Thursday, 25 June 2009

Another night - another loss?

Lancashire tonight. At home, on the TV, big crowd. Bound to lose then...

Having tried various options at the top of the order, I'd be inclined to go with Dan Birch at the top of the order tonight, replacing John Sadler in an otherwise unchanged team. At least he is an opener and can play his natural game. The loss of mobility in the field is a factor, but if Birch got us off to a flier there would be few complaints.

John Morris is making all the right noises in the media, as he has to do of course, but our qualification for the final stages appears as likely as Lord Lucan riding Shergar around the boundary edge before the game. We could play brilliantly tonight, wipe the floor with Lancashire and then lose the next one. It's a shame after our highly encouraging start, but progress in this competition isn't going to happen.

Lancashire turn up with Andrew Flintoff in the following 13-man squad:

Mal Loye
Paul Horton
Steven Croft
Francois du Plessis
VVS Laxman
Mark Chilton
Andrew Flintoff
Gareth Cross (wkt)
Glen Chapple (cpt)
Kyle Hogg
Stephen Parry
Sajid Mahmood
Gary Keedy

We will be wary of du Plessis after his sparkling century in the FP Trophy at Derby, while Gary Keedy will again enjoy the County Ground because he always does.

There will be no report on tonight's game from me as its early night time before flying out early tomorrow morning on our holiday to Tennessee. I don't think there'll be a blog during this time, but I will be following the county fortunes and will catch up on my return.

As for the poll, let's assess the state of the nation. How happy are you with our season so far? Two weeks to enter this one and I'll see your views on my return.
If you've any comments, mail them to me at and I'll include the best of them in the blog once I'm back in circulation.

As for the last poll, 75% of people still think Dan Redfern the man for the middle order slot. Me too. He's a man for the future and you reap what you sow. Investment in his experience just now must pay dividends in future years.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Oh come on!

I was more than a little saddened today as, taking advantage of a rare day off prior to going away on holiday, I did a little net surfing.

As I usually do at some point, I had a look on the message board In Morris We Trust, which was set up to give free speech to Derbyshire fans. As I commented recently, the difficulty with this is that it gives carte blanche to anyone to go on and spout all sorts of nonsense. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for people having an opinion and as long as it falls short of character assassination, making a point or having a moan.

Yet someone called "TGLM" has suggested that John Morris should go now, that he has had "loads" of money and a "fair amount of time".


The problem with modern society is that everything has to be quicker and instantaneous. If a pop star doesn't sell millions first time round the record deal has gone. If a manager doesn't win things in his first one/two years, the knives are out. If you haven't got time for a proper meal, here's a three minute microwave version and if you've neither time nor inclination to watch proper cricket - here's a 20 over version to fit into an evening. It misses out the nuances of the real thing, but you get all the slogs and its like watching the highlights late at night on BBC2. Good if there's nothing else, but not like the real thing and lacking in the tension and excitement.

The reality is that there are 18 counties and four competitions at present. That means in any one season at least 14 coaches are, by the above definition, rubbish.
They're not of course. They're decent, often very talented people doing a good job with players who sometimes let them down by forgetting what they've been told, panicking and being outplayed by someone who's having a special day. They can do a lot, but they can't go and bat or bowl for players, nor hold catches for them.

To suggest that Derbyshire should start all over again with a new coach and new ideas is silly. We need instability like I need another hole in my head. Morris HAS strengthened the playing staff. Its not strong enough yet as we can all see, but we have six, maybe seven very good players and I have no doubt that there will be further surgery this winter. There are a few not quite up to the mark and they may go to release money for better options.

What Morris has got is an excellent contacts book and more than that, the gift of the gab to talk people into joining Derbyshire. I'll be honest, when Dave Houghton left I quite liked the idea of Ian Harvey coming in as coach, but Morris got the nod and I don't think Harvey or anyone else would have done much better. Derbyshire have a limited playing budget that is increased by backroon efficiencies, releasing Mike Hendrick and various other measures. They have a young squad and far too many people think that this is International Cricket Manager, where you sign Chris Gayle and Shahid Afridi for the 20/20 and win every game. It doesn't work like that guys...

Having been a fan since 1967, I've seen Derbyshire lose far more games than they've won. Phil Russell was a fine coach but we lost plenty under him, just as we did under Denis Smith, Les Stillman, Andy Hayhurst, Dave Houghton and the rest. We're a small county who sometimes manage to punch above our weight and give fans a grand day out. There is no magic wand to turn us into the best team in the country. Only patience can do that, allowing youngsters to develop and Morris to pick up increasingly better players to work with them. If you want to see how its done, have a look at Durham. They're now a fine side, having put faith in their youth policy and brought on good players, alongside some prudent signings from elsewhere.

So keep the faith guys. If you're looking for a successful side, do what most football fans do and support a Manchester United - perhaps Durham or Nottinghamshire. Being a Derbyshire fan is like a roller coaster ride. There's a slow chug up to the top, or a period where you feel we're getting somewhere, closely followed by a lightning fast drop as you realise we're not quite there yet.

I said last week that Morris should have five years and I stand by that. If I saw obvious signs in between times that the rudder and the plot have gone missing I will say so, but we're not there yet. Not by a long chalk.

Same old same old

Another night of 20/20 and ultimately another disappointment as Derbyshire were easily beaten by Durham despite posting a competitive total.

The difference between the two sides again came down to the respective starts to innings. We elevated Graham Wagg as a pinch hitter but, like a similar idea with James Pipe before him, it didn't work. With Chris Rogers poor run continuing in this form of the game, we needed Stuart Law and Wavell Hinds to produce and they both batted well, Law in particular looking good after a cameo from Greg Smith.

150 is always a challenge with half-decent bowling, but only Tim Groenewald and new man Nantie Hayward can have any satisfaction in their work last night from the bowlers. One would have hoped that the bowlers might have picked up something from the World 20/20 and bowled the right lines and, even more importantly, the right length. If a batsman has the room to swing his arms in this cricket you can go home as most will punish you. The ball either has to be directed in at the pads, making him do all the work, or it needs to be up in the blockhole so that they cannot get under the ball to score quickly.

With three games to go, we have as much chance of progressing in this competition as I have of riding next year's Grand National winner. Don't get me wrong, I still maintain our performances are improved from last year's debacle, but John Morris is bang on the button in today's Derby Telegraph. At present we either bat well or bowl well but seldom do both. For us to be in any serious way competitive in this form of the game we need someone who can give us a quick start and then to find at least one more bowler who can actually rein in the opposition batsmen, rather than going for 12-18 runs per over. Easier said than done, perhaps, but until we get this in hand, we'll only be a competitive, rather than winning team.

Lancashire on TV tomorrow night. Although we're only playing for pride, I'd like to see us perform in front of the cameras for once, rather than freeze like rabbits in a car's headlights. The players ARE good enough, but they just need to show that now.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Derbyshire v Durham Preview

On the face of it, tomorrow should see us get a good hiding from Durham, who have been the best side in the country over the past year or two. Although we beat them at the Riverside, it was the highpoint in a 20/20 season that has blown hot and cold - or maybe that should be cold and colder - ever since.

