The Brian Lara post - also known as 501...
There's another big four days coming up for Derbyshire until the weekend with a Championship game against our local rivals Leicestershire.
Our cause has been slightly aided by the absence of Jim Allenby, who has today joined Glamorgan. I have to admit to surprise at that one, as I'd seen half the western world linked with signing the guy. I don't wish to do them a disservice, but there were few counties I thought him LESS likely to sign for. Presumably they have put considerable money in his direction as he's signed for three years. Good luck to him, I would have liked to see him at Derby, but I'm happy to leave it with the thought that either John Morris didn't rate him or he was asking a king's ransom. Given I'm quite happy with how we're shaping up and am not privy to who Morris may have lined up over the winter, I'm quite happy to leave it there for now.
On the face of it, the Foxes haven't the strongest squad in the division, but they have some fine players and we'll need to play well to beat them. Paul Nixon is also out of favour after recent comments and actions, so they will depend on Ackerman and Dippenaar boosting an inexperienced batting line up. Their 12 is:
"Sweet Baby" James Taylor is having a good season for the hosts, while Ackerman and Dippenaar (both possibly in their last year at Leicester) always take some getting past. With ex-Derbyshire players Tom New and Wayne White in the side, there will be a little extra spice in the encounter too. Recent wickets there have offered help to the bowlers, so our final selection will be of paramount importance.
We're taking 14 to the game, as follows:
Chris Rogers (capt)
Freddie Klokker (wk)
I'd reckon our top nine picks itself with the final two places between the bottom five named. I suspect we'll play a specialist spinner, as Jake Needham did well here last season, which would mean that Hayward, Clare and Jones were going for one place. On current form I'd be inclined to go with Hayward. Steff has not been as penetrative in the last couple of games, while Jon Clare has had a frustrating time with injuries and form this year - typical second season blues in fact.
Staying with the seamers, it was interesting to see Tom Lungley go out on loan to Lancashire today for a month. I'm not sure where it leaves Tom for next year, but he'll do his cause no harm at all if he goes there and takes a few Division One wickets. He's not had the best of seasons and maybe needs a sustained spell of cricket to get fully match fit.
We really need to win this game. With respect to the Foxes, there are few weaker sides in the division and we have to beat the likes of them to stand any chance of promotion. They have good players, but put the two sides on paper and we look stronger. Just need to prove it on grass now then lads eh?
Finally, I see there's suggestions that Mark Ramprakash could make an England return for the final Test. Given we have to win and he's still by a mile the best English batsman in the country - as well as being familiar with the track on his County ground - he has to come in. While accepting that batsmen have it all going for them in the current game, Ramprakash's feats in recent seasons have been extraordinary and he has to come in for the selectors to retain any credibility. There's also talk of Trescothick coming in, but I'm less sure of that one because of the health issues. I'd give Trott a game for sure, as I'm still not convinced that Bell is a bona fide Test batsman at the very highest level.
Still, why should we care? We've got Wayne Madsen, the Derbyshire Bradman...