Monday, 30 June 2008

Essex v Derbyshire

Well, I managed to find a spare terminal in the local library and at present we're slowly recovering against Essex.

Nice to see Jake Needham get a long and fruitful bowl, though slightly worrying that a spinner is getting wickets and turn at the start of a four day match when we have to bat last.

Sorry to see Chris Rogers ruled out with a recurrence of his back problem, as it leaves us a little short in the batting. Again, the top order have failed and seem to have not grasped the fact that we're no longer playing 20/20.

Hopefully Pipe and Smith can continue the current recovery and get us a bigger total than looked likely earlier today.

Need to go, but hope for continued improvement and a score of 300 would at least keep us in contention. With Wagg, Clare and Needham (plus slugger Langeveldt) still to bat we should be around that total.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Essex v Derbyshire

Hey, old Peakie called it right!

The 13 has been announced for the Essex game and it is as I suggested the other night, with Jake Needham and Wayne White also travelling.

So expect the side to line-up, barring late mishaps:


Essex have a 12 man squad, namely:

Jason Gallian
Alastair Cook
Neil Dexter
Ravinder Bopara
Mark Pettini
James Foster
Ryan ten Doeschate
James Middlebrook
Alex Tudor
Danish Kaneria
Maurice Chambers
Chris Wright

Dexter is on loan from Kent and Chambers makes his Championship debut for this season. Their bowling doesn't look too scary, although the batting might be tough work for our attack. I'm confident in that part of the team though, if we can mount a score.

My prediction? Expect no last afternoon declaration from the home side setting us a target... once bitten, twice shy.

See you next week!

That my friends is that...

Probably until next weekend.

I'm off to Derbyshire tomorrow and will not have computer access until next weekend, unless I pop into the local library, which is a fine place for free Internet access...

Anyway, if you're at the second team game at Denby on Tuesday I might see you, as current plans are to be there with my Dad and son. Knowing my luck it'll be pouring and it'll be plan B, a trot around MacArthur Glen or somesuch.

Remember to let me know anything you'd like to see covered on this blog, whether thoughts on the game, players or history.

Hopefully by the time I get down there tomorrow, we'll have bowled out Essex and be 85-0 in reply.

Come on Derbyshire!

It was 60 years ago today...

That Derbyshire fans looked forward to the second day's play against Yorkshire at Chesterfield with unbelievable excitement tempered with disappointment.

It was raining and was to do so for most of the following day too, thus robbing Derbyshire of what would have been one of their greatest ever wins.

On Saturday 26th June 1948, a large crowd went to Chesterfield to see the traditional battle between the two counties in the idyllic setting. Glamorgan were top of the table - just - and were to win the title for the first time that year, but Derbyshire were close in second place and Yorkshire third. The visitors were missing three players to injury and Test call ups. Len Hutton and Norman Yardley were fine batsmen and Alec Coxon a good bowler, but we were missing batsman Pat Vaulkhard, all rounder Les Townsend and fast bowler Bill Copson.

Their skipper Brian Sellers won the toss and decided to bat on what seemed a good batting track. Opening the bowling for Derbyshire from the pavilion end was the great all-rounder George Pope, with Cliff Gladwin opening from the Lake End. As always, there was an air of excitement as the day began.

After an hour, Yorkshire were 18-6, most of them off the edge.

There were three wickets for Gladwin, two brilliantly caught by Charlie Elliott. One held at silly mid on and another in the gully. Willie Watson was run out and Pope had two. Yorkshire had no answer to Pope's fast medium leg-cutters and Gladwin's accurate off-cutters and by shortly after 1pm they were all out for just 44. No one made double figures and the bowling figures are worth recording:

George Pope 14.1 - 9 - 12 - 6

Cliff Gladwin 14 - 1 - 29 - 3

George bowled four, had one caught behind and one lbw.

When Derbyshire's openers Charlie Elliott and Albert Alderman started the reply there were reportedly 14,000 people on the ground! Elliott followed his brilliant fielding with a patient 62, while Pope (73) and wicket-keeper George Dawkes (68) used the long handle to good effect on the way to a total of 277.

Left arm chinaman bowler John Wardle took 8-87 for Yorkshire in a Derbyshire innings that lasted 95 overs.

You do the maths. That was 123 overs in the day, yet there was STILL time for Yorkshire to go back in again. By the close they would have wished they hadn't, as they were 15-3. Pope removed both openers and Cliff Gladwin having Watson caught in the leg trap by Alan Revill.

So in one day's play there had been 336 runs and 23 wickets with Derbyshire 218 runs ahead and only 7 wickets needed for a win. How well must the County fans have slept that night!

Then came the rain and no play on day two. Still, if the weather was fair we must have won, but only 90 minutes play was possible on the third day, when Yorkshire "advanced" - not sure if that's the right word - to 37-6 in 40 overs before the game was abandoned as a draw. Let's look at those second innings figures:

George Pope 17 -11 - 13 - 4

Cliff Gladwin 10 - 8 - 5 - 1

Albert Rhodes 10 - 5 - 12 - 0

Les Jackson 3 - 2 - 3 - 1

That's right, Les Jackson, in his second season, on as second change, with "Dusty" Rhodes, father of Harold, trying his leggies first.

So George Pope returned match figures of 31.1 - 20 - 25 - 10, socred 73 and still didn't figure on a winning side.

Mind you, the bragging rights were all ours for sure!

Not a lot of people know that...

What have WG Grace, KS Ranjitsinjhi, Donald Bradman, Peter May and Colin Cowdrey got in common?

They're all great batsmen, legends of the game, highly regarded by cricket fans the world over.
But that's not it.

The answer is that none of them ever made a century against Derbyshire!

Not even Bradman, who in four innings against us returned a highest score of 71.

Interesting huh? Impress your friends with that one...

Leicestershire v Derbyshire

I'm not going to dwell on last night's "nothing" game except to say that it was another disappointing performance. Then again, everyone knows that.

The 20/20 campaign was, after the pinnacle of Headingley, a fast downward spiral of mediocrity that few emerged from with any credit. Charl Langeveldt did a professional job until he missed the last couple of games with a sore knee and Wavell Hinds batted well and bowled steadily most of the time. Nayan Doshi also showed that he is as steady as any spinner in this form of the game and James Pipe kept wicket well and provided impetus on occasion with the bat.

Apart from that - not much to report. Greg Smith was brilliant at Headingley but afterwards declined and scratched around at the top of the order. Dom Telo showed promise but frustratingly kept getting out at 20 and 30, Dan Birch and John Sadler never really got going and the skipper, like Telo threatened without delivering real substance.

Graham Wagg was fair with bat and ball without pulling up the trees, Jon Clare didn't get much of a chance and Jake Needham varied between steady and eminently hittable

Overall 4 out of 10 - can and must do much better.

One final comment on the competition. Derbyshire La-La-La reports on his message board of shocking comments made in the direction of Waggy last night. This is another of the unfortunate side effects of this form of the game, the attraction of a no concentration span LCD (lowest common denominator) to the game that we can frankly live without. I've no problem with one day games and fans shouting and singing if the play merits it, but the day that cricket goes the same as football is the day that I cease interest.

Banter, chanting, a few shouts - that's all part of the game. Shouting abuse - personal abuse - at people who cannot answer back is pathetic, cowardly and the act of morons. I stopped going to football because I couldn't accept that players being called for all manner of things, really personal stuff, was right. Telling David Beckham he's useless is one thing if he makes a mistake, but disputing his parentage and singing about his wife is unacceptable. Those in the wrong defend themselves by saying that they've paid their money and can say what they like.


You pay your money to be entertained. Clap if you like, boo if you must and its warranted. But don't offend decent people around you, wary of objecting because you and your boozed up mates outnumber them, by shouting and singing filth. It's neither big nor clever and the game doesn't need you.

I've no problem with people having a drink at games, as long as they don't get into a state that lessens the experience for others. Mind you, with coloured clothes, loud music, girls in hot tubs and reports of crowd problems, the next step will be topless beer tents and extreme fighting.

Hope its not like that at Denby next week. I'll not last ten minutes...

Friday, 27 June 2008

Leicestershire v Derbyshire

What's happened to Dasher Dan?

Scourge of league bowling around the county, all of a sudden he can't get the ball off the square and as I type has 5 from 18 balls. I can only assume that we're planning a major last five overs assault as, after a good start from Dom Telo, we've become bogged down. From 44 after 5 overs we now have added 33 in the next seven.

Not looking good, my friends. Maybe James Pipe could produce fireworks, but we need 69 from 43 balls. Form thus far doesn't offer cause for optimism.

Nice to see Jon Clare back and in form and Nayan Doshi producing his normal tight spell, but we now need ten an over from the last seven and I don't rate our chances - even against as poor an attack as this.

86-5. Lawdy Miss Clawdy. This is dire...

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Ho hum...

Random thoughts today:

Paul Collingwood - how could he not recall the New Zealand player? He said that after consideration and with the benefit of hindsight, he made a mistake. Oh, really? If it takes him that long for things to compute, its little wonder he's banned for a slow over rate. It is quite staggering that a captain at any level would initially accept a wicket under those circumstances. At club level you'd never play the club again if they did that to you. I hope he realises how lucky he is during his 4-match suspension as such an action wasa disgrace to the game.

What's happened at Leicestershire? A bright start exceeded expectations, but they've really gone off the rails. Looking at their fans board on 606, the natives are getting restless and even Ackerman is criticising their recruitment policy, even though it is basically along the lines of "lets bring in people from South Africa". Same with Notts, their fans are a-grumbling because they have messed up the 20/20. The biggest problen was that Voges, while performing steadily, is no Hussey and Patel didn't perform with the bat. Nor for that matter did Cairns to the expected standard.