Tomorrow also sees the long awaited Durham debut of Aussie wunderkind David Warner who is likely to open alongside Phil Mustard with Michaed di Venuto rested. Kyle Coetzer, the one Scots player to emerge from the World 20/20 with an enhanced reputation, also returns to a batting line-up that also boasts ex-skipper Dale Benkenstein and erstwhile Derbyshire and Somerset clubber Ian Blackwell. The latter rarely misses an opportunity to get one over us and having missed out in the first game will be keen to do well. The full squad of 12 is:

David Warner
Phil Mustard
Kyle Coetzer
Dale Benkenstein
Ian Blackwell
Will Smith
Gordon Muchall
Gareth Breese
Ben Harmison
Mitchell Claydon
Neil Killeen
Scott Borthwick

With Steve Harmison also rested, alongside Paul Collingwood, the visitors are strong without looking unbeatable.

That really depends on which Derbyshire side turns up and on John Morris' tactics. With Nantie Hayward set to make his debut, a good crowd should be a certainty and such evenings generally result in our players not performing to their ability, for some reason. One assumes that Tom Lungley will make way, but I've not seen them all in training over the past week and do not know the injury situation. Sticking my head on the block, which I'm never afraid to do, my side (in batting order) would be as follows:

Chris Rogers
Wavell Hinds
Stuart Law
Greg Smith
John Sadler
James Pipe
Garry Park
Graham Wagg
Ian Hunter
Mark Lawson
Nantie Hayward

Working on the principle that you want your best batsmen in as long as possible, my top three speak for themselves. Park is a lower order insurance against collapse and can bowl steadily and field brilliantly. We need to vary the pace with Lawson, while Smith and Wagg can also bowl spin, depending on conditions. I hope Nantie doesn't find a slow track for his debut or he'll be on the first plane back home...

Hinds is a fine player but needs time to get his eye in, so opening with Rogers would give him that opportunity. As an opening batsmen of Test and one-day international experience it is hardly a leap of faith and I'd want him ready to fire on all cylinders with the change bowlers. Who knows? It might see us take advantage of a power play, something we have seen all too rarely from a Derbyshire side.

On a different tack, it was nice to see Pakistan win yesterday and I enjoyed the contribution, once again, from our old boy Shahid Afridi. He batted well again yesterday, more sensibly than I remember, yet still retains the ability to hit a ball a LONG way. I still think he's a bowler who bats and offers explosive potential in doing so. His leg spin has been superb in the competition and I'm sure that next season we'll see a number of suitors for his services in the 20/20 in this country. Whether we would be one of them is anyone's guess, but the improved Afridi would get cricket fans out of their armchairs to games, while ensuring that the substantial local Pakistani population would have their hero to watch.

Hey! Come to think of it, that makes cricket and financial sense. A rare win/win situation for someone. Of course there's always the risk that big occasion Afridi could be replaced by the far inferior run-of-the-mill version, but I'd be prepared to gamble if the price was right.

And after his spell with us before, I never thought I'd say that...

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Derbyshire Legends 12 - Sam Cadman (1877-1952)

There's a well known series of books by Tempus publishing which rejoices in the titles of "100 XXXX Cricket Greats". I've seen a few of them and the concept is a good one. I actually got as far as talking to the publishers a few years ago about doing one for Derbyshire. It fell down on the same premise that in my opinion the others do. True greatness is rare and while many aspire to it, in comparatively few is it realised.

This is very true for Derbyshire cricket. The true "greats" probably number 15-20 names. Players can achieve legendary status, rather than genuine greatness, for lesser feats of less longevity. Dean Jones and Mohammad Azharuddin achieved legendary feats, but were not here long enough to be genuine greats, whereas Gladwin and Jackson, in the context of Derbyshire cricket, were the real deal.

After that elaborate introduction, the name of Sam Cadman may not be one that many would consider great, while his playing feats were those of a solid county professional rather than an international star. A right hand batsman and medium pace bowler, his career spanned the years 1900-1926 and in common with many of that era he lost valuable years to the First World War.

Many were surprised to see him return after the global conflict but he continued to be a solid performer until he was 49. He made eight centuries for the county, together with 61 half centuries and returned a career average of 21. In addition, for many years he was a bowling mainstay, taking 807 wickets at 25 each. Solid, decent figures as befit the man. His greatest match was in 1920, when at the age of 43 his 8-70 and 6-34 in a match against Northamptonshire was still not enough to win the match for Derbyshire in their unsuccessful season. He became the county's oldest centurion in 1924 at the age of 47, by which time he had started to help with coaching.

He made just one appearance in 1926 but Cadman's greatest deeds were yet to come as he took over Derbyshire's fledgling nursery and EVERY professional in the Derbyshire Championship side of 1936 graduated under Cadman's expert tutelage. He was a fine all round coach, but especially of bowlers. Indeed, so great was his ability that he regularly undertook engagements in South Africa where he did sterling work.

He was a strict, some said gruff coach but was considered fair and the players spoke of how quickly he spotted the reason for a lapse of form and suggested tweaks to get them back on the right track. Perhaps he was fortunate that so many fine young players came together at the same time, but the counter-argument is that he spotted many of them himself with a keen eye.

"Play every ball on its merits" and "Cricket's a great leveller" were his two favourite sayings, ensuring that his charges didn't get carried away with themselves. He remained coach until the outbreak of the Second World War, when he retired to Glossop, dying there in 1952. He remained interested in the game until near the end, umpiring matches and making an unbeaten 17 for the Glossop 2nd XI at the age of 70.

By any stretch of the imagination Sam Cadman's contribution to Derbyshire cricket was considerable. The club followers owe him a considerable debt and without his skills the most momentous event in the club history may well not have happened. Can any man have a greater epitaph?

Friday, 19 June 2009

Fair game

It was a shame to see that someone ruined the very good and often entertaining In Morris We Trust site last week with a silly, thoughtless comment about a Derbyshire player, a comment without substance and made from the anonymity of a computer keyboard.

People really should realise that such comments, should they lead to legal action, CAN be traced through IP address. If it was made from a library, logs are kept of who was on a machine and when, so any individual basking in the thought of anonymity should perhaps think twice.

There is an unfair assumption that anyone in the public eye is fair game and I disagree. There may be a minority of people for whom such things are fascinating, but I really couldn't care what X does with his/her life, even if stories and allegations are true in some cases.

Those who have read this blog for the past 15 months will know that I don't always agree with John Morris' selections and I'm occasionally critical of a performance, when it is justified. I don't mind getting beaten as long as we don't capitulate, roll over and play dead. We can be and often are competitive and for the record I hope that John Morris stays for at least the next five years. By that stage, we should have an idea of what is happening and players should be emerging from the Academy.

I liked Dave Houghton as a bloke and he was always approachable, but he made some bad decisions, the worst being that to retain Travis Birt and release Michael di Venuto. Morris has not yet made a bad decision. OK, Rikki Clarke failed, but we were all pleased when he signed and the love affair only ended when he failed to justify his high salary and gave the air of someone who didn't care, a fatal error. Credit to Morris, he cut his losses and has again improved the side this season. At the end of it I will give a full analysis of the year - the good, bad and ugly if you will - but John Morris has my support and will have for the forseeable future.

