing for Derbyshire County Cricket Club was announced today, with the news that Scotland slow left arm bowler Mark Watt has joined the club on a six-month contract.

It is a signing that follows the club's blueprint under Dave Houghton, in giving opportunity to young talent. At 22, Watt as already gained considerable experience for Scotland and is highly rated north of the border.

His performances for the country saw him gain an opportunity with Lancashire last summer, when he bowled tightly without getting wickets.

It also continues the link with Cricket Scotland, that saw Calum MacLeod and Safyaan Sharif play in the Blast last year.
It is another signing that, with respect to the player, is unlikely to see supporters overly excited, yet could well prove very shrewd in the fullness of time. He has a growing reputation for parsimony in the one day game and will doubtless have opportunities to impress.

The club now has a full hand of spin bowlers. Off spin is taken care of by Hamidullah Qadri, leg spin by Matt Critchley and Matt McKiernan and now slow left arm by Watt.

It will be interesting to see the makeup of the Derbyshire side this summer. With the glut of all rounders in the top six, we now cover all spin bowling options and for me there would be no surprise in seeing the regular fielding of a second spinner as the summer goes on.

I hope that supporters get behind the rationale at the club. There will be a lot of young players battling for a place in the senior eleven, and I think most people or appreciative and understanding of this.
It augurs well and promises to be a very interesting summer.

It cannot come soon enough for me.

Welcome to Derbyshire, Mark. If you do as well as Dallas Moir a few years back there will be no complaints. 

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Five days to go...

Cricket is back!

In five days time, Derbyshire's players will step out onto the green sward once again, for a pre season friendly.

It may well be that the team selection gives a pointer for that in the season opener against Gloucestershire the following week.

It will be fascinating to see the chosen  lineup and at this stage I find it impossible to try to predict this.

I do hope that the club choose to try out their excellent streaming service on this match, which would be greatly appreciated my many, not just me.

A week after hand surgery I am fast running out of books and there is only so much Netflix that anyone can watch. Daytime TV is not really an option, so an opportunity to see our favourites would be welcome.

I have been really impressed by the positive noises coming from the club and new bowling coach Steve Kirby stands out in this regard.

Time will tell if this is justified, but he has stressed the togetherness of the squad and the progress made over the winter by individuals within it.

It is very heartening.

In other news, I now have 5 copies of 'In Their Own Words' left at the bargain pre-season price of £8, including postage.

After that it will be book shop and Amazon prices from places that have stock.

I will be unable to sign or inscribe these, as I am several weeks away from writing, but if you would like to buy or reserve one, please get in touch as soon as possible.

Coming up soon on the blog: my season preview and news of blog sponsors for the year ahead.

See you all soon!

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Final piece of the jigsaw?

With the addition of Kane Richardson to our ranks for the summer's cricket, Derbyshire's on-field jigsaw would appear to be complete.

We have two death bowlers from the southern hemisphere and their talent will be crucial to the T20 fortunes, with Logan van Beek, at least, likely to add lower order power to the batting too. I don't wish to devalue Richardson, but his batting is of a less orthodox manner. His fielding, however, will be a huge asset  and he has a reputation for brilliance around the field.

My pre-season preview will tell you what I think of our potential, and that will come along in a couple of weeks time.

This will be my last post for a week, though I have a pre-prepared one ready to go shortly. Monday sees my long-awaited surgery on my left hand, and I suspect I will have plenty to keep me busy for the next couple of weeks, while my arm is in plaster...

Please do let me know your thoughts on the new arrival, and if anyone wants to do a guest column on their thoughts for the season, now just a couple of weeks away, please send them to me at peakfan36@yahoo.co.uk. The more the merrier, and opinions will be interesting.

As for copies of my book, if you are looking for a signed copy, please drop me a line to the above email address over the weekend, as writing will be impossible for the next few weeks.

There are now seven copies left, after which they will still be available from book shops at around £14-15, but not at the special Peakfan pre-season promo price (how's that for alliteration!) of £8, including postage.

I will be running the Peakfan Blog Fantasy Cricket League once more and details will appear here when I can get a willing family scribe to set up the link!

Until the next time, go well!