We were two good batsmen short of doing well in that competition. An overseas batsman and A.N. Other. The focus of the close season work this year has to be improving the batting. A reliable middle order bat and retaining Rogers (or signing someone comparable) is essential.
As long as whoever signs can play the 20/20. When you see that India and Pakistan are playing those heavyweights of United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong during our tournament takes some good playing options from the equation.

Finally, can we get back on track in the Championship. Yes, if Charl is fit and Rogers rejuvenated from his rest. Assuming the other seamers retain form and fitness and we can squeeze extra runs from Hinds and Smith than we've had thus far, we might well be up there come season end.
My team for the Essex game:


My team for the Leicestershire game? Don't care quite frankly, the game is deader than the dodo. I hope we win, but let's get onto the real stuff!

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Derbyshire v Durham

June 25th and for the first time this season I haven't followed a Derbyshire game closely.

I switched on to see who was batting and then watched the Turkey v Germany Euro semi-final before checking the score. With Langeveldt missing I'd little hope we could contain a strong Durham side, especially with nothing to play for but pride.

118 in 18 overs is OK, but one wouldn't expect it to overtax Durham. Nonetheless, as I type they are 37-3 and making a meal of it. It would be good to get a win but I'm looking forward to the resumption of the "proper" game.

I saw the innings of Graham Napier of Essex last night. He hit the ball well, but I can't say that I was enthused. Every dog has its day, and Napier had a night where he wouldn't have missed if he'd batted with a garden cane. It was, however you look at it, just a slog. Anyone suggesting he is the answers to England's prayers is just crazy. If he managed it on a regular basis I might take it more seriously, but I got more from watching Peter Gibbs lean into a cover drive or Peter Kirsten play the deftest of late cuts for four than such a knock could ever do.

I've said it before but this has as much relevance to cricket as my efforts at a dovetail joint years ago in woodwork at school had to carpentry. On the way to work this morning I pondered whether I would go to 20/20 if I lived closer to Derby and came up with the answer - no.

Next week I will be down at God's own county for a week and will pull in (weather permitting) the 2nd XI game at Denby v Yorkshire in the Trophy competition. 50 overs a side, proper cricket and a chance to see some of our prospects. It will definitely be more to my taste than this competition, even allowing for a lack of international talent. Hopefully I'll see one or two of you there!

Getting my apologies in early, I don't see me adding to the column after Saturday as I'll not have Internet access. I may get 10 minutes in the local library to post a few quick thoughts but the blog will be more sparse until the following Saturday, when I promise to catch up.

73-3 as I close. Not looking good, but as Scarlett O'Hara once said, tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

The nicest bloke I ever met in cricket

Graeme Welch, end of story.

I've never got especially close to any player though have had conversations with many. My concern has always been that if you find your idols have feet of clay a lot of the magic might dissipate. That could quite easily have happened early on in my cricket supporting career when, after a game at Chesterfield, I politely asked a then Derbyshire batsman for his autograph as he stood by his car and was told to "**** off".

I was only eleven at the time and seriously upset by the incident. If that was how cricketers behaved I really didn't want to know them. After that incident I hoped that the player in question failed whenever he played for us. Apart from the odd innings, my prayers were answered and I celebrated quietly when he was released.

Subsequently I've known professional players as club pros and been unimpressed. A South African we had was incredibly full of his own importance and chatted up anything in a skirt with a greater determination than he showed at the crease, while an Aussie of some reputation was patently incapable of explaining to lesser mortals how to play a particular shot or how to get into the mindset of batting.

I've spoken with a number of Derbyshire players past and present and most have been OK. Steve Stubbings is a top bloke and I had a few pleasant chats with Kim Barnett. Dave Houghton was also a really nice man, happy to chat cricket for as long as you wished.

Best of them all was "Pop" Welch. A very fine cricketer and fantastic bloke.

A few years ago I took my son to see his first cricket match. A pre-season friendly at Derby, nice day and Chris Bassano in full flight. Derbyshire players were going to and fro between pavilion and nets and my son had a new autograph book. I saw the familiar Derbyshire all-rounder, hot and sweaty from a vigorous net, making his way back to the pavilion.

My son and I headed towards him, and before I could say anything he said "Hiya, how ya doing?"

After introducing ourselves, we stood for 10-15 minutes talking cricket and he happily became the first signature in my son's book. He asked my son questions too and included him in the conversation, which made him feel important, then came out with the bombshell.

"Would you like me to take your book into the dressing room and get the other guys to sign it"?

My son's face had the look that normally crosses it when Nintendo bring out another top game, and we walked with him to the pavilion. Five minutes later he emerged with a book laden with signatures, talked a while longer then excused himself as he needed a shower and a massage.

Pop Welch didn't need to do what he did that day, but he increased my son's interest in the game tenfold. He also restored his Dad's faith in professional cricketers. It was a sad day when injury forced his early retirement, but he will always be my son's favourite cricketer. For that matter, mine too...

Now there's a turn up...

No, I'm not talking about my trouser leg but about tonight's result between Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire, with the thus far winless home side coming out narrowly on top. Now that's a shame...

This leaves Durham top of the group after their win over Yorkshire and Notts in real danger of missing out with Lancashire second in the group. I said at the start that Durham were the team to beat and that has proved the case. Lancashire have improved but despite beating us twice with plenty to spare I don't think they are a great side. Indeed, with Lancashire the sum of the parts never seems to make a decent whole and if you get among the top order they are beatable. Yorkshire are too heavily dependant on Rudolph and McGrath and the positions in the table are about right.

As for Derbyshire, our biggest concern is Charl Langeveldt's knee injury. Hopefully a few days rest is all that is needed as to lose him for the remainder of the season would be a cruel blow. He is as good as any seamer in the country on present form and although it would make John Morris' team selections easier, that would be scant consolation if we lost our best bowler.

I think a few of us felt we were well equipped for the 20/20 this year, but for me the pivotal moment was when we heard that Chris Rogers would not be playing. Don't get me wrong, the Aussie thoroughly deserved a break and will hopefully return refreshed, but having taken on Wavell Hinds as a Kolpak as well as Langeveldt we were light in batting. Wavell is a fine player, but not an outstanding batsman. I would love him to make me regret those words by season-end, but looking around other teams, those that have done well have had a top batsman. With the exception of Greg Smith's ton at Headingley, none of our batsmen really took an attack apart. Wavell's fine knock yesterday was pedestrian alongside that of Lou Vincent.

I am looking forward to the return of proper cricket. As long as Charl stays fit, I still think we could gain promotion in the Championship. At present Warwickshire are top but were outplayed at Derby and I can see our fortunes coming down to how well Nayan Doshi bowls. I suspect he will be first choice after the 20/20 and with drier tracks he could come into his own. It would be good to see Greg Smith able to bowl his spinners alongside him, though Jake Needham may get the odd run out on a turning track.

So Rogers back refreshed, Stubbo back in the side, Wavell in good nick, Smith back (at least as a batsman) and competition for places in the seam bowling ranks.

Now, if any two from Messrs Sadler, Clarke, Telo and Birch could fire with the bat we could be worth a shout. Current form suggests they won't, but we live in hope. To be fair to the skipper, imminent fatherhood can't have been helping his concentration. I hope that all goes well with the birth and he celebrates with some serious runs in July and August.

Hurray for proper cricket...

Monday, 23 June 2008

Lancashire v Derbyshire

Well and truly gubbed by the Red Rose again.

I can't believe that in two matches against them in the 20/20 we only took one wicket. Vincent is a decent player but Loye is nothing special and after a more encouraging batting display the bowling was, without the injured Charl Langeveldt, pretty toothless.

To score 150 at Old Trafford is good going and full marks to Wavell and Pipe for a battling partnership that at least made a game of it. Hinds is proving a good acquisition, and although not a "top drawer" West Indian is a good, solid pro.

I can understand Tom Lungley being a little rusty after injury, but am a little baffled as to why, amid the carnage, Clare didn't get a bowl. If everyone else was keeping it tight it would have made sense but if not, lets see who might be putting it on the spot.

One who wasn't and who is under pressure right now is the captain. 1-0-22-0 and three runs with the bat is poor return for a man who is supposedly aiming to get back in the England frame.
I don't doubt that Rikki is a player of talent, but he needs to start showing it fast. I have no doubt that getting him to Derby required a sizeable salary and it represented a coup, but at this stage we are considerably down on the investment. The problem is that a batsman with panache like Clarke at his best can quickly look like a batsman of irresponsibility when it is not going his way. I am sure that he must be feeling the pressure at present and really, genuinely hope he emerges from this trough.

I hope it is quick though. The 20/20 is no longer an option for us - irrespective of what the website said it wasn't anyway, as it would have needed too many results going our way. We must now regroup and do better in the Pro 40 and on our return to Championship action.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Derbyshire v Leicestershire

At the half way stage we surely cannot make a mess of this?

Having restricted Leicester to just 118-6 in 20 overs, a total of 119 at 6 an over SHOULD be a breeze. Once again the bowlers have done well. The only surprise is that Charl only bowled two overs (one of them a maiden) but everyone bowled steadily and I would hope even our fragile batting might manage this.

Greg Smith has gone quickly in reply and Dom Telo appeared to be getting going when he was out. As I type, Wavell Hinds is unbeaten on 18 after an excellent spell of bowling (four overs for thirteen) and we need 67 from 13 overs with eight wickets in hand.

I really, really hope that Hinds and skipper Rikki Clarke see us to the win and a morale booster. If we win this with seven wickets down it is hardly anything to crow about, but a convincing win, even against South Africa B (sorry Foxes fans, but...) would be worthwhile.

