Hi everyone. Peakfan is back in circulation after a fortnight in Tennessee and feeling refreshed and ready to go.
At the risk of making this a travel blog, I'd heartily recommend the place. With fabulous weather, great food, superb music and the friendliest people I have ever met ANYWHERE, its pretty much idyllic. The only thing missing was cricket...
It was a funny fortnight. Michael Jackson died, one of the star players of the Tennessee Titans football team was murdered in his condominium (his lover apparently did it, then killed herself) and Sarah Palin resigned. That was pretty much American TV, or what we saw of it.
Meanwhile, back on the ranch, Derbyshire have emerged from a tricky spell where some natives have been getting restless to post a good response today to a higher-than-it-should-have-been Northants score. More of that later.
I understand that there were boos and shouts for John Morris' head after the defeat to Nottinghamshire in the 20/20. This will always happen when a team is on a bad run and quite honestly we're as close to being a decent 20/20 side as I am a National Hunt jockey. We've managed to post far better totals this year which have given us half a chance and suggest that the players have come to terms with how to approach an innings. We managed to do so without making the sort of start that others do, however, and if we could find a semi-decent hitter - an Ali Brown type of player - then we would probably be OK. At 5 overs we're more often than not 30-35 for one, and with the fields in that's just not enough.
Similarly, our bowlers seem incapable of doing what was so noticeable in the World Cup and bowling a full length outside off stump. That only leaves the batsman the arc between third man and point to hit and it is hard, if not impossible to get under the bal to hit it for six. 150 is a decent score, but not when the opposition then take 70 from their first six overs in reply.
It hurts to say it but we're not in the same league as Nottinghamshire at present. Wed might beat them on a given day with a decent performance, but the two teams are worlds apart in terms of experience. I've said before and I'll say it again, we need to bring in better players, or bring them on ourselves and both take time. In my humble opinion there is absolutely no merit in changing coach again in the hope that Coach Tinkerbell will come in with a magic wand and sprinkle fairy dust on the ball before we use it. John Morris should have five years, I've said it before, but we need to see improvement year on year. On balance, I think we have improved this season but I'll reserve judgment until season-end.
I was sorry to see that Dan Birch and Tom Lungley got themselves into bother in a Second Team fixture. I have a degree of sympathy as both are playing for a contract for next year and if there are poor decisions being made they are entitled to feel aggrieved. That is as far as it goes, however. However poor an umpire may be on occasion, they are usually doing the best they can and abusive language and behaviour simply cannot be tolerated. I remember travelling 50 miles to an away game a few seasons back and being given out caught down the legside off the second ball I faced when it hit the buckle of my pad and my bat was a mile from it. Yes, I was annoyed, but I didn't rant and rave at the poor bloke at the other end, who to be fair looked like he could only see eleven yards...
Both players will now be sweating on next season and the incident has done them no favours. Together with Steve Stubbings, John Sadler and Dominic Telo they have a lot to do in the closing months. Now Paul Borrington has finished University we have a younger model that threatens the genial Stubbings role in the side and he's not had the weight of runs that he may have hoped for. In the last Championship game he scored ridiculously slowly. That's OK if it leads to a big score, but getting out at that point simply heaps pressure on others. Telo got a recent century for the Seconds but hasn't had a great time, while the affable Sadler threatens runs but doesn't produce as we (and he) must hope.
For what it's worth, I would like to see us make a move for the prolific Wayne Madsen from South Africa, who plays on a European passport. He's scored a stack of runs for the Seconds and for his Lancashire League side and is interesting other Counties. Swapping him for any of the above must surely improve the side? You may well enjoy the article below from the Accrington Observer which suggests a player of some talent...
If you have a look at the First Eleven section of the Unsworth Cricket Club web site you will see what an astonishing season Madsen is having. While we've had mixed success with our South African imports (James Bryant anyone?) I feel Madsen would be a step forward and would be surprised if John Morris hasn't got him in his mind for next year. In any class of cricket, an average of 87 with the bat and ten with the ball is pretty good going.
Brickbats and bouquets time now. Chris Rogers owes us some runs and I'm probably not the only one who is frustrated by his 40-60 and out on a regular basis. I can accept that from a Park or Redfern, players making their way in the game, but top players need to push on from there and I'm now getting scarily good at predicting when the skipper will be out. Maybe we should be grateful for the consistent scoring and I've seen plenty of Derbyshire sides where we would have been, but Rogers needs to up his game and make the big scores.
As for the bouquets, take a bow Messrs Redfern and Hinds, for making my return to these shores an enjoyable one. It was a shame that Dan the Man missed his century today, but it will come and the experience of such a partnership with Hinds must have been invaluable. Wavell has done really well this season and is by a distance the best of our overseas/Kolpak imports at this stage. It was good to see Nantie Hayward in the wickets too and doing so with a painful ankle injury. Perhaps he's not as good as Charl Langeveldt but he's a good player and I'm glad we have him to the season end.
As for the current game, it could go to the wire and I just hope that the two sides are prepared to go for a result and that the weather this time enables a fascinating last day to unfold. If Northants set a reasonable target (and I smell declaration bowling before lunch tomorrow) we will almost certainly go for it as a win is needed to pick up momentum in our promotion challenge.
Thanks for tuning in again. While you're here, why not let me know your thoughts on the Lungley/Birch incident in this week's poll? It is interesting to see that most of you, like me, are a little disappointed by this year but don't deem it an unmitigated disaster. Who knows, a few wins under our belt and I may need to run it again...