Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Happy New Year everyone!

I'd like to be the first to wish all Derbyshire fans a happy 2009.

I hope the celebrations are enjoyable for you all and a mere precursor for those that will take place when we bring home some silverware next season.

Optimistic? Maybe, but also realistic. In my opinion, we need to sign a good batsman from somewhere to bat three this year. If not, we need someone to step up to the plate and make the place their own. Dan Birch, Dom Telo, John Sadler and Garry Park will all aim to do just that in April and much will depend on their pre-season work.

I hope (call it my first New Year wish if you will) that Dan Redfern bats four and Wavell five next year, which gives us a solid order, especially with Greg Smith at six. With all rounders Wagg, Clare, Groenewald and wicket keeper Pipe for the lower order, we bat a long way down ON PAPER.

Last year the lower order bailed us out regularly, but the top order has to support Chris Rogers, assuming he's not with the touring Aussies, and there will be key roles for Steve Stubbings and Paul Borrington, who will battle for the other opening slot, though we're unlikely to see the latter until June as he has his finals at University.

My second New Year wish is that our seamers stay fit. If Clare and Wagg do so, Tom Lungley returns to the form of 2007 and Charl Langeveldt keeps going, I'd back that quartet against most sides. Worryingly, Charl could not bat in the Cape Cobras weekend game after he picked up an ankle injury. It was a game that highlighted why Champagne Charl joined Derbyshire as his side were bowled out for just 39... Compared to that, Chris Rogers must seem like Bradman. Hopefully the innings isn't too serious, but if it affords him a rest, then we shouldn't complain.

I'm baffled as to why the Aussies have given Matt Hayden another game against South Africa, after the Proteas hammered them last night. He looked in decent nick in the second innings before being suckered out by good field placing and bowling, but surely with the rubber dead from an Aussie perspective, it was an opportunity to try someone new? While their bowling resources look pretty thin at present, their batting conveyor belt looks full of talent, with Phil Hughes, Michael Klinger and Shaun Marsh all scoring well and worth a shout, even if the likes of Chris Rogers were overlooked. It suggests (good news from our viewpoint) that Hayden is regarded as an essential for the Ashes, when one would expect, irrespective of the result, that Hayden would retire from Test cricket.

I wouldn't be surprised if a number of Aussies, mindful of the jump start it might give them in the event of injuries, were up for some 20/20 in England next summer and Derbyshire simply must have an overseas player this time. Greg Smith and Wavell apart, our 20 over batting last year was shocking and a clean hitting, fast running Aussie, ideally one who can also bowl a few overs, would be a good acquisition. No one seems to know if Chris Rogers will play 20/20 in 2009, but if not a signing is imperative to remain competitive. Like it or not, 20/20 draws the crowds and if those coming in see consistently poor performances every time they are unlikely to transfer their interest to the longer, better forms of the game.

Which brings me neatly to my third and final New Year wish - that we approach one day batting like a 1500 metre race and not a 100 metre dash. Dashing strokes are all well and good, but too often last year we got to ten overs and were something like 50-6 and nowhere to go. If we aim for five singles an over and a four here and there, we'll make scores that will win more games than not. 60-1 off ten is a good springboard and doesn't require manic batting. It's common sense stuff and I would love to see a little more of that applied to our batting next year.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Derbyshire cricket on ebay

I regularly have a look on ebay to see if anyone is selling Derbyshire memorabilia and have bought some good things in the past.

There's quite a lot on at the moment, but a lot of items seem to be up there in perpetuity. A picture of the 1936 Championship winning side is still selling for £9.99 plus postage and must have been up for around six months now. It would be quite nice to have, but I wouldn't pay that much for it, especially when the same picture has been in several yearbooks and club histories in the past.

There are other team groups there at the same price, with some of them autographed. I may be in a minority of one, but some of the autographs on those of as more recent vintage probably detract from the item...no names of course!

You can buy a Derbyshire County flag (just the thing to get your windows put in round here, I would have thought) or various pictures, signed and otherwise of players from our past. Incredibly, one of William Chatterton, a Wills card from 1896 is available for £74.99 plus postage. Don't think I'll be in for that one somehow, and can't think there'll be many takers, to be fair. I'm sure that must be grounds for divorce...

