Saturday, 30 August 2008

Warwickshire v Derbyshire

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....

I saw photos of the "crowd" at Edgbaston on the In Morris We Trust board the other day and its little wonder that county cricket is losing crowds with matches like this.

Trott got a big hundred, Rogers would probably never have got out if people had stayed with him and that's all you can say really. A bore draw, a snore draw.

You can't really blame Maddy for batting all day and making nothing of the game, but you feel sorry for people who paid good money to watch that rubbish. Slightly more exciting than a game of chess and that's all you could say for it.

I take no pleasure in predicting that the tail staying with him might be Rogers biggest barrier to breaking the club batting record, nor in anticipating that the Bears would then bat all day once we were out. Buck has to be content with now being third place on the club's all time biggest innings list and in having played the second highest innings for the county in over a century. He is also the second highest run scorer in the country and seems to have thrived on the responsibiity of the captaincy, in direct contrast to his predecessor, Rikki Clarke.

So its Glamorgan at Derby on Tuesday and we really need to win that and at least one of our other two games against Gloucestershire and Leicestershire to be in with a chance of promotion. I hope that Worcester thrash Warwickshire in the match between the two as the latter have been shockingly negative in this game. Northamptonshire and Essex are both still in the chase too, so this may well go down to the wire. My main hope is that the weather stays fair and it can be decided on talent and results rather than by forecasts.

Big day

But to be fair it could all end in anti-climax.

I can't see anything in this final day apart from Chris Rogers attempt on the club batting record and it would be a real shame if he were denied a fair crack at it by running out of partners.

Waggy is a good batsman and closing in on the mini-double (500 runs, 50 wickets) but he is vulnerable early and that would just leave Charl Langeveldt and Nayan Doshi to keep Rogers company, neither of whom one would have total confidence in. The South African can hit a ball but with that style the bowlers always have a chance and Doshi, while a cricketer of some merit, is not a batsman I'd put my mortgage on.

There's a comment on 606 saying that Rogers is a "flat track bully" which is patently unfair. Very few batsmen make big scores consistently on tracks favouring bowlers and it could be argued that Rogers has made 60's and 70's this year when the conditions favoured them and which were possibly of greater merit. I cannot think of any batting record that has been set on an awkward track and the trick is to cash in when the conditions are in your favour.

"Drink at the well". That was the advice to a fledgling batsman from his senior colleague many years ago when he suggested he might get out having made his century. There are plenty of times when form is a desert and runs hard to come by so batsmen should capitalise on the opportunities afforded by the occasional docile track to boost their average. To be brutally honest, yesterday's track has been the same for the batsmen of both sides but only two have cashed in and a batsman should be applauded for having the technique and concentration, not to mention stamina, to do so.

Rogers is seventh on the all time top scorer list this morning with the following above him:

Stan Worthington 238 not out v Sussex 1937
Chris Adams 239 v Hampshire 1996
Kim Barnett - 239 not out v Leicestershire 1988
Peter Bowler 241 not out v Hampshire 1992
Pat Vaulkhard 264 v Nottinghamshire 1946
George Davidson 274 v Lancashire 1896

Curious to think that, resuming on 237 Rogers needs only one boundary to leapfrog from seventh to joint third.

Interestingly Pat Vaulkhard's challenge for the record was the only time in over 120 innings that he ever passed the century mark, being only an occasional school holiday player. Drink at the well, indeed. He was a highly entertaining, front of the wicket batsman, as were all of the above, although Peter Bowler was more a steady accumulator.

I always hoped the record would go in the early 1980's when Peter Kirsten was in his prime and runs flowed from his bat. Six times he passed the double century mark, three of them unbeaten. Had we been playing four and not three day cricket at the time, I'm convinced Kirsten would have set a record that would never have been broken at Chesterfield in 1978 against Glamorgan. The required declaration stopped him in his tracks when the bowling was disappearing to all parts and another hour or so would have taken him past 300, let alone the Davidson record. He finished 206 not out but on days like that Kirsten's bat must have looked like a barn door to bowlers.

Kirsten didn't so much drink at the well as guzzle it dry. I really hope that Chris Rogers does the same today.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Statistical manna

So the opening partnership today between Chris Rogers and Paul Borrington was the highest in this year's County Championship. Given the fragility of our batting at times this year, there's a degree of irony in there, n'est ce pas?

Full credit to the pair and it must aid Bozza's development to watch a player like Rogers at close quarters.

Meanwhile, the six that Rogers hit in today's mammoth innings was curiously the first that he has scored in the Championship this season. Now there's a real goodie for the statisticians - who was the last batsman to score a thousand Championship runs before hitting his first six? I may be wrong but I can't think that has happened too often in the history of the game.

Anyone any ideas?

Buck's chance to prove me a mystic!


Could tomorrow see this moribund track provide a little bit of cricket history?

With Chris Rogers unbeaten on 237 at stumps and Derbyshire just 14 runs behind, one could be forgiven for thinking a declaration will come overnight, followed by a Warwickshire thrash and a Derbyshire run chase.

Yeah, and I'm actually Brad Pitt and my wife's Angelina Jolie (actually she's even nicer!)

It isn't going to happen that way and so realism should take over. With Warwickshire's stance throughout this game being "what we have, we hold" there will be no last day declaration, unless you count Derbyshire being left 290 from 20 0vers as a declaration. They are ahead of us in the promotion stakes and intend to stay that way. Who can blame them? If the roles were reversed, I doubt John Morris would tempt our opposition with 5 an over for 50 overs.

All of which means that Chris Rogers could tomorrow attempt to break the longest standing individual batting record in County cricket. That's George Davidson's 274 at Old Trafford against Lancashire in 1896, which has been threatened on a number of occasions over the years, but not yet beaten.

The most likely once seemed to be Stan Worthington, who got to 238 and had to retire with cramp, but Kim Barnett, Michael di Venuto and others have all threatened it in recent years, only to get out early the next day.

I'm actually feeling quite good about this one, as in my post of July 8 "Buck Rogers and a quest for centuries" I wrote:

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.

Last night I also wrote that I thought he could get enough to become one of the top scorers in the country today. At close of play, only Stephen Moore has scored more than Rogers this season and he has 61 more. If Waggy, Charl and Nayan can stay with him tomorrow, Rogers will deservedly enter the record books and could become the top scorer in the country.

If I ran the poll on whether he should stay next season again I suspect the result would be massively different than the 50/50 vote that transpired. With an average of 58 at present he has surely convinced the doubters and with four centuries and seven 50s in 24 innings can be said to have had a very fine season - hopefully with more to follow.

Conversely, in a batting display of solidity, led by Paul Borrington, Wavell Hinds and Tom New, ex-skipper Rikki Clarke only lasted two balls and must surely now be rested. Or dropped, or however you want to put it, but the poor bloke is having a nightmare. One of the Birmingham newspapers yesterday suggested that the Bears may be in for him at the end of season, despite him being under contract. While a player of unquestionable talent, he has massively underperformed this season and while part of me thinks he has to get better next year, the other thinks that the substantial contract that he must be on could be spent in better ways. All will be revealed in time, I'm sure.

So, let's celebrate a job well done tonight and hope that Chris Rogers manages a feat tomorrow that many will have lived and died hoping to see. We'll not be celebrating a win tomorrow, that is for sure, but a new record would send them on to the next game in good heart.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

For what its worth...

On the day that Chris Rogers passed his 1,000 for the season, Michael di Venuto completed a pair for Durham at Basingstoke on what appears a poor track.

Diva now has 793 runs at 39 for Durham while Rogers averages just over 49 for us.

I know they're in division one and we're in division two, but...

Warwickshire v Derbyshire

If four day cricket and two divisions has given County cricket a shot in the arm, the game at Edgbaston must have had a placebo administered because at the end of day two it is hard to see where a positive result can possibly come from.

Having crawled to 476-9 from over 145 overs of batting, Derbyshire responded with a more fluent (but there were close fields set) 83-0 in reply from 22 overs by the close. Only Ian Salisbury showed anything like aggression for the Bears, although Ian Trott showed admirable powers of concentration in making 181 in just over six hours of batting.

Here is the problem with a lot of county cricket, with soporific tracks emasculating even the most penetrative of bowlers (Langeveldt) who bowled 26 overs in taking 2-59. He needs one more to reach 50 for the season but must be seriously pleased not to have to bowl on this every other game. It must be the same feeling encountered by Stef Jones in moving to Taunton, a lot more work than the tracks he had at his disposal in Derby.

Our first target tomorrow will be the 327 to avoid the follow on so there's 244 more required after the positive start made by Buck Rogers and Bozza. It gladdens my heart to see two youngsters of the age and ability of Borrington and Redfern in the Derbyshire side and is testimony to the work being done in the Academy and Seconds.

The problem is that I fail to see how we can win this game. If we batted brilliantly tomorrow and made 120 a session, we'd close at 440 or thereabouts, still behind. On what we have seen so far the home side are keen to avoid defeat here so are unlikely to set anything attainable for us in the last innings. So unless we collapse in spectacular fashion (it has been known) the last day is likely to be as exciting as a rave featuring the music of Perry Como and Val Doonican.

It would suit Warwickshire, but with their next two matches being against Worcestershire and Essex (the latter without Kaneria who is now out for the season) they may yet have reason to regret the negativity that has been a feature of their tactics in this game. essex are now back in the race after thrashing a pitiful Leicestershire side today. How did that shower beat us in the Pro 40?

Finally, congratulations to Chris Rogers in becoming the latest to pass 1,000 runs for the season. He is currently seventh leading scorer of the season and nine more runs tomorrow will leave only Marcus Trescothick, HD Ackerman, Jacques Rudolph and Stephen Moore ahead of him. Another 76 will see him pass the excellent Rudolph and if batting conditions stay as they are he has every chance of doing that.

Well played Chris!

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Sky Sports

Don't know if anyone caught Sky Sports News this morning but when I saw it around 6.15am (yes, I am an early riser) they were showing a feature on the 100th anniversary of the birth of the "greatest batsman ever" - Donald Bradman.