Next Friday, I jet out with my family to the splendours of Tennessee for a fortnight. Plenty of sun, good music and fabulous food. Might get a photo or two taken of Peakfan in his Derbyshire cap by the landmarks for a future blog. During that fortnight I don't think I'll be able to blog but will keep up with e mails and scores via the wonders of the kids Nintendo dsi consoles. I will be back over the weekend though, when there'll be a preview of our next game against Durham - Nantie's debut!

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Afridi watching

Those of you who have followed Derbyshire's fortunes for a number of years will have been fascinated watching the exploits in the World 20/20 of Shahid Afridi, formerly of this parish.

I remember watching Afridi bat was akin to seeing a threshing machine at full tilt. Every innings was a 20-over slog and there was little deference shown to bowlers, whether justified or otherwise. The thing about cricket is that there are times that bowlers are entitled to a little deference. Even the late greats - Trumper, Jessop, Ranjitsinjhi - players who reputedly had at least two shots for every ball - had occasion to play defensively on occasion. Viv Richards was as aggressive a batsman as I've ever seen, yet even the Master Blaster knew when to rein in the cavalry.

Not so Afridi. I saw him bat one day in Edinburgh, coming in to launch Derbyshire's reply to a modest Scotland total. The first ball disappeared over mid on for four (a little like tonight). The the next went up in the air and could have been held by any one of four Scots fielders before being dropped by one of them. He made 30-odd runs that day, including a six that went straight into a waste bin over the boundary, yet never suggested permanence. I saw him in a televised match a couple of years earlier make a century of astonishing power for Leicestershire, but in watching the innings there was always the expectation that it would end soon.

Tonight was Afridi night. His sort of track, one foot down the wicket and smack. Cultured and elegant? No, but mighty effective. The Pakistan innings gained an impetus which should have produced a bigger total, but as I've written before on this blog, 140 with good bowling is a challenge. Just look at how many sides have defended less than that in this tournament.

Which is where Shahid the leggie came in. I've enjoyed watching his flat, brisk leg spin in this competition, with the odd flighted ball, an occasional googly and a quicker ball that most seamers would be proud of. Tonight he produced two absolute belters to remove Herschelle Gibbs and AB De Villiers, blows from which the Saffers, my tournament favourites, never recovered.

For me the tournament has heralded the dawn of the bowlers fightback against heavy bats and short boundaries and Afridi tonight looked a fine bowler, far removed from the man who played for Derbyshire. I remember Dominic Cork getting quite annoyed one day as he moved extra fielders to the offside, only for Afridi to bowl leg stump long hops. When he switched them, Afridi bowled outside off stump. Poor stuff for an overseas professional.

I'm not advocating Afridi as our pro for next year, but would say he's now a far better player than we signed. For a county looking for a 20/20 specialist, he could infuriate and thrill in equal measure, but life would not be dull.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Nantie is here!

Yes, Nantie Hayward has arrived and everything in the garden is rosy. Next week, all being well, we shall see how good he is. My guess is that he'll do quite nicely.

Meanwhile on "In Morris We Trust" there's news of an emphatic win for the Seconds by nine wickets against Glamorgan. A century for James Pipe and eighty from Dan Birch saw us to a win, leaving South African Wayne Madsen only just able to get to the crease.

This week's poll saw people fairly even on who might make way for Hayward. One assumes that Morris will bring a spinner in to the Championship side and logic suggests Mark Lawson wil be that man.

The comment of "Anon" the other night prompts this week's poll. Is Dan Redfern the right man for the middle order slot, or is one of the other options worth looking at?

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Mid-season: so where are we exactly?

On Sunday we reach the longest day. I can say that for certain as it also marks my son's birthday and more than that his 18th. Eighteen years ago, it was certainly the longest day for his Mum and I, having been rudely awoken at 3.30am by the increasingly obvious signs of the onset of labour...

Anyway, enough of this Maternity Monthly stuff, I always look on it as the half way point of the season as little by little we find sunset creeping up on us earlier than before. Our club 20/20 matches gradually turn into 18/18 games, unless we win the toss and bat and our opponents handle the last six overs in light that has bats squinting. There's still a lot of cricket to be played, a massive amount, but we have enough behind us to make a judgement on the state of the side in comparison to seasons past.

For what its worth, I think we have improved this season. We've not pulled up trees, we've not rivalled Bradman's 1948 Australians as the Invincibles, but there are signs that we're becoming harder to beat.

In the Championship we have survived the late arrival of Chris Rogers and the non arrival of Charl Langeveldt to be in the mix for a promotion push. With Nantie Hayward set to add his considerable firepower to a steady attack, there is every possibility we could make the final shake up. To do so we need Rogers to really hit his straps and the rest of the batting to ensure that we post big first innings scores to put sides under pressure. Paul Borrington's return may be a bonus and ensure that Steve Stubbings keeps his head down, while Wavell Hinds new found grit is good to see. Garry Park needs to go on to a big score that will break a psychological barrier, while Dan Redfern probably only needs a century to confirm himself at this level.

"Anon" the other night replied to my post by saying that Redfern was not scoring the runs required at this level and should be replaced by Dominic Telo. I think we need to remember that Dan is in his first season and is averaging 25, with his highest score coming in the last match at Chesterfield, a fine 74 on a last day pitch. We should not expect too much from him but I think his place is more under threat from John Sadler if anyone. I think Telo is a batsman of talent, but the fact is that he has not made the weight of runs at any level in this country to force his way into the side. Attractive 30's are fair enough but are not enough at first class level. Thirty years ago when I was in my pomp (did I ever have a pomp?), I reckon I could have gritted out an occasional 20 and 30 at that level with a combination of nudges and nurdles, plus a full blooded cut or pull from time to time. It didn't make me remotely a first class cricketer, but they'd have had to dig me out. Telo must score heavily in the Seconds in the latter half of the season or another contract is, in my opinion, unlikely. He is a fine fielder and possesses a good range of shots, but without better concentration or shot selection it doesn't amount to all that much.

So far this season two of the heroes from last year have had more difficult times. James Pipe has yet to reveal the powerful strokeplay we have come to expect, while Jon Clare has had injuries and a little loss of form. It's typical second season syndrome for Clare, but I'm sure he'll come back stronger.

In one day cricket we've had the same problem as England, in that there have not been enough boundaries. We've not (yet?) been totally rolled over but we score too slowly at one end of the innings or another to put ourselves out of sight in matches. We've lost our fair share of games, but with the exception of Lancashire at home haven't really been rolled over.

There's no quick solution and the occasional knee jerk comment on message boards along the lines of "sack Morris" are pointless and facile. Our record over the last 15 years has been upheaval followed by turmoil. We need a period of stability to enable the best of the Academy boys to come through and develop alongside a better quality of recruit from elsewhere.

Of those signed in the winter, Garry Park has been an unqualified success with bat and ball while in the field he is superb. Tim Groenewald has shown enough to warrant acceptance, although his batting hasn't shown itself at this stage. Mark Lawson has bowled some good spells and some bad - typical of young leg spinners in fact. He needs to be in the side in the second half of the summer and if the long spell of promised dry weather materialises he could be a useful weapon.