I'm a bit baffled by HD Ackerman in this cricket. If I batted through for 49 in 20 overs at my club they'd reckon I was batting for my average, unless someone blazed away at the other end. That's not the first time he's done that and although it must be reassuring to have a batsman who can bat through the innings (we haven't got many who could) it isn't overly impressive.

Talking of club batting, I'm still the proud partner of a club record partnership record in an opening stand of 117. My share was eleven...

The chap at the other end was a huge hitter and was seeing it like a barrage balloon, let alone a football. I simply pushed singles (I only faced 12 balls during the partnership) and let him continue the fun. Some might think my contribution negligible, but considering it only took 11 overs I thought it a sensible approach then, and still do. Hey, and we won the match so it must have worked!

73-2 as I close. 46 needed from eleven overs. With two mates from the club, my wife, kids and family guinea pigs still to bat I could win this one from here. If we make a cobblers of it from here they should all take up macrame.

A good story

I've been re-reading one of my favourite cricket books, Stephen Chalke's wonderful Runs in the Memory which is about County Cricket in the 1950's. If you have read it I am sure you will agree with me, if you haven't, it is well worth a look in second-hand book shops as it is a quite memorable read and is chock-full of lovely stories.

One that made me chuckle concerned Eric Hollies, the Warwickshire spinner whose greatest claim to fame, despite a long and successful career, was of having bowled Bradman in his last Test innings to prevent him finishing with a Test match average of 100.

He was a great servant to Warwickshire but was the archetypal rabbit as a batsman and the regular number eleven. He was also a great joker and much loved on the circuit.

One day at Derby, Cliff Gladwin was running through the Warwickshire batting and each in turn went back to the dressing room bemoaning their luck.

He listened to the accounts of the many and varied deliveries that Cliff had bowled and got a team mate to write them down for him. When it was his turn to bat, he walked briskly out to the middle and straght up to Cliff.

"Here you are" he said, handing him the piece of paper, "bowl them in this order and I should be OK"...

Great stuff!

Greatest seam bowlers

We've duly appointed Les Jackson as our greatest ever seam bowler, closely followed by Michael Holding.

There were v0tes for Mike Hendrick and for a few others, but the wily, uncomplaining and hostile Les, so porly treated by England selectors over the years, gets the fans vote, followed by the universally admired and acclaimed Jamaican.

I'm in total agreement with that result, so there's nowt more to say!

This week's poll is more general - which is your preferred form of the professional game in order? I've not included the Pro-40 as it is going anyway. I always really enjoyed the old John Player League, with eight overs a bowler, 15 yard run ups and top overseas stars. Two o'clock start, which meant that you could still have your Sunday dinner before heading to the game.
I'll be getting all misty-eyed soon!

This poll will run for two weeks as I head down to Derbyshire next weekend for a break and won't have daily access to computer facilities. It will be interesting to see how the fans vote for this one and if there really is as great an interest in the shortest form as te authorities might have us believe.

I'll not start the voting as I don't wish to prejudice the poll, but regulars will suspect that 20-overs will not top my hit parade...

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Derbyshire v Leicestershire preview

Well, according to today's Derby Telegraph, we can still qualify for the quarter finals of the 20/20 if we win our remaining games in this group.

You'll know by now that I am a mad keen Derbyshire fan so will realise how much it hurts to say this, but there's more chance of me changing sex in the next ten minutes.

It's not that we're a bad side, far from it, but we're inconsistent and that is even more frustrating. We COULD beat all the sides in this group, but we won't because a good performance is not carried forward. I know that there will be the usual knee-jerk reaction from some fans. "Sack Morris, sack so-and-so" will be imminent, but it would serve no purpose at all. Morris has done a good job during the winter and for the most part of the season until this tournament, but now he and Andrew Brown face their biggest test so far in galvanising the batting for the return to Championship cricket and the Pro40.

Of course, there are still 20 over matches left to play and for the sake of honour I hope we can beat Leicestershire twice at the very least. I would still play Stubbo in the side, irrespective of the state of his shoulder as he's likely to get a few runs, the commodity we have lacked. Dom Telo needs time in the Seconds and in the League to get used to our wickets and John Sadler needs to discover some of the form that made him a decent player at Leicestershire.

Most of all, Rikki needs to come good, as his batting season has been solely dependent on one innings against Warwickshire. He looks a good player when he's at the crease and seems to find ways to get out that are unfortunate and appear careless. I know he cares deeply about his game and I know he likes to play his shots, but perhaps the time has come for him to play a "percentage" innings and grind out a score (in the Championship).

No worries with the bowling and we'll almost certainly have a battle of the seamers when Championship cricket returns with Clare, Langeveldt, Wagg and Lungley battling for three spaces. With Clarke as fourth seamer (and Smith possibly fifth in due course, or off spinner) Nayan Doshi should return after a good 20/20 in which he has outbowled Jake Needham.

For tomorrow's side I would like to see us field:


When Championship cricket comes back I would play:


Dan Birch has done well in the Championship but I'm not yet convinced and Redfern is a huge talent who needs exposure at a higher level. Smith really has to come in and the big decision is in the bowling. Assuming Lungley is fit along with Kevin Dean we have real competition for places. I find it hard to leave out Tom but how can Clare be omitted after his performances this season? Langeveldt and Wagg are certainties so Mr Morris will earn his corn here for sure...

Why oh why?

So Giles Clarke plans to transform cricket by playing more Tommy Steele stuff.

You know, crash bang whallop - what a picture. Only its not. It's cricket for those with a low attention span and who can only appreciate the game if every ball is four, six or out. Is this what it has really come to? Must we have more of this format when counties are reporting lower crowds this season.

Could it be that the novelty is already waning? After a winter of it for those who could be bothered from India, here's some more and then we've the multi million matches that Sanford is funding. To use a culinary analogy, it is like eating out every night of the week at a fancy restaurant. After so long, you crave for a slice of toast or a bowl of cereal, something simple, something that doesn't scream "LOOK AT THIS" every ball.

Regular readers know I'm not a fan of 20/20 although I've hoped we might do well. It is just too frantic though. Girls in hot tubs? Very nice they were, but if we really need them at games isn't it suggesting that on the pitch activity is not all it could be? I like to look at pretty girls myself but if I'm going to the cricket I quite like to get my entertainment there, thank you.

So we've to get more of this - and wait for it - they're REVOLUTIONISING the Championship by playing three sections, drawn before the season (allegedly). Wait for it, here's the trick - there'll be no promotion or relegation! Brilliant eh?

No. Absolute, unadulterated garbage. Why would anyone go to watch any game in any sport where nothing mattered? Don't bother scoring 450-3 - bonus points don't matter as you won't win anything. A hat trick Mr Langeveldt? Nice, but not really worth squat. Where I come from we call these beer matches. You may as well erect 6 nets on the square and let people bowl at the batters all day.

Years ago my Dad told me that cricket was the greatest of games ruined by the idiots that run it. This was when we had "proper" cricket. Dad would sooner have his toes removed with a blunt instrument than experience 20/20. If these plans go through, I may yet have to join my wife in enjoyment of card-making as cricket will cease to have any real relevance to me and many others of my generation.

I'm very broad-minded and receptive to (most) change. Only if its worthwhile though, and I'm damned if I can see any merit in these plans at this stage.

Derbyshire v Notts

Well, that's the end of the interest in 20/20 for this season...

I have to say that I'm not surprised, as I said last night that I couldn't see us repeating the heroics of earlier in the week. I'm not especially pleased to be proved right, but I'm disappointed that we went out in such a "damp" way.

Our home performances so far have been very poor - first against Lancashire, now tonight with only a semi-respectable loss to Yorkshire at Chesterfield in between. At the start of the tournament I thought our top six looked quite good, but results have proven the old frailties to be very much still there.

The truth is that there is no one in that top six sans Chris Rogers who you would back to make a score. Dom Telo hasn't got going this season, Greg Smith has done well in some matches but plays in a way that always gives the bowler a chance, likewise Wavell Hinds.

The skipper is desperate for runs and is struggling badly. Maybe we're seeing "Charlie Lee syndrome". Lee came from Yorkshire in the 1950's and had a dreadful first season before blossoming into a good professional and captain. Our excitement at the signing of a potential England player has dissipated somewhat and for everyone's sake I hope he gets some runs soon. He's a pretty good captain, a safe slip and a decent bowler, but most people would say that batting is his strongest suit and the bottom line is that Rikki hasn't yet delivered at the crease.

Of the rest, Dan Birch has done well in the Championship but only by reigning in his attacking instincts. The man who has dismantled many league attacks doesn't look like doing the same to County bowlers, while John Sadler is, like his captain, desperate for a decent score.

Most of our runs this season have come from Rogers and Stubbings, neither of whom played in this competition, together with the late middle order - Wagg, Pipe and Clare. It hurts to say it, but until we can sign a couple of proven, regular run scorers to augment the existing talent, we will not progress to a good side.

We are competitive, beyond doubt, but primarily because of a good attack. Wagg, Langeveldt, Lungley and Clare make up a very fine seam quartet and could genuinely win us trophies with the support of Nayan Doshi. But until we learn how to bat in all forms of the game with consistency, we fans will continue to be frustrated.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Another quiet day...

What's this - mid cricket season and nothing much happening?

Well, Nottinghamshire played and fairly comfortably beat Leicestershire, who have not got going in this format this year. Here's hoping that they don't against us...

Tomorrow's game is crucial and we'll do very well to repeat the win from Trent Bridge. I looked at Notts batting tonight and it is very deep and strong. When they were in a little trouble with four wickets down they still had Chris Cairns and Chris Read at the crease and then Mark Ealham to follow. I feel that Lancashire and Yorkshire are more beatable than them, while Durham are equally long in batting with Morkel at six and Pollock at seven.