The usual stuff, the "three cheers" footage from his last Test match and the reference to that average of 99.94 (yes, thought I, but he never got a hundred against Derbyshire).

Then they went on to announce the hundredth anniversary of the last appearance of WG Grace in 1908. The grainy footage of Grace walking out to the middle and then the familiar footage of Grace batting (jerkily, but that would be the film) in the nets.

Familiar... but not. Even at that time of day I noticed something was not quite right. Grace was shown as a left hander as they had the film the wrong way round! Yes, I was sober and not that tired...

I did send them an e mail but they maybe disregarded it for all I know. Anyone see it on a later bulletin and notice if it was the right way?

Warwickshire v Derbyshire day 1

At the end of a slightly anti-climactic day one I'd reckon that honours are pretty much even at Edgbaston. While the home side will be pleased to have made 209 runs with only three wickets down in a truncated day, I'd reckon that we'll be pleased to have kept the run rate to under three an over while bagging three good wickets, including talismanic skipper Darren Maddy.

I'm pleased to have correctly called Morris' final eleven last night and they all bowled steadily. No wickets for Charl, but Waggy, Clare and Wavell all took one while Nayan Doshi bowled a very accurate spell of slow left arm.

The thing is things can quickly change. Langeveldt is often more effective on a second day with an older ball with the reverse swing going and after Tim Ambrose, due in next, they have the two spinners and then the three seamers. Without being cruel, if the Cricinfo batting order is correct, Martin and Woakes must be poor batsmen if Boyd Rankin (a surprise inclusion) is at nine. Two quick wickets tomorrow morning, with 209-3 becoming 230-5 and they could struggle to top 300.

Conversely we must keep our discipline and not let them get away. Trott and Troughton are both good players and if they get away we could be chasing leather till teatime and a first innings of 450. We have a comfortingly long batting order here, with Clare and Wagg at eight and nine but we know how fragile that early order can be and must hope that from here onwards they fire on all cylinders.

Tomorrow, tomorrow - its only a day away!

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Milestone ahoy!

In the Warwickshire game that starts tomorrow, Charl Langeveldt needs three wickets to reach 50 for the season, while skipper Chris Rogers needs just 20 runs to reach his 1,000 runs. Only six players have so far beaten him to the landmark and we're still not sure if he's done enough to warrant keeping next season. Crikey we're hard taskmasters in Derbyshire!

Meanwhile only five bowlers have exceeded Charl's tally of 47 and he could yet end the season as the top wicket-taker in the country. Here's hoping that knee injury holds out.

Poll

Well, two-thirds of those who voted thought that we should cease being Scorpions and change our name to something more appropriate for next season's one day cricket.

Given it's one day cricket only, maybe the Derbyshire Dum-Dums has something, while Derbyshire Devastated might save the journos a little time in their thought process. I'd love to think we'd be Derbyshire Dynamite, but that's one for the future and a lot better form than shown this year.

So to this week's poll. Has Wavell Hinds done enough as a Kolpak to warrant another deal next year? A batting average of 29 and a bowling one of 24 as I write in the Championship, solid if not spectacular. Is he worth another year or could we get a better young British player in, or give a chance to an Academy youngster? Register your vote in the next seven days.

Of course, I'd love Wavell to score 180 tomorrow and make the decision as easy as a poll to see whether we should keep Charl Langeveldt. Thankfully the South African maestro signed for two years, but any poll asking that question of Champagne Charl would only need one option - and it wouldn't be no...

Warwickshire v Derbyshire preview

This time tomorrow we'll either be rubbing our hands with excitement or kicking the cat (makes mental note, must go and buy a cat tomorrow, just in case...)

With overcast conditions the toss will be vital tomorrow and we would love to win it. Derbyshire have announced a 13 man squad that is as follows:

Chris Rogers (captain)
Paul Borrington
Wavell Hinds
Greg Smith
Dan Redfern
John Sadler
Rikki Clarke
Tom New
Jon Clare
Graham Wagg
Ian Hunter
Charl Langeveldt
Nayan Doshi

So the Leicestershire Mercury was telling porkies when it said that New was playing his last game for us last night. The Nottinghamshire-born player has done very well for us and is in solid batting form. The key selection is Rikki Clarke - is he fit to bowl more than a few overs and is he in good enough form with the bat? If the answer to both of those questions is yes, then he should be in the side, though fans would question his batting form even if we don't know the state of his ankle. One assumes that we would need a front line spinner and that Nayan Doshi will play against the side that courted him last season before signing Ant Botha so that would mean that Ian Hunter misses out. The final place would thus be between John Sadler and Clarke as a batsman and given that neither have been in the form of their life, that's a tricky one. My gut feeling would be to stick with the ex-skipper, but hey - what do I know?

We'd then have an attack of 47-wicket Charl Langeveldt, Graham Wagg, Jon Clare, Wavell Hinds, Nayan Doshi and a bit of Clarke, Smith and Redfern (the latter a useful off-spinner). Plenty of options and importantly a lengthy batting side. Getting those last two places right will be very, very important for John Morris.

The hosts have a strong looking side out and their 12 reads:

Darren Maddy (captain)
Ian Westwood
Jonathan Trott
James Troughton
Tim Ambrose
Tony Frost
Ant Botha
Ian Salisbury
Neil Carter
Chris Woakes
Chris Martin
James Anyon

Ambrose, Frost, Troughton and Trott all average in excess of 50 for the home side though only two of them have exceeded 500 runs. Youngster Woakes has had a good season but their bowling doesn't look excessively dangerous - here's hoping I don't have to regret those words! The Warwickshire fans on 606 are not very happy and are talking about wholesale changes for next season, so if we were to win this one there'll be much wailing and gnashing of teeth down Birmingham way.

Kiwi seamer Chris Martin hasn't pulled up many trees for the Bears, and their biggest danger still looks Neil Carter, who although past his prime has the knack of bowling wicket-taking spells. They may well decide on one of the spinners for the final place but could play both as they can both bat and Anyon may miss out with the skipper Maddy and Trott bowling their seamers as extra bowlers.

It is all set for a battle royal. We could really do with the big name players standing up and playing the innings they have all threatened in this one. After the destruction of Middlesex, another win here could set the momentum for a successful end of season promotion push.

C'mon boys - make us proud to be Derbyshire fans!

Monday, 25 August 2008

Leicestershire v Derbyshire Pro 40

Aaargh!!

That top order batting again shows its frailties and despite the best efforts of the Leicestershire old boys (Messrs Rogers, Sadler and New), we lost in an exciting finish by six runs.

There were some strange things in the game and the choice of bowlers at the end of the Leicestershire innings seemed odd, with Wavell Hinds given the last overs from one end while Jon Clare, Graham Wagg and Ian Hunter all bowled less than their allocation. Maybe its me, but if I was batting against our attack at the end of an innings, I'd fancy a go at Wave's dibbly-dobbly seam more than the others. Perhaps the others may have got the treatment too and Hunter did take the other end, but they scored around 35 from the last four overs which turned the game.

I said last night that Greg Smith is not an opener and it was proven again tonight. He is a talented middle order batsman, but there's a big difference between batting one and batting four. You don't see Pietersen, Kallis, Symonds and Hussey opening the batting and they're all better than Smith. Why not let New open? He usually did for Leicester and was left high and dry at the end of the innings today with our fans doubtless wondering what might have been.

Sadly Rikki Clarke again fell for nought and yet another first baller. The only Derbyshire player of any talent that had anywhere near such a torrid first season was Charlie Lee back in the 1950s. He came from Yorkshire and had a dreadful first year, before blossoming into a solid county pro and eventual club captain. Rikki must be longing for the end of the season and a reassessment of things. As a batsman he has failed badly, as a bowler he has too great a tendency to bowl "four" balls and thus as an all rounder he has fallen well short of expectations. Only as a slip, where he has held brilliant catches, has he performed and no one can hold down a place for that alone.

So despite his only scoring 13 tonight, Dan Redfern must be in for Wednesday as Rikki is so out of form. At least one senses Dan will sell his wicket dearly, which Rikki seems incapable of doing at present.

I'll be glad when the Pro 40 is finished. We really are poor at one day cricket.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Leicestershire v Derbyshire Pro 40

I'm not sure that there's anything in this game except local pride but for that alone both sides will want to win tomorrow.

Quite frankly I haven't a clue what John Morris' team may be. He may give a few guys a net before Wednesday and Warwickshire or he may give them a rest. I'd be surprised to see Langeveldt play, but on the evidence of the Yorkshire game the top order batting needs some practice in the middle.

Dan Redfern should get another chance to show his undoubted talents, but cricket being the game it is, he could be out quickly tomorrow. This is, of course, the game in which we show how good an all rounder Jim Allenby of Leicestershire is. I rate the chap quite highly, but if he played against us every week his status in the game would be somewhere around that of "Freddie" Flintoff. Another of those who always seem to do well against Derbyshire, he'd be a good asset should he ever fancy a move from Grace Road. Then again, I thought that about John Sadler and that's not worked so far has it?

Leicester welcome back Boeta Dippenaar and Jacques du Toit tomorrow to join the man other Saffers in the squad. With Ackerman, du Preez and Henderson also likely to play, Langeveldt will have plenty of familiar faces to bowl at should he play, or to chat with if he goes along simply to watch.

It is a game that it would be nice to win, to help build momentum built up in the thrilling run chase at Derby. Incidentally, this is supposedly Tom New's last game of his loan spell in which he has acquitted himself well. He had one bad day against Middlesex where he let a few byes and dropped a sitter, but he has been competent behind the stumps and has contributed well with the bat. It would be quite ironic (and sweet) were he to get the runs that won the game tomorrow.

This presumably means that James Pipe is fit for the Warwickshire game and all fans will rejoice about that. He remains a batsman who can turn a game very quickly and a comforting sight at number seven.

