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.