Which leaves Stuart Law. I don't know how big an influence he has been on the younger batsmen, but he has played a couple of fine innings without really winning over the popular vote. Part of the problem is the decision for him to bat at 5 or 6 in the 20/20, often getting in with four or five overs left. For me, if he's a good enough player to bring in on a fair salary (and he is) then he should be batting at three. End of argument. If our top five was Barnett, Bowler, Morris, Adams and Azharuddin I could understand it, but we're a good way from that standard at present...

So there's plenty of reasons to be cheerful as we enter the second half of the season. Winning something may be beyond our grasp at this stage, but if the team perform like they have mostly done in the first half of the season, we can get to September with our heads held high and few complaints.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

A well fought draw

I was amazed this afternoon to hear that a few Derbyshire fans were moaning that we didn't declare early enough to force a win.

Pardon me, but are you mad?

After looking like we were gone last night, a superb rearguard action saved the game and points. Why would John Morris and Chris Rogers risk all that hard work with a gifted declaration?

It would have been one in the eye for Wavell Hinds and his tail end companions to let Glamorgan back into the match and I'm quite happy to get out of that one with a draw. The way their innings was shaping up, a declaration would have seen only one winner and it wouldn't have been us.

We now have 12 days before the next game against Durham in the 20/20. By that time we should have Nantie Hayward in our ranks and the guys can look back on this one and reflect on a job well done. We're still in the frame for promotion and if we can get Hayward fit and a rub of the green, who's to say we may not yet have something to celebrate this season?

Fantastic effort

Irrespective of what happens between now and close of play, there's surely no one will doubt that this was an outstanding effort by Derbyshire today.

Credit to Tom Lungley and Tim Groenewald for keeping things ticking over at one end, but what a fantastic effort from Wavell Hinds today! The West Indian reined in his natural instincts to score an unbeaten 119 in almost five hours of batting on a tricky pitch that offered considerable help to the three Glamorgan spinners.

There were a few doubters over Wavell last season and I'd include myself in that number. He played a few cameos, notably in the 20/20, and took more wickets than we perhaps expected, but he didn't produce anything really special.

This season started in slow fashion and after his first few innings he looked like a man who had forgotten how to bat. In recent weeks, since his century against Leeds/Bradford UCCE, Hinds has looked an increasingly class act and every inch the international batsman that he is.

He can still frustrate, but that's human frailties for you. A few silly dismissals (walking down the track) and a careless shot or two can leave hearts in mouths, but Hinds now seems to be coming to terms with the County game. At his best he has a full range of shots and although his penchant when lofting is the arc between mid wicket and long on, he can destroy sides when his eye is in.

Now he has shown he can grit it out. When the going got tough, Wave got going. Can't ask for more than that.

52-2 in 16 chasing 285 as I close. The thinking money is on a draw, but these two (Powell and Cosgrove) are fine players and Dalrymple is in next...

Big day today

If our tail wags today and Glamorgan are left over 200 to win, the last day will be an absorbing battle

Whether Graham Wagg and Greg Smith can exert the same control that the Glamorgan spinners did yesterday (or be allowed to) is a moot point, but less than 200 runs leaves it very fine. At that point their good bowling needs to be accompanied by the pressing of the panic button by the visitors. We could win with less runs in the bank, but I'd not fancy the chances so much.

Wavell really needs to get in again today any hopes of setting a challenging target rest with him and Graham Wagg. The guys still to come all know their way around a bat, but realistically the overnight pair must stay together for at least an hour - AND score runs - to give us a realistic chance.

It would be a disappointing loss as there is no doubt that on paper we are better than Glamorgan. It is nice to see their fans on 606 praising Derbyshire as a place to visit and recommending the parking, people and food. I was interested to read that Robert Croft is out of contract at the end of the summer, which I find extraordinary. He's Welsh through and through, but it is patently obvious that our biggest weakness as a team is the lack of a spinner of real quality. We've not picked either of our specialists for this game, which is worrying, and if I was John Morris I'd be making polite enquiries of the little Welshman before he leaves the County Ground. He's got three or four years ahead of him and although not athletically built, must be a fit enough man - look at the overs he bowls.

Fingers crossed for the weather, the Derbyshire batting and the result. It's another opportunity for the players to show what they're made of.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Derbyshire v Glamorgan day 3

In 1926, England recalled the veteran Wilfred Rhodes for the crucial final Test at the Oval and he played a leading part in their victory over Australia to win the Ashes.

In 1956, they recalled the veteran Cyril Washbrook to bolster the batting and again the decision produced dividends as he made 98 at Headingley when England claimed a huge win.

Is it beyond the realms of possibility that England should this year recall Robert Croft for the first Test at Cardiff?

No, I've not taken leave of my senses. I know the little spinner isn't the most lithe of players these days, but his batting can still prove obdurate and no one will convince me that he is not still the best spinner available to England. Graeme Swann bowled well in the winter and is probably now our first choice ahead of Monty Panesar and Adil Rashid, but I know who I'd fancy, on his home turf, to give the Australian left handers some grief in the first Test match. If England win that match it could set the tone for the series. There is little to choose between the seam attacks, but the Australians don't have a spinner worthy of the name, hence the inclusion of Marcus North as middle order all rounder. Many will recall North as a useful, but no more than that, bowler for Derbyshire a season or two back, but no one would put £50 on him winning Australia a Test match in England.

Croft just might. He knows the Cardiff track well and again today produced a master class in off spin to put the brakes on our second innings and his side in the box seat going into tomorrow's final day. Greg Smith and Graham Wagg did well for Derbyshire but Cosker, Dalrymple and Croft are a far more threatening combination and it would appear that we erred in omitting Mark Lawson from this side on a wearing pitch. The leggie may have been in his element tomorrow, but for us to have a realistic chance our last four wickets need to take us up to a lead of 200. Less than that and I think we've had it. Sorry.

Given that Dalrymple could probably bring an ice lolly stick out with him tomorrow and score 50, we'd have to bowl exceptionally well and catch everything. It is hard to see us dismissing Cosgrove, Powell and Wallace cheaply twice, so heroics are required from somewhere.

Wavell is still in there, but needs to stay in as his run out of Greg Smith turned the game this afternoon, just when it appeared we were gaining the ascendancy. He and Steve Stubbings had turned around the loss of three early wickets and the loss of Stubbo and Smith in quick succession changed the direction of the game.

I'm always concerned when Buck goes off like a train, as he seldom scores heavily when he does do. It's strange how we never seem to bat well against Glamorgan. They don't have a great attack on paper, but usually seem to have enough for us. OK, they've got a tubby little off spinner - what else do they need?

The weather may be a factor in tomorrow's cricket, but I have to say that at this stage I can only see one winner. Breaking it gently, it ain't us...

On the up side, we at least figured out how to dismiss Jamie Dalrymple this morning. A long hop worked like a charm. Let's hope that he displays similar carelessness in the second innings.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Derbyshire v Glamorgan day 2

Back in the 1950's, Derbyshire opener Arnold Hamer had such a good record against Nottinghamshire that the opposition bowlers could often be heard offering to buy his wicket before the start of a game (not that Hamer ever did such a thing, of course!)