I can't see any changes to our side from what has played throughout the competition, though I'd still play Stubbo at the top of the order. We are second bottom in the group and that's about right for how we've played - inconsistently. Having said that, a win tomorrow and another against Leicestershire and it is all back in the melting pot again.
On a different tack, I'll be down in God's own county in a week or so and unfortunately won't get to see the first team in action as it coincides with an away fixture. I will, however get to see the Seconds play Yorkshire in a Trophy match at Denby which promises to be a good game. We have had a talented young Zimbabwean playing recently named Stephan Marillier (younger brother of all-rounder Doug, who some may remember for some excellent one day performances a few years back and especially an extraordinary shot called the scoop or shovel that lofted the ball over fine leg. Stephan has been playing in the Birmingham League and has produced good performances in the Seconds, including a century in the recent draw against Scotland A.

Also playing well is former England Under 19 opener Chris Thompson (pictured). He was on Surrey's staff but has been playing with us and has made a good impression with an unbeaten century against Yorkshire recently. Twenty years old, he couldn't break through in a strong Surrey batting line-up and time will tell if he has what it takes to secure a contract at Derby. With Dan Redfern and Akhil Patel, as well as Paul Borrington all likely to be available, we should field a strong side and I'm hoping that the weather is kind to the game.

Finally, I can't close this evening without a mention for my Village side who produced a remarkable performance last night in a 20/20 match against a Clackmannanshire County side. In 20 overs we posted a remarkable 211-3 with some remarkable hitting, before bowling out our opponents for just 104. If John Morris happens to read this, I can negotiate a god deal for our batsmen to play for Derbyshire - keep 'em plied with tea and sticky buns and they'll play for anyone...

Until tomorrow evening, farewell. I hope that this time tomorrow there's good news to impart!

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Getting interesting

This northern group is fascinatingly placed after tonight's round of matches.

With Notts rained off against Durham, they go above us by a point with a game in hand, while Durham are top with seven points. Meanwhile Lancashire are having the wobbles yet again and having lost from a seemingly comfortable position against Durham thanks to Morkel's assault, they have now been joined on six points by Yorkshire who also turned around a losing position thanks to a late assault by Darren Gough. That leaves us fifth in the table, ahead of Leicestershire, who we have still to play twice, and with games against Durham (home), Lancashire (away) and Nottinghamshire (home) to come.

It is a tall order to qualify, but if we win all the games we will do it. Losing another will make it difficult and we'd be dependent on results elsewhere. There can be few fans with confidence in the batting, and unless we keep the opposition to under 150 it is hard to see a win. That is not to say that we have no batsmen. Greg Smith has emerged as a fine player, Hinds can be dangerous, Clarke is more than capable but just hasn't got going. Apart from that, it's whether the aggression of Pipe and Wagg can last long enough to make a difference but the remainder lacks real substance in this format. It is a shame we couldn't bring in another batsman when Rogers took a break as that might have swung a couple of games, but Morris, Sears and Amott have made great strides this winter with squad improvements and the budget will only go so far.

Whatever happens in the remaining games of this competition, we will resume Championship action with Jon Clare and Tom Lungley rested and ready to go, Chris Rogers back and Wavell in decent form. We also have Greg Smith to bolster the batting ranks and Nayan Doshi now bowling his best after a poor couple of matches. As for our opening bowlers, I wouldn't swap Langeveldt and Wagg for anyone. The burly South African has already made a great contribution both on and off the field, while Wagg continues to improve with bat and ball and seems to bowl fewer four balls than previous seasons.

I suspect Notts will beat us on Friday as I can't see us rolling their strong batting line up two games running.

But I really hope I am wrong...

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Thank you to one and all...

5000 hits...

I really can't believe that this blog has reached that total since the season began and thanks to every one of you who pays a regular visit and has done over this past few weeks.

When I started this I thought I'd maybe get to 3,000 hits over the season, but to reach 5K when we're not even halfway there is great and tribute to the interest generated in John Morris' men this year.

Cheers guys - more to follow soon!

Quiet day today

Not much cricket news today, with a near-audible sigh of relief after Waggy's heroics last night being the main talking point.

It was good to hear him on Radio Derby say how happy he was here and what a great dressing room it was. One doesn't need an especially long memory to recall many season's when 'twas not always so. John Morris rightly pointed out pre-season that a dressing room doesn't always need to be harmonious for success. Anyone who has read Simon Hughes entertaining "A Lot of Hard Yakka" will know that the Middlesex dressing room under Mike Brearley had some fairly fractious characters whose idiosyncracies come under the microscope in the book. They were a dominant side in that era though and as well as being characters they were, in the main, very fine players.

This is the case with most sides through history. The Yorkshire side pre-World War One had some lively individuals, as did their side of the 1930's. The side that Brian Close led to success in the 60's had Boycott, Illingworth, Trueman and the captain, which must have seen some interesting days. Similarly our fine side of the 1930's had players who were blunt and forthright. Denis Smith, Tom Mitchell, George and Alf Pope, Stan Worthington - they were tough men in tough times and had their disagreements.

The side of the late 19th century took the biscuit, with some of the players barely speaking to each other from start to end of season. These were different times, however and players didn't use the least disagreement as leverage in a lucrative move elsewhere.

At this stage I'm quietly pleased with what we've done so far. In accordance with most fans wishes pre-season, we have for most of the time been competitive and have produced some excellent cricket. There is much still to play for and if Chris Rogers comes back refreshed, Wavell maintains form and the rest of the batting fires, I think we could still see a celebration - minor or otherwise - come September.

Derbyshire - Gillette Cup Winners

Its a little known fact that Derbyshire won the Gillette Cup at least 5 times a year throughout the 1970's, posting huge totals on their way to national domination.

At least in my house when I was a kid.

I was in my loft the other day and came across the 1970 board game by Ariel (not the little mermaid, just in case you wondered). It was the game of my childhood, alongside "Battle of the Little Big Horn". The latter was not a cricket game, funnily enough, but a recreation of Custer's Last Stand where you had to overcome the odds and get Custer and his men across the river and to the safety of the corner of the board. It was great fun, but the odds on a win were slim for old George Armstrong Custer as you needed some flukey dice throws to do it. Manage that and you'd have been better off down at a casino...

Gillette Cup was superb. Plastic batsmen and fielders and an outfield that radiated out from the wicket in numbers 1-4 with the bands divided into lettered squares (A-M or somesuch). You would set the field for the bowling as you saw fit and then start to turn the cards. There was a bowling pile and a batting pile and the person bowling first declared if he was bowling fast, medium or slow. No variation allowed thank you, if you're fast, you're fast - don't even think about a slower ball.

You'd turn a card and it would say Good length, Full Toss or Short, then the batsman would turn a card. If the fast bowler had bowled a good length ball, you'd read the co-ordinates of the shot.
If, for example, it said G3, you would get three runs, F4 you'd get four and so on. If there was a fielder there, one run would be deducted and if the writing was in red, rather than black, it was in the air and caught.

I remember many happy summer afternoons playing this game, and you could get some great commentaries going, all of them in a Richie Benaud voice.

"In comes Lillee, the fast bowler, bowling to Wilkins of Derbyshire and its a good length ball. Its in the air.... and its six!"

The problem with the game was that runs were too easy. I came across score sheets in the box from some of those games. One of them (they recommended 20 overs so must have known something eh?) saw Derbyshire (377-4, Venkat 162, Bolus 115, Page 83) lose to a World XI (380-3, Barry Richards 110, Eddie Barlow 85, Graeme Pollock 104, Clive Lloyd 52 not out, Rohan Kanhai 27 not out). Many saw Derbyshire wins, which suggests that I found a good way to cheat which I no longer recall. It probably involved sneaking a look at the co-ordinates and nudging a fielder into position...

My son suggested that we should sort our current batting frailties by approaching the ECB to allow us to have our innings via the Gillette Cup game and then just bowling at the opposition, a tactic guaranteeing success. Whatever its shortcomings, the game was the best I came across in my childhood for cricket and in many ways superior to some of the online or computer-based games available today. One for another article I think...

Why the fuss?

I'm astonished that the MCC saw it necessary to hold a meeting to discuss the legality of Kevin Pietersen's switch-hit today.

Thankfully, common sense prevailed and he has been given the green light to carry on hitting. Perhaps in time such a stroke may become commonplace, and the history of the game is littered with shots that gained popularity for a brief time or became a part of any self-respecting batsman's repertoire.

CB Fry had a penchant for smacking good length balls on off stump through mid on for four, looked on with dismay with some contemporaries who felt an off stump ball should, to be thoroughly decent, be despatched through the off side. Ranjitsinjhi had the draw, effectively a leg-glance played after lifting the leading leg. The hook was an answer to short pitched bowling on leg stump, while I don't recall seeing the upwards slash over slips for four before Tony Greig and Alan Knott used it to effect against Lillee and Thomson.

The reverse sweep has been acceptable for a few years now, and to my mind the switch is not especially different, except for it being hit in front of the wicket and needing a player of exceptional talent to play it well at the highest level.

The only problem will come for umpires when the batsman misses and it hits the pad. Should the lbw decision be based on the batsman as a right or left hander? That's one for the decision-makers, though to my mind the decision should be based on the stance of the batsman at the time the ball hit the pad.

Bowlers will feel hard done by, but when you think about it, there's no real difference between that and a fast bowler coming in from a long run and bowling a slower ball, or a spinner coming in and firing one in at the blockhole. A couple of comments in the national media have asked what was to stop the bowler changing the hand he bowls with to even things up. Well, the simple fact that bowlers declare what hand they are bowling with before doing so might be one, same as an intention to bowl under, rather than overarm.