You could buy club cufflinks, or maybe a pocket watch, perhaps even a teaspoon. Nice items all, but not really to my taste, thanks. Though maybe your tea would taste all the finer with a stir from the Derbyshire teaspoon. And no, its not wooden...

One thing that is evident is that there's no real market at present for the old club yearbooks. There are a number of them out there, but no takers. Perhaps all the genuine collectors have them and there's little doubt that the Holy Grail of yearbooks (1954) would still get its buyers and earns a fair price when it comes up from time to time.

On that very subject, I still feel really disappointed that the club will cease the yearbook from next season. Handing out to members an extended annual report is neither here nor there, and I can't understand why we're chopping it to save £5,000. I know that advertising money is tight in the recession, but this is the club's history being produced and the value of that cannot be measured in financial terms alone. Maybe an edition with less photographs might prove more cost-effective, like the ones produced by Peach and Dawn for many years. As I've written before, the yearbook was at its peak under the late Stan Tacey and people are more likely to buy something that is "a good read" than anything else. There has to be people out there who'd contribute an article without charge? I did it for Stan over the years and got a free copy of the book in exchange. Surely the local contributors could do the same, or am I being optimistic?

Back to ebay and the most surprising item is a "Simon Katich" long sleeve shirt, with the explanation:


Back name: KATICH (Or choose your own player)

Back number: 6 (Because he hits so many but please choose squad number if prefered)


Katich was a fine player in his year with us, but I won't look back on his time and think of a huge hitter. However, the back might look a little silly if it read "On occasion, perhaps, but overall he's a steady accumulator who times the ball well and relies on placement more than power"

Methinks Wagg might be the name of choice for many, or maybe Hinds. Presumably those who bought this last year and had "Clarke" on the back also had the wording - "Er...not very often".

Finally, there is, for a piffling £275, a signed bat in a display case signed by "stars" such as Simon Katich, Ant Botha, Graeme Welch, Ian Harvey (OK so far) Boyd Rankin and Phil Weston...

It was all going so well to the brackets. I'm not sure if the performances of Rankin and Weston in Derbyshire colours merit the term "star" and I'm even less sure that I'd pay that sort of money, but hey - if that's your fancy, go for it!

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Done and dusted

So how was it for you?

Christmas, I mean. We'd a great time here up in the frozen north and the traditional turkey and trimmings was followed by the traditional dessert of Christmas Pudding and the even more traditional glass of Andrews later in the evening as the realisation hit that I'd overdone the eating yet again (despite vowing not to).

I'd a lovely clutch of presents including "The Derbyshire Chronicles" by Edward Giles which I'm enjoying becaise he's done his research and isn't just regurgitating the same old stuff. I even got a nice, home made cricket bookmark from my daughter to go with it.

I've spent a little time, as I'm off till early January, watching the Test from Melbourne and Matt Hayden's time as an Aussie opener seems to be coming to a close. Where that leaves us is a moot point, as Chris Rogers excellent form suggests that he may be next in line for an opening slot. Katich and Rogers, Derbyshire past and present, as opening batsmen would give us all something to be proud of.

Of course, it might also mean that we could be looking elsewhere for an overseas batsman/skipper next year if Rogers played and made a good fist of things. An Ashes tour may then be on the cards and we'd be back to that annual game we know and love, called "Replace the Overseas Pro".

It has happened with monotonous regularity of late, albeit through no fault of the club. They either get injured (Nathan Astle, Jacques Rudolph) or have commitments thrust upon them that they were unaware of (Mahela Jayawardene, Mohammad Yousuf) when they put pen to paper.

If Rogers did get an Ashes place, might an option be Matt Hayden, perhaps doing a similar job to Justin Langer (another we had for a short spell!) at Somerset? At 37 I suspect he'd retire from international cricket, but might just fancy a spell in the county game and one last payday. I've no doubt he wouldn't come cheap, but he's still a fine player, despite his recent Test problems. One only has to look at his average to see that and I'd be thrilled to see him in our colours next season if Buck was elevated to the national side.

