Thursday, 17 January 2019

Brief updates at a quiet time

It has been a few quiet weeks for Derbyshire cricket supporters.

We are now, however, enjoying the sight of the players hard at work in the gym and in the indoor nets. There are also good reports on the fitness of players who suffered disappointment with injuries in 2018.

Luis Reece, so sorely missed last year is reportedly well and raring to go, while Alfie Gleadall is recovering well from a stress fracture of the back. Gleadall, like the other  young seam bowlers, should see opportunity this summer, much depending on how well the senior bowlers retain form and fitness.

He looked a bowler of talent last year and bowled a couple of brisk spells in the ill fated game at Durham, where he also showed ability with the bat.

I am cautiously optimistic about the coming season IF we get the rub of the green and are able to get off to a good start. We still don't know what is happening with Hardus Viljoen, apart from the fact that he will miss the start of the summer at least, while we still don't know the identity of our second t20 player, or indeed the coach for that format.

The captain has also to be announced for the short form and with the season just over two months away there is much to be done.

The club is in good hands though and I remain confident in a competitive and enjoyable summer. Dave Houghton and Steve Kirby will doubtless do a good job.

In closing today, I would like to wish Chris Airey the best as he leaves shortly to take on a new role at Warwickshire. He has worked well to build on the groundwork of his predecessor, Tom Holdcroft and the club's social media and marketing presence is at a very high level.

There will be a new look to off field in 2019, just as there will to the coaching staff.

I wish them all well.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

All eyes point to New Zealand

It has all been very quiet on the Derbyshire cricket front. So quiet that I found myself watching New Zealand with the level of support this week that I usually reserve for my favourite county.

And why not? After all there were five former county players in their ranks. Martin Guptill, Henry Nicholls, Jimmy Neesham Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson all acquitted themselves well.

Indeed, Neesham made a strong case for being the star turn. He has always been a powerful hitter of a cricket ball and can bowl some very useful medium pace, as well as being a brilliant fielder in any position. I have little doubt that his return to form will see him very much in demand for this year's T20 in England. There is a lot to like about him and I don't think that we utilised him to best effect in his stint a couple of years back.

He is not really a death bowler but was used as such in the absence of viable alternatives. He didn't do badly however and a return to a county where he has a lot of friends would not be the worst move.

Having said that, even more interesting was the news that Mitchell Santner is returning to the Kiwi national side. If he is fully fit and recovered from major knee surgery, he would prove a huge asset to Derbyshire in the T20, offering not just a spinner of quality but also a punishing batsman and outstanding fielder.

Unless we decide to get Wahab Riaz to return, I fully expect our other overseas player for the T20 to come from New Zealand, especially with John Wright as our overseas scout.

And with the season less than eleven weeks away, that has got to be exciting!

As an aside, this is the first blog piece that I have written with the help of voice recognition software. It seems to have done a decent job, my accent notwithstanding.

Perhaps something to persist with in the coming weeks.

Monday, 31 December 2018

The end of the year

Just a few quick words to wish you all the very best for 2019 and to thank you all for your support in 2018.

It wasn't a bad summer at all for Derbyshire and we can only hope that we can build on it this year. There is a strong nucleus of players and a feeling that we have it right in our off-field structure now. There are some question marks on the bowling, but we could be competitive again.

I will catch up with you again soon.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, 29 December 2018

Olivier plans seem mapped out

After his eleven wickets in the Test match just finished against Pakistan, one would have thought any county entertaining Kolpak hopes for Duanne Olivier has had them well and truly dashed.

Unless that country's cricket authorities do something really silly, he would appear to have confirmed himself as the natural successor to Vernon Philander and a bowler to take a long-term role alongside Rabada and Ngidi. That is assuming that Dale Steyn and Philander don't carry on for a few more years, of course, but it underlines the depth of quality bowling in that country, especially when one considers who has left to take up Kolpak deals.

Morkel, Wiese, Abbott, Viljoen - there are plenty of international sides would like that attack and it is not available to the South Africans, who appear to be on the brink of a new golden era.

Speaking of Hardus Viljoen, I am surprised that there has been no comment from Derbyshire at all regarding his IPL deal. I don't so much mean what it will mean to us, as we are still perhaps trying to work that out, but even a piece noting that he will be involved.

It is a little odd and the rumour mill, as I am hearing it, is awash with various stories. If he ends up getting a gig in the Caribbean Premier League, which he might, as these things tend to snowball, then might there be an agreed parting of the ways? If so, where would that leave us - searching for a new Kolpak, or looking around the UK for available talent?

I'm not sure, at this stage, who might be available domestically, because most contracts are sorted by now, but it might have made a lot more sense for the club to say something, anything, than leave conjecture to take a hold.

I dare say the early part of 2019 will reveal all, but for me there is still work to do with our squad for the coming summer.

In closing, could I thank all of you for your support over 2018, another record-breaking year for the blog in the number of visits.