Maybe what we need now is for someone to revive the lost art of lob bowling - under or over arm - with the ball disappearing into the outfield and beyond and bowlers returning such figures as 3-87 in 7 overs.

Some call it declaration bowling today. When the current fad for 20/20 wanes, look out for this as the next innovation. Scores of 400 in 20 overs will be commonplace. Remember, you read it here first...

Monday, 16 June 2008

Notts v Derbyshire

Well, we got a win so are still in the frame for this group of death.

Am I convinced?

At 100-2 with 7 overs to score 45 it was a breeze. I'd back my club side to win from there in 8 from 10 games. Somehow we ended up needing 23 from the last two overs and thanks to Graham Wagg's growing maturity and Charl Langeveldt's words of wisdom we got there on the final ball. It was nice to win, especially at Trent Bridge, but to lose five wickets for 22 in five overs was crazy.

Dad and I enjoyed our usual post game chat and we both pined for a class middle order batsman who would have seen it through. A Jones, Kirsten or Azharuddin would have been unbeaten at the end as we strolled it. I'm not sure why, chasing a run a ball target, we ended up going for big shots. Surely working the ball into gaps and running hard would have been more worthwhile and effective?

Anyway, a win is a win and we now have a few days break before the next match, the return against Nottinghamshire. I still don't think we can qualify from this group as I can't believe we can bowl out Notts so cheaply again and can't see us chasing down a big total. We would beat Leicester, but would also need to beat Durham and/or Lancashire again which is a very tall order.

For what it's worth, I'd bring in Steve Stubbings at the top of the order. He can be a steadying influence and allow others to play their shots around him. It would leave Dom Telo and John Sadler playing for one place in the middle order (or maybe with Dan Birch picking any two from three). Given the paucity of runs from the middle order it might even be worth thinking about Dan Redfern, but I'm not sure how much cricket he has had lately.

It crossed my mind the other day that Charl Langeveldt might have been worth shoving in higher up in this format.This admirable, 100% cricketer is either going to slog a quick 20 or get out and I'd have put him in at Chesterfield with overs running out just in case he found his range.

Played five, won two, lost three. On the plus side, we have been (Lancashire apart) much more competitive this year. On the down side, our excellent attack is creating an optimism that the batting fails to support. I just wish we could say with a little more confidence which Derbyshire side was going to show up.

Notts v Derbyshire

Well, a good start to tonight's game, with Derbyshire restricting Nottinghamshire to 144-9 in 20 overs, a gettable target one would have thought.

Having said that there's no Greg Smith tonight and our batting isn't the strongest suit. We have two very good 20/20 bowlers in Doshi and Langeveldt and a good one in Wagg, who will always take wickets. After that we're more variable, with Clarke, Needham and Hinds capable of tight or expensive spells. It should be remembered, however that we are playing this tournament technically without an overseas player. I know that we have Langeveldt and Hinds, but Notts, as an example, have Adams and Cairns as well as Voges. It was a good effort tonight to limit a powerful batting side as they did and full credit for the effort after yesterday's effort at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Nor were there any inexplicable bowling changes today. Sadler may be a player of some merit, but he's not a bowler and to bring him on in any game smacks less of inspiration than desperation.

The success of Greg Smith in this competition enthuses me for the Pro 40 ahead, if for no other reason than we play some different, and beatable sides. Smith opening with Chris Rogers whets the appetite and we may show improved form against some different sides - the northern section of the 20/20 being especially strong.

I would really love to see Rikki Clarke start to make runs. He did well pre-season but since then has struggled with the bat and his form is crucial in what can be a brittle middle order. I think Dominic Telo and Dan Redfern will establish themselves there in the medium to long term, but I would love to see us sign either Alex Gidman or David Sales in the winter, both of them out of contract but sure to be chased by a number of counties. Someone of that stature is important for our continued development.

Anyway, must go, our reply has started and according to Teletext Greg Smith is opening the batting. Cricinfo is the same and both stated that he wasn't in the eleven. What's wrong with these people? It's easy to confuse Stubbo and Smith, in the dark, with a blindfold on they must look very similar...

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Derbyshire v Yorkshire

Three overs to go, 42 needed. Not looking good.

After a fine start from Telo and Smith (the latter was on fire again), we've subsided badly. Wavell was very subdued (12 from 22 balls) and since I started typing we need 26 from 7 balls.

Big disappointment, the skipper failed again when we really needed a steady innings and it looks like goodnight Vienna unless someone produces serious heroics in the last over. The boundary is short enough but the fact is that only McGrath and Smith have really got going in this match and Smith's run out was probably the decisive moment.

16 needed now off three balls. Hmmm....

The excitement of Headingley seems a long way away and I'd have to say that in my opinion we're pretty much out of this competition.

158-6. Last night on the In Morris We Trust site I wrote that 160 would probably win it. If I'd only gone down the bookies....

Like most fans, I'm pretty disappointed this afternoon. Not much more to say really.

Derbyshire v Yorkshire - the halfway stage

Yorkshire's 169-5 is certainly a competitive total and on most grounds would make them favourites.

Cynics would say that Derbyshire's batting might put things even further their way, but much will depend on the start we make. Yorkshire were only 5 an over after five, but acceleration came from McGrath once he had worked out the pace of the track. We could have done with someone with the nous to do that against Lancashire, rather than going hell for leather after the bowling to be 25-4.

There are a couple of mysteries about the bowling today. One was why Jake Needham bowled a second over at the same batsman when his first went for 15. His second went for 19 and I can understand encouraging a young bowler but not when there's two big hitters like McGrath and Brophy in residence.

The other was why Wavell Hinds only bowled two when he just went for seven runs. According to teletext (which could be wrong) John Sadler also bowled an over for 13. His career record doesn't suggest a bowler of talent, so I'm hoping these decisions don't come back to haunt us.

It may be too early to be cynical, but if we lose today I don't see us progressing in this competition. I may be wrong, but I can't see us beating Notts twice, so a win today is really important.

Hope you've got those boundaries within range lads...

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Derbyshire v Yorkshire

Big game tomorrow folks.

Big crowd, great venue, lots to play for - one big question.

Which Derbyshire side will turn up?

There was little similarity between the side that thrashed the Yorkies at Headingley and the one that capitulated to a series of rash shot against Lancashire 24 hours later. Common sense dictates that no matter how well you bat in any given game you need to have a look at the bowling and the track in you next one, even if it is a 20 over thrash.

I can't see us making many changes to the side from the other night as there's no one else to bring in who would strengthen things especially. We just need to show a little more savvy if batting first. If we aim for 7-8 an over and get around 150 that is a score to give us a chance. Yes, the boundaries are short, but sometimes players get carried away and go for the big shots when they're maybe not all that appropriate.

The visitors are also likely to be unchanged as they were pretty much at full strength for the last game with the exception of a couple of long-term bowling injuries.

If we can win this one then two wins from four is OK. Morris reckons we could qualify from this tough group with 5 wins, but to lose tomorrow we'd need to get them from the last 6 games.

Here's hoping for a dry day, good batting and a repeat of Friday night. Incidentally, if you go to the Yorkshire website there's some footage (around 7 minutes) of the game. Variable in quality, and far too much footage of kids shouting their team on instead of the girls in the hot spa - sorry, the cricket. The "In Morris We Trust" site has much better pictures...

One word of warning - most of the video is accompanied by the most inane "tune" called (very cunningly) "Yorkshire" which has all the musical merit of a landslide. Watch it with the sound off - trust me, you'll appreciate the tip.

Final thought on Yorkshire game

Do some cricket writers know anything about cricket?

I only ask because the match reports on last night were bizarre even by the standards of the British media.

Only one newspaper mentioned Charl Langeveldt's bowling and I'm still convinced that there can have been few more economical spells in 20/20 anywhere. To add in four wickets on top was a bit special. Maybe the lateness of the hour meant his feats missed the early editions, but even Internet reports carry little mention of his feat.

Bottom marks go to the esteemed national that referred to Derbyshire's win coming on the back of an explosive partnership between their two Kolpaks, Hinds and Smith.

Are they for real? Presumably Charl Langeveldt is now English qualified by some miracle, while poor Greg Smith is destined to languish forever in Kolpak hell.

Memo to national cricket writers - we have TWO Kolpaks, and only two. Wavell is one, Charl is the other. I know its hard work to venture away from the Oval and Lords, but do try to keep up with events. And no, we're not Leicestershire or Northamptonshire, Kolpak Centres of the Western world. Hope I made that clear. I'm sure it won't happen again until the next time you try to explain why little Derbyshire beat a so-called big team.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Best overseas player - Peakfan's verdict

I suppose I'm lucky to have seen all of these tremendous players many times. I envy those who were lucky enough to see Jackson and Gladwin, and I'm the same with the ones who saw that great side of the '30's.

Having been a fan since the late '60's, I'm privileged to have seen all of our overseas stars and here is my verdict on them all - in reverse order.

John Wright - a very solid and brave batsman who played admirably straight and who usually got a big score once he was set. In this company, I wouldn't put him at the very top as he couldn't take an attack apart on a regular basis, but he was a fine servant and utterly dependable. He suffered latterly from partnering Michael Holding as overseas player. Watching Wright bat was a pleasant experience, but watching Holding bowl was just fantastic.

Michael Di Venuto - a wonderful servant to the club who came out top in the poll. I have to wonder what his average might have been if I had never gone to watch him, as I never saw him make more than 15. In full flight I'm told he was a beautiful player and his record speaks for itself. Critics said he scored more centuries when games were lost than in shaping a win, but Diva should still have been playing for us and partnering Chris Rogers at the top of the order.