His opposition would likely be either Shaun Marsh (son of ex-Aussie opener Geoff) or Phil Hughes, who has scored a lot of runs as an opener for New South Wales this year and is only 21. They may also consider playing Shane Watson as an opener/all rounder to get him in the side, and the Aussies certainly don't lack batting depth.

One that Derbyshire, like other counties, might keep an eye on, is Moises Henriques, a young all rounder, also from New South Wales, who has a Portuguese passport. At 21 he has precocious talent and bowls lively fast medium as well as being an aggressive middle order bat. At this stage I suspect he'll fancy his chances of making the national side as he's been called up for various training camps, but I hope we keep tabs on the youngster as his passport will certainly make him a target for counties in the future if national selection passes him by. Having said that, Jason Krejza was also linked with a county switch, with a Czech father and Polish mother. His recent Test call up knocked that for six, but I think his tendency to bowl a four ball every over might legislate against him unless he can eliminate this flaw in his game.

Anyway, that's it for now. I keep scouring the Internet and cricket sites for any club news and hope that we get something to be excited about in the near future. January is coming fast and then its full steam ahead to another season!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

One final piece...

I noted with interest earlier today a piece in which Rikki Clarke, erstwhile of this parish, claimed he is on a diet to aid his return to the big time of English cricket...

Sigh. Been there, heard it, bought the T shirt and put it through the washing machine on too high a wash, thereby wrecking it.

The nearest Rikki will get to the England team is when the Bears play a friendly against them next season. I will realise we are really down among the dead men if tricky Rikki ever makes the national side again. Should he do so ahead of the far more worthy Graham Wagg it will be an outright disgrace.

I can only assume that he got the idea after hearing Derbyshire fans refer to him as a "waist" of space...

I'll get me coat!

Happy Christmas!

Well, I started this blog back in April and if you'd have told me then that I'd have reached 20,000 hits by Christmas I'd have laughed.

I'm absolutely thrilled to have reached this milestone and it encourages me to continue, as do the many kind words expressed by people in e mails over the past few months.

I really appreciate your comments, either on the blog or to my e mail address at peakfan36@yahoo.co.uk

I hope you all have a great Christmas and look forward to renewing our acquaintance in the very near future.


Mike Hendrick - an appreciation

If, as one might rightly expect, we have seen the last of Mike Hendrick as a man of Derbyshire cricket, we owe him a debt of gratitude.

Many might say he was the last great Derbyshire-born seamer in a line that goes right back to the nineteenth century. You all know the names and while there have been fine seamers since, they've been imports, rather than county born and bred.

There was always a degree of reassurance in watching Hendo take the new ball. There was confidence that it would not be wasted and he was always probing on that spot that was always called the "Derbyshire length". Too far up to cut, too short to drive, too difficult for a great many batsmen. John Arlott, he of the apposite phrase, called it a "grudging length" which sums it up quite nicely. On those rare occasions that Hendo got hit, you knew that we were in big trouble. His run up was economical and his action a textbook and classical sideways on, with the body action generating movement and lift that took many by surprise

I recall a game against Yorkshire at Queens Park back in the 1970s when Hendrick was bowling from the Pavilion end and looked as if he had the ball on a string, ready to jerk away from the bat as the unsuspecting Yorkshireman played forward. The wicket appeared to be unplayable to all except one man, Geoffrey Boycott. In a two-hour masterclass of batting before stumps, the great Boycs played them all with the middle of his bat and looked the class act that he was.

Unlike many of his predecessors, Hendrick earned England call ups and ended up with thirty caps. Some might say that he was lucky to play in an age where there was less competition and cynics said that his regular length was aimed at containing, rather than getting top players out. Be that as it may, he was good enough to take 87 Test match wickets at 25 each and that average was better than those achieved by Messrs Larwood, Snow, Botham or Gough. What George Pope and Les Jackson may have done with similar opportunity is a matter of conjecture, but Hendrick's record stands up to scrutiny and allows him to take his place in the Derbyshire pantheon. I can still recall the feeling of pride when England won in Australia with a side that featured Hendrick, Geoff Miller and Bob Taylor.

770 first class wickets for the County at 20. Not bad is it? Nearly 300 one day wickets at 19. For the younger readers, think Charl Langeveldt. Maybe a little slower, possibly even more outrageous in the lift and movement. His best first class performance was 8-45, while his best one day bowling was a "mere" 6-7...