Here in Scotland, anybody who plays well in a match against the Old Firm of Rangers or Celtic is usually rated a transfer target for them during the next transfer window, even if only to ensure that it doesn't happen again. Players then spend the next two years languishing in one of the reserve sides before heading off to pastures new following a chastening experience

Maybe one of these two options may be an option for John Morris as he ponders tonight the record of Julian "Bradman" Dalrymple. On Wednesday night I jokingly suggested that he and Robert Croft spent the night outbidding one another with regard to what they might do against Derbyshire. Well, while Croft did OK yesterday, he completed a four-wicket haul today then joined his skipper in an important partnership that leaves the match intriguingly balanced at the end of day two.

Credit should go to Tim Groenewald and Ian Hunter for taking our total past the 300 mark and when Graham Wagg removed the dangerous Mark Cosgrove first ball, then the visitors slumped to 35-3, there was every possibility that a collapse could occur.

Through it all Dalrymple stood solidly, reaching his century just before the close. I don't think the Welsh side's skipper is THAT good a player, but something about us seems to turn him into a world-beater. He must wish he could carry our attack around in his pocket to bowl at him when he fancied a knock...

There were a few silly comments flying around the club message board "In Morris We Trust" last night, saying that the side were "rubbish" and "wouldn't beat Spondon". Absolute nonsense of course. I understand people's frustrations and I've felt them myself over 40-plus years as a fan. Yet it is counter-productive, shows an individual in a bad light and does the team no favours. Anyone who cannot see an improvement in the side this season, however small it seems on occasion, probably should have gone to Specsavers. There should be a battle royal for first innings lead tomorrow and if we can split the overnight pair quickly, a small lead could be of massive significance in this game. By the same token, I wouldn't fancy being 75 behind with the pitch wearing and Monsieur Croft to face again.

Away from Derbyshire I enjoyed watching the West Indies beat India tonight. I still stand by my comment last week that South Africa are the team to beat, but this form of the game suits the West Indian psyche and their low seeding seems strange with so many explosive players in their ranks.

It was Dwayne Bravo's turn to step up to the plate tonight and he's a player that I like. He's a good fast medium bowler who has come through a number of injuries and a brilliant fielder. Added to that he is an explosive batsman and his flamboyant follow through on his straight drives is an exciting sight. His county stint at Kent was disappointing, but Bravo is still only 25. He strikes me as a big occasion player who would be a huge success in our 20/20 or local derbies but might struggle to get himself "up" for mundane games. He is a player that the West Indies can hand their future prospects on and the game of cricket needs a good West Indian side.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Derbyshire v Glamorgan day one

It was a funny sort of day at Derby today. A bright start, a solid platform by mid-afternoon and then a collapse that we Derbyshire fans have become accustomed to that saw us limp to 261-9 by the close.

In fairness, however, we will not know how good or bad this total is until the visitors have to bat. Maybe our winning the toss coincided with the best of a wicket that will deteriorate from here, as evidenced by our batting as the day went on. If Glamorgan post 275-3 by the close tomorrow that theory will be out of the window, but I'm prepared to wait until then before passing judgement that is overly critical.

The disappointing aspect was that again, batsmen got themselves in then got out after doing the hard grind. An old county pro of pre-war vintage used to urge his colleagues to "drink at the well" when they had got to fifty. I rarely find fault with players who get out early, as it can happen to anyone, but when players repeatedly get out in the 30-70 bracket one questions their concentration and mental toughness.

The only consolation in Mark Cosgrove getting three wickets was in his being in my fantasy cricket team! While a useful player, he shouldn't be getting three decent players out. Until late in the day we appeared to have played Robert Croft well, but late wickets again took him to a good return against us.

Tomorrow is a key day and a few more runs to take us to nearer the 300 would be useful. Mind you, it could also highlight that our batsmen missed the boat. Honourable mention for Garry Park who again showed what a fine player he is before holing out. Someone due a few runs is Jamie Pipe, who hasn't yet shown the weight of runs to which we have become accustomed. Knowing this top professional, a big score is just around the corner, but it would be good to see the runs against his name sometime soon.

Until tomorrow - here's to lots of wickets!

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Derbyshire v Glamorgan preview

I can just picture the scene at the Glamorgan team hotel tonight.

Jamie Dalrymple sits there, across from Robert Croft, watched by the rest of the players.

"I'll bid a century, an unbeaten half century and five wickets" says the Glamorgan skipper.

"Fifty and twelve wickets" replies the rotund little spinner, as his team mates look on knowingly and nod in agreement.

Yep, a jokey start tonight, trumped only by my daughter as I told my old man that Derbyshire were unchanged going into tomorrow's game

"That's terrible" she said, "you'd think they'd have time to wash their clothes in between games..."

Boom and indeed boom. Derbyshire are indeed unchanged for tomorrow's game and a good result is important for us. The game at Chesterfield was ruined by the weather, but we gained useful brownie (and batting) points before the end of the match. A century for the skipper and good knocks by young guns Redfern and Park. The only downside was that most of the others got a good start then got out, yet to be fair, we'd take a score of 400 in the first innings more often than not.

So tomorrow's side is:

Chris Rogers
Steve Stubbings
Garry Park
Dan Redfern
Wavell Hinds
Greg Smith
James Pipe
Graham Wagg
Tom Lungley
Ian Hunter
Mark Lawson

Chris Rogers will be hoping to continue his bright start and keep his name in the minds of the Aussie selectors. Their early elimination from the world 20/20 will not sit easily with their winning psyche and, having only selected six batsmen for the Ashes tour, have few options available if players fall from form or are injured. I hope it doesn't happen, but the possibilities will focus Buck's mind without doubt and I predict a bumper return for the skipper.

As for Glamorgan, they have selected the following squad:

GP Rees
MJ Cosgrove
BJ Wright
MJ Powell
JWM Dalrymple (captain)
WD Bragg
MA Wallace (wicket-keeper)
JAR Harris
RDB Croft
DS Harrison
DA Cosker
GJP Kruger
AJ Shantry

The thinking money would be on Shantry and Cosker dropping out, but Derbyshire will have to combat their nemesis, Mr Croft, to win this game. He has an extraordinary record against us and is still a fine player. Dalrymple too is Bradmanesque against us this season, while the threat of Mark Cosgrove is obvious. We have a battle on our hands to win this game, but have the talent to do so. There's still no sign of Nantie Hayward's work permit so we have to wait to see the explosive South African paceman. There's a good article on him in today's Derby Telegraph, so follow the link on the left to find out more - he certainly seems a character...

It was interesting to read that Derbyshire want to beat - sorry play - the Australians in a one day game to alleviate the boredom while the Aussies watch the world play 20/20. It would be a good run out for both sides and especially for the fans, but if it happens I hope that we play a first choice side, rather than resting the big names. We had an excellent record against touring sides for a number of years and it was a joke that we were not offered a game on this tour.

Finally, I've been more interested than usual in watching the world 20/20 and how bowlers are starting to gain the ascendancy. I would not have thought it possible for South Africa to defend their total last night, but superbly disciplined bowling saw them to the narrowest of wins. The way in which the top bowlers are dropping the ball into the blockhole is an education and batsmen are finding it very hard to combat. I wonder how long it will be before someone takes guard at 20 yards, in the hope of playing these yorkers as full tosses before they dip? There's a rare skill in bowling ball after ball in the blockhole like that and I dare say that some fans, those who only want to see sixes and fours, are not happy about it. Nor about the likes of Broad bowling round the wicket and bowling fast pitched up deliveries across the right hander that they can only hit in one place. For me, anything that addresses an imbalance between bat and ball is to be encouraged. Now let's see how some of these innovative batsmen combat it!