Dean Jones - a very fine player, a marvelous runner between the wickets and a pacer of an innings beyond compare. In the short term he was a good motivator of team mates too, but the acrimonious and premature departure from Derbyshire takes him down a notch or two in my estimation. If I was picking a team to bat for my life, Deano would be in there.

Mohammed Azharuddin - simply breathtaking batsman when he was in the mood and the sun was on his back. A real throwback to the golden age with the wristy strokes that sent the ball to the boundary before the fielder could move, Azharuddin was undoubtedly a genius with a bat in his hands. A flawed one, as his later match-fixing scandals showed, which was a real shame. He also left Derbyshire on bad terms, which sullied some of what had gone before.

Peter Kirsten - stylish, compact, silky accumulator of runs. Some called him the Derbyshire Bradman, in reference to his prolific form and also his stance and appearance at the crease. Quick on his feet, Kirsten differed from John Wright in that he had a very sound technique based on playing straight but, once he was set, he could annihilate attacks. His innings were normally made up of a steady 50, a quicker second 50 and shots all around once he'd reached his century. Simply brilliant.

Michael Holding - how could a man so fast be so elegant? How could a bowler so elegant be so fast? Holding was a pleasure to watch off his short run (and quite quick), a real handful from his medium length run and breathtaking when he came in off the full glory of the run up. As he got older, the long run up was reserved for the last afternoon and a needed breakthrough and became less frequent. If I could watch Holding and Bishop bowl to Azharuddin and Lawrence Rowe I would die a happy man. Cricket gets no better than that. A useful batsman, capable fielder and steadying influence on the young Kim Barnett, Holding was a dream professional.

Eddie Barlow - a really tough call, but notwithstanding that Barlow was 36 when he came to Derbyshire and, as an "eye" player past his best as a batsman, his contribution was remarkable. He tended to score runs when they were most needed, and could either bat solidly or with a rare flamboyance. He caught pretty much everything at slip, and as a bowler had golden spells that turned a remarkable number of games. There were very few matches in which he contributed with neither bat nor ball, but on those occasions his captaincy was worthy of his place on its own.

All the other names here were very fine players, great players even. The difference was that Barlow turned ordinary players into competent pros, and good pros into internationals. Under Barlow, Tony Borrington, Harry Cartwright, Alan Hill and Colin Tunnicliffe became very good county players, while Mike Hendrick, Geoff Miller and Bob Taylor became England regulars. Pre-Barlow, most members would have laughed if you'd said "Bud" Hill would score a 40-over century, but he did, more than once.

My Dad is still convinced that if we'd signed Barlow in 1971 after his great feats with the Rest of the World side in 1970 we would have been THE team of the 70's. He was that good, and the astonishing thing was that when he was asked why he'd joined Derbyshire he answered "no one else asked me".

Eddie Barlow may have passed away a couple of years back, but for anyone who saw him, he remains the benchmark for an overseas player. Given the quality of the names here, it is to his eternal credit that he is, for me and many others, the man.

Derbyshire v Lancashire

As I suspected earlier, this one went against us big time.

A slow start isn't much use in 20/20, but losing wickets is even worse and when both openers were back in the hutch inside two overs we were in big trouble. Despite the best efforts of James Pipe, who maybe kept his foot on the gas too much, we subsided well short of the end of the overs.

Vincent and Loye then eased to victory despite a very tight spell from Nayan Doshi, who has already shown himself the equal of any spinner in the country at this form of the game. It was a disappointment after the excitement of last night and although there is still time for us to pick up and qualify, we need to be more consistent.

There lies the crux of the problem, as no one doubts the ability of the Derbyshire batsmen but the problem is their consistency. It is either feast or famine, with little middle ground. With Langeveldt and Doshi supported by the other guys I'd back us to do well if we can set 150 in most games, but ...

Next its the return against Yorkshire at Chesterfield on Sunday and we may well see the ball swinging again. Another win would see us back in the pack and with Notts and Leicester double-headers to follow, plus a return against Durham and Lancs there is still room for optimism.

That batting needs to become more reliable though, no doubt about it.


Ten past eight on Friday evening and afterthe joy of last night, the wheels appear to have come off this evening.

After a certain Mr Cork took the wicket of the prolific Greg Smith in the first over, we never got going and apart from a spectacular knock from James Pipe and contributions of 25 each from John Sadler and Dan Birch, we're just all out for Nelson (111).

At this stage one wouldn't expect that to worry Lancashire unduly. Six an over with 10 wickets in hand would normally be considered a breeze. Of course, the wicket could be awkward, but my own team's successful Wednesday forays in recent years have been based on better teams than us batting first and overreaching themselves allowing us to chase successfully knowing how we had to pace the innings.

I'll be back later, or tomorrow to report on the result. I'd have to say that I'm not optimistic. Even Langeveldt at his best will struggle to get us anything from this one.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Best overseas star - the result

So, narrowly shading the ebullient Eddie Barlow, Michael Di Venuto has been voted Derbyshire's greatest overseas player.
That is quite an accolade when on looks at the other names in the list, and warm congratulations go to the genial Tasmanian on his win.
Who did I vote for, and how did I rate them all? That's one for this weekend...
For now, here's another poll to get you divided. Check out the records and performances of these guys and vote for... Derbyshire's greatest seam bowler! There's plenty to choose from...

What a difference a day makes...

Never has a song been more apt...

Last night we were edged out in a thriller by a powerful Durham side. Beaten, but by no means disgraced. It was great to see Greg Smith back and making a powerful 47, and to see Wavell Hinds making a few runs before the wheels came off the batting in time honoured fashion.

Nonetheless, we nearly pulled it off, and had it not been for an expensive over from Graeme Wagg we could have won. Nayan Doshi produced his golden 20/20 form of the past seasons to produce a sensational hat trick, but the Duckworth Lewis decision went Durham's way as Benkenstein and Pollock kept their cool.

Then came tonight. First off, sorry for not blogging last night as I was playing myself (we lost, boo-hoo). Tonight I'd to work late and followed the score on-line. It was good to see us make a solid start, ad when a wicket goes down in this game there's always the danger it could be the precursor of a collapse.

Not a chance tonight, as Greg Smith (pictured) and Wavell Hinds put on a quite superb partnership. A 50 stand in this game is good going, 100 quite astonishing and these guys added 149 before Wavell was run out. Four sixes and three fours for the Jamaican who hit 61 from just 43 balls, while Smith followed last night's good innings with the first 20-over ton by a Derbyshire player. His hundred took just 62 balls, even quicker than Pipey's innings against Worcestershire!

In these games 150 is a fair score and will win 60% of games I would reckon. 180 will probablywin 80-90% of matches if you bowl steadily. With Mr Langeveldt in the attack you pretty much have a guarantee of economy, but by any standards tonight was special. I cannot think that any bowler has been more economical than that in 20/20. 4-0-9-4 is extraordinary, but it appears that they all played their part.

I'm pleased that I got pretty close to the side picked for these games, especially in the selction of two spinners, both of whom are doing very well. There are no guarantees in cricket, especially in this format, but there are few teams after tonight that will take playing us for granted. If that is not progress after the shambles of last season then I don't know what is.

Well played guys. Colossal performance!

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

D Day - 1

This time tomorrow night, we'll hopefully be celebrating a win against one of the country's better sides.

There's no news of fitness or team from the Derbyshire camp, but Durham have a very strong squad, namely:

Michael Di Venuto
Phil Mustard
Paul Collingwood
Will Smith
Dale Benkenstein
Albie Morkel
Shaun Pollock
Gareth Breese
Liam Plunkett
Paul Wiseman
Mitchell Claydon

So, no worries there then...
For me they will be the team to beat in the group if they stayed fit and all were available, but we have some fair players too and should remember that.
If Derbyshire play the side I mentioned yesterday, both sides would have eight bowlers, and it should be an exciting game. Durham will start favourites as the Division One outfit, but they will treat us lightly at their peril.
Good luck lads!

Monday, 9 June 2008

A quiet but satisfying day...

A good day to be a Derbyshire fan...

It is so nice to be able to pick up the papers or read the web sites and be - well, quite smug really.

Only the local media have picked up on the fact that we're not going to be rubbing rags for teams any more. Full marks to Charles Collins of Radio Derby for his regular piece on 606, which at least makes you feel that he is in touch with the fans. If only the football equivalents did that we'd be much better off.

Charles touches on a growing "killer instinct" and I know what he means. When we to some extent let Worcester off the hook by adding 50 for the last wicket then slipped to 157-7 I wasn't convinced, but Graham Wagg is playing with increasing maturity and his partnership with James Pipe, following on from a steady knock at Lords showcased an emerging talent. Again, as Charles says, he must be enjoying bowling with Langeveldt. I'm not denigrating anyone, but as the young Harold Rhodes benefitted from bowling opposite Les Jackson, and Colin Tunnicliffe did bowling at the other end to Mike Hendrick, so Waggy does by having Langeveldt keep it tight at one end, meaning the batsmen have to take risks. None of our young seamers can help but learn from the South African, who is showing a commitment to the cause that is one in the eye for those who say the Kolpaks are only here for a quick pay day.

Morris did his homework before signing Langeveldt and Hinds and knew what he was getting - experienced cricketers who will encourage by word, attitude and deed the emerging talent at the county. He will have got reports on the South African from numerous contacts out there, while he admitted to talking to Jimmy Adams and Devon Malcolm about Hinds. The do-gooders and hypocrites (Messrs Giles and Willis anyone?) can say what they like, but if all counties signed men of integrity and commitment like these fellas the Kolpaks would be positively encouraged into the English game.

