Sunday, 31 May 2009

Will the real Derbyshire stand up?

After two matches in the 20/20 we'd won both and everything in the garden was rosy. Following the weekend fixtures we're now at won two/lost two and are back to having a scrap on our hands.

So what has gone wrong? At its simplest, we're not scoring enough runs and more specifically we're not getting a quick enough start. If you compare the pedestrian starts over the weekend games to the first two matches the problem is evident and the issue is in the early loss of Chris Rogers.

In the earlier matches Rogers was on fire and the team reaped the rewards, but over the weekend two matches have brought just four runs. In my opinion, should Rogers go early our number three should be Stuart Law. I've nothing against Garry Park who is a terrific young cricketer, but an experienced head at three would be an asset and it seems a little pointless having Law come in with six overs to go when we've barely got above 5-6 runs an over. Greg Smith is batting well but isn't taking attacks apart, so maybe we need to look at a pinch hitter in there.

Take today's game for example. Chesterfield, small boundaries and strong hitters like Pipe, Groenewald and Wagg barely getting a hit. We are at least batting through innings this year, which is a step in the right direction, but at the halfway stage today we were gone, but for a minor miracle.

Elsewhere, there seems to be a growing feeling that our new bowler to replace Charl Langeveldt will be Nantie Hayward, the quick and awkward South African paceman. That's the story on BBC 606 and there's a certain logic about it. I don't know if its true and like the rest of you don't know the terms of his deal, but Hayward bowls quick - very quick at times - and could be the spearhead we need for a Championship challenge. Earlier in his career he was known as Wayward Hayward for his somewhat erratic bowling, but experience has improved him and Steve Waugh always reckoned him one of the most difficult bowlers to face. That would do me and should do everyone else too. Full credit to John Morris if it happens as he has moved quickly to bring in a very good bowler.

Finally tonight, it was pretty much 50/50 on the loss of Charl Langeveldt meaning the end of our season. I don't think any one man makes a team, although there have been a few that have come close, but the players need to come back with renewed vigour after a disappointing weekend.

So for this week's poll - can Nantie Hayward (if it is to be him)compensate for the loss of Champagne Charl?

Friday, 29 May 2009

No need to be downhearted

Tonight's loss was not entirely unexpected as Nottinghamshire have a habit of giving us a doing in these games at Derby. Yet the performance was far more encouraging than those in seasons past and only a couple of fine knocks by Adam Voges and especially by Graeme Swann took the game away from us.

It was good to see others step up to the plate tonight when Chris Rogers failed for once. Greg Smith and Wavell Hinds did an excellent job of restoring the innings, putting on an excellent century stand before Hinds was adjudged caught on the boundary when some fans thought the fielder's foot was either on or behind the line. Not having seen the incident I'm in no position to judge, but any fielder in a big match watched by a large crowd would have to be stupid to claim a catch that was not legitimate. If the Nottinghamshire man did cheat there can be no excuse...

Anyway, a break for bad (sun)light also disrupted the innings but Derbyshire must have been happy with 158 after a slow start that saw Ryan Sidebottom bowl two maidens. That must be close to unprecedented in this form of the game.

After the quick dismissal of Ally Brown, Derbyshire fans could be forgiven for thinking that this would be our night, but Swann took the game away from us in an audacious display of pinch hitting that saw his side win in a canter. Still, there is no disgrace in losing to a good piece of cricket by the opposition. The fact that Hinds was dismissed in full flight perhaps cost us a further 20 runs, but no one could claim that the result would have been any different.

And so to Chesterfield on Sunday. Yorkshire don't strike me as a great side this year and if we can bowl accurately and bat as we have been doing it should be a great occasion. With a decent track and short boundaries this could be a fine game of cricket. Another win would set us back on course and tonight's loss will be quickly forgotten.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Played two, won two...

Well, well - another exciting night as we beat Leicestershire with plenty to spare tonight at Grace Road.

This was easily one of those banana skin matches that we have lost so many times in the past and it was refreshing to see the county first bowl well to limit Leicester to a total that was below par, then stroll to the target with skipper Chris Rogers again leading the way with a sparkling knock. Buck wasn't in the mood to run tonight with 50 of his innings of 58 being made in boundaries. The last two matches have suggested that Rogers is eminently capable of destructive one day batting and he looked in complete control tonight.

The march to victory was slowed after his departure but was achieved with plenty in reserve. We should perhaps not get too carried away with a victory over a poor Leicestershire side, but you can only beat your opposition and we did that with plenty to spare.

Earlier there was another disciplined bowling performance with the stand out again Tom Lungley, who took five wickets in an admirable display. It is good to see him back to his best and a great boost after the loss of Charl Langeveldt. Has anyone else noted how much better we are bowling this year, with the bowling in the right areas and far fewer extras being conceded. Full credit to the coaching staff and the players for reducing a major area for opposition runs.

Talking of Charl Langeveldt, more teasers on the radio tonight as our new bowler is apparently on his way from Australia. Hmmmm... Kasprowicz? Bichel? Gillespie? McGrath? I wasn't aware that the Aussies could participate as Kolpaks at this stage, but maybe I'm wrong. Any would be worthwhile, but who is to say that the bowler coming from Australia is actually Australian? Could be someone on holiday there for all we know. If he is en route the likelihood is that we will know who it is tomorrow. Another win tomorrow evening and a few of us might even start to dream a little, but let's not get carried away just yet. There's a long way to go, but two wins out of two is a big improvement. Way to go guys!

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Conjecture a-plenty

Sorry about the lateness of the blog tonight but its cricket night and I was late in. Missed the football (no great loss) had a good game (great loss) and came in to find serious conjecture about the new bowler coming in to replace Charl Langeveldt.

All sorts of names are being bandied around, most of them testimony to the contacts John Morris appears to have in international cricket. Some are more plausible than others and names such as Lance Klusener (rarely a bowler) could surely be discounted.
I have to say that I'm not au fait with the countries with whom we have the requisite trade agreement and whether, for example, Australians are eligible. It crossed my mind that if so a short term deal with Glenn McGrath could have been possible, given that the requirement is that the player must not have represented his country in the previous 12 months.

Shaun Pollock is another name being bandied about. Surely not? That would be a major coup for the county but I'd be genuinely astonished if it was true. Monde Zondeki is another name mentioned in despatches but he is very injury prone and I'd have thought an unlikely signing.

It is only rumour that suggests an international player and logic suggests a domestic bowler, perhaps, as mentioned previously, Steffan Jones. Having said that, one would expect a domestic bowler to be signed up quickly and surely counties would know of their availability rather than all this cloak and dagger stuff.

If it is a foreign player, the thinking money is on a South African, maybe a contact of Langeveldt's. I dare say all will be revealed in the next few days. Hopefully by that time we'll have won against Leicester tomorrow. This is the type of banana skin we've slipped on times many in recent years and I'll be convinced of an improvement in our fortunes when we beat teams like the Foxes, on paper nowhere in our class as a side. They have one or two decent players but I hope for a clinical performance tomorrow and a WIN!

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Thoroughly professional

You can't deny it guys - that was a thoroughly professional performance tonight.

Last night I wrote that you needed someone to bat the innings through in this cricket and aim for 140. Tonight we exceeded that total by over 30 runs and that is always a huge psychological barrier to chase. A good start is essential and when Diva, Smith and Blackwell were back in the hutch before they had 25 on the board, the writing was on the wall.

Steady bowling (take a bow guys, especially Tim Langeveldt - sorry, Groenewald)and good fielding backed up a most professional batting performance.

I'd have to admit to raised eyebrows when Garry Park came in at three. His batting thus far has been excellent but he's not shown the shot selection and stroke play that he unveiled tonight. Fifty from 33 balls is motoring and it is a shame he was run out soon after the skipper was caught. When Wavell went quickly we had slipped from 102-1 to 104-4. Last year that would have slipped to 140-8, but when you're in that situation the sight of top pro John Sadler (an interesting and successful selection)and Aussie ace Stuart Law lends a degree of reassurance. Tonight they came off big time, adding 70 runs very quickly. At the half way mark the players must have fancied their chances and in the end it was a stroll and a very convincing night's work.

It would be very understandable if John Morris permitted a smug smile to his lips on the way home. All of his winter signings, ostensibly brought in to improve the one day side, came up with the goods. Law and Park scored runs, Park, Groenewald and Lawson took wickets. Couldn't ask for more really. It would, of course be Derbyshire if we went to a weaker Leicestershire side on Thursday and played like novices, but more performances like this one and we might start thinking we can play this game...