I look forward to seeing you back next year, when we have some exciting cricket to look forward to!

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Merry Christmas

I would just like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very merry Christmas.

Special warm wishes today to Daryn Smit and his wife, Sarah, who welcomed the arrival of their first child, Ryder Judson, yesterday.

The young fella will be in safe hands!

Congratulations to them both.

Have a lovely holiday everyone.

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Viljoen signs on for the IPL

Following on from his successful stint in the Sharjah ten-over competition, Christmas came early for Hardus Viljoen, when he was picked up by King's XI Punjab for this year's Indian Premier League.

It marks a fair old transformation for the South African quick bowler. Before the T20 last summer there were a few who had concerns he should be in our first choice side, and there were plenty of times when he looked some way removed from an IPL candidate.

Fair play to him though and he has put himself in the shop window. A good IPL could make him one of the nomads who traverse the globe in such competitions, bowling short stints and carrying a big bag for the wads of cash that are a consequence.

What does it mean for Derbyshire?

Well, for a start we lose him from the start of the season to the middle of May. I acknowledge and am grateful for the information from Luke yesterday, who works in circles that know these things and said that the standard IPL deal is usually to lose 1% of your county salary for the first 21 days and 0.7% per day after that.

In an absence of around fifty-one days, that could see Hardus forego around 42% of his county deal. At his oft-rumoured salary , that is a fair wedge of money back into the playing budget, and there would be an additional saving on accommodation costs.

If he plays most of the matches he can pick up around £80K in India, which will be a nice little earner, though dependent on him playing - less if he is one of the reserves.

On the pitch it gives us a problem, because we only have Ravi Rampaul, Tony Palladino and Luis Reece to support Logan van Beek, before we have to bring in the kids. That is a laudable concept if they are ready, but less so if it is too soon in their development.

I wouldn't be surprised to see a loan move to cover that period, unless the amount allows an extra recruit. I am unsure if there is anyone out there out of contract, but there will be several counties who are overly blessed with seam bowling talent who might want them match fit playing at a higher level. At an early stage of the season, that would be a valid option.

Is it telling that the club has yet to issue a press piece on the news? In all likelihood they are working out what it means to them and to the cricket budget before going public.

I look forward to seeing Dave Houghton's comments on it in the coming days.

Finally, for now, warm congratulations to Ryan Duckett on being confirmed as the club's new CEO.

He is a nice, approachable guy and I am sure will fit the role perfectly.

I wish him well.

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Blog sponsor sought

As the old saying goes, all good things come to an end.

Thus it is that my sponsorship deal with Office Care will come to a conclusion at the end of March next year.

The support of Martin and David Booth has been substantial and appreciated over the past few years. I have valued their financial support and also their friendship, which can be an even rarer commodity than blog sponsors.

It enabled the blog to look more professional, to gain an identity and to win awards. It played a part in its continued exponential growth and brought them clients through click throughs on their advert.

I am very grateful to them and wish them all the very best in their future endeavours.

And yet. to use another old saying, as one door closes another one opens.

If there are any companies out there who might be interested in sponsoring the blog, which reaches fifty thousand views a month over the summer, then please do get in touch.

Line adverts linking to your website are also available and I would be happy to discuss options and opportunities with you.

Please mail me, in the first instance, at

Thank you!

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Christmas approaching fast

I have spent a part of a leisurely morning today watching the Mzansi Super League game earlier this week between Paarl Rocks and Nelson Mandela Bay Giants.

There were some big names on display, though the injured Imran Tahir would have enjoyed a slow track on which Tabraiz Shamsi bowled a very good spell. Cameron Delport, released by Leicestershire at the end of last season, won the low-scoring and slow-scoring contest with a brutal 84 from just 45 balls.

He's a good player, especially in one-day formats and it was a surprise when things didn't work out in England. Maybe, at 29, he will get another crack with someone and there is much to like in a bloke who can open the batting at a fair lick and bowl some handy medium pace.

Not much happening down Derby way, but we shouldn't expect that at this stage. The players are working hard in the gym on fitness and all is calm, all is bright, just like the carol.

I have been taking things a little easier on the winter blog because of hand trouble and my big news is that surgery is now likely in February, which will leave me hors de combat from a typing perspective for two to three months.

I will do pieces in that time, but they will be one-handed and perhaps not as detailed for obvious reasons.

Any offers of writing support in that period will be gratefully received, to enable things to tick over till mid-summer, when normal service will hopefully be resumed. My role can then be an editorial one for a few weeks. Please indicate any interest with an email to

I will be back next weekend, just before the festivities.

Friday, 7 December 2018

Will the real Hardus Viljoen turn up?

The news of the success of Hardus Viljoen in the T10 tournament in Sharjah will have raised a few eyebrows among Derbyshire supporters.

Viljoen took 18 wickets in eighteen overs in the competition, which his team won. He bowled fast and accurately throughout and was voted player of the tournament.

It is time for him to do that in Derbyshire colours.