Maybe tomorrow we'll find out more of Morris' plans for the 20/20. With an armoury of all-rounders that no county can match, they could be a surprise package - if the top order fires.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

A decent chance?

Having given the matter some thought, I think that we could do well in the 20/20 this year.

We have powerful batsmen and importantly a number of all-rounders whose presence will ensure that we both bat long and have plenty of variety to keep changing the pace of the bowling.

Only John Morris knows the side that he will put out and who is fit or injured, but for what it is worth, I'd like to see us go with this side, now that we know Chris Rogers is having a well-earned break.

Dan Birch
Greg Smith
Wavell Hinds
Rikki Clarke
James Pipe
Graeme Wagg
Dominic Telo/John Sadler
Jon Clare
Jake Needham
Charl Langeveldt
Nayan Doshi

I'm assuming that Greg Smith is fit but think he and Dan Birch would make a powerful opening pair. I'm resting Stubbo because of his shoulder problem that prevents him throwing too easily and am including Dom Telo as he is such a brilliant fielder at point. In these games a few runs saved is worth a great deal, and he could come in and stabilise or accelerate as required. With Lasher Langeveldt at 10, there is plenty of batting and good totals are within our compass.

With Langeveldt, Clare, Wagg and Clarke to bowl fast medium and Smith together with Wavell Hinds to bowl medium pace, we could also afford to play both spinners. Varying the pace and taking the pace off the ball is crucial in these games and with eight bowlers we would be very well equipped for any surface. While Doshi has lost his place latterly to Jake Needham, he has the best record of any bowler in 20/20, while Langeveldt had an extraordinary tournament in South Africa prior to joining us, with hat tricks, four wicket overs and a remarkable average.

It will come down to the batting, without doubt. If this lot fire they could be awesome, but they could backfire badly and be 37-5 in seven overs. We just don't know, but I feel we are better equipped for the razamatazz than we have ever been. Although I'm not a huge fan of the tournament, I look forward to our performances and think we just might surprise a few people.

Derbyshire v Worcestershire 3rd (and final) day

There must be a few people feeling pretty sheepish today.

I'm talking about those who were on the BBC 606 page last week saying we were rubbish/not as good as last year/without direction. There were also those on the Worcestershire page who claimed that we were a second rate county.

Well, to cut a long(ish) story short, the so-called battle between the best seam attacks in the country ended with Worcestershire being well and truly stuffed, with 5 sessions, an innings an 95 runs to spare.

Though not someone who makes a habit of that sort of thing, I went onto the Worcester board on 606 to make my point a short while ago. So many silly, disrespectful comments were made last week that it was necessary to do so. I would never call any side second-rate, as the fact is that in playing first class cricket they are obviously not. When people stoop to personal attack on players it annoys me as they're unlikely to reply and are easy targets.

The fact is that Derbyshire outplayed one of the supposedly stronger teams in the country and the only downside, if there is one) is lost revenue over a day and 2/3. I'm sure that Tom Sears is not too concerned with that right now, after Derbyshire emphasised the progress being made this year.

Our attack is the best we have had in a while. Langeveldt is such a willing work horse and such a probing, accurate bowler that it creates pressure on the batsmen, while Wagg (pictured) is always likely to take wickets with his late swing. His batting is a great bonus too and at this rate he should be close to an England callup, even at A team level, this winter. Having said that, he and Clare are maybe too young - after all Richardson and Kirby went as "young lions" last winter. Good bowlers both, but young lions? Purleeese....

While the batting remains a cause for some concern, it is fair to point out that Hinds apparently got a very poor decision yesterday (caught off his sweater), as did Chris Rogers. My assertion last week that criticism of Rikki Clarke was unfair also was backed up by a wonderful 3-6 burst this morning. A big knock is around the corner for the captain, but he continues to lead the side with flair and panache and must be a happy man this afternoon.

Attention now turns to the 20/20 with Derbyshire in a solid position in the Championship and with some enviable decisions to make with regard to team selection. Remember, this win - sorry, demolition - was achieved without Tom Lungley. How are we going to get him back into the side?

Happy days! Now for the 20/20

Saturday, 7 June 2008


Anyone know what happened this afternoon with the updates from Chesterfield?

My thanks go to Chris for keeping me abreast of the real score. At one point we went from 151-7 to 270-7 in the time it took me to go through to the kitchen and do the dishes. I was quite excited until a quick bit of mental arithmetic showed James Pipe on 41 and Waggy on 18 had to have had a lot of help from extras for the score to be correct. Then it showed that Stubbo had scored 80-odd and Birt 72...

I switched to the other channel - same feed, same score - then checked the internet and it was the same. The score was wrong for a fair part of the day and without the text updates from the ground would have been oblivious to the true score.

Hopefully they have it sorted for tomorrow. I'm quite happy to see Worcestershire 76-8 at lunch tomorrow, as long as it is accurate...


At 157-7 it looked like another case of deja-vu as the top order caved in once again.

By the close of play we are all sitting feeling rather smug having managed a first innings lead of 200, thanks largely to a 71-ball century from James Pipe (pictured) on his return from injury. He will have enjoyed that against his old county for whom he rarely batted higher than nine or ten.

The Yorkshireman is a key part of this side and has been badly missed over the past few weeks. He received valuable support from Graham Wagg, who is on fire at the moment and the tail, which once again wagged very well.

Rikki Clarke's lack of runs is a cause for some concern, but Wavell appears to have been unlucky today in being given out caught from a half-shouted appeal when it came off his sweater. There will be better days ahead for both, and if Wavell gets the sun on his back he will be good entertainment.

There is still a lot to do and Worcester surely cannot fold as easily again. If Solanki, Hick, Smith et al fire then we could still be left chasing an awkward 180-200 in the last innings, but we have done very well so far in this match. I suspect that Jake Needham may have a long bowl in the next innings but would be more than happy if the opening bowlers run through them tomorrow.

It's funny though. Last week after a poor result against Middlesex when missing players we were, according to some "fans" a worse side than ever and "rubbish". They're not making any noises tonight for some reason. I didn't join the chorus of condemnation last week and I'll not get carried away and claim we are world-beaters now. But I will reiterate that we are an embryonic side of some quality who will continue to mix good and bad days until John Morris gets the players that he wants. A few more days like this one though and they'll all want to join Animal's magic side!

Chesterfield's greatest match

Although I would love to persuade myself otherwise, it was not the Gillette Cup semi-final of 1969.

The honour has to go to the game played from July 18-20 in 1904, between Derbyshire and Essex. It was played from a Monday to Wednesday, so fixture planners made their mistakes at that time too...

Nonetheless, around 2,000 people were present at Chesterfield to see the first day against a strong batting side. None of them could have predicted what was about to unfold.

On a very hot and sunny day, Essex reached 179-3 at lunch. Remember, this was at a time when a six had to be hit out of the ground rather than just over the ropes. The prolific P.A. Perrin, a tall, elegant batsman was unbeaten on 79. In the afternoon he reached his century then cut loose until he was badly dropped by Bill Bestwick (a poor fielder) at mid-on. The unlucky bowler was Arnold Warren, but he then took two wickets in two balls to leave the visitors on 314-6. That was as good as it got though, as Perrin moved on from his good fortune and finished the first day unbeaten on 295 from a total of 524-8, having hit 58 boundaries. I'd like to see someone beat that today against Worcestershire...

Next morning the last two wickets added 73 as Essex were all out for 597, Perrin unbeaten on 343 with 68 fours. Avoiding the follow on was to be a huge task, with 448 required, but Derbyshire openers Levi Wright and Charles Ollivierre (pictured) put on a century stand in 55 minutes and at lunch were on 144 without being parted. The West Indian Ollivierre reached his century in 95 minutes and although Wright was out at 191, Bill Storer came in and added a further 128 in 75 minutes. Ollivierre reached his double century in 190 minute with a five and 33 fours, only the third Derbyshire batsman to do so, and a celebratory drink was taken out to him. he had originally come to England with the West Indies touring side of 1900, playing for his native St Vincent. Staying in England, he qualified for Derbyshire and played for Glossop until he qualified in 1902. His approach to the game brought more failures than success, but this was his greatest day.

He was eventually dismissed for 229 and had frequently hit fours from balls pulled round from off stump through mid-wicket, but he was what we would now call a typical, front of the wicket West Indian player. At the close Derbyshire had almost saved the follow on at 446-4, the day having been watched by around 3,000 fans who had their moneys worth!

The final day was cooler after the blistering heat of the earlier days and we were all out for 548. The game seemed a certain draw, but before lunch Essex collapsed against opening bowlers Bill Bestwick and Arnold Warren and were in disarray at 27-6, each having taken three wickets.

The crowd grew in the afternoon as word spread of a possible result, but Essex recovered to 80-6 before a double bowling change brought a breakthrough, the innings then subsiding to 97 all out with one player unable to bat. Warren was a tall and wiry bowler (see a future profile) reckoned to be one of the quickest in the country, and finished with 4-42.

Play was to continue until 6.15pm so Derbyshire had 125 minutes to score 147. It looked a tricky challenge in the light of the Essex collapse and when Wright went with 11 on the board Essex must have fancied their chances. The West Indian was again in prime form and reached a run-a-minute 50 with eight fours, the hundred coming up in an hour. Remember, this was an era before slow over rates and the spirit of the game was held in high esteem. When the last hour began, Derbyshire were 108-1 and needed only 39 to win, Ollivierre on 74.