Party at my place tonight, yes siree!

Monday, 25 May 2009

And so it begins...

Loud music, scantily glad babes in hot tubs and plenty of fireworks

But enough of everyday life in my house, the 20/20 starts tomorrow. OK, we all know it started today for most teams, but it REALLY starts tomorrow with Derbyshire's first game against arguably the country's finest team in Durham.

Will we win? Probably not, but we could. If this team really believed in its ability they could post big totals. Is there a better top four in the country than Rogers, Smith, Law and Hinds? Not many, but the trick is for these guys all to fire at the same time and then have their efforts backed up by the supporting cast.

There will be great interest in Stuart Law's airing of the Mongoose, his mini bat designed with this competition in mind. If my Dad had only realised that this was the future of the game, all those years ago when he sawed down a Harrow bat for my then vertically challenged self, we'd have been living as tax exiles by now. I'd also be bankrolling the club like Roman Abramovich as we played like the Harlem Globetrotters.

Having had to revise my previous suggested side in the light of injuries, I would expect us to line up as follows tomorrow:

Chris Rogers
Greg Smith
Stuart Law
Wavell Hinds
James Pipe
Graham Wagg
Tim Groenewald
Garry Park
Dan Redfern
Mark Lawson/Jake Needham
Ian Hunter

Given that the Riverside is usually a seamer's track I would think it unlikely we would play both spinners here. Given that Dan Redfern and Greg Smith (plus Waggy of course) can bowl spin if required we have guys around who can take the pace off the ball. Wavell has yet to turn his arm over this season and he may also feature if we need an over here and there.

It is a fixture that sees Garry Park and Ian Hunter return to play their old county, while both Michael di Venuto and Ian Blackwell rarely miss a chance to show us what they can do. Durham made incredibly heavy work of beating Notts today, taking until the last ball when they started the final over needing only one run.

IF we bowl with discipline, field as well as we generally have this season and bat with common sense, we cannot be written off. There is enough talent in this Derbyshire side, even sans Langeveldt, to win matches. I still maintain that if one batsman plays through the 20 overs and the rest bat around him that you will win a good share of these matches. 140 is a challenging score on a decent size ground and anything over 150 needs one or two of the opposition to get going.

Though not a fan of the format, I'll be following the matches and hoping for a Derbyshire win. Not just tomorrow but over the next two or three weeks. If we can emerge from the competition with our heads held high and a few victories I'll take that.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

New poll

Perhaps my shortest ever post - new poll today folks and its quite easy.

The loss of Charl Langeveldt - does it spell the end of our season or do we still have the players to make a challenge in the three remaining competitions?

How to make a poll redundant

I think we can safely say that there's been a few changes in the voting of the latest poll since Charl Langeveldt's injury ruled him out of the season.

I understand from e mails that a few people have been muttering about there being something more to it than an injury. Heaven save us from cricket going down the same path as football, where everyone knows someone whose brother used to go out with the woman who used to clean the toilets at Pride Park and met the chairman's window cleaner...

It is human nature to want to find something more than just the obvious in a situation and there are always imaginations going into overdrive in all circumstances. If John Morris says Langeveldt has a shoulder injury and is out for the season we should take it as the truth, rather than demanding to see photographs of him during his operation. If I had a fiver for every time someone had told me that Derbyshire players had come to blows in the past I would be a rich man and they'd all have been sporting black eyes.

It was interesting to see John Morris talk about scouring the world for a replacement this morning. If he comes up with someone who is available and satisfies the regulations he will do very well. One option until the winter just past may have been young Aussie Moises Henriques, who would have qualified under a Portuguese passport except for making his one day bow recently. He has played in the IPL more recently (without a great deal of success) but is an all rounder of potential. I'm not sure if Morris would consider moving for Michael Dighton as a good one day batsman and medium pace bowler, but I don't think Dighton would necessarily improve the team.

More likely is a move for a surplus seamer from another county, especially if we lose any more bowlers. One option may be Steffan Jones, who, as I wrote last week, has enjoyed a miserable time at Somerset since leaving Derbyshire and may welcome a return to the county in a short or medium term capacity. He may be nearer his wife's family at Taunton but he's nowhere near the first team and the genial Welshman must have regrets at leaving the bowler-encouraging tracks at Derby for the batsman's fantasy of his new home.

I know that if a replacement is out there John Morris is a man likely to come up with the goods. On the back of his signings thus far I'd say he has an excellent contacts book and he may well need that to pull something out of the fire here.

Finally, the Derby Telegraph this morning shows Stuart Law with the new Mongoose cricket bat, a shortened version of a regular bat that satisfies regulations and that he intends to use in the 20/20. Law says that it gives a ball awesome power (assuming you hit it...) and the ball goes a long way. Poor bowlers. Another innovation in the game that makes their work even harder. Maybe we should allow them to use a variant on the old plastic wind balls that were used for indoor hockey with kids. Have you ever seen them used in indoor cricket? When I used to coach a school team we used to take one of these plastic balls with holes in them and tape up one side. The result was a ball, depending on how you held it, that would swing like an Ian Buxton special into or away from the batsman. Great for teaching the rudiments of swing and how to play it. The new bats sound interesting but in the hands of lesser mortals I suspect that a good yorker might be the ball to bowl.

Anyway, the carnival is almost upon us. Am I looking forward to the 20/20? No, I'm not a fan. Do I think we'll do well? No, without Langeveldt we look light in bowling and we'll have to bat much better than we normally do to win matches. I'll be delighted to be proved wrong but I suspect that the 20/20 isn't going to be a barrel load of laughs for Derbyshire fans. Roll on the return of the proper stuff.

Friday, 22 May 2009

There are words but...

None of them are polite to use on a blog.

So after the hassles of Chris Rogers visa, followed by the absence of Charl Langeveldt for essentially a non-playing role in the IPL, comes the news that our talismanic seamer is now out for the season after the recurrence of a shoulder injury that will require immediate surgery.

What next? Phil Hughes tears a groin muscle on the first day of the Ashes tour and the Aussies come to get Chris Rogers? It is, however you look at it, a devastating blow to the county's prospects for the remainder of the season. With Tom Lungley also injured our seam bowling ranks are looking a little like Ma Hubbard's cupboard. We also have an inexperienced spin duo and the bowling suddenly looks a little vulnerable.

In their defence, the bowlers have done a decent job so far and as the promised long hot summer unfolds the spinners may come into their own on dry tracks that start to take turn. We can only hope so as there's a lot of cricket to be played.

Logic suggests we cannot replace Langeveldt (certainly with a bowler of similar calibre) and unless John Morris has a serious ace up his sleeve we need to go with what we've got. Of course, one man's misfortune is another's opportunity and young guns Ross Whiteley and Atif Sheikh may well get a few games before the summer is out. Waggy is a willing work horse and Ian Hunter and Tim Groenewald have done well so far, but it is asking a lot for them to play in every game, or indeed stay fit to do so.

If you've not already done so, I think it's time to reduce our horizons this summer. Yes, we still have (on paper) a good batting line up, especially in one day cricket. Maybe the loss of Langeveldt (from the pitch and the budget) may mean we can keep Stuart Law for the whole season. The Aussie is contracted for the FP Trophy and the 20/20 and the coach may now take the opportunity to retain his services for the Pro 40 too.

Should he do so, and if the Aussies do call up Chris Rogers, Morris may then take the opportunity to sign a bowler as a replacement. Whatever happens, we should take competition as our goal this season. If we do that regularly enough we should win a few. It reminds me of the year when Ian Bishop was injured after just one game a few years back and the powers that be decided that we were unable to sign a replacement. Rather than moan about it, we won a Lords final that year as the ill fortune brought the players together. More of the same is a lot to hope for, but there are enough good players in the squad for some of them to grasp the opportunity with both hands.

Elsewhere, I enjoyed the e mailed link to an article where Andrew Strauss called the proposed signing of Stuart Clark by Kent as "short sighted". This has resurfaced as Clark has now signed on the dotted line for Gloucestershire. Hmmm... I might be wrong but the myopic Mr Strauss' own county Middlesex has had a very successful stint from Phil Hughes in recent weeks. If Rogers ends up in the Ashes series he'll no doubt deem Derbyshire immoral for giving him a year to acclimatise.

Finally, I must mention the sad and disappointing news about Chris Lewis. I will not attempt to defend him as there is no defence for such a crime, but it is a shame to see a player of unquestionable talent fail to realise his ability. Lewis was a lively bowler, an explosive bat on occasion and a fielder of lithe athleticism. One always felt the biggest problem was in his head and he will have a long time to reflect on a big mistake. Those who played with and against him will be saddened, but those who saw a fine cricketer on his good days will feel it just as badly.

