Monday, 17 August 2009

Quiet day

Not much to write today, as it is a seriously quiet day that is bereft of cricket news.

The biggest is that Hampshire have signed Sri Lankan spin prodigy Ajantha Mendis for next season, which means that one of the four decent spinners in the world game is signed up. Muralitharan dicky knee and Vettori's schedule for New Zealand mean they'll be unlikely to opt for a county stint, while it will be interesting to see if anyone goes for the maverick talent that is Shahid Afridi. A number may wish to paraphrase Marshall Pierre Bosquet (speaking of the Charge of the Light Brigade) by suggesting c'est magnifique mais ce n'est pas le county cricket about the Pakistani all rounder...

Last week came news that a lesser quality spinner, but one with a decent reputation, James Middlebrook, had been released by Essex. He's a fair player with a decent county record. 319 wickets at mid-30's average, a decent, tight one day bowler and a batsman with four first class centuries under his belt, together with a number of fifties.

Given that John Morris likes his players to be able to offer things in the different disciplines (look how many all rounders, or batting bowlers we have), could Middlebrook be a player worth pursuing? At 32 he has plenty of cricket left in him and he's a Yorkshireman so familiar with tracks oop north. I'm not suggesting that he's a world beater, but given that decent (even semi-decent) spinners are in short supply, is Middlebrook worth a look for next year?

That's Middlebrook and Gareth Batty of Worcestershire looking for new counties this winter. Very similar career records but Batty's England call ups will probably mean he will be in higher demand. Are either of them worth John Morris pursuing this winter? Let's make that this week's poll.

As for last week's, over half of those voting thought that we could do better than Tom Lungley and Mark Lawson, while 19% thought we should offer Tom another year. Only 11% thought that Lawson was worth another year, while 10% thought we should retain both.

For me, I think we need to move on. Lungley has bowled some good spells for Derbyshire but has bowled some bad ones too. His fitness is an ongoing issue and I'm not convinced that another year would see that change. I'd sooner sign on Steffan Jones again, given the choice, as Steff will always contribute and has a better fitness record than most.

As for Lawson, he took his first wickets in the Championship for us at Leicester, but if anyone was going to get something out of that track it should have been a leggie and it didn't happen. I was amused to read Pat Gibson writing in The Times on the eve of the final day that Lawson was seeking his first wicket for Derbyshire. Guess he was in the pub when he took the two in the first innings then...

Sloppy journalism, and surprising from someone I rate as better than many others out there.

I'll be back tomorrow for a Northamptonshire preview and hopefully news of the respective squads. See you then.

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