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Good batting before the inevitable

If I was a betting man, with a good track and small boundaries, I'd have put a few quid on Chris Rogers notching a century in his first Championship innings of 2009. While Rogers was out soon afterwards after a typically classy innings, he had ensured that Derbyshire's reply to Gloucestershire's innings was impressive. Although he ended up the only century maker, there was good support from the young guns in the Derbyshire attack.

Garry Park continued to reinforce the positive impression he has made since his arrival with a composed knock, while Dan Redfern again showed that he is a batsman of rich potential with 74. There were contributions down the order, including an entertaining romp from Tom Lungley and Ian Hunter that saw Derbyshire to 400 and a score that effectively matched that made by their visitors.

It was a little consolation from a match that, because of the weather, amounted to very little. The county must hope for more favourable climes and more help for the bowlers in the game that starts at the County Ground on Thursday. More on that game tomorrow, but John Morris must be hoping that Nantie Hayward's work permit will be through in time for him to take his place in the Derbyshire side and add some pace and firepower to the attack.

More from me tomorrow, including a preview of that Glamorgan fixture and a few thoughts on the World Cup and interesting trends.

Monday, 8 June 2009


There's a degree of irony in that the weather and a moribund track have conspired to render a match at the most beautiful of cricket grounds a dull draw as we enter the final day.

Gloucestershire did enough, with the aid of centuries by Hamish Marshall and Alex Gidman, to ensure they couldn't be beaten and in doing so ensured that there would be no challenging run chase on the last day. Nor should we expect one, as Gloucestershire will want to preserve their position at the top of the table against a team who would love to displace them.

I'll say again, however, that wickets with so little in them for bowlers make for games as dull as dishwater. The rules of the game seem to be increasingly in favour of the batsmen and it has again been highlighted in the World Cup.

Bowlers are being penalised with a wide when batsmen are stepping outside leg stump to try and hit them out of the ground. The bowler who corrects his line and bowls a little wider outside off finds himself bowling an extra ball when, had the batsman stayed in his original stance there would have been no problem. I thought Broad and Rashid bowled beautifully for England last night but the batsman who has impressed me the most has been AB de Villiers, who I think is an outstanding cricketer. I know Scotland were the opposition but he has dismantled better attacks and just looks class every time I see him. Now South Africa have Parnell's youth and mobility (together with all round skills) in the side, for me they are the team to beat.

Back to Derbyshire and the poll this week suggested that most of you think Nantie Hayward cannot replace Charl Langeveldt. It's a big ask, but I beg to differ. They're different bowlers, but if we get wickets with decent pace I think Hayward could get 30-plus Championship wickets this season. That would go a long way towards keeping us in the mix as the end of season approaches.

Let's stick with Hayward for this week's poll. Assuming John Morris hasn't brought him here to carry drinks, who should make way for him in the first choice side?

Sunday, 7 June 2009

What a shame...

No play at Chesterfield yesterday, which is a real shame as a good crowd would have been pretty much guaranteed and, as I wrote on Friday, there's nowhere better to see a game of cricket. New Road at Worcester is nice (when its not flooded) and I know that Cape Town with its views of Table Mountain is highly regarded Yet there's nothing to dislike about Chesterfield, especially since they've upgraded the facilities there.

The famous crooked spire is less evident now as the trees have grown tall, but the ground's beauty is evident and it is a great day out. If you've younger children you could keep them royally entertained with the play area down by the new cafe, the small lake and the miniature railway, aside from the grassy expanse in the park itself. I've previously written of how my family all enjoy Chesterfield, a combination of good shops (especially for computer games), excellent markets, good places for food and the pleasure in a lunch at Queens Park. On one dodgy day we still went to the park and ate lunch in the rain while sheltering in the bandstand.
In the old days the bands would play while the cricketers did, producing an atmosphere redolent of the festivals at Hastings or Scarborough. If I had the benefits of a time machine I'd love to dot back in time to see matches there in the 1950's, then hop back to the 1930's before seeing what it was like in the early part of the century when the game and the world was perhaps a more genteel place.

On a different tack, it was interesting to read on the club web site that South African Wayne Madsen has been playing with success for the Second XI, scoring heavily after averaging over 70 in the Central Lancashire League last year for Unsworth. Madsen plys his trade for Kwa-Zulu Natal and currently averages in the mid-30's in first class cricket back home. A right hand batsman, he also bowls a little, although his performances in the Leagues suggest he has some talent. In one game this year he scored a hundred and took eight wickets, while in another he scored another century and took seven.

I came across an interesting article in the Bury Times, which said that Madsen hoped for a county career through his Italian citizenship and at 25 he is the right age for such a move. Whether he is good enough for the county game is a decision for people far better qualified than I to judge, but Madsen has three good years as a professional at Unsworth behind him. As with Chesney Hughes, I'm especially pleased to see that John Morris and Karl Krikken are picking up these players and giving them an opportunity to show what they can do.

He wouldn't be the only player to use an Italian passport to play the county game, of course, but let's just hope that we don't miss out on a decent player like we did with Mr Di Venuto...

One to watch, beyond any doubt.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Thoughts on last night

Totally agree with John Morris about last night. For me, it was the low point of the season so far. We played badly against Lancashire but I can live with losing against Lancashire to some extent.

Last night should have been a breeze and as Morris said, chasing 145 on a good track its a case of rotating the strike and keeping the board ticking over. We failed abjectly and there have to be questions asked of batsmen who should be better than they showed last night.

Thirty dot balls in an innings that lasts only 120 in total is shocking. I don't care how the opposition bowl, as a batsman the onus is on you to get it away. Scoop it, squirt it, hey - even hit it. Especially galling last night was that we ended up 15 runs short with so many wickets in hand. Pipe, Wagg and Groenewald - all players who can hit a ball, were sat padded up and never got a hit.

Now I like Garry Park, who has shown himself a fine all round cricketer since he joined the county from Durham. Last night, however, he never came to terms with things and should have got out. The old adage of "hit out or get out" was never more relevant than in those closing overs. Maybe an over of Pipe or Wagg at their best might have swung it. We'll never know.

Tonight on the radio I heard Dermot Reeve talking about playing 20/20 and it made for fascinating listening. He said that he tells his teams that if you win the toss in these matches, you always bowl. Firstly, teams often over reach and you may end up only chasing 120. Secondly you can see what the wicket is like and can assess the areas you can hit safely. Makes sense when you think about it.

Then he talked about batting and said that losing wickets early didn't matter if it came as a consequence of attempting a flyer. He said that being 5-3 off 2 overs could be turned into 140, but 30-1 off 6 rarely saw a team go on to win. In the past week we have been five an over from six overs in most games and we've lost all four...