The big week starts tomorrow folks. I'm sure there'll be the usual rollercoaster of emotions as it progresses. My club have also got a local trophy final on Wednesday evening when we aim to reclaim what we lost on the last ball last season, so any comments I have on the first day may be late in the evening - unless the weather yet again intervenes in this thrice cancelled affair.

Derbyshire v Warwickshire 1937


After the glory of the Championship season of 1936, Derbyshire had problems in 1937.

The main one was injuries, with their two leading strike bowlers Bill Copson and Tommy Mitchell both being hors de combat for a fair part of the season. Copson had an array of little niggles, including a spell of illness and a knee problem, while Mitchell broke both a finger and a thumb. Although George Pope played more often than had been the case on the Championship season, most of which he missed with a knee injury, the attack lost its balance and spearhead.

Nevertheless the side managed to finish a creditable third. Denis Smith was just short of 2,000 runs, Stan Worthington made nearly 1800 while George Pope scored 1318 runs and took 92 wickets for good measure.

At Edgbaston early in the season, Warwickshire scored over 500 against Derbyshire, their international pairing of Bob Wyatt (232) and Tom Dollery (128) putting us to the sword.

When they arrived in Derby on July 19th it was a different game, although it looked a good wicket. When captain Alan Skinner won the toss he hoped for early life and asked the opposition to bat first.

Bill Copson was fit and began the attack from the Nottingham Road End, while youngster "Dusty" Rhodes (father of Harold) was given the cherry at the old pavilion end. Younger readers should note that the square has been turned around since those days...

Bill usually bowled downhill because of his greater speed and in his first two overs removed opening batsman Hill and the man who replaced him, Santall. The former was caught close in, with the second being clean bowled. After five overs he had 3-5, opening batsman Norman Kilner being caught by the captain. When Alf Pope replaced Rhodes after four wicketless overs, he bowled "Vic" Buckingham, a hard hitting batsman and then bowled Wyatt for 231 less than he had made at Edgbaston.

In Bill's seventh over he bowled Jimmy Ord, batting at number seven but a good batsman and the visitors hopes were pinned on Dollery, the remaining batsman of any consequence. Copson's eight over saw him bowl Dollery with the fifth ball and then repeat the feat with the final ball of the over.

After a maiden over by Pope, Bill took his hat trick by clean bowling Bill Fantham and with his next ball he did the same to Eric Hollies, the latter a very fine bowler but the stereotype number eleven. The Derbyshire bowler had taken four wickets in four balls and finished with the extraordinary figures of 8.2-2-11-8.

Alf Pope took the other two for five runs in four overs and the talk at lunchtime was what might have happened had he (or brother George) been given the new ball instead of the youngster Rhodes!

Warwickshire were all out for 28, with Copson taking his wickets with the ultimate combination of speed, swing both ways and lift.

When Derbyshire batted they hit hard, aware of the fact that there was more than a little in the wicket. Les Townsend made 52, Rhodes made 58 and numbers ten and eleven, Mitchell and Copson hit some fine shots in scoring 21 and 30 respectively, Bill's unbeaten innings containing seven boundaries and being a season-best.

There was still time for Warwickshire to start their second innings and Copson bowled Kilner with his second ball to extend his figures to five in six balls, then he bowled Santall for the second time in the match to finish the day with six wickets in thirteen balls.

Although Warwickshire battled hard on the second day, Hill making a century and Dollery 98, they were all out for 291 with Copson finishing with 3-82 (11-93 in the match). Tom Mitchell leggies were rewarded with 5-80 and Derbyshire were left needing just 93 to win. These were knocked off before the close for the loss of five wickets, all of them going to veteran seamer Joe Mayer who finished with match figures of 10-122 but on the losing side.

I'm sure that all Derbyshire fans would love to see Charl Langeveldt replicate those figures on Thursday - just as long as the end result is the same!
(Photo shows Bill Copson -right - with fellow Derbyshire player Stan Worthington - left - on the way back from the 1936-7 tour of Australia. The England squad visited the Selznick studios in Hollywood and they are awaiting the autograph of Hollywood legend and cricket fan Douglas Fairbanks Jr - with cigarette)

Saturday, 23 August 2008

To clear up confusion

I noticed today that there has been someone posting over the past week on the Derby Evening Telegraph site articles about Derby County who is going by the name of "Peakfan".

I'd just like to clarify for everyone on here who is also a fan of Derby County and who may have read these comments that it isn't me.

I've said before that I follow Derby County but I lost a lot of interest in the game a few years ago when it became patently clear that the game in England was going the same way as that in Scotland. Namely that only a handful of clubs could ever win anything which has got to be a bad thing. Then when you get eejits like Ronaldo claiming he's a £150K per week slave - I'm sorry, that's pathetic.

So if you see any comments on the DET site on football by someone called Peakfan, rest assured it is not me. I don't have copyright on the name so can't do much else about it, but would just like regular readers to know that I don't post on football matters, only cricket.

While Derbyshire are not (yet) one of the biggest counties, we can still beat anyone on our day and that is the case for everyone. Those with Test grounds are theoretically the "big boys" but one look at the results of Warwickshire, Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire, Middlesex and Surrey tells you that they are beatable and that is the way that it should be.

The day that a cricket match can be accurately forecast in advance is the day I cease interest. That's the way it is with football at the top, but thankfully the greatest of games has not yet dropped to that level and I hope never will.

There, that's cleared that up!

Interesting at the top

There's a good game going on at Colchester today with Worcester 102-1 at lunch chasing 347 in total to beat Essex.

I hope they get them as it will leave Essex struggling to keep in the promotion pack and Worcestershire, currently 37 points ahead of us, are pretty much up if they win. They've only lost one game this season, wonder who that was to...?

Northants are still in there but I can't see their bowling being strong enough to keep in the hunt. Middlesex are also in the frame but blow hot and cold so it adds extra to Thursday's game.

This sees Ant Botha and Boyd Rankin potentially playing against their old county, although both have struggled to make an impact this season. Rankin has been injured and appears to be as erratic as ever since his return, but Botha has not made many runs nor taken wickets so may lose out the spinner's berth to Ian Salisbury.

Graham Wagg will definitely return to Edgbaston as a key part of the Derbyshire side and he has made good progress since moving from Birmingham. While not quite as accurate as we may want him to be, when his radar is locked on properly he is a very dangerous bowler, while his batting can transform a game in a few overs. He currently needs just over a hundred runs and fourteen wickets from the last four matches to complete the "mini double" of 500 runs and 50 wickets for the season. By any standards that represents a good year's work.

Jon Clare meanwhile has already passed the 500 run mark and has 25 wickets. Unless he hits spectacular bowling form in the last four matches the double will elude him but it should not detract from an outstanding first full season. He currently shades Chris Rogers at the top of the batting averages and is an outstanding talent. One has only to read the comments on the Lancashire 606 board to realise how disappointed they are at the one who got away.

Speaking of 606, there are some very arrogant individuals on the Warwickshire board who are talking up their great facilities, coaches and prospects. Almost as bad as those on the Lancashire board who say that Clare will rejoin them in a year's time. It asks the questions if these people actually read newspapers or websites. Clare has a two-year deal and appears to be settled, while those on the Warwickshire board who reckon they'll sign David Sales and Graham Onions for next year have overlooked the fact that both have signed contracts keeping them at their current counties for the next few years.

Finally from me today, Charl Langeveldt needs three wickets at Edgbaston to reach his fifty for the season in Championship matches. Taking into account his one-day and 20/20 performances he already has 71, a quite magnificent effort.

The burly South African has been a most willing work horse for us this year and one always feels a wicket is on its way when he is handed the ball. We should all enjoy every minute of his 100% never-say-die attitude while we have him. Cricketers of such resilience, especially overseas bowlers, are few and far between and Langeveldt should be cherished.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Derbyshire v Warwickshire 1910

It is safe to say that the 1910 equivalent of Grumbler's Corner at Derby would have had plenty to complain about.


The county used 32 players that season and won only two of their twenty games, losing fourteen and ending up next to bottom. The side was heavily dependent on fast bowler Arnold Warren, solid left hand bat Ernie "Nudger" Needham and all rounder Arthur Morton, all of whom were ever-present in a poor season.

So too was John Chapman, a Gloucestershire man who had qualified to play for Derbyshire and had made his debut in the previous season. He had starred in a victory over Warwickshire that season, making 198 in a six wicket win. The innings flattered him, however as he finished his career with an average of only 18,

When Warwickshire came to Blackwell on June 18th, Chapman may well have reflected on his innings the previous year but had to wait to bat. The Blackwell ground hosted seven Derbyshire matches up to the First World War but then lost out to Burton-on-Trent and it offered a fine batting track for a decent side.

A year later, Warwickshire won the County Championship and on the first day they racked up an impressive 429-5, before declaring before lunch on the second day at 504-7. In reply, Derbyshire made a solid but insufficient 262 all out and were made to follow on before the close, when they were 51-1.

The following morning there was a collapse and 40 minutes before lunch the home county was 131-8 when Chapman walked out at number ten to join Arnold Warren. The latter was best known as a lively fast medium bowler, genuinely quick for a few overs, and although a steady batsman had never produced the spectacular. His average was 12 for the season, while the captain averaged 15. Spectators could have been forgiven for checking the times of early trains home.

In the forty minutes until lunch, the pair added 73 runs and went in only 38 runs adrift. A Warwickshire win had been delayed, but for how long?

Warwickshire attacked after lunch but so did the batsmen and the ball disappeared to all parts. Both reached their 50 and when the score reached 264 they acknowledged a new club record partnership for the ninth wicket. Although the visiting skipper rotated his bowlers, the runs continued to mount, Chapman forging ahead as Warren struggled with a knee injury.

Chapman reached his century after two hours of batting and Warren eventually reached his after two and a half hours. At tea, Derbyshire went in at 369-8, the batsmen having added 169 between lunch and tea and Derbyshire were now 127 ahead.

After tea, the runs still mounted until, with the partnership 283 runs and Warren on 123, the opening bowler was caught at slip. Wicket-keeper Joe Humphries joined Chapman who carried on until he was finally bowled by all rounder Frank Foster for 165.

