Friday, 19 September 2008

Say hello to Captain Buck Rogers...

Steadily and quietly, with the minimum of fuss, John Morris has gone about the business of getting a team together over recent weeks.

Dan Redfern was signed for two years and more recently Paul Borrington too. These lads are fine talents and we can now work to improve them further and highlight the good deeds going on in the Academy setup (take a bow Krikk!)

Then Wavell Hinds was signed for next season with an option for 2010. Added to the fact that Charl Langeveldt was on board for two years, this gives Morris a nucleus of experienced, talented players who should both benefit from a full English season and the range of conditions they have faced.

Now comes the news we have all been hoping for. Chris Rogers is signed for next year as captain and I applaud that decision 100%. While there was a school of thought that we should use the captaincy to attract an established pro from elsewhere, there is a two word answer to that one.

Rikki Clarke.

I firmly subscribe to the Australian model of picking your captain as the best player available. Few would argue that this is Rogers, and the amiable Aussie has grown from a slow start to become the second most prolific run scorer in the country. At 31 he also has his best years ahead of him and realistically is unlikely to trouble the Aussie selectors given the depth of batting talent in that country. Yet with 1372 first class runs he has emulated the feats of Michael di Venuto - and in my opinion surpassed them.

There have been comments - some of them from me - that he is not really a one day player. The bare facts are that he averages 37 in one day cricket and 57 in the longer game. However, he has managed six fifties in 13 one day innings and has only failed in not converting these to centuries.

He is a very solid professional, well respected and has the potential to be our skipper for the next five years. What's not to like?

I'm delighted with this appointment and now John Morris has to answer some serious questions.

Is Steve Stubbings worth another year?
Is Wayne White?
Is Ian Hunter?
Can Dom Telo come back next year as the player who made such an impact in South Africa?
Can Tom Lungley re-emerge from an injury-hit year to bolster the seam bowling ranks next season?
Can John Sadler challenge for a middle order spot?
Is Tom New worth an offer?
Who can he bring into the middle order to strengthen next year's side?
Do we need a new slow left armer, or do we accept that Graham Wagg may be as good as any of them that may be available and make a move for Yorkshire leggie Mark Lawson?
Can he find another seamer?

I've said before and will again that I'd like to see Dominic Cork back next year. Rumours of Steve Kirby's availability abound, but Cork would be my choice. Erstwhile personality aside, if Stuart Law and Andrew Flintoff reckon Lancashire have made a mistake I'm happy to trust their judgement.

There may be some merit in a move for Andrew Harris, now that he has left Nottinghamshire, but given his track record it might best be as a "pay as you play" deal. On his day he's a good bowler, but whether the body is still up to it is debatable. There would be a degree of irony if he were to rejoin Derbyshire, as I seem to recall John Morris, acting as an agent, being instrumental in his leaving a few years back and his decision to go down the road will still rankle with some fans.

For me, the side for next April is taking shape nicely. I'd see it as being something along the lines of:


We should remember that we will not see Borrington until June with University commitments and may not see Hinds at the start, depending on the ICL schedule. It has been an encouraging season in many ways, but this winter's recruitment will dictate the rate of progress from here.

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