Tuesday, 24 June 2008

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...

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