His ill-fated return for Surrey last year was a disaster and Lewis will have a long time to reflect on a career that promised so much yet eventually fizzled out like a firework from the bargain bin.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

So that's that then..

So the FP Trophy has been and gone and we're out of it for another year.

There were similarities to last year's campaign in that the weather played its part and more luck with the toss would have been nice. John Morris says in today's Derby Telegraph that the early moisture in the track made batting first a problem yesterday and that had we been able to bowl, the result may have been different.

That's as maybe, although in the end Lancashire's poor display at Old Trafford made events at the SWALEC irrelevant. The fact is that we played well in all of this season's matches except the Lancashire game at Derby, when the side were very poor. We may have beaten Essex at Derby and Lancashire at Old Trafford had the toss gone our way, but that should not be allowed to mask signs of the old fallibilities.

By and large the bowlers have done a decent job. They have seemed to bowl decent lines and again, with the exception of when Lancashire took them apart they have kept things steady. Even yesterday, when faced with the worst of the conditions, they made Glamorgan fight for the runs and there was no sign of abject capitulation.

The problem, again, is the batting. Rogers, Smith and Park gave the ideal platform yesterday for a total of 250. 100-1 off 25 is a great start and six an over from there should be a breeze against most attacks. The problem was that Buck made another good one day 50 but failed to go on to a BIG score and Wavell went quickly so we were again playing catch up.

I'd love to see us make a huge score without a collapse in one day cricket. One look at the side suggests talent is there and runs should not be in short supply, but players of that ability should be turning on the skills more frequently. I'm not expecting much in the 20/20 as we're in a strong group, but I hope that we at least give a good account of ourselves and win four or five matches. To do so we need a fit and in form Langeveldt and Rogers or someone to bat an innings through. We can't have a team of big hitters and I hope that the nous of Rogers and Law will impart itself on the others. As I said in a previous blog, 140-150 batting first is a good score and will win a lot of games. Look at the scores in the IPL and see what I mean. There's an occasional biggie but a lot of teams were over-reaching themselves and being bowled out cheaply.

My other concern today is in the make up of the Aussie touring squad for the Ashes. There's only six batsmen there and it will only need one injury to leave them with a big problem. Guess who is the likely replacement if the worst happens? Yup, Buck Rogers. Personally I think he should have been there as his record last winter deserved a place as a similar season worked wonders for Simon Katich. Certainly Rogers has every incentive to do well for Derbyshire and I would expect him to do a good job for them if required. If he goes there would be serious question marks over our Championship quest as the batting would be light. I don't think Stuart Law would want to cover for the latter part of the season and the chances of getting a short term replacement must be slim with the amount being played around the globe.

So, a strange weekend ahead with no cricket to speak of. You'll appreciate that I mean there's no game for Derbyshire. They may please and frustrate in equal measure but they're still OUR team. Don't think I'll ever get that out of my system...

FP - Fairly Predictable?

Apologies to those looking for a report on yesterday's defeat to Glamorgan last night, but an innovative teaching method being used by local schools meant that my son was in an Advanced Higher Maths chat room moderated by his teacher last night. They were all busy working on questions for today's examination and it seemed to be more important than the blog...

Anyway, I'll make up for it with a good-sized post tonight, which will look at the game and the campaign as a whole. As the heading to this article suggests, however, with all to play for prior to the match the outcome was somewhat predictable. We didn't score anywhere near enough runs to win our game having been well placed, while Essex won fairly comfortably at Old Trafford which made our result academic.

On the up side, Kolkata remembered having a bloke called Langeveldt in their squad and gave him a run out in their game yesterday. He took 3-14 in four overs which simply highlighted their stupidity in not playing him earlier. I can only assume selection pandered to the whim of Indian broadcasters and the team sponsors, as I cannot think of a better bowler in such matches than the burly South African.

Anyway, he'll soon be here and I'll be back later on. Until then, have a good day!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Thirty thousand and counting...

Still can't believe the success of this blog! Thanks to everyone who have now taken the number of hits past the 30,000 mark. I'm very grateful.

Anyway, hands up all those who after the Lancashire defeat thought we'd be in with a shout of qualification when we travelled to Wales. Nope - me neither.

Full credit to the side for a battling bowling performance, electric fielding and a batting display that combined resourcefulness and skill in equal measure on a track offering increasing spin. Any doubts on the signing of Stuart Law must now have evaporated as he shared in a match winning partnership with Dan Redfern. Watching that from the pavilion must have been an education, while being at the other end must have been a real learning experience for Danny.

Speaking of spin, we're likely to face a bit of a bunsen burner at Cardiff tomorrow. Glamorgan have already incurred a 2 point penalty for next year's competition after a poor pitch last week (hope they're in our group again next year!) and are likely to field three spinners in Robert Croft, Jamie Dalrymple and Dean Cosker. Given the option they'd maybe bring back Jim McConnon and Don Shepherd too...

There's no news on the side yet, but Mark Cosgrove is the early wicket we need, with Dalrymple a man with a good record this season.

As for Derbyshire, an unchanged side is likely, with Mark Lawson, Greg Smith and Dan Redfern around to bowl the twirly stuff. We first of all need to win the game, then try, in doing so to boost our net run rate ahead of Essex. Tomorrow we'll all be cheering on Lanky-sheer (just for once) and hoping they can do us a big favour at Old Trafford.

What's the betting that Lancashire are 37-7 by noon tomorrow...

Monday, 18 May 2009

Essex v Derbyshire

In a game that again ebbed and flowed, Derbyshire won an excellent victory tonight over Essex.

The win means that everything now hinges on the last games in the group. If Lancashire beat Essex at Old Trafford, while we win on our trip to Wales to play Glamorgan, while at the same time improving our net run rate, we could yet qualify for the quarter finals.

The win came after a competent bowling performance, with all of the bowlers getting at least one wicket. Chris Rogers dropped a straightforward catch that allowed the Essex last pair to add a potentially crucial 29, but 193 always looked gettable.

Even when the skipper was adjudged lbw there appeared no cause for alarm, although the elevation of James Pipe in the order, ostensibly to raise the run rate, seemed strange as the keeper rarely scores runs when pushed up the order.

Greg Smith and Garry Park appeared to have restored the equilibrium before both and Wavell Hinds all went to Danish Kaneria in quick succession. This brought together the talented Mr Redfern and the consummate pro in Stuart Law (pictured)who took us to the brink of victory. Such a partnership must be worth its weight in gold to Redfern and although he was dismissed before the end, together with Graham Wagg, Law stayed until the end for an unbeaten 62 that must have given him a great deal of pleasure against his former employers.

So to Wednesday and a big game (or couple of games). It would be nice if Lancashire could do us a favour and also beat Essex, but we must do our bit and win in Wales, where a certain Mr Croft will doubtless be waiting for us...

More on that tomorrow, but for tonight - well done lads. Essex are a good one day side and we beat them on their own patch!

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Derbyshire Legends 11 - Donald Carr (1926- )

Donald Carr was a cricketer who's ability exceeded his average by some distance. Good judges would say he was one of the best captains that the county ever had, leading the side with good grace, charm and no little skill between 1955 and 1962.
For several years, to be fair, he had Les Jackson and Cliff Gladwin to spearhead the attack and as my Dad once put it, anyone could skipper a side with those two bowling.

Although the obvious tactic was to bowl one until lunch and the other for the first hour so he was ready to come on after the interval, Carr did much more than that. He had a good attack at his disposal, with Derek Morgan's seamers, Edwin Smith's underrated off spin and, latterly, Harold Rhodes genuine pace. He was a good enough bowler of slow left arm to take over 300 first class wickets himself and was one of the finest close fielders the county have ever had. Above all he was an attacking batsman of grace and with Arnold Hamer carried the batting for a number of years. Nearly 20,000 runs at just under 29 are not figures to impress too many statisticians but, as with all players of the era, it should be remembered that uncovered wickets were no friend of the batsman playing for an average. It was generally reckoned that had Derbyshire had one top class batsman - a May, Cowdrey or Graveney - they would probably have one at least one Championship in the 1950's.

