Although not yet on the club site, I understand that James Pipe is to retire from cricket at the end of the season to become Derbyshire's new physiotherapist.
The genial Pipe has given excellent service to the club and at nearly 32 has a lot of cricket in him. However, the opportunity to use his recently gained physiotherapy qualification, for which he has been working for some time, has led him to retire.
It is a shame as he has been a fine servant for the club since he arrived in 2006, but I can understand him taking the opportunity to kick start his career and at the same time stay in cricket. It may not be beyond the realms of possibility that he could be an emergency stop gap if we had injuries, although Tom Poynton is obviously a player of potential, though perhaps young at this stage to be the automatic replacement.
One who could return would be Lee Goddard, a fine wicket keeper batsman who looked a fine prospect yet was released by David Houghton. Where have we heard that one before? Goddard has scored a lot of runs for Durham 2nds yet cannot expect to get in the first team as Phil Mustard does such a good job for them.
Another name I have heard mentioned would see a return for Luke Sutton, as Lancashire are looking to give Gareth Cross more opportunities, though conversely I've also heard that Derbyshire could make a move for the talented Cross, who is known to be impatient for greater opportunities.
Goddard would be my preferred candidate, if available, as his sparky batting would be especially a one day asset. He's also a very good keeper and was disappointed when he had to leave. A move for Sutton would, for me be a retrograde step. I suppose that any planned move for Bilal Shafayat (and again, all I have heard is conjecture at this stage) could mean that his wicket keeping skills were utilised, but much would depend on how the Nottinghamshire player saw his future. Like Garry Park he is also a useful bowler, but he would certainly be another option.
So no shortage of them for John Morris, but Pipe will be a hard act to follow. His batting has been less effective this year, although he still averages a shade under 40 in the Championship. He is still capable of an explosive innings, as his quick cameo at Uxbridge showed, although there has been a drop in his own high standards behind the stumps this year. He has still kept well, but he has put a few down and it is tribute to his form over the years that the slight decline has been noticed.
With Karl Krikken's input, I'm confident that we will have a wicket keeper of top quality to replace Pipe, but there are likely to be a number of changes as John Morris hones his squad for next season.
Another name mentioned in terms of a move to Derby is Durham all rounder Gareth Breese. A useful batsman, accurate off spinner and brilliant fielder, I'd certainly welcome his addition to the ranks. He is experienced and particularly good in one day cricket, but Ian Blackwell's fine season has seen him get few opportunities this year. At 34 he needs to be playing first class cricket and is a bowler who has done especially well in Twenty/20.
Regular readers will know I've suggested a move for James Middlebrook, formerly of Essex, but I'd be equally happy with Breese. There's been talk of Lancashire chasing him too, but Gary Keedy seems to have the spinner's berth tied down there. The prospect of being number one at Derby would surely be a lure.
Plenty to mull over then, and I'm sure that we'll see things moving in the very near future.