He signed a three-year contract for us and has thus far completed two of them. His first season was ravaged by injury and he didn't play before the T20, bowled much of that with a limp and then suggested brighter things with a fifteen-wicket haul at Hove that won us an end of season match.

Last season was a disappointment. He took 38 wickets at 32 runs each in the championship, decent enough for a county professional but not for a highly paid import. As I have said before, with great reward comes both expectation and responsibility and I'm afraid Hardus didn't get close. There were some decent spells in the T20 under Dominic Cork's tutelage (coincidence, or...?) but in the four day game there were spells that were embarrassingly inept .

I've never seen worse bowling than he produced in the second innings at Durham at this level, certainly not by someone of international reputation. It turned what should have been a formality of a win into a dreadful defeat, on a wicket where line and length were sure to bring results.

Clubs sign Kolpaks because they offer more than is available on the domestic circuit and effectively offer another quality overseas player. There are plenty of shining examples of their worth on the county circuit, but at this stage Hardus isn't one of them.

That's harsh, but true and I am sure that unless there is a massive turnaround this summer, it will be his last at Derbyshire. I can't see us renewing on the rumoured terms, for sure, but he has every incentive to attract future interest from the circuit in 2019.

If he can bowl in a similar manner to Sharjah through a long summer, he could be the difference between Derbyshire doing well and being among the also-rans. The effectiveness of Logan Van Beek will be enhanced if there is aggression and pressure at the other end, because batsmen will just 'sit on their bats' and play him out if they can get away at the other end.

Too often last season, Derbyshire had to use Tony Palladino as the one man who could bowl wicket to wicket when we lost Luis Reece to injury. With the fitness and form of Ravi Rampaul in question, Palladino gave crucial control and it was no coincidence that he took wickets, backing up good deliveries with ones where the batsmen couldn't score and creating pressure.

If Hardus arrives in the Spring in good form and with his radar locked on, we could have a decent summer. If we can force home a few of these winning positions from last year, top three in the four-day game should not be beyond us.

But it will depend on getting runs on the board, which I think we will do with Dave Houghton's input. Then bowling sides out twice.

If the real Hardus Viljoen turns up, that could happen too.

Will he?

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Derbyshire sign Logan Van Beek as overseas

There are a few reasons for me to applaud the signing of Logan Van Beek, the New Zealand A and Netherlands international, announced by Derbyshire yesterday.

For one, it must have snuck under the radar of most people in the county game. I had seen his name on score cards in New Zealand, but profess to knowing little about him, something I have in common with most, if they are honest.

Yet good judges in New Zealand, among them John Wright, rate him highly and there is a lot to like in a player who will know a good English summer will have serious career prospects. If he bowls the full English length (as opposed to breakfast) that Dave Houghton mentioned yesterday, he will enjoy our early season tracks. There will also be a novelty value in that few will know anything about him, which is never a bad thing.

One would assume that he will be a more affordable option than many too, with a reputation to be made, rather than one on which to coast. At 28 he should have done his filling out and one can only hope that he gets through the summer as free of injury as possible.

He looks to bowl at a decent pace, if nowhere near that of Lockie Ferguson, and will look to bring his career bowling average south of thirty, rather than slightly above it, as it currently is. He strikes me as a late developer and his recent statistics suggest that to be the case, but he will also lengthen the county batting. An average over 25 with the bat suggests a man who can handle the willow and he should be an asset across the formats.

It is a risk, but then most overseas signings are. It is better to under promise and over deliver and the player will not be weighed down with expectation as were some in our not too distant past. He goes for just under ten an over in T20, but again it is something to improve on in 2019.

I assume that he will be playing for us on a European passport, because he doesn't yet have the full international cap that would let him play here as a Kiwi.

That might not be far away though and he will be aware of the effects a good 2019 could have on his career.

What it does for Derbyshire is lengthen the batting and promise a lower order, with Hardus Viljoen and Tony Palladino, that can contribute valuable runs in a counter attack. With Luis Reece hopefully fit, the final place in the side could go either to a young seamer or one of our two spinners, Hamidullah Qadri or Matt McKiernan.

It would leave a likely first choice line up of

Van Beek

All very interesting and I wish Logan all the best, as I am sure you do too.

I'm very impressed with the way that Dave Houghton has so far gone about his work. We have key players with renewed deals, a good loan signing and now our overseas player in place, all before Christmas.

Finally, the news broke yesterday of the release of Callum Brodrick which had been 'out there' for a week or two.

At 20 he can hardly be said to have had infinite chances, but in a rebuilding job there will always be casualties. He didn't make the most of limited opportunities, but may come again if his health allows his cricket to prosper.

He must look at Tom Wood, Tony Borrington and Colin Tunnicliffe for examples of players who overcame early rejection to make it in the county game. Weight of runs in local cricket will always make people sit up and take notice, so I hope he does just that.

He is a nice player to watch and I wish him well in his future endeavours.