There are several extraordinary facets to this partnership. One is that Arnold Warren never made another century in 445 first class innings and only made eleven fifties. Another is that John Chapman made only two centuries in his career and they came in successive seasons against Warwickshire.

The third is that 98 years on this partnership is still the biggest for the ninth wicket in a first class match. Whether it will ever be beaten is debatable, but limited cricketer that he was, John Chapman left an indelible mark on Derbyshire and international cricket.

Classic

Tomorrow sees the first of two pieces on classic Warwickshire/Derbyshire games from the past and highlights one of the most extraordinary performances that the game has known.

See you tomorrow!

That was quite something...

Hands up if anyone out there thought we'd win with nine overs to go?

I think young Dan Redfern and Tom New did a remarkable job against an experienced attack, even allowing for the fact that their Pakistani professional bowled a shocking spell. Could you envisage Charl Langeveldt bowling like that? No, me neither.

Our fielding was shoddy early on and I'm not sold on the idea of Greg Smith as an opener. I realise that in the absence of Dan Birch he was an obvious choice - or was he? Tom New has opened regularly for Leicestershire and in doing so last night would have allowed Smith to go in at his regular middle order slot. Having said that, New wouldn't then have been around at the end of the innings.

Redfern really is a talent and some of his shots last night were superb, including the whip over mid wicket from Darren Gough. I've seen him bat a few times and he has the rare talent of coming in and looking in form straight away. Keeping the score ticking over, even with ones and twos, is crucial to success in one day cricket and Redfern has grasped that at an early age.

He is now a certainty to play against Leicestershire on Monday, but should he then play against Warwickshire next Thursday?

My vote, based on his batting for England U19 and for us last night is yes, but in picking him John Morris has a real dilemma. Rogers, Hinds and Smith are certain to play and Paul Borrington would be hard done by if he were omitted after his excellent displays recently. Dan Birch has also been in good form and warrants a place, but his back spasm may prevent Morris having to choose between Rikki Clarke, recently resigned as captain, and Redfern.

New, Clare and Wagg will be at 7, 8, 9 with Langevedlt and presumably a spinner at ten and eleven. So there's a thorny one for the coach. Does he pick the man who at the start of the season was looking to resurrect his England career with his performances for Derby? Or does he pick the best young batting talent the county has had since Kim Barnett for his championship debut of the season in a game of massive importance for the county? I'd welcome your opinion on this one, but for what its worth I'd go with the youngster, especially if he built on this innings with more runs against Leicestershire on Monday.

Form is a transient thing for most but if we get nothing else out of the Pro 40 game Morris should judge the form of Clarke and Redfern to finalise his team for next Thursday.

Tough decision and we must all hope he gets it right.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Glad to be wrong...

Well done.

In my forecast an hour ago I neglected the considerable talents of Dan Redfern, who gave us an example of why we have reasons to be cheerful.

The youngster must be in our side next summer. Even in defeat and adversity, fans are understanding if youngsters have been given an opportunity and the way that Redfern and New batted this evening was refreshing. Running hard, placing the ball well and hitting it when it was there to be hit, they came very close to stealing an improbable win and restored the faith of a few fans, myself included.

Tom New has let no one down since his move from Leicestershire and was an excellent ally for Redfern, who seems to have a wonderful knack of accumulating, even if he is not necessarily hitting the ball to all corners.

I've thought who it is that he reminds me of and its Neil Fairbrother, the former Lancashire and England player. Fairbrother was an outstanding one day player who made the most of his talents with placement and running between the wickets.

Redfern is, like most left-handers, very strong through mid wicket but has, at 18, got the world at his feet. The great thing about tonight is that he did it with the pressure on and the eyes of the cricket-watching nation on him.

Quite a talent that young man. Well done to John Morris in securing his future for the next two years. I look forward to watching his career develop.

Derbyshire v Yorkshire Pro 40

Another night, another 40 0ver game, another loss

Maybe I'm a little premature, but the thinking money is on the visitors when we need 105 in 13 overs with the big guns gone.

It's nice to see John Sadler make a few runs but I wish I could have got to the bookies in time to put money on Rashid getting Rikki. There's something about spinners that make his eyes light up and while I'm sure that in peak form he'd send it to all parts, this hasn't been close to that for the ex-skipper all season.

110-5 as I type and Sadler is just gone. That'll teach me. Dan Redfern gets a game tonight after his exploits for England Under 19s, but ironically he hardly scored a run in the one-dayers against them so doesn't come into this game a man in form.

The bowling got some hammer from Rudolph, another paid up member of the "Nearly came to Derby but got injured, so couldn't" club. He's done very well for Yorkshire and we're entitled to ask "what if?"

Come to think of it, there's a nice article in there, with players who very nearly came to Derbyshire but for one reason or another, didn't. Some amazing names, might have a think about that one over the weekend. The only problem would be the lack of a keeper. We've always had a good one and never needed to go overseas to find a Faroukh Engineer or Nick Pothas.

128-6 and if not down and out, we're sleeping in the park for tonight I'm afraid. 84 from just under 10 overs isn't going to happen and the early batting let us down. I should have a shortcut made for that phrase by now, I've typed it so often this season. I really rate Greg Smith but don't like seeing him as an opener (yes, I do remember his knock at Headingley, but....) and Wavell is always susceptible early in his innings before he gets his feet moving. After this it is Leicester on Monday and then the battle royal at Edgbaston, which can't come soon enough for me.

Bottom line is we can't play one day cricket yet. We can't bowl tight enough and we don't bat with enough discipline and common sense to win more than a handful of matches each season. I live in hope that over the winter our batters will learn how to pace an innings and our bowlers learn from the lessons of Langeveldt.

136-6, 78 needed from 8. The fat lady is warming up as I close.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Cat among pigeons...


I know that this won't meet with approval, but hear me out...

I've changed my mind about Dominic Cork.

There, I've said it and I think we should try and sign him this winter.

It won't be easy and there'll be division one interest without doubt, but I've changed my mind about the club legend, which, whether some like it or not, he most assuredly is.

For one, I think he's matured over the past few years since he bought out his contract in 2003. Maybe a settled home life has something to do with it, maybe the need to be a role model for a teenage son of above average cricketing ability, who may end up at the Derbyshire Academy before long. When I read Stuart Law saying how disappointed he was that Cork's contract was not renewed it spoke volumes. Then when I read the comments of Lancashire fans on various boards it seemed to be about a different chap to the one who played here, in an atmosphere of increasing acrimony, for many years. They talk of his commitment (which we wouldn't doubt) and a couple of Lancashire lads in our club have said they have found him "very approachable".

Hmmm. Then look at his record this season. Not spectacular, but in both four and one day cricket he has taken his wickets at 25 and has bowled aggressively at times on bland tracks. His batting is still good enough to average around the same. Two more good Kent wickets today (Denly and Van Jaarsveld) on the way to figures of 20-5-34-2.

Last there's common sense. Does anyone think there'll be a better bowler on the market this winter? 892 wickets in first class cricket at 26, another 370 in one day games at around the same, together with a batting average of 25. He has been an outstanding player and in my humble opinion has at least another couple of years in him. A burgeoning media career lies ahead and that will be jeopardised if the immaturity that periodically dogged his time at Derby resurfaced. Cork was effectively in the camp of Kim Barnett, others weren't. I don't know the facts. Sure, I've heard stories, but these can grow wings and exaggerate to suit the needs of the teller. There were doubtless faults on all sides as there usually are.

It does not detract from the fact that a fit, motivated and committed Dominic Cork could add a lot to this team. Another who is rumoured to be out of contract this winter is Steve Kirby of Gloucester. A decent bowler, a trier, but in the same class as Cork as a cricketer? Uh-uh.

I'd be surprised if many agreed with me, but I'd hope that dissenters would fall short of tearing up their memberships if he returned. The vote on his return a few weeks back was overwhelmingly against, but that pre-dated the comments from the Lancashire camp and was based on our recollection of the troubled times of the early new millennium.

He'll not be short of suitors. Durham are supposedly interested, as are Notts (he'd seal his popularity if he went there!). Warwickshire almost certainly would be and several others too.

Cricketers of that calibre come on the market all too infrequently. If the silliness is consigned firmly to the past, yes - I'd definitely take Corky back.

The thing is - would John Morris?

Derbyshire v Yorkshire Pro 40

With TV cameras in situ and our old rivals in town (OK city), all is set fair for tomorrow.

Apart from the weather. I've not yet seen the forecast there but if its anything like it has been here for the past week or so they'll be bowling from the Lake End tomorrow.

We've had five successive games rained off up here and it ruined the Scotland v England game earlier in the week. Hopefully the weather is OK tomorrow so we can make amends for the debacle that was the Kent match. As pointed out on the In Morris We Trust site tonight, the commentators will probably mention that at every opportunity tomorrow.

No news of the Derbyshire side but it would be a surprise if there were wholesale changes tomorrow as we don't have that many players. With Hunter and Lungley injured and White out of form, there's only the usual seamers - Langeveldt, Wagg, Clare - plus Kevin Dean. Since Rikki Clarke still has an ankle problem and Greg Smith can't bowl seam this season after his muscle injury, the bowling picks itself.

As for the batting, I'd assume Dan Birch will return from his ricked back and take the place of Dom Telo, whose nightmare debut season continued with a duck down south. The youngster will come good, I am confident of that, but needs a lot of hard work this winter. His homeland must seem a long way away at present, as must his good form of last winter.

Yorkshire have a full squad to choose from (lucky them) so we may see the last appearance in Derbyshire of Darren Gough. I hope he gets a good welcome as he has been a fine servant both to Yorkshire and English cricket. Anthony McGrath and Jacques Rudolph will again bear the brunt of batting responsibility, while Gerard Brophy is fit after a bruised finger and should be behind the stumps.

I'd see Derbyshire's line up as being pretty close to

Rogers
Birch
Hinds
Smith
Clarke
New
Clare
Wagg
Needham
Langeveldt
Dean

Holding my hands up, I don't expect a win, but right now I'd settle for a more competitive performance than Monday.