John Morris has hinted at changes in the remaining 20/20 games. I think we need a hitter at the top of the innings. Maybe Dan Birch, maybe Groenewald, but SOMEONE has to go for it. I cannot see us making 50 from the first five overs as things stand. I'd also drop Park down to 7 or even 8 in these games. He's not a quick enough scorer in the normal run of things. I know he got 50 in the first game, but hasn't looked like repeating it. We need someone to take advantage of fielding restrictions early on and Park would be my insurance against collapse.

Personally, I think the 20/20 is gone now. I can't see us winning at least three of the remaining games, though I'd love to be proved wrong. Until last night I thought we were at least more competitive this year, but last night was dreadfully poor.

Tomorrow sees a return to Chesterfield and a game against Gloucestershire in the proper form of the game, four days. Steve Stubbings and Dan Redfern return to this side


The vistors have named a 13-man squad, namely:

Kadeer Ali
A.Gidman (capt)
S.Snell (wkt)

With a strong batting line up and good seam attack, Gloucestershire will be a test for Derbyshire. I maintain we're better suited for this form of the game than any other, but we need to return to winning ways, sooner rather than later. If the weather stays out of it, this should be a good game in the most idyllic surroundings you could wish for.

As I close England are on the verge of defeat by the Netherlands.

And we think we're bad...

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Time for a reality check

There's been a fair few things written on message boards around the country since the signing of Nantie Hayward (pictured)and I think that the time has come to clarify things, in fairness to the bloke and to John Morris.

Prior to the signing being announced, such names as Andy Bichel, Michael Kasprowicz and Glenn McGrath were being bandied around, perhaps in the light of a comment on the cricket commentary about the new man "coming from Australia". I even heard of someone suggesting that we sign Dale Steyn. Hmmmm....

To clarify things, only cricketers from countries signed up to the ACP-EU Trade Agreement can play as a Kolpak. The agreement is more commonly known as the Cotonou Agreement and includes various African, Caribbean and Pacific states or countries, namely:

Angola - Antigua and Barbuda - Belize - Cape Verde - Comoros - Bahamas - Barbados - Benin - Botswana - Burkina Faso - Burundi - Cameroon - Central African Republic - Chad - Congo (Brazzaville) - Congo (Kinshasa) - Cook Islands - Cote d'Ivoire - Cuba - Djibouti - Dominica - Dominican Republic - Eritrea - Ethiopia - Fiji - Gabon - Gambia - Ghana - Grenada - Republic of Guinea - Guinea-Bissau - Equatorial Guinea - Guyana - Haiti - Jamaica - Kenya - Kiribati - Lesotho - Liberia - Madagascar - Malawi - Mali - Marshall Islands - Mauritania - Mauritius - Micronesia - Mozambique - Namibia - Nauru - Niger - Nigeria - Niue - Palau - Papua New Guinea - Rwanda - St. Kitts and Nevis - St. Lucia - St. Vincent and the Grenadines - Solomon Islands - Samoa - Sao Tome and Principe - Senegal - Seychelles - Sierra Leone - Somalia - South Africa - Sudan - Suriname - Swaziland - Tanzania - Timor Leste - Togo - Tonga - Trinidad and Tobago - Tuvalu - Uganda - Vanuatu - Zambia - Zimbabwe

I'll be honest and admit that I've not heard of some of these places. Comoros anyone? It is safe to say that most of them are not famous for their cricketing exploits, which basically leaves three areas from which counties can realistically recruit Kolpaks - and Australia is not one of them!

Most of the Caribbean is OK, South Africa certainly is and so is Zimbabwe (not that they have any decent players left). The other condition is that players must not have played Test cricket at any point in the previous 12 months to qualify.

Now, given the paucity of West Indian bowling resources, that pretty much leaves South Africa as the ONLY real source of Kolpak players. Bearing that in mind, can anyone say that Morris could have signed anyone BETTER than Nantie Hayward?

I had someone e mail me to say that no one could replace the "legend" that was Langeveldt. Whoah there hoss! Langeveldt is/was a fine player (and with tightening of legislation imminent, who knows if we'll see him at Derby again?) But legend? He had one season, albeit a very good one. I'll reserve "legend" for a Les Jackson, Cliff Gladwin, Bill Copson, Michael Holding, Mike Hendrick - guys who have delivered over a period of time.

Maybe Hayward isn't as good as Langeveldt. Then again, maybe he is. I think we should await his arrival, see how he bowls and then make an informed decision. If he is fully fit and able to bowl good spells and some quick balls (and he's two years younger than Langeveldt, so...) he could be a potent weapon in the second half of the summer. He'll hurry up some opening batsmen, that is for sure. If there's a track with a little bounce and something for the bowlers, I'd suggest that Hayward is a fair swap for Charl. His strike rate in first class matches is better than Langeveldt, while that in list A matches is slightly less. Interestingly he has 54 Test wickets at 29, Charl has 16 wickets at 37. At the end of the day, the king is "dead" so long live the king. Statistics can prove anything, but we'll see what the guy is made of when he's tearing in at Derby and Chesterfield.

In the light of the above, if anyone can tell me a better option than the one we have got, you can buy me a dress and call me Lolita.

Because I can't think of one.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

What a strange group...

So Leicestershire scored 200 tonight and thrashed Nottinghamshire.

Maybe we'll not win so clearly tomorrow and a big wicket will be that of Jimmy Allenby, a cricketer I really like (memo to John Morris - please sign him!) Allenby scored a brilliant century tonight to bring them back into contention in this open group.

If we beat Leicester tomorrow and Nottinghamshire beat Yorkshire, we could go second in the group.

Strange game this cricket...

Fine article and ongoing thoughts...

Sorry there was no blog yesterday, but I'd a pal's Mum's funeral to attend and he then visited us last night, when we shared a beer or two and passed a convivial evening...

If you've not already done so, I would recommend reading Mark Eklid's excellent piece on the 20/20 in today's Derby Telegraph.

It pretty much sums up my thoughts on the competition. Cricket for the attention deficit generation if you will. All crash bang wallop without any of the finesse that the real cricket fan will appreciate. It is entertaining enough if you look past the rock n roll facade but cricket can be riveting without every ball going to or over the boundary.

Last week's episode with the "catch" left sour tastes in a good few mouths and the win at all costs mentality is not nice to see. He also refers to an unpleasant exchange between Graeme Swann and Wavell Hinds and I have had e mails from people who witnessed what was said. Suffice to say that where Eklid suggests the England player was fortunate not to get a bat wrapped around his head, I would go further. If the umpires hadn't forced him into an immediate apology I suspect his England career could have been in jeopardy. Not nice, not clever and not at all acceptable. I hope that the umpires mentioned it in their report.

Last night we lost our way again and the first five overs were again of paramount importance. Lancashire hammered us before we pulled them back well, but we again reached the half way stage with only five runs an over on the board.

It's simply not good enough. I think we either open with Hinds and Rogers, or we put someone like Tim Groenewald in to pinch hit like his erstwhile county companion Neil Carter has done so well over the years at Warwickshire. Last year Groenewald hit a lot of sixes and scored his runs quickly. Surely it's worth a try.

Alternatively we should move Stuart Law up the order or bring in Dan Birch to beef up the early overs. As written on 606 tonight, Law has been one of the world's top players for 20 years and it seems crazy to have him coming in at 5 or even 6 with five overs to go. I think we need to tweak the side a little, although again, there was plenty to admire. Maybe John Sadler could be given a crack up the order?

