Friday, 11 September 2009

Derbyshire v Leicestershire

Ho ho ho!

So Santa did listen to me (I must have been REALLY good!)and Derbyshire produced a display of total professionalism to beat - no, thrash - Leicestershire this evening.

Apologies for the lateness of the blog, but by the time I'd stripped naked and run round the village singing "Ole, ole, ole, ole" at the top of my voice to celebrate I needed to have a shower...

The game started inauspiciously with the news that Graham Wagg and Tom Lungley were both out with food poisoning after a barbecue at Waggy's house last night. I guess he's not going to follow Matthew Hayden into culinary expertise books sometime soon.
It left us with the not altogether dangerous-looking attack of Groenewald and Smith to open, with Needham, Hughes, Park and Redfern to follow. One of the slowest attacks in our history but they did a steady job. Jake bowled a very tight spell and he, with Hughes, strangled the middle order after Groenewald made early inroads with a fine spell. Hughes had earlier held a good catch in the deep and I was amused by the Sky commentators saying that he had the build of a heavyweight boxer and could really hit a ball. I thought we might have seen Ross Whiteley bowl, but to be fair the guys all did well and, apart from a couple of lapses late on, they did very well in the field. I was especially impressed by Tom Poynton, who aside from some dodgy balls down leg side late in the innings acquitted himself extremely well behind the stumps.

Wayne White added to his growing reputation as an improving batsman with a breezy 34but Leicestershire's final total of 194-8 looked decent without being spectacular. Most of us have seen Derbyshire flop in such a pursuit in the past, but tonight was completely, utterly professional.

Rogers and Madsen were circumspect at first against the promising Buck - it was Buck to Rogers at one point, ho and indeed, ho - and O'Brien but the game changed once Rogers hit the youngster for four successive boundaries. Madsen too found his range and looked a player with plenty of shots in the locker who will bring a lot to the one day side next year. The two were completely in control when Madsen went for the reverse slog/sweep and overbalanced for Tom New to effect a smart stumping. With the run rate a mile ahead, there was no need for him to play the shot, but even Bob "The Grinch" Willis had to praise us tonight and comment on the top class batsmen at the top of the order.

That included Greg Smith who came in and played a composed innings while Rogers looked a player of the very highest class. The verdict among the commentary team was that Rogers could, indeed should get another chance this winter and would have been a better bet in the Ashes than Phil Hughes, or, for that matter, Shane Watson. New missed a chance to stump him off Jigar Naik but that was pretty much it for Leicestershire. What struck me about Rogers tonight was how wonderfully straight he played. Sometimes he gets in a tangle and is lbw, but when he plays straight like that he looks unbeatable. I was thrilled to see him complete a first one day century in this country and it is astonishing he has only made another one in Australia. He is a very, very good player and his recent form has served only to emphasise how we will miss him if he is unable to return next year. He even had to contend with Benning bowling round the wicket at him but starting his run over the wicket and coming between the umpire and the stumps. Weird, very weird.

So no need for Park, Sadler, Hughes, Whiteley or Redfern. Plenty of batting in reserve and there was a lot of praise for the club, the team and the ground from the commentators.

Only one downside for me. At one point the cameras went on to a bunch of fans who were obviously feeling no pain dressed in nuns outfits, all of them standing, shouting and singing in fine fashion. There were, however, old fans in front of them who looked like they wished they could be anywhere than sat there. I'm not an old fogey by any means, but it crossed my mind that my old Dad would have hated that too, as will probably most older cricket fans. It is a side effect of the cameras being present, Friday night and beer flowing freely, but maybe the club might need to think of an area where there is no chanting or an area for those who don't want to, depending on numbers. There is a danger of alienating fans of long standing in attracting a more rowdy element to the game and Derbyshire, like other clubs, will need to come up with a workable solution that will leave both happy.

One more thing impressed me tonight. As Chris Rogers walked off, he shook the hands of the opposition and then those of a few youngsters who approached him, stopping to sign autographs on his way back. I've not seen many do that, and while you could argue that Rogers was entitled to an uninterrupted walk back after his match-winning knock, I was very impressed by his professionalism with the kids.

A great night then. Don't get me wrong, I don't think we've cracked one day cricket and a fine performance against lack lustre opposition doesn't make us world beaters. Yet there was something in that display that made me think we're getting there and as I said to my Dad afterwards, its a long time since I saw such a totally convincing Derbyshire display. No late flurry of wickets, no hiccups, just total professionalism capped by Greg Smith's arrow straight six to finish the game.

Great work by the boys then. And of course I didn't run naked on my own through the village after the game. It was just a joke.

I took Mrs Peakfan with me...

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