Wouldn't be that hard really, would it?

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

One day later...

Thankfully had no nightmares about yesterday's game, but then I wasn't there...

Anyway, we move on and will hopefully acquit ourselves better against the Yorkies on Thursday.

The last poll showed an overwhelming feeling that the club should be looking for an overseas batsman next season. 93% of those who voted felt that was the way to go and I'd agree totally. I'll not bore you with my thoughts again - check last week's posts if you've not already seen them - but I'm convinced it'll be either Chris Rogers or another Aussie. The only alternative is if Charl has a good contact or two in South Africa, but I can't see that.

This week's poll refers to the plans to rename our one day side from the Derbyshire Scorpions to something else. We've been Phantoms (and rarely stood a ghost of a chance) and we've been Scorpions (and there was often a sting in the tail). Should we be changing? Could we become the Derbyshire Peakites? One suggestion has been the Derbyshire Rams, but that's a little too football and city-related for my liking. The name should really reflect the county, not just the city of Derby. Maybe even the Derbyshire Dales and - I'm working on this one - we could get Dale Winton as our lucky mascot... maybe not, on second thoughts.

The other bit of news today is that Stephen Moore is staying at Worcester. No surprise there, he showed them what the interest in his services was, backed it up with a cracking season and has presumably got himself a much improved contract as a result. I again posted last week that he would be unlikely to move to Derby, slow wickets and all and can't say that I'm surprised by this.
With David Sales having committed to Northants and Alex Gidman to Gloucestershire, I'd be interested to hear who John Morris has in mind for next year. The thinking money is that there's not too many of genuine talent on the market and we'd need to bear that in mind when we're considering our own retained list.

More - hopefully - later. Busy night ahead though, so my first post on classic Derbyshire/Warwickshire games of the past may have to wait 24 hours.

Monday, 18 August 2008

We shouldn't be surprised

At today's disaster, I mean.

To quote Sir Geoffrey of Boycott, "that were roobish".

It's not so much the fact that we were bowled out for a pitiful 60 in just 22 overs, or even the fact that Kent knocked them off in nine overs. It is the fact that a team that has shown signs of improvementin recent matches patently failed to turn up today. I didn't for a minute expect us to beat a good Kent side, but I did think we'd at least give them a game. A performance like that is one in the eye for the loyal band who follow Derbyshire around the country and is more akin to what I'd expect from my club side in the early season.

It also adds more fuel to the argument that we are not a first class county. I don't believe it, most of you reading this won't either, but such a show on an occasional foray down to the grounds frequented by the London journalists doesn't help our cause one bit.

There are plenty of idiots out there in the media who profess to be cricket writers but who know as much about the game as I do about macrame (trust me, that's not a lot). They'll jump onto any bandwagon because it as been decreed by a former Test player of some repute. Every time we lose they are happy but when we are embarrassed they'll love it as it simply fuels their arguments.

There's nothing more to say about today really. I hope the players had a miserable journey home because that was simply not acceptable from a first class county. It doesn't alter my opinion that we are an improving side, but it highlights the fact that we have a long way to go before we're a good one.

So much for the Pro 40. Might as well try a few kids now John, and save the bowlers for the Championship matches to come.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Kent v Derbyshire preview

Sunday and no cricket.

It's rubbish, it really is. I reckon that we need a modern day Leonard Sachs, the old compere from The Good Old Days, to sort out cricket for a Sunday on regular basis.

Tomorrow we play Kent in the Pro 40 and I know that they were in a Lords Final yesterday but one has to ask how many can go down there for a Monday afternoon game? I remember Derbyshire having to play a Sunday game after their Lords finals which can't have been fun with the inevitable hangovers, but there has to be a balance between supporting the players and playing fair by supporters (nice play on words there!)

The weather continue to be horrible and it will be interesting to see how it goes down in the "Garden of England" as they like to be known around those parts. Kent didn't really perform yesterday and Kemp, Mahmood and Arafat were all injury doubts prior to the game and presumably not at 100%. They are a talented unit and are well led by Robert Key.

Derbyshire are presumably going to go with the same side that played against Middlesex, unles one of the spinners comes in to replace Ian Hunter. There must be a temptation to rest Charl Langeveldt to ensure his knee niggle does not flare up to jeopardise our Championship hopes.

After two defeats in three matches, it is unlikely that we will be in the hunt for the Pro 40 and the South African is so important to this side that he may get a break, unless of course his knee problem has eased. It is unlikely that this willing workhorse would rest unless specifically asked to do so and I would expect to see something along these lines take the field down there:

Rogers
Birch
Hinds
Smith
Clarke
New
Wagg
Clare
Needham
Langeveldt
Dean

Paul Borrington is unlikely to feature and perhaps Dom Telo may be due a game, but Rikki Clarke's ankle problem makes him an unlikely bowler meaning a possible place for Kevin Dean.
I hope we continue our recent resurgence and give a good game to one of the better sides in the country. See you tomorrow to discuss how it went!

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Can we do it?

I don't think there were many who fancied our chances yesterday and most of the press had effectively abandoned the game as a draw. Especially those of a southern bias (most of them?) who no doubt hoped that would be the case.

I had my doubts but did suggest that splitting the overnight pairing might expose an inexperienced lower order. That first wicket came quickly, but Malan and Housego batted solidly until "Golden" Hinds did for the middle order with his wobbling medium pace.

The rest is history and what it means is that Derbyshire now enter the most exciting final month of a Championship season since the Dean Jones/Les Stillman season of 1996. As many will remember, we eventually ended that season in second place and we'd be happy with that - and promotion - this time.

As I said earlier, Gloucestershire, Glamorgan and Leicestershire are all beatable in the last three games and make up the current bottom three. The first two we play at home with the final fixture at Leicester. We could well have lost to both Gloucestershire and Glamorgan earlier in the season but for the weather, but all are different sides now.

For one thing I sense that Derbyshire have got a side with good balance and long batting. We have started to produce the early innings runs that were sadly missing at the start of the season and have not yet seen the very best of either Chris Rogers or Wavell Hinds. Both have scored well without yet posting the really big scores of which they are capable. How sweet it would be if one or both could do that at Edgbaston! Paul Borrington has come into the side and shown a maturity beyond his years as well as a penchant for batting all day, while Dan Birch has proved the doubters (including me) wrong with a series of mature innings. All he needs now is a Championship hundred, just as Greg Smith will benefit from his against Middlesex. The South African has looked a player of talent over the past two seasons but now looks like a genuinely exciting talent.

With the all round abilities of Rikki Clarke, Graham Wagg, Jon Clare and Tom New in the middle order, John Morris' dilemma is who takes the 11th place in the side. Ian Hunter rarely seems to take a clutch of wickets and one suspects the final place is between him, Kevin Dean and the two spinners, Nayan Doshi and Jake Needham. My personal preference is for a spinner and Morris will know who is looking the better bet at present.

Warwickshire could and perhaps should have been beaten at Derby and the delayed declaration that allowed Fred Klokker to post a century cost a chance to put the visitors under more serious pressure. They have some exciting batsmen, but the key to this game for me will be how easily we can removed their influential and talented skipper Darren Maddy. Westwood, Poonia, Trott and Troughton are all good players but the captain is the key, even though his Championship average is lower than Trott and Troughton, both of whom have had good seasons.

A draw would not be the end of the world, but if the weather stays out of it I think we could win in Birmingham. It is at this point where players stand up to be counted and I am confident that Rogers, Hinds and Langeveldt will do so. If their younger and less experienced team mates do so, we could be in for an exciting last few weeks.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Double celebration

10, 000 hits.

Thanks guys. Seriously thanks to all of you. I had no idea that this blog would take off like this and I appreciate the interest. I wonder if the ECB have any idea about the level of interest in this club?

And wouldn't it be great if we could gate crash Division One next season...?

Kolpak Killers...


Celebration time.... come on!

A thoroughly professional, well deserved and much needed win was wrapped up soon after tea by a Derbyshire side that have put themselves firmly back into promotion contention in so doing.

They owed a lot to their two Kolpak signings. Wavell Hinds (pictured) moved to second place in the club's first class bowling averages with a fine spell that ripped out the Middlesex middle order and then Champagne Charl Langeveldt did for the tail in his own inimitable style. That's 47 championship wickets for the South African who has had an outstanding season. I genuinely cannot remember a bowler who was as dangerous for the county since Michael Holding and then Ian Bishop's spells here. Whenever he gets the ball one expects a wicket and he has rarely let us down. Pop Welch was a willing workhorse, but Langeveldt has been a huge signing for John Morris.

Now time for an admission. I was wrong. No one should be too big to admit that and in recent weeks I've been increasingly impressed by Dan Birch and having pretty much written him off as a county player in the early season, I now think (and hope) that he can go on from here next year and establish himself. His second innings knock seemed pretty impressive and he looked to be in good nick from the moment he reached the crease.

I wrote yesterday that there seemed a greater solidity to the batting recently. I don't think it is the finished article but the emergence of Birch, Borrington and Greg Smith lead me to think that we are perhaps closer than we think.

We now have a Championship break until we go to Edgbaston for a huge game that starts on the 27th. If we can win that one, with Glamorgan, Gloucestershire and Leicestershire still to play, we could yet gain promotion.

It was interesting to see Boyd Rankin back from injury for them in their drawn game against Essex. Four wickets in twelve overs suggests that he still has the ability to get people out. Eighty runs conceded also suggests that he is no more accurate than in his time with us.

Talented he may be, but he ain't no Langeveldt.

Derbyshire v Middlesex day 4

Middlesex 147-8 at lunch, just 106 runs on.

Early on this morning this game had "draw" written all over it, when Malan and Housego were adding 50 for the fourth wicket. Then Chris Rogers, who has rotated his bowlers well, got the right bowler at the right end.

