Diva, I mean.
I ask that question as many on the 606 board refer to him in almost hushed tones. He was undoubtedly one of the best blokes to play for the county and showed great loyalty to stay when there were other and better offers tabled over his time with us.
Having mentioned Chris Rogers last night, and his average currently sitting at around 47 with three centuries and five fifties, it shows great similarities to the performances of Michael Di Venuto. What a lot of people forget is that his first two seasons were nothing really special and indeed his first year with us was a disaster.
Here's his record season by season:
2000/ 25/725 /33
2001/ 25 /1082/ 45
2002/ 28/ 1538/ 62
2003/ 31/ 1520/ 49
2005/ 24 /1133/ 51
2006/ 22/ 1110/ 52
So really,one could argue that Diva was lucky to retain his role in the side after his first year in particular and even after his second. His third and fourth seasons werevery prolific and saw him at his peak, but there was a substantial tail off in form after the back injury that ruled him out of 2004.
I've said before that I was unlucky with and for him, as I never saw him make more than 20 in fifteen attempts. Many who saw him in full flight confirm his talent, which is undeniable from his averages with us and with Durham. Yet critics will assert that he made his big scores in the second innings of games that were effectively a lost cause after the first.
Was Dave Houghton right to release him after 2006? Subsequent events - his form for Durham and then taking up of his Italian passport to play as a European player - suggest he was wrong. Looking at the stats (and he also had a poor 2006 in one day cricket) one can at least appreciate why Houghton let him go.
I'd have loved to see Diva still in Derbyshire colours and it is fascinating to imagine what he and Rogers would have been like together. The one sure thing is that in the Victorian batsman we have a worthy successor who has already surpassed the deeds of Di Venuto in their respective debut seasons. It is debatable whether he will stay as long as the latter but we should all cherish his batting talent while we have the opportunity to do so.