Carr was a good enough player to gain selection for the 1951-2 tour of India, where he ended up captaining England to their first defeat on Indian soil in the Madras test. His Test career was effectively ended by a "scandal" involving the soaking of an Indian umpire by players unhappy at the poor decisions they were getting, but Carr played for Derbyshire until 1962, when he became a highly respected administrator. Indeed he both captained the county and was secretary from 1959-62. He then became assistant secretary of the MCC (1962-74), and secretary of the Cricket Council and TCCB (1973-86). He was also a useful footballer, winning his Blue at Oxford and making two Amateur Cup final appearances with Pegasus. Meanwhile his son John played for Middlesex for a number of years and his brother Douglas was also long time Derbyshire secretary, following Donald into the post. I remember Douglas as sounding very pompous on the ancient tannoy system at Derby and Chesterfield as he read out the teams and public notices. On one occasion his naivety got the better of him, as Mike Hendrick arranged for a notice to be passed to him.

"Could Hugh Jarse and Ivor Biggun report to the secretary's office immediately" rang out to considerable mirth on and off the field...

My Dad has watched Derbyshire since 1946 and still maintains that Donald Carr was one of the three most attractive home grown batsmen he has seen. Fans brought up on a diet of attritional batting enjoyed the partnerships between Carr and Hamer and their fielding, especially in the leg trap to Cliff Gladwin was spectacular. Carr held FIVE HUNDRED catches in his career at a rate of more than one a game, although with the bowlers of the era there were always chances coming along.

Most recently Derbyshire and the University of Derby have joined forces to launch a new scholarship scheme in his name for outstanding young cricketers,which enables them to attain the best cricketing and academic education possible.

Fast-bowler Ed Jones, 18, is the first player to benefit from the new partnership between the club and university which enables the best young players to take up free undergraduate degree courses. Should future county players emerge through this scheme, Carr's legacy to the county will be complete.

Saturday, 16 May 2009


So only one person reckons that we'll win the Championship this year.

For all I know it could have been Mr J Morris or Mr C Rogers...

Slightly more people thought we were going to miss out on promotion than thought we would get into division one, but at least it is an improvement on recent years when the primary vote would have been of the "we're doomed" variety.

I'm (for once) not sure. Much will depend on weather and fitness, together with people rising to the occasion when the pivotal moments occur. The major players are almost certainly going to be skipper Chris Rogers and our influential opening bowler Charl Langeveldt. If Buck carries on his winter form he should get a stack full of runs, while Langeveldt will always be a handful in helpful conditions.

But which is the most important? Tricky one huh? No sitting on the fence folks, you make the decision in this week's poll.

One thing about the polls - someone mailed me to say they looked out for the start of a new poll to find out which way I was voting. To be honest, I only vote near the end!

Can't wait to see your thoughts on this one. Two fine players, but who's your top dog?

T20 Preview

John Morris is absolutely right in his comments in today's Derby Telegraph - see link on the left. Our one day cricket IS inconsistent. We're not, by any stretch of the imagination, a bad side but the players need to sustain a level of performance, especially before the larger crowds and TV cameras that floodlit fixtures bring, before they will be taken seriously.

Big players, good players in any sport pull out the stops on the big occasions when there's a good crowd and an atmosphere. It can add an extra 10% to a performance and thereby the result. We see it occasionally at club level where Scotland left arm spinner Glenn Rogers plays for our club occasionally. When he's in the side everybody does better in the field and there's long barriers, diving stops and attempts for catches that on an average day wouldn't be considered for fear of having to wash the flannels for the next game... It's our equivalent of a big match atmosphere and if an international cricketer says "well done mate" to one of the guys they seem to grow in fromt of your eyes.

I would hope that any professional player worth his salt should rise to the big crowds of the T20. The eyes of thousands are on you and most would trade places like a shot. Mundane day at the office and handling complaints and sickness or a chance to be idolised by many? I know which one I would take, but I stopped sticking my cricket gear in the back of the car just in case they were short when I got to the game when I was 18!

For the T20, I would expect something close to this side to take the field

Chris Rogers
Greg Smith
Stuart Law
Wavell Hinds
James Pipe
Graham Wagg
Tim Groenewald
Garry Park
Dan Redfern
Mark Lawson/Jake Needham
Charl Langeveldt

The return of Langeveldt from his "exertions" in the IPL is a welcome boost and he will have a point to prove to the Kolkata management who curiously ignored him, despite a phenomenal record in this form of the game, where he has taken 48 wickets at just 14 each. After his excellent record in the competition last year Smith would surely open with Chris Rogers? The latter will want to show that he can play this form of cricket, having been regularly overlooked back home. Law and Hinds must go in next, with the power hitters of Pipe, Wagg and Groenewald to follow. If it all goes pear-shaped (cynics might say "when") we'd have Park and Redfern to nudge it around at the end, with Park's brilliance in the field sure to be an asset.

Perhaps the concern, aired on BBC 606 in the week, is that the spinners are inexperienced and may be "got at" by the opposition. In the absence of any viable alternative they would at least provide variety and the above side has eight bowlers (nine if one included Stuart Law, a decent bowler in his younger days). Groenewald the hitter is a beast we have yet to see in Derbyshire competitive colours (not withstanding a fine knock at Northampton pre-season) but at some point I am sure that someone will pay.

Reality check. We're up against the best team in the country over the past two years (Durham), perhaps the form team in the country (Lancashire), a likely trophy winner this summer (Nottinghamshire) our longest rivals (Yorkshire) and a team that we should beat (Leicestershire). My head says that we'll probably come second bottom in the group. My heart suggests that we could improve on previous years and do a little better. IF we compete, bat like a cricket team and not like a baseball side, we could do better. I cannot see us getting through the group stage but hope I'm wrong.

If we could bat through the first ten overs and reach 60-1 or similar, then take 8 an over from the remaining overs, a total of 140 on a regular basis would win us a few games. It's a rough guide, I know, but it frustrates me when we get to eight overs and are 36-5 trying to bat like millionaires. The presence of Rogers and Law at the top should bring an element of sanity to proceedings and if the fielders back up the varied attack and the latter don't replicate Wednesday's excesses, we will at least compete. From there, it's down to luck, someone chancing their arm and people living up to reputations.

Easy innit?

Friday, 15 May 2009

It's a funny old game...

A quote more readily associated with Jimmy Greaves and another game, but equally relevant to the game of cricket.

After all, last night we had people moaning about one bad performance and presumably sharpening their pens in readiness to demand the head of the coach on a platter. I'll be the first to complain when the standard drops, but which one of you hasn't had a bad day at the office, or at home where things just don't go right? Presumably the same people are tonight pleased that a recovery is underway after we got a point from an abandoned game against Northants.

Then we have a weekend with no match. Maybe that's a relief looking at the weather forecast, but when there are comments left, right and centre about declining crowds, not having a match when people are off work does seem a little er... mad?

Then we programme Test matches to start on a Wednesday against a team that can collapse alarmingly and again lose the important and lucrative weekend revenue. I LOVE going to a cricket match, especially if Derbyshire are involved and if I lived closer would be there most Saturdays and/or Sundays. I'm sure I'm not alone in this and one would have thought that reasonably educated people might have grasped that when the fixtures are arranged. Like many others I cannot get much time off work, however, so have to make do with the Internet, teletext and texts.

We've also got Test cricket on a ground that, notwithstanding the success of the local side, is hardly a hotbed of the game. Spot the crowd was an interesting sideline to the Test yesterday and, with apologies to Cook and Bopara, possibly more exciting. I can't remember seeing a worse, less organised, less interested side in the field than this West Indian outfit.

Tonight's wash out effectively killed our remaining hopes in the FP Trophy, although they died in the floodlights on Wednesday.We now need to restore confidence in the remaining games before the 20/20 circus begins. On paper, we have a decent side for this, but will we do anything? I'll leave that for another article over the weekend.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Random thoughts

The knives are being sharpened in some quarters after last night's thrashing - no other word for it - by Lancashire. There's a fair old rivalry between the two sides and little love lost with some supporters. As those who read my earlier blog will know, I didn't see last night's game so am less traumatised than some today. Thanks to regular updates I followed the batting decline with interest and increasing despair from the boundary edge in the game I was playing.

It was a return to the ignominy of some of last year's one day performances and I hope that it is not too frequently seen this year. Equally I hope that with the arrival of Chris Rogers our batsmen aren't planning to switch off and expect the skipper knocks them all the time. With the exception of Garry Park he got precious little support last night. Reports suggest the track was freshened by the shower mid-innings but the fact is that Gary Keedy, like Robert Croft, thrives against our batsmen and made short work of the middle order.