In a spell of 3-11 in seven overs, Wavell Hinds ripped the heart from the Middlesex batting. I was amused a couple of weeks ago when a press report referred to "a wicket by the West Indian paceman". Wavell is a useful bowler, but even he wouldn't call himself a paceman...

Today though he has given us a chance of a win and with Langeveldt coming back to take two wickets prior to lunch, the second by virtue of a stunning catch by Graham Wagg, we must be dining with good appetite just now.

If we can just roll over those last two wickets quickly, one would hope a sub-150 total should be within our compass.

No chicken counting JUST yet though!

Derbyshire Legends 8 - Derek Morgan (1929- )

Derek Morgan was perhaps the greatest British-born all-rounder to play for Derbyshire.

He had some good opposition for that role, with such luminaries as Les Townsend, George Pope, Stan Worthington, Geoff Miller and Graeme Welch all worthy and fine servants.

Yet Morgan's statistics speak for themselves. In a career that lasted from 1950 to 1969, he scored over 18,000 runs at an average of just under 25, took 1248 at 25 runs each and held 573 catches. He also captained the county with a good deal of common sense in a period when, during the late 1960's, we were not overly blessed with players of obvious class.

He was a functional rather than flashy player and few would have watched him and waxed lyrical, especially those who watched him bat. I saw him on several occasions and one never felt about him as you felt when watching a Peter Gibbs, a Chris Wilkins or a John Morris.

Yet Morgan had shots and on occasions showed them. They were often subjugated to the greater need, that of the team gringing out the runs to force a win. Fancy shots might get a few runs, but Morgan was astute enough to realise that a hard-fought 50 was more value than a flashy 20 and he often came up with the goods.

In the legendary game against Hampshire that started and finished in a day on a Burton "minefield", only one player made more than 19 in the match, Morgan's 46 in our second innings being an innings of unbelievable value and worth many a century in better conditions. ne has to bear in mind that wickets in his era were mainly left open to the elements and batsmen were exposed to "sticky" tracks on which only those with good defensive techniques, considerable skill and a great deal of bravery could survive. He had all of these in abundance and on eight occasions passed a thousand runs in a season.

As a bowler he was both fortunate and unfortunate to play in the same side as Les Jackson and Cliff Gladwin. Fortunate because he learned from them the merits of line and length and keeping batsmen under pressure and also because, as he openly admitted, batsmen often took a chance against him when they'd barely had a loose ball from the opening pair. At the same time, there were occasions where he never got on because the legendary pairing ran through sides and had no need for back up. Early in his career he was a typically Derbyshire fast-medium, but as he got older he dropped his pace and moved it around. His mixture of late outswing, coupled with an ability to bowl off-cutters made for a potent mix and on 35 occasions he returned five wickets in an innings.

As a fielder, he was beyond compare in a generally sound fielding unit. Alan Revill and Donald Carr were brilliant close fielders, but Morgan, in the words of my Dad, "caught swallows". He could field anywhere with distinction, but as a backward short leg to Gladwin and Jackson he held half-chances and on occasions some that would not have been considered a chance to most.

His fielding was so good that he was England's 12th man on five occasions, yet he never gained selection for the national side. The presence of Trevor Bailey was the main problem, but Morgan, born in Middlesex, is another who may well have got the nod had he stayed down south with one of the more fashionable counties.

The other factor with Derek Morgan is his resilience. If one goes through the seasons that he played, he missed precious few matches and was as great an advert for the solid county professional as could have been wished for.

There have been bigger names in the club's history, ones who produced brilliance over a few seasons, but on a pound for pound basis, over a twenty-year career Derek Morgan can be compared with and can stand alongside anyone. They named a suite after him at the County Ground, which is a worthy tribute, but he is well deserving of that brief but all important three word accolade.

He could play.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Derbyshire v Middlesex day 3


The first hour tomorrow is crucial.

What we really need is a little cloud cover and we could yet win this game. The two current batsmen for Middlesex are the last "name" players, although wicket keeper Scott has played some fine innings this year. Twelve runs on with two good batsmen out is a good position but the concern must be that the weather, which has been very kind thus far, may intervene and ruin a potentially exciting (and winning) finish.

Top marks to Chris Rogers, who battled to another good score but who will doubtless be disappointed with 80, albeit the highest of his fifties this year. The real plaudits go to Greg Smith (pictured), who scored his first century in first class cricket. He really seems to have moved to another level with his batting this year and has made good progress. John Morris' signing of him on a two-year contract may well prove a significant piece of business, as he now seems to have married a better shot selection to an expansive range of strokes. Over the next two years he could emerge as a very fine batsman.
Those who have been quick to write off Dominic Telo should think about how long Smith has been on our staff before consigning him to the rejects pile. I suspect that the Telo will benefit from an intensive winter of coaching and living in England and may well emerge a better player in 2009, although he is four years younger than Smith and has time on his side.

There does seem a more solid look to our batting recently and it seems to have come with the introduction of Paul Borrington to the side. The youngster has done well, although he failed in this game and Dan Birch has also looked a better player in recent weeks. Wavell also failed in this innings but the West Indian has played some good hands recently.

Tomorrow we must hope that Charl will produce one of his golden spells or that Waggy will do similar. On the last day we wouldn't be wanting to chase much more than 200 and the Middlesex batting suggested that they would be happy with a draw here.

The bowling was very impressive this evening, with 31 overs producing only 53 runs. No extras, which is all too rare these days.

On a different tack, I've been interested reading the comments of Stuart Law about the departure of Dominic Cork, as well as the comments of their fans on 606. There is pretty much unanimity that he should have been kept on and that they loved his never-say-die spirit. It suggests that Corky may be a changed man from the somewhat fractious image we had of him at Derby.

Could he work with Morris? Could Morris work with him? I read an article a few months back where he said that he'd love to finish his career at Derby, with his stepson emerging as a young player of note. The opinion of fans on here was that signing him would be a big mistake and certainly a divisive influence in the dressing room would not be of any use. Yet it also flies in the face of what comes out of Manchester and I've a foot in both camps here.
I remember his latter days here with little relish, but the fact remains that there will be few better bowlers available this winter, especially ones who can also bat well. Irrespective of how he left the county, I'll always remember his innings against Lancashire at Lords where he was quite brilliant. Take away that personality (can you?) and you'd have to say that an attack next year of Langeveldt, Cork, Wagg and Clare would be a bit useful. I suspect that he will prefer to play at the highest level and rumours abound on the Durham board that he will go there.

It promises to be an interesting winter and if we win tomorrow it could be a very interesting next few weeks...

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Close of play


128-3 at the close, Rogers 59 not out.

So the captaincy hasn't affected Buck. I thought I'd go back over his scores in the Championship this season

In order, they read:

13, 77, 19, 64, 69, 10, 63, 11, 14, 52, 20, 1, 118, 57, 20, 15*, 59*

So in 17 innings he's had 7 fifties and 1 century. Interestingly only one single figure score.

He also had a century against Bangladesh A and is just short of the 800 mark. Only six players have scored more runs this year in division two and only eight in division one. So all things considered, he's had far from a bad season.

The problem lies in that conversion rate and no one will be more aware of it than Rogers himself. Of his seven fifties his highest innings is 77. Maybe we'd have been more understanding if he'd scored 3 centuries and 4 fifties? He still has time to score more centuries and will, as a thoroughly professional man, want to lead by example. The stories emanating from the club when Travis Birt was there have not been replicated with this chap and we should all be grateful that we have a man of that substance.

Last night I suggested Cameron White for next season, but I wouldn't be disappointed if we had Rogers again. Where we missed a trick this year was in not signing someone for the 20/20 and White's explosive style would be useful in that competition. Until the 20/20 our season was going quite steadily, but it went down like a balloon after the early success at Headingley.

Rogers isn't a top class one day batsman, but he has 2 fifties in 3 Pro 40 games and had 3 in five FP trophy matches. Throughout the season he has maintained an average between 40 and 50 and with our batting frailties, we'd have been in serious trouble without him.

Interesting spin....

There have been one or two posts lately on t'internet about Derbyshire putting spin on the Rikki Clarke situation. I don't know if we are, but i wish we could find someone who can do it on the pitch.

I think Jake Needham is a promising young bowler but he has a lot of bowling to do before he becomes an established county pro. Nayan Doshi has bowled with great control at times but doesn't really look like running through sides. Several posters have suggested that "we need a better spinner".

My question is where is he?

When I was a kid (this is where I settle back in my rocking chair and call for my pipe and slippers!) most counties had a decent spinner. We're not here talking about pre-war, we're talking 1970's. Much as you could with overseas stars, you could go through the counties and come up with decent spinners. Miller at Derby, Ray East, David Acfield and Robin Hobbs at Essex - right through to Norman Gifford at Worcester and Don Wilson and Geoff Cope at Yorkshire.

What about today? The only counties who have spinners taking regular wickets are those whose wickets are prepared for them or the ones who have persevered with players for the 3-4 games a year where they do the business. Most of the spinners keep it tight, but few of them REALLY give it a tweak. I used to read about Jim Laker and how he'd bathe his spinning finger to toughen the skin where it had torn at the knuckle but I can't think there's much of that goes on today.

When people say that we should sign a decent spinner I can come up with Crofty at Glamorgan, Keedy at Lancashire, Swann at Nottinghamshire and Monty Panesar. That's about it and I'm stretching the term "decent" quite a bit there. Last winter when Ant Botha left, there were two spinners of any name on the market. One was Nayan Doshi, whose reputation had been made (and maintained this year) in the 20/20 where people try to slog him out of sight. The other was Worcestershire's former Zimbabwe slow left armer Ray Price, whose record in all cricket was decidedly underwhelming and didn't warrant serious consideration.

A few counties have gone overseas for players with some success (Kartik has done well at both Lancashire and Middlesex) but even Danny Vettori and Saqlain have struggled. Murali did a good job for Lancashire when he could play a game here and there, but even Shane Warne was only OK at Hampshire. I doubt any of their fans saw him bowl with the intensity that he showed in Ashes series and there were times when he appeared fairly ordinary, especially last year.

