Thursday, 17 July 2008

Northamptonshire v Derbyshire day 2

The other day I jokingly suggested that Derbyshire might score 500 at Northampton, then bowl them out twice.

Today we scored 485-7 and Graham Wagg and Jon Clare (pictured) both scored their maiden centuries. Memo to self - must make fun of our batting more often...

Well done to both of these guys, both of whom have done really well this season. If one accepts that a true all-rounder has a batting average in excess of his bowling one, then both qualify in spades this year. Wagg is now averaging 30 with the bat and has 28 wickets at 23, while young Clare cannot have imagined, even in his wildest dreams, a debut season like this.

Currently sitting with a batting average a fraction under 49 per innings as well as being second top scorer, he also has 14 wickets at 32. Good figures for any player, but for a young man rejected by Lancashire it is a great achievement. If he doesn't get an A tour this winter, like Wagg, they should be asking questions in Parliament.

When one considers that Greg Smith has signed a 2-year deal and is only 25, that is a trio of young all-rounders that any county would envy. We should also remember that Rikki Clarke is a far better player than his current figures suggest and another all-rounder, while Jake Needham has the potential to be valuable with bat and ball and has progressed this year.

Hey - and Dan Redfern, the best young Derbyshire batsman I've seen since Kim Barnett emerged, is a more than useful off-spinner while Akhil Patel, an attractive and hard-hitting left hander too, also bowls that rarity of left arm chinamen. Whether these two young talents continue as all rounders is debatable. While Kim Barnett remained a useful leggie and occasional medium-pacer to the end of his career, his batting progressed to a far greater extent. I suspect that Dan Redfern will be seen as an elegant and fluent left hand batsman who can bowl spin on occasion like Michael Vaughan and Kevin Pietersen, just the same as Patel.

We shouldn't discount the promise of Ross Whiteley either. He moves the ball either way at a reasonable pace and hits cleanly too.

Hmmm... eight all-round talents in one club that doesn't bring on young players. If only we spent more time with youngsters, who knows what we'd do eh, Mr Atherton?

Back to today's game and it was frustrating to lose so much time to the weather. Despite inadvertently getting close to our first innings score, I'd be surprised if my vision of bowling them out twice came true. Their innings has started steadily and there are good players to come. Unless the covered pitch sweats and helps our seamers tomorrow, or it starts to crumble and offer turn, forcing a win will take some doing. Given that ex-Test spinner Nick Boje did very little, it appears unlikely that Needham and Doshi will create havoc.

Still, it's a funny game as old Fred used to say. Tonight we celebrate, tomorrow we will (hopefully) get among them...

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