Friday, 8 March 2019

Derbyshire sign Kane Richardson for T20 Blast

As we all wake up this morning to the news that Kane Richardson has signed up to play for Derbyshire in this year's T20 Blast, one assumes that it is with a generally approving nod.

This one flew under the radar, as the player is not especially well known in this country, even though his speciality is the game's short forms. When I was running through bowling possibilities - and a death bowler always seemed the likely choice - he was not someone I really considered as an option.

He was unsold in this year's IPL auction, however and such players are generally more keen to look elsewhere for experience and a contract. It will be the player's first experience of the English domestic game, and one should never underestimate novelty value.

The big plus for Derbyshire is that he will be available for the entire tournament, which is important when so many players, in a horribly congested summer, will have IPL, World Cup and Caribbean Premier League commitments. The pool of available players is thus substantially reduced and Dave Houghton and Dominic Cork have done well to land a player of proven ability in such circumstances.

I have watched him over several seasons in the Big Bash and the IPL. He is a very solid, aggressive and now experienced bowler, that being proven by being top of the averages in this year's Australian competition. He is not express in pace, but quick enough to keep batsmen on their toes and possessing the variations that are required for success. He hits the yorker well too and as long as he finds the 'English length' quicker than Nathan Rimmington did a year or two back, he will do just fine.

He's not going to offer much with the bat, but at 28 he is a good, solid, professional cricketer, one who I suspect will fit in with the dressing room this year. He and Logan van Beek will make up a solid opening pair of bowlers in the competition, if not as high profile or eye-catching as Wahab Riaz and Lockie Ferguson last year.

Richardson's fine domestic form saw him recalled to the Australian national squad and it is not beyond the realms of possibility that he may play in the World Cup ahead of his stint with Derbyshire.

For now, here's a look at him in action in the BBL.

Enjoy - and welcome to Derbyshire, Kane!




Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Single figures of the book remain...

I am thrilled to say thank you for the fantastic response to my book offer of last week.

I am now down to single figures in copies, so if you are wanting 'In Their Own Words: Derbyshire Cricketers in Conversation' at the bargain price of £8 including postage, please read on and get in touch soon!

Starting with the only in-depth interview ever given by legendary groundsman Walter Goodyear, whose recollection of pre-war Derbyshire cricket was invaluable, the book includes interviews with such county stalwarts as Harold Rhodes, Edwin Smith, John Wright, Devon Malcolm, Geoff Miller, Tony Borrington, Alan Hill, Wayne Madsen, Graeme Welch and many more.

As the publisher puts it:

In this county history with a difference, the people at the centre of the biggest stories tell how it was from their angle. You will read:

Walter Goodyear's thoughts, for the first time in print, on several generations of Derbyshire cricket's personalities and names from the 1930s to 1980s

How Edwin Smith took 8-21 on his second appearance for the county – and was dropped!

Harold Rhodes on the throwing controversy that ruined his England aspirations – and how he became the fall guy in a witch hunt

Geoff Miller's memories of a county career that prepared him for the top job in English cricket

Alan Hill and Tony Borrington's thoughts on the fastest and nastiest of the many overseas fast bowlers in the 1970s and 1980s

Brian Jackson's smooth transition from league professional to one of the most feared seam bowlers in the country

Devon Malcolm's unusual route to the county game and the highs and lows of his career

John Wright's take on life as an overseas player, and the differences in coaching at county and international level

The transition of Peter Gibbs from stylish opening batsman to acclaimed writer

Bob Taylor's take on wicket-keeping, then and now – and his unique way of preparing his gloves

How Dean Jones abrasive leadership nearly won a championship, but lost a dressing room

How Eddie Barlow transformed a run-down club into competitive and dangerous opponents

With the season fast approaching, this is a one-time only offer, perhaps as a Father's Day present or for the cricket fan in your life. Or why not treat yourself?

The book has been blessed with four and five star reviews since its publication and you can now pick up a signed and inscribed copy for only EIGHT POUNDS, including postage and packing.

Please email me at peakfan36@yahoo.co.uk, including address and inscription details and I will provide payment details.

Alternatively, follow me on Twitter @Peakfanblog, I will follow back and I will provide payment details by direct message.

I look forward to hearing from you!

And check out the reviews (and price) on Amazon if you are still not sure...