The problem is that while fast bowling can't be a barrel of laughs these days with the amount of cricket played, spinners don't have a chucklefest either. Tracks are rarely in their favour unless they play for Glamorgan or Northants, boundaries are pulled in to encourage big hitting and batsmen have bats that have enormous sweet spots and weigh the same as an average piano leg.
Pretty much every development in the game favours the batsman, while few encourage the bowler. When the odd wicket gives bowlers the upper hand, the ECB are quickly in to dock points and slap the county wrist. Maybe we should encourage the bowlers by allowing them to use a little vaseline when they've no atmospheric help, or produce balls with a bigger, more pronounced seam that will bite on the moribund tracks around the country.

I've said before that I get more enjoyment from a game where all four innings are around the 200-250 mark than from one where my county scores 800 to set a new club record. Sadly the powers that be don't appear to share my dislike, so we continue to have merely average players posting high batting averages while bowlers struggle to keep theirs below 35.

So if anyone thinks we need a new spinner, please start to work on a cloning machine and we'll have a Murali, a Derek Underwood or a Tommy Mitchell - hey, or someone who can bowl like all three!

PS Just had a look at Ant Botha's average this year. 14 wickets at 46, batting average 23. Jake Needham 10 wickets at 33, batting average 22.

Not really missed him have we?

Derbyshire v Middlesex day one and two

This weather is shocking isn't it?

I went up to our club to check the ground for games on Tuesday and Wednesday and both were cancelled on Monday morning. It's barely stopped raining since.

It seems to be as bad over the whole of the UK and I'd be interested to see which county has lost the most time to the weather this year. We have been badly hit (although it's gone in our favour a time or two) and I'm sure there's counties worse off than us. Lancashire for example, they're always sobbing their eyes out.

Anyway, we've bowled Middlesex out for 306 and as I write we are 41-1 in reply. The visitors will be both pleased and disappointed with their score. They have a young side out, with no Smith, Shah or Strauss and to get 300 on a track helpful to bowlers gives them a fair chance in the game.

They could have had more, and contributed to their own downfall with two runouts - although credit should be given to the fielders too. By all accounts our fielding was sloppy on the first day and several chances went down. Tom New appears to have had a poor day, dropping one regulation chance and conceding a few too many byes for my liking (again the bowling could be at fault).

With more rain likely over the next couple of days, it is hard to see anything but a contrived finish and I just hope that Derbyshire go for it if anything remotely gettable is set in the last innings. Promotion can only come with three wins minimum in the last few games and I think we are capable of beating the teams we have coming up. Warwickshire are a strange outfit and their batting is either feast or famine, but the others are eminently beatable.

52-1 as I close, Buck and Dog both going well. I hope that's not tempting providence.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Rikki goes as skipper

Maybe not a big surprise, but I had a feeling something may happen.

Clarke said at the start of the season that he retained England ambitions and hoped to use the captaincy as a springboard to that. It hasn't worked out for the guy and there are various reasons for that.

They say that moving house, having a baby and starting a new job are, outside bereavement, the most stressful things that can happen to someone. Clarke has had all three in the last few months and has been responsible for the rest of the squad. Its a hard call and no shame to him that it has not worked out. Of course, he has been well paid for the privilege but its a shame for him that it has not gone better.

He's not the first to find captaincy a problem of course. Ian Botham never hacked it as England captain, although in his case the mitigating factor was that he spent most of his tenure playing against the Caribbean howitzers of that era and was on a hiding to nothing. Bob Taylor was one of our all-time greats but couldn't keep up his impeccably high standard behind the stumps and handle the rest of the captaincy issues. He only lasted half a season and once relieved of responsibility soon regained his former standard.

Kevin Pietersen may or may not go down in history as a great England captain, but what he has done in his first Test as skipper is to show that the role doesn't faze him - as if anyone really thought it would. His aura of confidence (arrogance?) may convey itself to his side but importantly his century has bought him time, something that Rikki was never able to do.

Apart from a solid pre-season tour and a brilliant knock against Warwickshire at Derby, his 4-day performances have been punctuated with brief cameos and irresponsible shots. Clarke is like many other gifted stroke players. When it comes off, they are burdened with the label "genius". When it results in an early dismissal they are called "irresponsible". Think Michael Slater. Slats came to us as one of the great opening batsmen in the world game and is even now regarded as the man who revolutionised Test match batting. What did we see at Derby? Cameo 20's and 30's, a very occasional century and a county spell that was ultimately unfulfilled.

The "conspiracy" and "spin" devotees are now suggesting that Clarke will go at season-end. They may be right for all I know, but if the club say they will support him and help him to realise his ambitions then one has to believe that for now. The bottom line is that he has another year on his contract, which one assumes is fairly lucrative (even allowing for losing something for no longer being skipper) and after the season that he has had I find it hard to think someone will come in and offer him a megabucks deal to leave and for us to tear up that remaining year.

The captaincy now reverts to Chris Rogers to the end of the season and after that it is anyone's guess. It will remain a strong bargaining tool for a player coming in but suggestions of offering it to the likes of Jim Allenby are silly. Someone has to have shown something to suggest captaincy material, not just have a couple of good seasons behind them. I like Jim Allenby and have written recently that I'd like to see him at Derbyshire, but captain? Purleeese....

Michael Di Venuto? I wouldn't be unhappy with that but think he signed a three-year deal with Durham at the start of this year. The romantic in me would like to think he would return to the scene of former glories, but the realist asks why the heck he would leave one of the country's top two sides to come back to us.

For what its worth, I'd see the captaincy as being a bargaining tool for an overseas player. Maybe Chris Rogers, but there are other options. Matt Hayden is one, but he could be in line for one last Ashes hurrah and has been a little injury prone of late.

Ian Harvey might have his fans, but I suspect that the bridges are sadly burnt there and that Morris is unlikely to bring in someone who was a rival for his role as coach a year back.

Cameron White, who I suggested the other night on here for the overseas role would again fit the bill. Victorian captain since 2003-4, and highly rated skipper of Somerset in 2006, he is, at 25 a seasoned and highly talented player, but possibly not quite good enough to make the Ashes tour.
One would expect Hayden, Ponting, Symonds, both Husseys, Watson, Katich, Clarke and Marsh to be ahead of him in the pecking order, but that should not detract from the fact he is a very fine player. Remember his unbeaten 260 against us for Somerset, essentially on one leg? He also made brilliant 20/20 centuries and bowls useful leggies.

The problem would be that he could not, or would not presumably sign up until the Ashes party was announced. If I had John Morris' job, I would certainly be enquiring about the possibilities and making a provisional offer. I'd pay good money to watch that fella.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Derbyshire v Middlesex preview

Middlesex, Warwickshire, Glamorgan, Gloucestershire, Leicestershire

With the exception of tomorrow's opponents, all teams we could easily beat. I'd qualify that by saying we could beat them too, given the rub of the green, mainly from the weather.

We could go to fourth in the Championship with a good performance here and John Morris has named the following squad:

Rogers
Borrington
Birch
Hinds
Smith
Clarke
New
Wagg
Clare
Langeveldt
Doshi
Hunter

I suspect Hunter will be the one to drop out as I think we need the variety that Doshi brings to the side. His bowling has been controlled without being especially penetrative this season but I'd sooner have one spinner (Greg Smith is currently an extra to me, rather than a genuine spinning option).

I've been impressed by the methodical way that Paul Borrington has gone about his game. He is not a fancy player and at times is soporific, but young players need to fill out to time the ball well in many cases and the fact that he seems to have great powers of concentration sets him apart from his peers. I remember the young Glen Turner coming to Worcestershire and he was almost strokeless but had a fine defensive technique. Once he filled out, the confidence to hit through the ball came and he was eventually one of the finest players of his generation. I'm not saying Borrington is in that class, but after the many wickets we've given away this season it is refreshing to see a youngster prepared to graft and sell his wicket dearly.

The visitors are likely to be without Owais Shah and Andrew Strauss, so we should waltz to victory (sorry).

Their side has not been announced but will include exciting batsmen such as Eoin Morgan, Ed Joyce and Billy Godleman. The bowling attack relies heavily on Tim Murtagh in the seam department, but their spinners, veteran Shaun Udal and Indian Murali Kartik are fine bowlers. One assumes our groundstaff won't prepare a raging turner...

Can Derbyshire win to stay in the promotion hunt? Can the weather stay fine? Can Langeveldt's knee hold up? Can our batting put on a score in the first innings to put them under pressure? Can Jon Clare do pre-match warm ups without getting taken to hospital? Can Waggy get his swing and length back after some torried spells lately?

The answers to all these questions will become evident in the next few days. The big question will not be answered until the season end - namely, can John Morris get the same attitude side to turn up for successive games? We're capable of thrashing this lot then losing heavily to Leicestershire. Until we sort out that mentality issue, we will remain among the also rans.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Football.... great

You always know that the cricket season is coming to an end when the footie starts

In truth, there's a lot of cricket still to play, but the advent of the live commentaries always make you look ahead to the long winter nights and the hope that you will get home to hear of a signing by Derbyshire.

I still support Derby County and hated every minute of last season, but I'm less interested, much less, than I used to be. Dad and I were season ticket holders at the Baseball Ground from 1968 to 1976 but since then we've gone only occasionally.

Cricket started around the same time but my love for the game has grown with the years and I loved it from the start. It is probably something to do with footballers being, in my humble opinion, overpaid prima donnas who are so far removed from the man in the street that its scary. Cricketers are still decent guys who will happily (in most cases) have a word before or after a game. Could you honestly see Ronaldo stopping to chat about the state of the game like Steve Stubbings or others? Or Paul Jewell walking through the crowd and chatting about the way things had gone like John Morris.

Now this is where I get controversial. You see, I no longer look at the 606 boards for football as it is pathetic. My team's better than yours, your side are full of fat no marks - honestly, its as if most contributors share brains and they've all left it in the park. Sack the manager, get rid of that player - the hatchets are out for Paul Jewell after a defeat to an offside goal yesterday.