I was disappointed in the absence of both our spinners last night as the attack looked too "samey" for me. If a batting side is going well, often a change of pace can make a difference and this season's games have suggested a major role for the spinners. Perhaps John Morris felt they were out of form or read the track wrong. Certainly du Plessis batted us out of the game as at this stage we're a good way from chasing down that sort of total.

I disagree with Charles Collins who says that we're not advancing as he expected. We've lost two games before last night because of the toss and du Plessis played a blinder last night. Morris says that players are allowed to have good matches against us and will on occasion take the game away. History is full of examples. Without Bradman's phenomenal performances throughout the 1930's, Australia would have lost most series against England. Many even games were taken from the national side by the genius of one man. The Lancashire centurion last night had one of those games where you see it like a football and took full advantage.

Our batting lacked nous last night and I'm sure that Morris, Law and Rogers will have talked through the failings. We can't discount it happening again, but one lousy show doesn't ruin a season.

Thus far we have been competitive and that is progress. I suspect that our hopes of FP Trophy progress disappeared last night, but most fans would be satisfied if the remaining games brought wins over Glamorgan and Northants. The Essex side are better than us and, although it hurts to say it, so are Lancashire. They must be, as they've now beaten us easily twice in quick succession.

For tomorrow I'd like to see a spinner in the side and a return to the bowling discipline that has been a feature of the season before last night. I'd also like to see the batting restored to the look of composure we saw at Northampton, rather than suggesting that Corporal Jones from Dads Army was replicating in our middle order shouting "Don't panic".

It's a blip at this stage. I'll have other words for it if it continues, but let's not over-react at this stage guys. We're improving, but invincible we ain't.

Derbyshire v Lancashire

I think I made the right choice last night

Our game went on in lovely sunny weather (we ran them close but were beaten at the wire) and we produced our worst performance of the season in being trounced by Lancashire.

We're a better side than that result, much better, and the galling thing is that it was "performed" in front of the TV cameras and an audience of millions. Most of them will have switched off shaking their heads about "poor" Derbyshire. It's like the problem that Gary Sprake, the former Leeds and Wales goalkeeper suffered from. He was a good keeper week after week for years, but tended to reserve his blunders for when the cameras were present.

With the exception of Graham Wagg, Garry Park and Chris Rogers there can be none of the side that were especially pleased with last night's performance. Although the writing was on the wall once the visitors posted their imposing total, the fans would have hoped for something better. Again, with so much promotional work done to entice guests with members, free admission after six and the like, it would have been good if the potential new audience had gone away thinking "they're a half decent side".

As it is, they've gone away with a completely different idea, which is a shame. The FP Trophy, barring an astonishing run of results, is now out of our reach for this season and we need to return to form as soon as possible. One result doesn't change the good impressions so far, but the way in which we bounce back from this will tell us a lot about the side.

They can do it, without doubt but there'll be some disappointed guys in the dressing room this morning and rightly so.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Derbyshire v Lancashire preview

Cloudy, spots of rain, possible thundery showers.

That's the forecast for tomorrow and not especially exciting. It would be good for Derbyshire to win the toss and dictate the game for once as the wins for Lancashire and Essex have put them, for one day at least, in the box seat.

It's astonishing the difference that one player in the batting line up makes, as Chris Rogers arrival gives the top order a sense of permanence we've not had for a good few years. I think the issue of who his best partner is will run and run, at least until someone makes a score in the role. I'm not totally convinced with Danny Redfern as an opener, but understand the rationale that if he stays in for a while he'll be batting with three experienced international players which is a great learning opportunity. I'm sure he'll bat lower in the 20/20, where it is rumoured that Graham Wagg may pinch hit, but Redfern is a fine talent with bat and ball, where his off spin gives useful variety on a slow pitch.

That variety is the reason why Mark Lawson currently seems to be the first choice spinner. With Redfern and Smith able to bowl off spin, the ball turning away presents a different challenge. I'm sure Jake will be back, but the all round strength of the side is keeping him out for now. Goodness knows what will happen when Langeveldt gets here, but there are worse problems for the coach.

As for tomorrow, we have a squad of 13, namely Chris Rogers (captain), Dan Redfern, Stuart Law, Wavell Hinds, Garry Park, Greg Smith, James Pipe, Graham Wagg, Tim Groenewald, Jonathan Clare, Jake Needham, Ian Hunter and Mark Lawson.

Assuming they're all fit, my guess would be we play the same side that won so well on Sunday, with Needham and Clare missing out. The bowlers all did pretty well, although we missed a fit Wagg in the field, and you can't argue with a batting side that racks up 280 in 50 overs.

Lancashire should be similarly unchanged and travel with the following squad:

Paul Horton, Tom Smith, Ashwell Prince, Francois du Plessis, Steven Croft, Luke Sutton, Kyle Hogg, Glen Chapple (captain), Mark Chilton, Sajid Mahmood, Gary Keedy, Oliver Newby and Stephen Parry.

My guess would be the last two will miss out. Lancashire do bat long, but if we could get Horton and Prince early, I feel they are vulnerable. The wicket is likely to be slow and what happens to the ball under the lights as the evening progresses is anyone's guess.

Elsewhere, the Second XI recorded a fine 5 run win over Worcestershire in a one day trophy match at Kidderminster. We scored 286-4 in 50 overs with John Sadler scoring an unbeaten 115 and Dan Birch 85. Then the hosts made 281, with wickets for Ross Whiteley and Atif Sheikh. It augurs well, with pressure on the guys wearing the first team shirts from those behind them in the pecking order at present. Thanks to the guys on In Morris We Trust for the information. Great dedication boys!

Remember to support the seconds if the firsts are away from home. There's some really good players coming through and we play on some delightful grounds. Who knows, you may spot the next big talent before anyone else. I thoroughly enjoyed a day at Denby last year with glorious weather, a stunning ground and a cracking game.

I suspect tomorrow will be truncated at Derby and just hope we can get it on, as a draw is more use to other teams than us. I'll miss the game on Sky, sadly, but will content myself with playing on a ground that is like a snooker table. The former groundsman and coach at the school we play at is Lee Spendlove, who many readers will know from his sterling ground and coaching work in and around Derbyshire. Lovely bloke, and he turned the school grounds into something really special. The outfield is better than most tracks we get to play on, so with fair weather forecast I'm expecting a good, high scoring game and not my best bowling figures ever!

Bit like Scotland at Taunton yesterday. Apparently the wicket had nothing for bowlers and the astonishing thing is that Scotland put Somerset in...

Here's hoping we do better tomorrow night. I may get to report on it later tomorrow, but if we get a result (either of my teams) it could be party time!

Monday, 11 May 2009

Dilemma decided...

I'd a tough decision to make last night...

In the light of our win yesterday, I was torn between heading home from work early on Wednesday to watch our huge game against Lancashire or leading my team into battle on the best track we play on all season. The fact that I've a weakened side suggests that we could get hammered on Wednesday by our strongest opponents of the season (the local Ockbrook and Borrowash!) and the lure of the game on Sky was substantial.

Anyway, I decided I could not neglect the boys and opted to play, albeit after a look at Wednesday's weather, which suggests that we'll be very lucky to see any play at Derby, while the "playing" match should go ahead with a decent forecast.

It's such a shame as yesterday was the sort of situation that Coach Morris must have dreamed of pre-season. A scoreboard reading 190-2 and 13 overs left with Law and Hinds in full spate after a cameo from Chris Rogers was the stuff of fantasy. We didn't make the 300 that was threatened, but on another day - who knows?

The jury's out on the use of Dan Redfern as an opener, but he's played a couple of good hands in that role and his bowling came in mighty useful yesterday and thoroughly vindicated his selection ahead of Steve Stubbings. Some may feel that either Garry Park or Greg Smith might be options "up top" but the speed of that pair between the wickets is a decided asset in the closing overs as ones turned into twos win many a one day match. Dan's no slouch either (at his age, neither was I) but Park and Smith are fine batsmen, useful bowlers and brilliant fielders. I read on 606 Northants fans saying that the difference between the sides was the fielding and that is most encouraging.

I also note with pleasure that our bowlers are bowling much better lines this season and the opposition are generally having to earn their runs, rather than being given a start with wides and other erratic dross. It was, as always, enlightening listening to Geoff Boycott dissecting batting during the recent Test match when he said that bowlers had to get the batsmen making their 6 decisions in as short a time and with as little room for error as possible. That way, the batsman had to work out should he go forward or back, was it coming at the stumps or wide and should he hit it or leave it. The more accurate the ball, the harder the thought process and greater chance of a mistake. Simple really, but doing it on a regular basis is the secret.