He was a very fine slip fielder, unusually so for a seam bowler, most of whom spend their fielding time ruminating in the outfield at third man or long leg. He also had a fine throwing arm and a number of players took him on and regretted it soon afterwards. As a batsman he was entertaining and worth a watch. Again, think Langeveldt - if it was in his arc, it went a long way, although often straight up in the air. If he got his range, the area between mid on and mid wicket could look out for a brief bombardment, though with a highest acore of 46 we always knew it was only a matter of time...

We were disappointed when he left us, a victim of that rare Derbyshire problem of dressing room discord - and devastated when his final years were spent across the border at Trent Bridge, where he was only a qualified success after a number of injuries.

He subsequently spent a short while as an umpire, before coaching both Scotland and Ireland prior to his return to Derbyshire. Hendo was pleasant company, very funny with a beer in his hand and an appreciative audience. Those of long memory will remember with fondness the Radio Derby recordings of he and Geoff Miller as old Derbyshire miners discussing Derbyshire's glorious past. "Gladstone and Jackson" were favourites, "Cliff Gladstone used to baaarl big benders". Then there was "that Eric Bartlett from South Africa" who got Derbyshire really fit. So fit, as Hendrick once said "if someone hits our bowling into the next county we'll be the fastest team around to fetch it back".

I remember a few convivial chats with him about the state of Scottish cricket. Like many up here, he became frustrated by the imbalance between Edinburgh and Glasgow (many feel that Edinburgh players have a much better chance of national selection and Glasgow players need to be twice as good to get a rub of the green). Maybe this was a reminder of the difficulties encountered by northern players in England selection. The ridiculous way that average county bowlers like JJ Warr gained England selection ahead of Les Jackson over the years still rankles, while one can go back to the likes of "Topsy" Wass of Nottinghamshire, apparently overlooked because his table manners were poor.

He didn't leave Scottish cricket on the best of terms and the amicability of the Derbyshire departure may be something we will hear in due course. Whatever else, Mike Hendrick can hold his head high in Derbyshire cricket circles. As they say in all the best places, he owes us nowt.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Hendrick leaves

So Mike Hendrick has left Derbyshire, as various rumours doing the rounds had been suggesting for a few weeks now.

According to the club site, John Morris is "restructuring" the bowling coaching. That could mean any number of things, from a new man coming in to a current player taking on additional responsibilities. I can't think that Morris and Andrew Brown would be taking on those responsibilities as neither were bowlers in their playing days.

It wouldn't be beyond the realms of possibility for someone like Charl Langeveldt, highly respected (revered even) as a bowler to take on coaching as an "extra", but more realistically a new man could come in.

No doubt Graeme Welch would be a fans favourite, but whether he would leave Essex, where he is doing a fine job, for a position at Derby is a moot point. My gut feeling is that Pop would come back to the county, but only for the top position and that is entirely understandable. I'm not sure whether replacing Hendrick with anyone is technically a restructure. Where I come from, that's called a replacement...

It's not clear at this stage whether there has been a fall out between the two, or whether Morris feels we're needing something from the bowling coach that Hendrick couldn't give. I don't know whether Hendo is a better coach than Morris, but there is little doubt on the evidence of last season that all departments of the game next season need to be stepped up a level. While the bowlers at times seemed incapable of bowling to a line and length, especially in the one day games, our batsmen still seem to panic to an alarming degree.

If we get only one improvement from the side next year, I hope it is that we can be more professional in our run chases. Even following a game on teletext, it became obvious that the fall of Rogers and Hinds was accompanied by mental alarm bells, klaxons and a collective gnashing of teeth. If we could just appreciate that seven an over from the last ten is only one a ball and an occasional boundary, we'll go a long way to becoming a decent side.

And the bottom line is that if players at this level can't work into gaps for singles pretty much most of the time, they're really not first class players.

Like the rest of you, I'll be watching the next developments in this "restructure" with a great deal of interest.

Friday, 19 December 2008

All I want for Christmas is...

This afternoon my daughter, with an appropriate sigh, told me that "a week today it will be all over".