Cricket fans are generally more understanding, probably because they have a greater appreciation of the game than football. For one thing, its a harder game to understand so needs a level of intelligence that is - how shall I put it - not always the preserve of a footie fan. Don't get me wrong, a lot of intelligent people follow football, or both sports, but its not the hardest game in the world to understand. You get it in that goal, we get it in this one - that's pretty much it. The offside rule is the concession to intelligence (and few, including officials, seem to understand it).

I've played club football and hated it, only lasting for a season. Games were often regulated assaults on individuals and the language, threats and behaviour was pathetic. By the same token I've played club cricket for 35 years and loved every minute, more now than ever when I'm part of a fantastic club and I realise that I've more behind me than ahead.

I love to go to a cricket match and chat with someone from the other team about the respective merits of the sides. If you did that at football and to the wrong person, it could be an excuse for violence. Trust me, I've seen it. I can go to see Derbyshire play in Glasgow with my club baseball cap on and have a good laugh and plenty of banter. I wouldn't go in there with a Derby County top on, that's for sure.

I've been hit four times when batting in those 35 years, thankfully never on the head, and the concern from the opposition was quite touching. I've been kicked up in the air at football and been told to get up - accompanied by a fair amount of invective.

So I hope that the cricket boards don't descend to that level or there's little hope left. A couple of times this season I've complained about a comment and its been sorted quite quickly, once with a retraction and once with being deleted. I'm all for free speech but really don't see myself going on the Notts board this winter and saying how rubbish they are, while hoping none of them are silly enough to go on ours.

For the winter I intend to post an occasional blog - when there's something to write about - and keep in touch with fellow fans on the excellent In Morris We Trust board, linked on the left of this page. Here is an oasis of calm where like minded Derbyshire fans can swap thoughts, be irreverent without getting personal and plan our next step to global domination next year.

OK, maybe I lied about that last bit...

But you never know!

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Overseas update

As comments and opinions fluctuate as to who should be our overseas player next year, I am increasingly of the opinion that John Morris' hand will be forced.

There have been comments on message boards that we should sign a bowler, rather than a batsman. This to me falls flat on several counts.

First, there are no quick bowlers available of top quality. The intensity of the international programme means that any quickie worth his salt is already running in 10 months a year and simply cannot fit a county season in, even if his body is up for it. The only available seamer of any ability is Isa Guha of England ladies...

Seriously, being a quickie today is a thankless task and I am astonished and grateful that Charl Langeveldt has proved such a diamond. The next level down is a big gamble though. Dillon du Preez came from South Africa to Leicester with a big reputation after a fine domestic winter. He's done OK but had had his share of injuries and I'd question whether 23 wickets at this stage is worth a Kolpak payment. Vernon Philander came from South Africa as a budding all rounder and left with a batting average of 15 and a bowling one of 38.

As for spinners, there's a handful in the game but they're all Indians or Sri Lankans and they are involved in so much cricket that they're only free for around four weeks, which is barely worthwhile.

This pretty much rules out bowlers to my mind. Even the Aussies don't have much in the background and the likes of Shaun Tait and Doug Bollinger have hardly impressed in county stints, nor did Magoffin do especially well for Worcester. These guys are just outside the Aussie top rank, which must mean they're very worried for when Brett Lee retires.

So it's a batsman. The same goes for Indian, Sri Lankan and Pakistani batsman as bowlers - they're in ten a penny, but megabucks tournaments all year round in cricketing outposts so simply aren't available. There are no decent batsmen in Bangladesh or Zimbabwe, nor indeed in the Caribbean. Chris Gayle is like the little girl in the rhyme - when he's good, he's very, very good but when he's bad - he's awful.

Chanderpaul is a fine player but dare I say a lesser talent on the County grind, and that's it. Sarwan did little at Gloucestershire and Bravo was a disaster at Kent. New Zealand have a fine player in Vettori, but even he did little in stints at Notts and Warwick. Now Fleming has gone they've a couple of batsmen but the star turn, Brendon McCullum, can name his price in India and doesn't need county cricket.

Which leaves South Africa and Australia. It may be feasible that Langeveldt could put us in touch with one of their Test players, but their Board are very protective of them. Amla or Prince might be a good signing, but Kallis wouldn't want to come and Smith wouldn't be allowed to burn out. I felt this season that Loots Bosman, a specialist 20/20 player and phenomenal hitter, might have been worth bringing in for the 20/20, and we suffered from the absence of an overseas star in that competition.

As for Australia - well, they tour next summer, so much will depend on who is in the party and who isn't. I said on the 606 board early in the year that Sean Marsh would have been a good signing but he's now in the Aussie squad (at least for one dayers) and James Hopes is also in the frame. The market is very restricted and there's a lot of Jon Moss's and Travis Birt's out there who could be a success but might well not be.

The state of flux in the Aussie side may be a route to a bigger name. As Watson and Marsh come in, so Matt Hayden may well go out. I suspect the giant opener may be up for one more crack at England in the Ashes, but if not might be persuaded to "do a Langer" and have another crack at County cricket after earlier success with Northants and Hampshire. There may be others who might not make the squad but feel that being in England during an Ashes tour could see them in poll position in the event of injury.

So, Simon Katich it is....

Seriously, you'll see from the above that there really are few options out there. One question I've asked myself this season is - would Ian Harvey as overseas player have done better than Rogers? Would Damien Martyn? Both were playing in India with fair success but might struggle over a county season.

After due consideration, I'd offer two options to Chris Rogers, who I still feel is in pole position for next year. One is Luke Pomersbach, a 24-year old left hander who averages over 50 in first class cricket and boasts centuries against both English and South African touring sides. He still only has less than 30 first class innings, however, so would be a major gamble.

The other is someone who is an outstanding player, as we know all too well, but doesn't seem to find favour with the Aussie selectors for some reason. Although he made a few one dayers in the Caribbean, he didn't cement a place in the side and may struggle to get a place on the Ashes tour in a country with so many outstanding batsmen. Yet that batting is brilliant, his fielding the same and his bowling a more than useful asset to any side. His previous stint in county cricket saw him break one day records, impress all those who saw him and almost win his county a game at Derby against all the odds.

Ladies and gentlemen, anyone for Cameron White?

A draw at Worcester

The home side will feel cheated but I'd have hoped we could bat out the last day on that track. They definitely missed Kabir Ali and the bowling was fairly average when Jones and Mason were out of the attack.

We now move to a home game against Middlesex and I'll preview that one shortly

Legendary match


So, its raining at Worcester, typical. Just when we were well set for a last day victory charge to knock off the required 404...

Never mind, we'll await developments as the day progresses and look forward - or more accurately back - at our next fixture, a home game against Middlesex. We had a good game against them at Lords and probably should have done better than we did, a poor last day bowling performance letting them win a fairly close game.

We'd all settle for a repeat of the game between the two sides that took place in July 1957, a year in which we finished fourth but at one point won six successive matches to surge to the top of the table. A feature of this run was the fact that the side was able to remain unchanged and although a defeat at Edgbaston ended it and signalled a slump in form, they were in good heart when the southern county visited Chesterfield on July 17th.

The first day was curtailed by the weather but Middlesex limped along to 74-4 by the end of the day in conditions that suited our attack. Headed by the legendary Cliif Gladwin and Les Jackson, all rounder Derek Morgan was a fine first change bowler while Edwin Smith's cannyoff spin offered variation. Middlesex had no Denis Compton, but Jack Robertson and Bill Edrich were still in a strong batting line up, as were future England players Fred Titmus and wicket keeper John Murray.

The following day (Thursday) the remaining batsmen had little offer against Gladwin and they were all out for just 102, Cliff bowling 25 overs and taking 6-23. There were also two wickets each for Smith and Morgan, Jackson unusually going wicket-less.

Derbyshire also struggled on a lively wicket that suffered the effects of rain. Charlie Lee and John Kelly added 41 for the second wicket and George Dawkes and Morgan a very valuable 50 stand for the seventh, but few batsmen got established and Lee's 33 was top score in a total of 153.

A deficit of 51 on first innings against the Derbyshire attack on that wicket would have worried Middlesex, but they could have had no idea what was to follow when they began their second innings just after 6pm. Jackson removed the prolific Jack Robertson leg before wicket in the first over before Gladwin took over. After a single had got the scoreboard moving, he bowled Baldry then had the dogged Edrich and Titmus held in his leg-trap without further score. Middlesex were 1-4...

Gale and Delisle battled to take the score up to 9 and hoped to make it through to stumps but the former was caught behind from Gladwin's bowling and then Cliff held a caught and bowled to remove Murray immediately to leave the score on 9-6 with his tally being five wickets. His first three overs had seen figures of 3-3-0-3. Even regulars, used to their bowling, had seen little like this. Extra time was claimed to claim a 2-day win but the rain returned and Middlesex went back to their hotel with a score of 11-6. Gladwin's figures at this stage were 5 wickets for 5 runs and 10-17 in the day.

The next morning Jackson removed Delisle, clean bowled and then had Tilly lbw to leave the score 13-8. Hurst came in and was promptly run out (probably trying to keep away from the bowling!) and Middesex were 13-9. Don Bennett, later a coach at Lords, battled his way to an unbeaten 14 and became the only Middlesex batsman to make double figures in each innings before Derek Morgan had last man Alan Moss caught by Arnold Hamer to leave the visitors all out for 29 and Derbyshire winners by an innings and 22.

Most good judges felt that had their innings continued on the Thursday evening they would not have made 20, but Gladwin had second innings figures of 14-8-18-5 and Jackson had 11-6-7-3.
Today with covered wickets such tracks are unknown, but so are the skills for both batting and bowling on them. When the wicket "flies" there is a tendency to bowl short, but Jackson and Gladwin knew the length alright.

An interesting aside to this is that the two innings for Middlesex lasted 97 overs, with the only extras being four first innings byes and two second innings leg byes. Not a no ball or wide in sight, in stark contrast to Worcester the other day. There's a lot to be learned from the old 'uns.