We've seen enough one day cricket this year to see that a tactic in the 20/20 is likely to be taking the pace off the ball with slow bowlers backed up by fast and at times brilliant fielders. Lawson, Needham, Smith, Redfern and Hinds could all have a part to play in this and if the batsmen can watch and learn from the expertise of Rogers, Law and Hinds we should do much better than last year. Mind you, wearing wellingtons and blindfolds we must surely do better than that, with least said about it the better.

Last year our FP Trophy campaign was derailed by bad weather (losing the game against Scotland in Glasgow was a bitter blow) and it would be a shame if the same happened again. Given decent breaks, we could still be in the knock out stage when anything is possible.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Northants v Derbyshire FP Trophy

Derbyshire produced a professional display to beat Northamptonshire in a game that ebbed and flowed after we had produced our best batting of the season in posting 286-9.

This impressive score was based on good contributions from our holy trimuvirate with Stuart Law (pictured) leading the way with an imperious 95, Wavell posting another good score with 57 and the newly arrived skipper hitting 42 before holing out on the boundary edge.

When you arrive at a new club with the career average that Law has accumulated in the past 20 years there is little left to prove. His comments on arrival that it was more than just about his runs were valid, but there is no doubt that he will sleep easier tonight having shown the county's fans what an outstanding batsman he is.

Rogers batted remarkably well too for a man who must be pretty jetlagged and I loved Dave Griffin's comments on the radio this afternoon about Buck's arrival in this country. Did he want to go home for a rest? No, he wanted to go to the ground for a hit and some exercise - exactly what you want from your overseas pro and your skipper. When the two Aussies were posting their second wicket stand, my mind was cast back to the last time I felt so good about a Derbyshire line-up, which was in the halcyon days of Wright and Kirsten. When those two were going well you thought a win was a formality and there was a similar air from Rogers and Law today.

Wavell's knock added to his excellent record in this year's FP Trophy and its funny to think we were moaning about him (me included) a week or two back.

After Law and Hinds were dismissed we lost our way a little but the late assault by Graham Wagg which saw him lift three huge sixes (and hurt himself in the process) took us to an eminently defendable total.

Yet when Wessels and O'Brien stormed from the blocks with a stand of 66 in around nine overs we looked in serious trouble. Wagg was only able to bowl three expensive overs and Garry Park was also expensive today. The advent of Tim Groenewald was a key factor, as the middle order was strangled effectively. Derbyshire's bowling options stood them in good stead too, with Dan Redfern doing a good job and removing Mark Nelson after the youngster threatened a late challenge and there was no need for Wavell to turn his arm over as Derbyshire eventually won comfortably.

With Essex soundly beating Lancashire, the group is again wide open and our game on Wednesday is a really big one. The weather forecast doesn't look too clever for this one and it may be that any game is truncated at best. At the halfway stage Lancashire and Essex have 6 points from four games and we have 4. Our destiny is very much in our own hands and with better luck with the toss in the remaining matches (we lost it again today but did OK in the end) we could still sneak into the business places.

Again though, today was a new Derbyshire playing with purpose, confidence and no little skill. It's been a long time since we were able to say that about our one day form and the side are to be roundly applauded for their efforts. Well done guys.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Northants v Derbyshire - FP Trophy preview

With skipper Chris Rogers back in harness, Derbyshire will be revitalised going into tomorrow's game.

There's no news at this stage of either side but John Morris has the nicest kind of batting dilemma in that he has numerous batting and bowling options. One of his first decisions is in who opens with Chris Rogers and both Steve Stubbings and Dan Redfern will be hoping for a call. He may alternatively look for a brisk start and elevate someone like Greg Smith, but my guess is that he'll stick with one of the two openers who have done a decent job so far.

With the hosts tracks having a reputation for spin, it would appear likely that both Jake Needham and Mark Lawson will play, with Needham having enjoyed the track in the pre-season. The other decision is who takes the new ball with Graham Wagg. Both Tim Groenewald and Jon Clare offer all round ability and it comes down to who is most in form with the ball. Clare bowled a steady spell at Derby last weekend and again did well against the students from the Leeds/Bradford UCCE so may get the nod, although Groenewald's explosive potential with the bat could equally swing the decision his way.

Assuming everyone is fit, I'd expect ther following side to line up tomorrow:

Chris Rogers
Dan Redfern/Steve Stubbings
Stuart Law
Wavell Hinds
Garry Park
Greg Smith
James Pipe
Graham Wagg
Jon Clare/Tim Groenewald
Jake Needham
Mark Lawson

The hosts are having a decent season, with South African Andrew Hall on fire with bat and ball at present. All rounder Stephen Crook is another in good form, while skipper Nicky Boje has a wealth of experience and a lot of ability. There is little doubt that this will be a good game, but the arrival of Rogers gives Derbyshire's top order a look of reassurance. It would be unfair to expect him to get off the plane and be scoring heavily immediately, but I think we could win this one and re-ignite our chances in the FP Trophy. While I see Lancashire qualifying as group winners, the rest of the group is too close to call and Derbyshire are still very much in the mix. After two matches that have been effectively decided by the loss of the toss, here's hoping that Rogers has brought a two-headed Aussie coin with him - and calls correctly!

Friday, 8 May 2009

Jake gets the vote - just!

Interesting poll during this past week, with Jake Needham just shading Mark Lawson as your first choice spinner.

Both are youngsters of potential and as such will experience good days and bad. Spinners are generally coming into their prime at around 30, when they know where to bowl and how quickly in different conditions. Both these players have years until they reach that age and will enjoy good and bad times.

I rate Needham a very good bowler with a decent loop and a potential all rounder. Lawson I'll reserve judgement on until we've seen him on more helpful tracks. What I will say for him is that he's bowled with greater accuracy than leg spinners often do and looks a good fielder. While not a great batsman, his cameo at Cardiff last week shows he is not without talent.

If one of them emerged this year it would be a huge bonus. Who knows, John Morris may pull another spinner from somewhere to give them a run for their money?

This week's poll is easy - where will we finish in this year's Championship Division 2?

400 up...Derbyshire v Leeds/Bradford UCCE

Believe it or not, this is my 400th post on the blog. Amazing really and I'm pleased to be able to mark the occasion with a celebration of the arrival of Chris Rogers today.

At one point it looked as likely as Lord Lucan riding Shergar into the County Ground, but we've done remarkably well in his absence and with Charl Langeveldt due over here in a couple of weeks, there's plenty of reasons to be cheerful.

Several came in today's final day against the UCCE. First Ross Whiteley made a maiden century and fair play to the youngster. Runs are runs irrespective of the opposition and he made the most of his opportunity, following an unbeaten 45 in the first innings with an unbeaten century. Despite this I suspect that he will not feature in the first team much this season, but I rate him a player with a future.

Possibly more important were the century and half century for John Sadler and Dominic Telo. Both needed runs to keep in the frame and obliged in style, Sadler grafting four hours for his runs while Telo batted in typically breezy style. If the latter could harness his obvious talent to a little more restraint and concentration he could be a really fine player. He has work to do this season, in the final year of his contract, but has the ability to make it with the county.

So no win after an academic declaration, but the benefits to players are greater than the win would have been. Now for a day's rest until the important game against Northants on Sunday. More about that one tomorrow.

For now, thanks for everyone who has followed this blog through the past year and enabled it to turn in 28,000 hits. I'm extremely grateful for your interest and as always, welcome your comments and e mails to

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Derbyshire v Leeds/Bradford UCCE day two

A satisfying day all round for Derbyshire today, for as a young attack bowled out their opponents for a healthy first innings lead, Paul Borrington took another opportunity to underline his credentials and talent with a century against Hampshire at the Rose Bowl. Borrington batted just over three and a half hours and hit fifteen boundaries in an innings that will give him confidence and add to the competition for places at the County Ground when he finishes at University next month.

Ross Whiteley also highlighted his ability with a breezy unbeaten 38 in the second innings to follow on from his unbeaten 45 in the first innings, while also bowling a controlled spell that cost less than two an over and earned him a wicket. There was a first wicket in Derbyshire colours for Atif Sheikh, who also produced excellent figures. Funnily, his player portrait on Cricinfo (Linked from the match) suggests that it is Mo Sheikh playing in this match! It is highly encouraging to see so much young talent emerging through the system and emphasises what a bright future we have at the club and how good a job Karl Krikken is doing with the Academy.

