I've had some interesting e mails from people in the last few days.
One was from Rob, who said that we were in a far better position with players than when we had the likes of Andrew Gait, James Bryant, Phil Weston, Jon Moss and Ben Spendlove playing for us.
Then Paul was in touch saying that Spendlove was a decent player who'd had some good innings for us.
I'd have to say that I'm with Rob on this one. All of the guys he named had their days, but you wouldn't put your hand on your heart and say they were either missed or better than what we have now.
Gait could play and four centuries and 19 fifties in 103 first class innings suggested a bloke who knew his way around a cricket bat, yet it seemed at times as if he got bogged down with technique and he never made the most of his talent. The bottom line is that in 118 first class innings he averaged just over 26, which is not enough for an opening batsman. For me, 30 is the benchmark of a decent county bat, 40 a very good player and 50 an outstanding talent. There are allowances to be made for young players finding their way (Park and Redfern anyone?) but also an expectation that they will progress, which Gait never did.
James Bryant had a fine record in South Africa for Eastern Province and was a disappointment. He was in some ways like Dominic Telo, in that he got good starts and then gave it away. Yet he'd played at a high level back home and was, like Telo, a brilliant fielder. Ironically he had just started to put it together as a player when he sustained a serious injury to his shoulder at Old Trafford and his contract was not renewed.
Weston had years of sterling service to Worcestershire and one hoped that his experience would be a real asset to Derbyshire, yet he could barely score a run in his time with us. He was a nice guy but failed to do the business on the pitch.
Jon Moss was another decent cricketer but not quite of the top drawer that an overseas player needs to be. There are counties who have signed overseas players who were at the time unknown and they have gone on to greater things - Viv Richards, Greg Chappell, Keith Boyce and John Wright among them - but Moss never contributed enough with bat or ball to warrant a protracted stay. He was a useful bowler and a decent bat, with a mid-30's average for both, but an overseas player should really deliver more than that to be in any way worthwhile.
Regular viewers of this page and 606 will look at that last comment and say "what about Wavell Hinds?" Fair point, but Hinds isn't the overseas professional and if we could get a non Kolpak who could do better, I'm sure that John Morris would sign him like a shot. However, Moss was never topping the run charts in competitions, which Hinds has, while Hinds has the top level international experience to pass on to younger players.
As for Ben Spendlove, in 66 first class innings in one and 3/4 day cricket he hit four fifties and had an average in the mid teens. For a specialist batsman that is nowhere near enough. Yes, he had days when he looked a decent player, but the reality was that this fine fielder never scored the weight of runs required.
Thanks for your comments - please keep them coming in!