Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Buck Rogers and a quest for centuries

It was nice to see Chris "Buck" Rogers hold his hands up on the club website today and accept the responsibility for our making runs for the rest of the season.

Nothing more than you would expect from a good cricketer and a nice guy, but in total agreement to what I expressed on this blog the other night. Any side recruiting a batsman to the overseas role has a right to expect that player to do more than contribute. The player should lead by example and be the top run scorer. If a county is blessed with a borderline England batsman - a Sales, Shah, Key perhaps - it might be understandable if they were perhaps second, but not in a team like Derbyshire are now and pretty much always have been.

Quite frankly, we could fetch Matt Cassar, John Owen or Matt Lineker from the Premier League and get someone who would average 30-35 over a season. Players such as Michael Slater, Travis Birt and Jon Moss all did their best but averaged only slightly more - and at much higher salaries than the local guys would have commanded.

Rogers has a deserved reputation for big scores. A triple century while playing for Northants, a double century against his countrymen for Leicestershire and a piffling 279 for Western Australia in a Pura Cup match. Even allowing for lapses of concentration and the odd good ball, we should now look to him to replicate that for us through July, August and September.

I'll go on record now, and risk looking silly later, by saying that Rogers COULD be the man to break George Davidson's long-standing highest individual score for the county, currently standing at 274. I actually thought Simon Katich might have put it in danger last season, but he tailed off badly after the 20/20 and frequently looked disinterested. Rogers is perhaps not as big a name as Katich, but will want to do his best to stay in contention for the national team. Shaun Marsh and Shane Watson are good players and currently in the Aussie one day opening slots. Are either much better than Rogers? I'm not so sure, so expect the left-hander to up his game in the second half of the season.

Who else will be in the top 5? Steve Stubbings should be, but needs to do more than a solid 30-odd in a steady start. He and Rogers have batted well together and have not been the source of our problems. That has been the middle order, and I'd now give Dom Telo a run at number 3. With the wickets drying out, a little more pace and bounce will remind him of home and I would like to think he would reward a run in the side with at least one century before season-end.

Wavell Hinds is an obvious number four and one assumes Rikki is the number five. Were he not the captain his place might more deservedly go to Dan Birch, but there seemed to be signs at Chelmsford that the Emperor had found a new groove. Greg Smith gives a little more ballast at six and James Pipe can then come in when the bowlers are (hopefully) tiring and put them around the park.

Waggy is an obvious eight so then it's a tough call between the promise and all round ability of Jon Clare and the greater experience of Tom Lungley, if fit. I'd go for Tom and give the youngster a well deserved breather, but that's one to justify John Morris' salary!

Langeveldt is the best seamer we've had in years so a certainty, leaving a straight fight between Jake Needham and Nayan Doshi for the spinner's berth. The former bowled very well against Essex and would be hard to omit, though Doshi looked very good against Yorkshire 2nds. I had a chat with him at that game and he said how happy he is at Derbyshire and how keen he is to get back in the side. Ant Botha never had a serious rival at Derby, but the maturing Needham and older Doshi have good competition going and it should be to our benefit.

A win against Leicestershire, the Tom Petty county (they're free falling - d'ya gettit?!) would get the season back on track. Quick wickets, especially HD Ackerman, expose a vulnerable middle order and surely Jim Allenby isn't the world class seamer we made him look in the 20/20?

If the weather stays out of it, I predict a win in the game that starts on Friday.

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