Yes, it will be Boxing Night (or should that be Boxing Day Night, which sounds a bit like a floodlit match?)The turkey will have been eaten, the presents unwrapped and the Christmas TV will be as poor as ever...

I'm hoping to get a cricket book this year, assuming that my wife has picked up on the hints I've been dropping. Edward Giles book on the Club's two Championship successes that I've fancied for a while. If it matches John Shawcroft's admirable book on the 1936 side I'll be very happy, as you felt you were playing alongside the team in Mr Shawcroft's book. Time will tell, but if not I'm sure I can pick a copy up soon.

What will our players be getting this year? Or, put another way, what would you wish our players might get?

For starters, Steve Stubbings and Paul Borrington might enjoy a little puppy each. That way, they can practice a few strokes that might enliven proceedings in the season ahead.

Dom Telo might enjoy Take That's comeback album, Beautiful World. That single "Patience" might be useful listening as the diminutive South African prepares for a very important second season and stand him in good stead at the crease.

A Sat Nav or two may be in order for our bowlers as they lost the radar too frequently for my liking last year. Bowling better lines might be a good idea in 2009

That classic novel by Charles Dickens "Great Expectations" would be a good read for Jon Clare. After a memorable 2008, there will be many eyes on him this year to see if he can improve still further, or if he experiences that difficult second season.

How about a Wii Fit for Charl Langeveldt? Because if we keep him fit, there's a good chance of a better season this year.

An industrial sized bale of cotton wool would be my choice for Graham Wagg, so we can wrap him in it and ensure his fitness through a long and arduous season. Given Waggy's propensity for hard work, captaincy in the field should be a doddle this year. Let him bowl six overs of seam, give some else a few then bring him back to bowl slow left arm until the second new ball. Sorted!

Tom Lungley should probably not bother with crackers this year, as he pulled enough over the course of the season to last for some time. Unless you can buy crackers that have new knees in them...

For Chris Rogers, I'd suggest a false beard and moustache. That way he can bat at both ends and probably ensure that we do a lot better than might otherwise be the case.

Not too sure of a gift for John Morris, but maybe three wise men might call with whatever he gets to remind him that he HAS to sort that position for the coming season. Far too often last year we went from a good start to two down in no time at all and this key role needs attention.

For John Sadler a DVD of The Good Old Days might do nicely, reminding him of how he batted so well for Leicestershire. Sads is a fair player and could come again, but early season runs would get the critics off his back.

Finally, Wavell Hinds might actually fancy another three sweaters for April, when the conditions will be as far removed from Jamaica as they could possibly be.

I hope that everyone has a good Christmas and gets whatever they want. Like me, you'd probably take an extra present sometime next summer in the form of some silverware, but for now, have a great time and I'll be back on here soon!

PS As its the season to be jolly, I also hope that Rikki Clarke has a good Christmas. Mind you, if his festive season is anything like his batting last year, my guess is that he'll wake up on Boxing Day having missed it...

Fixtures are out

On the face of it, we should do much better next season.

In the Championship, we play the side who I'd see as the strongest in the division (Essex) first, then Surrey and Glamorgan. With Middlesex, Leicester, Northants, Kent and Gloucester in the division, I feel we could do quite well. Kent must also fancy their chances of bouncing back, with a strong batting line-up, but they'll miss their bowling spearhead Arafat who has returned to Sussex.

It is a strange old Championship season though. Three matches in April, then nothing until June. From a purely selfish viewpoint, no home game of any kind at the height of the holiday season when we normally head down there. From the 24th July to August 19th there's not a game at home, which is pretty strange.

I don't expect much from the T20 for two reasons. One, because we're in a strong group, with Durham, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Notts and Leicestershire, and two because - well, we're rubbish at the short game.

The FP Trophy perhaps offers the best hope of one-day success, with Essex, Northants, Glamorgan and Lancashire in the group this year. No Scotland, so bang goes my home game, but the others are sides we could feasibly beat (Essex as long as we get Bopara early).

Its too early just now to do any serious analysis of the season and opposition. How we will fare depends on improvements made by players over the close season and who else we sign.

Who knows, if Morris can pick up Sehwag or Yuvraj for the 20/20, we might even look a side in the shortest form of the game...sorry, that last bit must have been a dream!