There was also a good spell from Jon Clare, while Jake Needham and Mark Lawson shared five wickets and both had long bowls that will serve them in good stead in the months ahead. One of Lawson's wickets was Richard Browning, formerly on the Derbyshire staff who decided that the grass was greener on the fence linking us with Northamptonshire, only to find it wasn't when he was fairly quickly released. His bowling in this match hasn't suggested that we have missed an uncut diamond and one suspects that he will not feature in much first class cricket. Matt Cassar, Adrian Rollins, Richard Browning - Northants haven't done too well out of our ex-players, with the exception of Paul Taylor.

Tomorrow I'd expect Derbyshire to have a dart in the first hour and then declare to push for a satisfying win. That would conclude a good run out for the side, especially if John Sadler can score a few tomorrow.

Elsewhere today Yorkshire piled up 600 at Edgbaston (doesn't everyone?) and to be fair to Rikki Clarke he bowled as well as anyone in taking 1-64 in 25 overs. The Warwickshire choice of Jeetan Patel as their overseas player was criticised by me last week and today he returned figures of 1-150. Faced with a season of bowling long spells on the Edgbaston featherbed, my guess is that he'll average nearer 50 than 40 with the ball this year and that he won't feature in too many fantasy cricket sides...

Speaking of which, the always readable "In Morris We Trust" is urging Derbyshire fans to join Chris' Telegraph league for a fun competition, with only pride at stake. I've signed up a fine side and currently sit somewhere around 7,000 in the leaderboard (can you call 7,000 position part of a leaderboard?) Why not sign up a side (they're now half price) and add a little spice to your season? For what its worth, my side is:

Jacques Rudolph
Dale Benkenstein
Robert Key
Matthew Walker
Garry Park
Danish Kaneria
Jon Lewis
Sajid Mahmood
Dominic Cork
Samit Patel
Chris Read

Fine players all, but feel free to laugh as they all fall hopelessly out of form now I've selected them! Rest assured, at the first sign of a dip in Garry Park's form I'll drop him so he returns to an average of Bradmanesque proportions...

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Derbyshire v Leeds/Bradford UCCE

A good run out for Derbyshire today, with both Steve Stubbings and Wavell Hinds posting centuries in a day that must have pleased and frustrated John Morris in equal measure.

There were good cameos from Jon Clare and from Ross Whitely too, but Morris must have hoped that one from John Sadler and Dom Telo might have posted runs to make him think about his team selection. Neither of them did and that must be a source of some frustration, although it will have been tempered by seeing Stubbo ease to a century and Wavell Hinds continue his transformation from Wendy Richards to Viv in a week.

Wavell's first century in Derbyshire colours didn't come off the most demanding of attacks, but few would dispute, after his heroics of the last few days, that he didn't deserve it. I hope it is the start of a fine summer for the Jamaican, skipper for this game. I also hope we remember his bowling as the season goes on, and with slow wickets like those at the County Ground his wobbling medium pace would be a good asset in one day games. Maybe his calf injury still troubles him, but after long knocks this week one would hope it would have loosened off by now.

I have to say I like what I have seen of Ross Whiteley as a no nonsense biffer of bowling if it is in the slot and a left armer who moves it around like a young Kevin Dean. He's a solidly built lad and I think he could prove an asset as he gets a little older. So too could Atif Sheikh, who played a few shots in a brief innings then had a chance to bowl a few balls before the day was curtailed by bad light.

It will be intersting to see how Morris plays this game. If he bowled the visitors out cheaply tomorrow, does he go for a win and enforce the follow on, or does he bat again to give Sadler and Telo more time in the middle? It's not a crucial game, but a winning habit is, as Chicago once said a hard habit to break.

Over the next couple of days I hope to see a professional performance and news of Chris Rogers arrival. It's been a long time coming.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Thoughts on the season to date

If he was honest (and he usually is), John Morris would probably admit that things have not gone according to plan this season.

I don't mean on the pitch, where the club have made, all things considered, a decent start. More with things off it. First he lost strike bowler Charl Langeveldt to the IPL and has had to watch as he is a mere peripheral figure in his native South Africa, failing to gain selection for the side despite being regarded as one of the world's best bowlers in the one day game, especially under home conditions.

Then the visa problems Chris Rogers has encountered scuppered his plans for the first rounds of the Championship and extended to his missing the first three FP trophy games. Stuart Law nobly offered to replace him but then suffered a broken finger that set him back and caused him to miss a match.

So where now for Derbyshire? Well, we sit top of the Championship despite all of the above, so well done to all concerned for their efforts thus far. I would expect us to remain a threat and be a competitive outfit in the long form of the game once the overseas stars return, which means that the main need for attention is in the one day game.

There's really not that much wrong. As I said yesterday, the main thing we need to do is win the toss and that's an obvious 50/50. Early and late season tracks are always awkward first thing but generally roll out well thereafter. At Old Trafford and again yesterday we were put in and had to negotiate some difficult conditions before accelerating to post a good total by the end of the innings.

Both were in stark contrast to some of last year's one day batting and the players are to be applauded for using a little common sense in their approach to an innings. For me we need to get a few more shots played at the top of the order as the season progresses and it is perhaps asking a lot of Dan Redfern, great talent that he is, to be the hitter at the top of the order. The arrival of Rogers should help, but he too is more of an accumulator than a destroyer of bowling. Perhaps we need to look at batting Greg Smith at the top of the order in one day matches? The plethora of all rounders at our disposal means we bat low anyway. Glamorgan chased down 290-plus against Essex thanks largely to the lightning start given to them by Mark Cosgrove's assault on the bowling in the first ten overs which laid down a marker. With Smith and Rogers to open, Law and Hinds at three and four with Park and Redfern to follow, there's plenty of batting and if the dashers failed, the latter two could play themselves in. If they came off, Park and Redfern could pace the last few to the target, safe in the knowledge that there would still be Pipe, Wagg and Groenewald to come.

The two spinners have yet to finalise their battle for the ascendancy but at the moment Mark Lawson seems to be the preferred candidate. It would be expecting a lot of a leg spinner to thrive on April/May wickets but Lawson has done pretty well and bowled on the whole with greater accuracy than many of his kind. Needham has time on his side, like the former Yorkshire bowler, but I'm very much of the old (Yorkshire?) school that believes the ball turning away from you is harder to play than the one coming in - unless the ball coming in has been bowled by Muralitharan of course!

Tomorrow (weather permitting) Derbyshire start a three day game against Bradford/Leeds UCCE at Derby. They've named the following 12:

Steve Stubbings
Dan Redfern
John Sadler
Dom Telo,
Wavell Hinds (captain)
Jonathan Clare
Tim Groenewald
Tom Poynton
Jake Needham
Ross Whiteley
Mark Lawson
Atif Sheikh

Plenty for them to play for and good impressions to be made. The result is immaterial to a great extent but I hope to be able to report on a decent display over the coming days.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Derbyshire v Essex FP Trophy

Another day, another defeat and one that, like yesterday, was pretty much decided by the toss.

Derbyshire limped along for the first half of their innings and barely exceeded 2.5 runs per over for that time. It was only through the sterling efforts of Wavell Hinds, again playing an excellent and, until the advent of Greg Smith, lone hand, that we eventually set a reasonable target.

Although Essex were strangled in the middle of the innings by some excellent bowling by Garry Park and Jon Clare, the truth is that the conditions had eased . The wicket was never conducive to expansive stroke play, but Essex are a side that bats deep and are one of the best one day sides in the country. They never looked like losing after Park and Clare were surprisingly removed from the attack and the runs came at a canter towards the end.

Again though, we should not be too harsh on Derbyshire. The competitive element was there, but what they now need to do is win a few tosses, as all too often matches are decided by the coin in the early part of the season. They also need to score more quickly at the start of the innings. In a 50 over match, three an over in the first half and six an over in the second half will get you 225, a target that always seems attainable. We need to score more quickly and perhaps the imminent arrival of Chris Rogers may help in this quest.

Two defeats then. The group always looked as though Lancashire and Essex were the teams to beat. With a full team and the luck of the toss things may have been different. We now have a few days to regroup before playing Northamptonshire. All things being equal, Buck Rogers should be here for that one and will probably take the place of Steve Stubbings, who has seemed stuck in second gear in the last couple of matches.

Are we despondent? A little bit, but we can feel a whole lot better with a return to winning ways soon.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Lancashire v Derbyshire FP Trophy

Well, I wrote last night that I thought we might lose this one today and so it transpired, but there was no disgrace in doing so. At the risk of presenting myself as some form of Mystic Meg, I also suggested that removing Horton was key to success and the Aussie/Lancastrian made a fine century to partner former skipper Mark Chilton to a comfortable victory.