Both the West Indian and Storer were keen to reach their milestones of a century and fifty respectively, the latter because he would then, as a professional, be entitled to a bonus. The remaining runs came in 15 minutes, with Ollivierre on 92 (15 fours) and Storer on 48 as the game ended with 45 minutes in hand.

Even at this distance the game was extraordinary, the run scoring aided by quick over rates and lightning fast outfield on a small ground. There have been many Derbyshire successes in the ensuing years, but none that were quite as spectacular as this.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Derbyshire v Worcestershire

This was always going to be a battle royal between two strong seam attacks and at this stage Derbyshire have the advantage.

We'll know by how much by lunchtime tomorrow, weather permitting. Once again though, Charl Langeveldt (pictured) led the atack with great accuracy, stamina and skill in another exemplary performance. He now has 17 Championship wickets at 21 and looks to have been an inspired (Chesterfield, spire - geddit?) signing.

He was ably supported by Graham Wagg, a player who brings so much to the side in batting and bowling, while John Clare removed Graeme Hick, so often the scourge of our bowlers. Perhaps Jake Needham could have come on a little sooner and limited the first innings still further, but it's easy to be wise after the event and to have a strong side out for 151 is a fine performance.

I am reassured by our longer looking batting line up in this match. With Sadler at six, Pipe a very welcome number seven and Wagg and Claire at eight and nine we have an enviable depth. On current form Langeveldt is the best number eleven in the country, but it all depends on the top order.

If Rogers and Stubbings can give us a start, Dan Birch may find conditions to his liking and he, Clarke and Hinds will appreciate the short boundaries at Chesterfield. I would love us to get to stumps tomorrow with around 350 on the board, but let's get through to lunch in a stable state first!

Interesting vote

The vote is shaping up nicely and Mike Di Venuto has an early lead in the poll.

Was he better than Peter Kirsten? Is his position down to people voting who didn't see the great South African as they were too young?

At this stage I'm saying nowt (rare, but true!) but will tell you what I think at the end of the poll. In between times, keep voting and tell all your Derbyshire pals to do so!

Top overseas star

Derbyshire have had many overseas players, with the first "official" one being Chris Wilkins in 1970.

Prior to that time there was Charles Ollivierre, a West Indian whose greatest game came in the same match at Chesterfield in which Essex batsman P.A. "Percy" Perrin scored a triple century and was still on the losing side! Ollivierre scored a double century and an unbeaten 92 to win the game for Derbyshire.

In the 1950's Laurie Johnson qualified for the county and entertained the crowds with an array of front of the wicket strokes seldom associated with county batsmen at that time. Many were deflectors, accumulators, grinders-out. Johnson, a white man, qualified and was a great servant over a number of years.

The names in the poll are, to me, what Miss Jean Brodie would have called the "creme de la creme". Men who made a great contribution, not just as players, but as team mates, influences and MEN. There have been many others, some of whom were worthy of inclusion, some of whom were patently not.

For one thing, inclusion required either sustained good service over a number of years or spectacular service over a single season - hence the inclusion of Dean Jones and Simon Katich.
I would hope there was no argument overthe names on the left, what about the ones who were nearly there?

Daryll Cullinan was a fine batsman, one who exploded into the side with three quick centuries in all cricket. The South African had a good technique but his contribution dwindled as the season progressed as murmurs of an unhappy dressing room abounded. Anyone who has read Dominic Cork's book "Uncorked" will know that Cullinan was apparently an awkward person to deal with (according to Cork) and didn't appreciate some of the horseplay that went on.

Michael Slater created a huge buzz of anticipation when he signed as perhaps the first opening batsman in the modern era who really went for it in Test matches. Some of his innings for Australia were brilliant and there were comparisons made with Victor Trumper, who many considered better than Bradman. Yet Slater of Derby was a major disappointment. There was the odd sparkling innings, with a brilliant partnership with Kim Barnett against Surrey a high point, but you always felt he could be out at any time, especially in the 20's and 30's.

I haven't included the name of Adrian Kuiper although he was a major factor in our Sunday League title. Kuiper the 3-day player was a pale shadow of the one-day beast. He would have been a huge star today with the advent of 20/20 cricket. His medium pace got more wickets than looked likely, while his hitting turned any target into a stroll when he had his range, but the long-form of the game saw Kuiper a modest performer for us, so not quite worthy of inclusion here.

Jon Moss and Travis Birt gave fair service, but only that. The former came on the back of a brilliant Aussie season and did OK with the bat and OK with the ball, but you never felt we had signed a world-beater. The latter had a good first season, although there were even then signs that his technique needed refined, and a second season that was a major disappointment. I have always maintained that any overseas player should average over 50 with the bat or under 25 with the ball and Birt didn't come close. In full flight he was an impressive sight, but his "days" became increasingly sporadic.

Ian Bishop could have been one of the very best. A brilliant fast bowler who got extravagant movement at great pace, the genial Bishop was recommended by Michael Holding and was also a potential all rounder, who scored an excellent century against Yorkshire. I remember seeing an Indian touring side very wary of getting in line against him at Chesterfield as he tore in from the pavilion end. His downfall was a series of back injuries, which required surgery, modification of his action and a reduction in effectiveness. For aesthetic cricket fans, Holding and Bishop opening the bowling would have been as good as it gets.

Mind you,we also had disasters. Chris Harris was signed for a very short term deal. Why? Shahid Afridi came at the start of the season and hadn't a clue on bowler-friendly tracks. Nor did he seem to want to learn, and apart from two or three little cameos was a huge disappointment. At that stage of the year, his leg spin was of negligible use too, and it was a bizarre signing.

Venkat was a fine bowler and a very nice man, but for a side crying out for runs represented some cock-eyed thinking. We had a decent bowling side but couldn't bat an eyelid. This was addressed by the signing of Lawrence Rowe, elegant, prolific (in the Caribbean), oozing talent.
He was also unlucky, injury-prone and a man with eye problems... I recall his good days with pleasure and have seldom seen a batsman with more time at the crease, but it never translated to major runs.

Finally there was Chris Wilkins, the man who started it all. Having lost the 1969 Gillette Cup Final, the feeling was that an overseas star might have made the difference. Wilkins never achieved the heights of a Barry Richards or Mike Procter, and was a pale shadow of the hoped for Eddie Barlow or Graeme Pollock, but was a wonderful entertainer. The way he played kept his average to around the 40 mark, so he was not in the very top class, but no one missed a Wilkins innings in the beer tent.

I may have missed someone in this quick run through, but this piece hopefully highlights what all counties have found - there are good and bad overseas signings. For me, Gloucestershire probably did the best overall. From the wonder that was Mike Procter, to Courtney Walsh then Ian Harvey they have had three fine cricketers and servants.

If Chris Rogers and our two Kolpaks, Charl Langeveldt and Wavell Hinds can emulate those guys there will be no complaints!

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Thanks but no thanks...

That appears the message from the many people who voted in the poll that asked if you'd like to see Dominic Cork back in Derbyshire colours.
While some stories suggest he would welcome a return to the County Ground, others suggest that he may retire for a media career. Either would be possible for the 37 year old, but 75% of those who voted do not want to see him back at Derby.
As pointed out below, I promised to give my opinion and for what its worth I think we should pass on this one. For one thing there's a lot of baggage, for another his best days are behind him and for a third we don't need cast-offs any more. I've no doubt that he could still produce the occasional good spell, maybe a cameo innings. With Clarke, Smith, Wagg and Clare in the side we're not needing all-rounders and I'm not convinced he'd bring anything to the current seam strength better than is already in place. Unless his feet are in better nick than Tom Lungley's are at present...
This week it's an equally controversial one - who has been our best-ever overseas star? I've included quite a few options of the most likely candidates. Apologies to those who still (like me) think wistfully back to the powerful strokes of Chris Wilkins. Talent though he was, he couldn't be put in the class of these guys.
I REALLY look forward to seeing how this vote goes!

Derbyshire v Worcestershire preview

There is no better place on God's earth to watch a game of cricket than Chesterfield.

Plenty of grounds will stake a claim. New Road at Worcester, Canterbury, Arundel, Cape Town. None can surely have the charm of the ground overlooked by the most famous Church spire in the world. There's less of the spire visible these days, but the ground is a picture and from a viewing perspective it is superb.

The return of the Chesterfield festival is to be celebrated and I hope that the weather is kind, with a bumper crowd almost certain.

Its time for a big hello to new West Indian batsman Wavell Hinds, who should appreciate the pace and bounce that is usually a feature of the Chesterfield tracks. Welcome back also to James Pipe, who's effervescent qualities have been missed, irrespective of the commitment shown by Freddie Klokker. From the team named one would assume that Rikki Clarke is now fit to bowl, otherwise we're looking at Hinds also being the fifth bowler. Useful as he may be, I don't think he's quite that good with the ball. The team is


Plenty of batting with John "Bradman" Clare at 9, although cynics will say that we need them the way that the top order have performed. As we all know, it's a funny old game and perhaps the Jamaican's arrival will galvanise the others.
As for the visitors, they travel with a 12-man squad that reads:

D K H Mitchell,
S C Moore,
V S Solanki
B Smith,
G A Hick,
S M Davies
G J Batty
K Ali
GM Andrew
S J Magoffin
S P Jones
M M Ali

I suspect Ali will be 12th man as Derbyshire face a talented line up and in Vikram Solanki someone who is regularly a thorn in our side. There will be great interest in the performance of Stephen Moore after our declared interest in him last week, while this may be the last chance to see Graeme Hick on a Derbyshire ground, with rumours of a retirement going the rounds. One thing for sure is that our top order will be tested by the rejuvenated Simon Jones, while Kabir Ali and Magoffin make up a strong pace attack.
Fingers crossed for good weather and for Derbyshire to return to form with a vengeance!