Friday, 12 December 2008

So, no change there then...

Friday night, mid-December, wind blowing and the rain pouring down. Makes you think of the cricket...

In Australia at present, Chris Rogers averages just under 90 in 4-day games for Victoria, and just over 50 in the short form (that Western Australia thought he couldn't play). Hands up if you'd take those averages from Captain Buck next year?
The only slight concern is that if he carries on in such a rich vein of form and Messrs Hayden and Katich have trouble with the Saffer quicks, our skipper could feasibly get a Test recall and then end up on the plane to England wearing the baggy green. I know that Shaun Marsh is a good player and in the frame, but the Aussies generally reward a player in form with a place in the team, not necessarily bothering about the age of the individual.

Added to the fact that Chris has a proven track record in England and a lot of experience and its not too hard to see how he could be unavailable to us in 2009. I'm not sure where this would leave us, except somewhere up a creek and without a paddle. He is a huge part of our batting and looking at the current staff I can't see where there's an obvious 1,000 runs next year. Plenty of guys who may step up to the plate, lots of potential, but none that you'd put your next mortgage payment on to do so.

I think we need Rogers in there and also a number three batsman to be genuine contenders next year. We have Stubbings and Borrington, but neither are fluent players and if Rogers went early the scoreboard operator would be taking it easy for a while.

Dom Telo could emerge from last season's trauma but has a lot to prove. John Sadler has the ability, but again, needs a good start to redeem himself. Greg Smith is a number six for me, while Wavell will enjoy five, away from the moving ball, especially early season. Dan Redfern is a four, so....

Not sure where that leaves us. Could Garry Park get a chance at three? He's batted there for Durham and certainly their second string and one assumes that he's not come here to play second team cricket for a lesser team. It's an interesting one, that's for sure.

Meanwhile in South Africa, Charl Langeveldt has 23 wickets at 22 and still looks a class quick bowler. One only hopes he gets through the winter unscathed and is able to spearhead our attack in 2009.

If Langeveldt, Wagg, Clare and Lungley all stay fit, I'd expect that attack to carry us to a Championship promotion slot. With plenty of all-rounders, runs should come throughout the order, but ultimate success will be very much dependent on who bats three and how well they do.

Enough for now. Maybe we'll hear news of a signing next week. Now that would be a nice Christmas present!

Monday, 8 December 2008

Hello, again, hello...

Neil Diamond fans might recognise that line and its pretty apposite as I'm at last back in the land of internet full functionality with the replacement of my laptop by Acer.

Thank goodness for warranties, that's what I say. Had I not been covered, the repairs would have cost a few hundred pounds, especially when it turned out that the motherboard was the problem. Anyway, they've now given me a terrific new model (thanks guys) and I'm back with you all.

To be fair, I've not missed much. The club site has the news of three players and partners at the opening of a beauty salon (!) and a few winter talks by players and visiting celebrities.

The fixtures should be out soon and we can see who we'll be playing - or should that be thrashing - in the coming summer.

I've had a few e mails, which have been replied to by the family Wii console. Its a superb piece of kit but not much fun for typing letter by letter. Anyway, there's little news of new players at present and we all await a "big" signing. Whether that is for the season, or for someone to replace Chris Rogers for the 20/20 I don't know.

Someone on 606 suggests that Mike Hendrick has left Derbyshire, though how much truth there is in that rumour is anyone's guess. Its only been aired there and may well just be a typical story that does the rounds. We're used to them at Derby.

Thanks to Matt of Littleover for the link to a cracking article on Charl Langeveldt that appeared recently in the Saffer press. It is well worth a look and I link to it below. Thanks for that one Matt! Anyone else who comes across something that may be of interest to fans, please let me know and I'll broadcast it here and of course, credit the person concerned.

Rumours also suggest (thanks Tim) that Stuart Law is seeking 180K a year for next season. Again, you pay your money you takes your choice on the truth in this one, but I'm also looking for that sort of money and, like Stuart, am unlikely to get it. He has been a great player but his last season suggests the talent is on the wane and that's outside our compass. With Lance Klusener supposedly set for Glamorgan, there's no sign of the name player as yet.

Until the next time - sooner, rather than later!

Langeveldt article: