Steve Stubbings, Dominic Telo and Dan Birch have all been told by Derbyshire that their contracts will not be renewed, leaving them free to talk to other counties.
The writing was on the wall for all of them for some time, with the advent of Wayne Madsen and the availability from next season of Paul Borrington effectively spelling the end for Stubbings.
His departure is the one that will be most talked about by fans, as he is a past winner of the Supporters Club Player of the Year Award (on two occasions). He was always a model of courtesy and fans could equate with him as one always felt that he was giving 100% and would sell his wicket dearly. In recent seasons, however, he has not produced the weight of runs required at this level and, as I wrote a few weeks back, we need to aspire to better than Steve Stubbings if we are to move forward as a club.
Stubbo was written off by Dominic Cork at one time, who reckoned he was not a first class cricketer. A record of some 7,500 runs at 31 suggests that Stubbings was, but perhaps not of the very highest class. Time will tell if he will be missed. The early signs are that Wayne Madsen will be a replacement of the highest quality, yet many will miss the Stubbings chassis down the track and clip through the leg side, as well as the obduracy of his batting when the chips were down. Of those released, I would have thought him the most likely to get a deal elsewhere but I'm not sure exactly where.
Dan Birch came to the club on the back of some explosive performances in local league cricket and after fine performances for Kent Seconds. He made a stunning century on debut at Cambridge, but his good days became more sporadic as the County bowlers found him out with a moving ball and his immobility in the field did him few favours. Some felt that he deserved a go in the Twenty/20, but hiding him in the field was the problem and few could have expected him to be retained with his Second XI performances this year.
Dominic Telo came with the weight of expectation as one of the finest schoolboy cricketers of his generation. He looked balanced and composed at the crease and had a fine array of strokes, yet a series of cameo innings failed to produce something substantial. Fans became philosophical about him batting nicely for up to an hour and then getting out when set and an average of 18 in his two seasons tells its own story. Nor did he score the weight of runs in Second XI cricket to put pressure on the First XI. He was a brilliant fielder, but again Derbyshire need more from players than Telo was able to offer.
I understand that John Sadler, Tom Lungley and James Pipe are all out of contract at the end of this season, but this news suggests that all three will be or have been offered new deals. Sadler deserves it for a solid summer where he has done little wrong but could not force his way into the side, while Pipe is a forcing batsman and very good wicket keeper. Some feel he has slipped below his best with the gloves this year, but there are not many better glovemen out there and Pipe is a key player in the side.
Lungley's retention may be seen by some as fortunate. A poor injury record has ruined his career but on his day he is capable of bowling sides out. A couple of personal "blips" this year led to some seeing him vulnerable, but one assumes that with his name not included in this press release he will be getting another year. Having said that, Mark Lawson isn't mentioned here either and it would be a major surprise if he were to get another year. He didn't trouble batsmen earlier in the season and with Jake Needham now seen as the first choice spinner and various part time options available, Lawson's retention would be a major surprise.
So where does this leave us? If we're keeping Lungley, that would give us Wagg, Groenewald, Hunter, Lungley, Clare, Sheikh and Whiteley, with Greg Smith as back up. It may mean that we won't look to re-sign Steffan Jones, but only John Morris knows the answer to that one.
West Indian Chesney Hughes may well be groomed to add to the ranks of all rounders with his left arm spin and classy batting, while the current batting side has Paul Borrington and John Sadler in reserve. My guess (only that) is that John Morris will look to replace Chris Rogers, assuming he doesn't return to international cricket, with another batsman or an all rounder. The seam attack looks well provided for and I'd like to see us have a real go for Jim Allenby at Leicester.
If we got him, I'd be inclined to go for an all rounder or spinner. How's about this for the basis of next year's first choice side?
The two bottom names could be rotated with Lungley/Hunter etc, but that's a fine looking side on paper.
All conjecture of course and much could happen in the next few weeks. We're going in the right direction though, I'm quite sure of that.