The toss was a factor and the early going was slow. It was a shame that Stuart Law was run out as he seemed to have a point to prove and was going well. Stubbo batted solidly yet never suggested fluency and it was left to Wavell Hinds to put his bad form behind him with a fine innings which deserved, but ultimately fell short of a century. Again we must remember that Chris Rogers and Charl Langeveldt will make a big difference to the side and there was no disgrace in losing today.

At the start of the season I suggested that we would not win anything this year but I would settle for the side being competitive. That wasn't negativity, just realism. I would love to see Chris Rogers lead us to a trophy this season and who is to say that we won't? Yet taking teams the distance is a start and perhaps today if the toss had gone the other way, the result may have done so too.

Tomorrow the focus shifts to Derby and a game against Essex and the thinking money would be on an unchanged side. With Essex well beaten by Glamorgan today after we beat the Welsh side last week, the group is wide open and the second place position is up for grabs. Fingers crossed we'll see the boys in fine fettle again and maybe this is the game in which Stuart Law emulates Wavell and shows us his class.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Lancashire v Derbyshire preview

A couple of weeks ago I'd have looked on this as a game we could definitely win. Having rolled over the Lancashire side pre-season for only 89, optimism was high and we could feel genuinely confident.

However, without Charl Langeveldt, Chris Rogers and possibly Stuart Law our team looks a little more fragile, as any side would lacking three of its best players. Law may play tomorrow, but a week after a broken finger it would be an impressive return. The Derbyshire squad is:

Steve Stubbings
Dan Redfern
Stuart Law
Garry Park
Wavell Hinds
Dominic Telo
Greg Smith
James Pipe
Graham Wagg
Jake Needham
Mark Lawson
Tim Groenewald
Jon Clare

Old Trafford's reputation would suggest we'll play both spinners and Jon Clare isn't yet at his best this season so may miss out on a return against his old county. If Law is not fit one assumes Dominic Telo will again replace him. Meanwhile Ian Hunter has a rest and Tim Groenewald will presumably hope to bowl like he did last week. If one or two of the top order strike form we can post a total and we have plenty of bowlers who can defend it.

Two years ago, playing for Warwickshire on this ground Groenewald hit five sixes in seven balls to turn a low scoring game, with three in four balls off Gary Keedy then successive blows from Kyle Hogg. I hope that we don't need him tomorrow, but it is useful to know there's that sort of firepower in the lower middle order.

As for the hosts, they have the same squad as last weekend, namely:

Tom Smith
Paul Horton
Ashwell Prince
Mark Chilton
Francois du Plessis
Steven Croft
Kyle Hogg
Luke Sutton (wkt)
Glen Chapple (cpt)
Gary Keedy
Steven Mullaney
Stephen Parry
Oliver Newby

I suspect the bottom two may well drop out so we'll be faced with a side in form, with Horton especially a young man with a growing reputation. With Chapple at nine they also bat a long way down and our young side will have to be at their best to win this one.

I've a feeling this could be our first defeat yet hope I'm wrong. If the impressive early season form has survived the wake up call at Cardiff, we could certainly cause a surprise and early inroads into the Lancashire batting has been shown to set the alarm bells ringing for the hosts.

It should be a good game and I hope the weather stays out of it. Come on boys!

The truth is out there...

So we now know the story behind Chris Rogers' non appearance in Derbyshire colours so far this season and on the face of it we'll not see him some time soon.

Full marks to Peakview on the club's fans message board "In Morris We Trust", who found the following article in The West Australian newspaper. The link to it is

For those who can't be bothered, here's the text below:

"Chris Rogers’ bid to take part in this year’s Ashes has been stymied by a delay in his UK work visa, leaving him languishing in Perth for nearly a month.

The record-breaking former WA opener, who played one Test against India last year, hoped to use his stint with county team Derbyshire to strengthen his claims for a return to the Australian team.

But the refusal of the British High Commission to issue him with a skilled worker visa has prevented Rogers travelling to England.

He has sought the support of Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, a keen cricket fan, to help him complete the documentation.

“It has been very frustrating,” Rogers said yesterday. “I have got a valid contract, I am entitled to a visa but the delays in issuing it have meant I am stuck in Perth rather than playing with Derbyshire.

“My view is that if I am scoring runs in county cricket, the national selectors will have a reason to consider me for the Ashes but it won’t do me any good if I am not playing.”

Rogers’ problems started when he supplied the High Commission in Canberra with copies — rather than originals — of a bank statement showing he had the required £800 deposited in an England bank.

His application was denied on April 16 but he was not told until April 21, a week after the county season started.

Rogers has reapplied but was told the visa application would take 25 days to process. He will also have to provide new biometric data, such as fingerprints and iris scans, for a new electronic identity card.

“It seems to be an unforgiving or inflexible system,” Rogers said. “I am not sure why they did not make one phone call to me to confirm I had to supply originals of the required documentation rather than wait until the end of the processing period.

“I know Derbyshire have tried to get their local MP to pursue things at their end while I have been in contact with Stephen Smith’s office to see if he can help.”

Mr Smith is at Gallipoli for Anzac Day but a spokesman said Rogers’ case was being considered.

Derbyshire have signed Stuart Law, who is now a UK resident, as a short term replacement."


The Derby Telegraph now say that following the intervention of local MPs with the Australian government that Rogers may be here in time for the game at Northampton next weekend. I hope so, because his presence after a winter of high scoring will be a great asset. There's been a few mistakes made along the way, but there's no real damage at this stage. Just as long as he does get here...

Friday, 1 May 2009


A fairly even poll last week, with half of you deciding that Graham Wagg was potentially our best all rounder with around 25% each going for Jon Clare or Greg Smith. Garry Park had few takers, but is doing as well as anyone at this stage.

I agree, for what its worth. Wagg hasn't yet realised his full potential with the bat but is a fine bowler. Smith is improving all the time but is not quite the finished article with bat or ball. Clare is going to have a difficult season as players always do in the second year. He is a better bowler than batsman at present but can go a long way.

Park looks a better bowler than I expected and looks the batsman that his career average suggested. I think we've picked up a real diamond in Mr Park.

This week's poll comes out of the use being made of two spinners thus far. Who would you rate as our number one spinner - Jake Needham or Mark Lawson? Logic suggests we'll usually only play one - so who would you choose?

Glamorgan v Derbyshire Day 4

Full marks for whoever was doing the rain dance this afternoon, because without you I've a horrible feeling that we'd be bemoaning our first defeat of the season tonight.

To cut a long story short, we made a pig's ear of the last day at Cardiff. Last night I said that if we lost 18 wickets in a day I would go and support Lancashire and it could have happened if rain hadn't come to our rescue.

It all looked easy enough when Garry Park and James Pipe were together at lunchtime, but I'd have to say that we looked a batsman light in this game and could have paid for it in the final session. James Pipe is an admirable cricketer and I'm a big fan, but six is too high in the order for him and we looked to have a long tail in this game.

Having said that, the problem is that we're missing experience at the top of the order. In the absence of Stuart Law and the continued absence of Chris Rogers we need the older heads to stand up and be counted. That being the case, Wavell's sashay down the wicket to go over the top in the second innings when we're battling to save the game was pretty poor stuff.

If Robert Croft only bowled against us he'd never be out of the England side as he always dismantles our batting. I know this is a bit left field but with the first Ashes Test at Cardiff I can see some logic in sticking him in the Test side for that one game. He knows the track inside out and could trouble the Aussie left handers. I was relieved to see him omitted last weekend at Derby and think we'd have struggled to win that had he played.

I totally understand that professional cricketers need to be fit, but likewise we should not expect late-30's players to be like whippets, especially when they're only bowling spin. That Croft is not the most lithe on the Glamorgan staff is beyond doubt, but so is the fact that he is still one of their best players.

Anyway, back to Derbyshire and we escaped with a draw and points. As I type we still sit top of division two as we face a month of FP Trophy and twenty over cricket. By the time we resume we should (SURELY?) have Chris Rogers over and Charl Langeveldt should be here. Both will make a big difference to the side, as will reverting to one spinner with Smith, Wagg and Redfern as back up.

There's no need to panic, or over react to a bad day, but we'll need to go back to the earlier performances to get something from Old Trafford on Sunday. Will Stuart Law be fit to face his old county? Depends on how bad a break he got, but we could certainly use him if at all possible.

More on that one tomorrow.