Tom Lungley is either brilliant or expensive with little in between. Maybe Ian Hunter could replace him for tomorrow's game, but the rest of the attack came back well after the Lancashire flyer.

For what it's worth, my team for tomorrow would be:


Elsewhere, news that we have recruited 18 year old West Indian Chesney Hughes is encouraging. The tall youngster is apparently quite a talent as an opening batsman and slow left armer and scored a century for his island side at 15. He has been in fine form for Fleetwood in the league cricket there and full marks should go to John Morris for landing a youngster of obvious talent until 2011, by which time we should know just how good he is. I'd expect to see him in the Pro 40 later this season, especially if we lose a few matches early on. I'm not sure which is his stronger suit but we are short in the spin bowling department. Jake Needham seems to have fallen back a little, although Mark Lawson is improving steadily and seemed to bowl very well last night. A good slow left armer would be an asset to the side and if that player is also a batsman of talent it would be of great benefit.

I hope and expect us to beat Leicestershire tomorrow to go to the break at won three lost three. I would be disappointed - seriously disappointed - to see us lose to them and we should aim to do so convincingly and boost our net run rate in a group that looks increasingly as if it will go to the wire.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Hayward signs - it's official!

News on the club site tonight that Nantie Hayward has indeed signed for the county and is awaiting a visa to play for us until the end of the season as a Kolpak player.

No need to say more than I said in tonight's earlier piece, except that I think he's the best bowler we could have got in the circumstances.

I'm old enough to remember when Ian Bishop joined Derbyshire as the replacement for Michael Holding. Bish was no Holding but he was a very fine bowler. Charl Langeveldt is no Holding either, but was hugely influential in our successes last year. Who's to say that Hayward won't be too?

The slowish County Ground tracks might not be to his liking, but my guess is that there'll be some bounce in wickets if we get this long hot summer we're promised and Hayward could be a potent weapon in such conditions. As various Yorkshire batsmen are supposed to have said - none of us like fast bowling but some don't let on. If Hayward stays fit I think that he could get a good few wickets and the other bowlers could benefit from his efforts too.

Good news. Now let's beat Lancashire tomorrow.

Big week ahead...

I had a long chat with my Dad last night and updated him on the latest news from the world wide web, or t'internet if you will.

The big news, of course, being that according to a poster on BBC 606 we're set to sign Nantie Haywood of South Africa.

"Nattie Heywood?" said my old man, "I went to school with him!".

Turns out that the similarly monickered bloke was a mate of my Dad's at school, played a lot of cricket with him but must now be well over 80 if he's still around. He's also the source of one of my all time favourite stories, about when my Dad's class were told to do a two-page story about what they liked to do in their spare time. Nattie apparently wrote:

"My best friend is Levi Dolman. We play football together. He passes to me and I pass to him. He passes to me and I pass to him. He passes to me and I pass to him..."

This went on for two pages and probably didn't get him the emerging writer award of the period...

The early signs are that this is a name that has slipped under the radar of the fans, all sent down the wrong track of him "flying from Australia" and assuming that the new man was an Aussie.

The last time I saw Mornantau Hayward he sported the stereotypical blonde Aussie hair, replacing the red hair that topped his physique when he first burst on the scene as a young tyro.

His career has been one of fits and starts and he has perhaps not hit the heights that he should have done. Make no bones about it though, when he gets it all together Hayward is quick. Rib-peppering, knuckle-jarring reaction testing quick. He boasts an impressive career record of over 400 wickets at 28 with a further 200-plus at 27 thrown in during his one day career. At times, especially when he was younger, he rejoiced in the nickname of "Wayward Hayward" but his greater experience has increased his accuracy and at 32 he is perhaps around his peak. Maybe not as consistently quick as he once was but still capable of some high speed bowling that will shake a batsman from any thoughts of complacency.

Before the advent of Dale Steyn he was regarded as the quickest bowler in South Africa and Steve Waugh said in his outstanding autobiography that the Aussies were always pleased to see him omitted from the South African side. If Steve Waugh rates him, that should do well enough, although his previous county stints have been disrupted by injury and have not always seen him perform to his highest standard. A fine season for Worcestershire in 2003 marked him as someone to watch and he bowled well in last year's 20/20 with Hampshire, taking wickets and bowling well. He's also played for Middlesex and Ireland as a hired "gun". While there appears to be mixed opinions among supporters who were getting excited at the thought of a McGrath, Kasprowicz, Bichel or Gillespie, these are players whose great deeds are behind them. Hayward may not have attained the giddy heights of a McGrath, but there'll be a few opening batsmen around the counties looking at this and checking their protective equipment...

He's very much a rhythm bowler and this can be affected by the slope of the ground, even the firmness of the ground. Mind you, I bet he's not played where I once did, on a now defunct school ground. Five yards from the crease the seam bowlers had to traverse - I kid you not - a long jump pit! Never in the history of the game have so many seam bowlers bowled off short runs, which explained why the opposition bowlers were all spinners...

Back to Derbyshire, the most impressive thing is that John Morris has potentially picked up an international class bowler very quickly which speaks volumes for his contacts book and his ability to talk people into joining the county. Three years ago, the thought of our side boasting Chris Rogers, Wavell Hinds and Stuart Law, plus Charl Langeveldt or Nantie Hayward would have been laughable. Morris has brought about a sea change and its good to see.

Having said that, there's a few of us "fretting" (sea change.. fret...I'll get me coat!) over recent form and a little wary of tomorrow's return to Old Trafford. I think we can beat Lancashire, but we need to bowl a better length than yesterday and MUST get a faster start. I'd be happy to see us bowl first as there's a tendency for teams to over-reach themselves. Lancashire have been playing well this year and their fielding has been spectacular. Indeed, according to their web site, the two recent catches that have been shown repeatedly on Sky have gone down in "folk law". They must still be missing Stuart, or perhaps they went to the same school as Nattie Heywood...

If we can win at Old Trafford, then beat Leicestershire in the return game on Thursday, we'd go into the break with four wins from six matches. If we win one our hopes are very much alive as only Leicestershire appear to be unlikely to progress at this stage. Back to basics will do nicely and how much of a change would it be to mark a big home occasion with a performance and a win?

Finally, an apology. I referred to Darren Pattinson in the controversy over the "catch" the other night. Turns out that youngster Alex Hales was wearing one of Pattinson's tops and it was he that was the transgressor. I'd love to have been in their dressing room afterwards when all the flak was flying and most of it towards a bloke who was entirely innocent. Not that it changes anything and the day that a win at all costs mentality takes over cricket as it has football is the day my love affair with the game ends. Someone should have been big enough on their side to say "this is wrong".

Last week I held a low left handed catch at slip in our 20/20 club game, millimetres off the ground. It was a blinder, a real reaction catch (I was surprised I still had them!) The umpire wasn't sure and the square leg umpire's view was obscured. I was 99% sure it carried and so were most team mates but, in the light of the uncertainty, told the batsman to carry on. He scored 50, we lost, but I'd take that any day over losing a fixture through a controversy. If I'd been 100% sure I'd have stood my ground, but that one per cent made a big difference. Maybe young Hales should remember that in future.