Thursday, 26 February 2009

Ho hum...

Sorry that its all been quiet on the Blog front lately but, in short, there's been little to write about.

The club has a new look web site (nice work Crofty, looks good!) and Chris Rogers continues to score runs a-plenty in Australia.

If I was a journalist, I reckon I could save myself a lot of time each day by the pre-written

"Chris Rogers took advantage of the opposition attack in batting imperiously while scoring XXX"

During the summer, you might even add in a less obvious but often accurate

"Meanwhile his colleagues made hard work of the bowling, with wickets going down at regular intervals to a succession of rash strokes and good catching".

A banker would be

"Charl Langeveldt bowled with great skill and no little hostility in producing figures of x-xx for Derbyshire on a helpful/slow track at Derby"

In the old days of type-face preparation, there were stories that the local press kept certain phrases ready to drop in as required

"Derbyshire collapse"
"Jackson in the wickets again"
"Slow going at Chesterfield"

There was the certainty that came from the often attritional Derbyshire batting, that grafted its way to a total more often than not. Great was the day when the Carrs, Hamers, Johnsons, Worthingtons and Townsends struck form. Less obviously an attraction was it when others (no names, no packdrill) took root at the crease and ground it out.

Never mind. Soon it will be here again. I see that the Pink Panthers (Durham) have signed new Aussie sensation Dave warner for the 20/20. Brave signing - if it goes for them as Pollock and Morkel did last year they'll have few complaints.

So who will we have?

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Bits 'n' bobs

Had a call from my Dad this evening, ever so slightly concerned.

"How can Hinds play for us this summer when he's playing for the West Indies against England".

The worry was palpable but I was quickly able to calm him and let him know that it was not Wavell of this parish but Barbadian Ryan.

Good job too, as Wavell has been on fire for Jamaica in recent weeks, averaging 62 for them in four day cricket, while not playing in the shorter forms of the game. Three fifties in seven innings but a highest of 75... realistically we need The Wave to be going on to the big scores this season. Similarly Buck has continued his fine form for Victoria and Charl continues to bowl beautifully in South Africa, so all of our overseas players seem in decent fettle.

The other news is that Derbyshire are following last year's pre-season tour to the Caribbean with another to the ever-so-slightly less tropical Isle of Wight. You can read all about it by clicking the Cricket World link on the left

Hopefully they get decent weather and a chance to turn their arm over and swing the willow.

A little discussion on 606 with regard to Derbyshire's "mediocrity" for the approaching season. I'd disagree and think we have some very good players. What will make or break the year will be the contributions of the lesser lights, some of whom have to step up to the plate for us to do well. In Langeveldt, Rogers, Hinds, Wagg, Pipe and Clare we have good players, but six out of eleven leaves you exposed. On their day Smith, Redfern, Stubbings and Borrington are players of talent, but they need to move forward this year, while Tom Lungley has to stay fit or could struggle to get another deal. Jake Needham is another who can cement a place in the side and there are others (Garry Park, John Sadler, Dom Telo) who can play but simply have to show they can do so consistently.

With six players of class, the likelihood is that only half at best will fire in each game. If we can find from the many on the staff one more batsman who can approach 1,000 runs, we'll not be far away from winning division two in the Championship. We cannot leave it all to the skipper, however and we must also get at least 800 from Hinds. To be honest, I'd expect a thousand this time for him to be worth a Kolpak place, as there's plenty on the staff who'd get 750 runs given the opportunity.

Only a couple of months to go. To quote my daughter, not that many years ago, "how many sleeps is that"?

Friday, 13 February 2009


Excellent news this week about the club returning a third successive surplus. There may be so-called bigger clubs in the country but Derbyshire have shown that they are as well run as any of them.

It does pose the question as to what profit we'd have posted if we'd not shelled out a fortune on the former captain. As I've previously posted, there's an imbalance in the money we must have saved on the salaries of those who have gone in the past six months and the guys who have come in. Most of the fans I know are concerned, in the nicest sense of the word, as to where the money is, especially when we're saving a few thousand on the club yearbook.

As the days and weeks pass, I'm increasingly convinced that we'll be recruiting a big name for this year's 20/20. While Buck is an outstanding player, I don't see him playing the short game and he may well take a well-earned break. There may be a few Aussies who'd fancy a "net" prior to the Ashes starting, while the likes of Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh would attract large crowds from the local ethnic population for whom they are cult heroes. The South Africans have some fine players too (Duminy, Amla, de Villiers) but they may be looking for well earned breaks after back to back series against the Aussies.

Speaking of whom - well done Middlesex. England must have their best chance of winning the Ashes in a long time after the retirement of so many of the Australian top players. With Matthew Hayden gone, they look like opening with the talented but inexperienced (in English conditions)opening batsman Phil Hughes. So good old Middlesex give him a nice six week net in our conditions so he can get off to a flyer when the series starts. Well done lads. One would have hoped that with Angus Fraser involved they may have thought long and hard about this, but not hard enough. Had Derbyshire done this the wailing and gnashing of teeth would have been heard in Sydney...

Had a look at one of the cricket magazines in the local library - sorry, WH Smith - today. Interesting to see that in a section on "Ten to Watch in 2009" we had two players, Waggy and Dan Redfern. John Morris referred to Wagg as "the most versatile all rounder in English cricket" and few would argue. Dan has a lot of expectation on him this year and I wouldn't be surprised, at 18, if it was a year of fits and starts. Still, two Derbyshire boys in there is nice to see and one in the eye for those who stupidly see us as a Kolpak county.

Finally, what a farce in Antigua. I didn't know about it till I got a text this afternoon (thanks mate!) and it is hard to believe this level of incompetence. Bet they'll never moan about a slow track at Derby again after that. No wait, of course they will...

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Total cobblers...

I felt ever so slightly like the class sneak last night.

I mailed the moderators on the BBC 606 site about the comments made by some creature calling itself "Flipzingy" about Derbyshire and the players.

Don't get me wrong, I can take good hearted banter and enjoy a laugh with mates about the respective merits of our sides. Given that most of my pals support Scotland, I am usually in the ascendency, although a couple support Durham which leaves me with nowhere to go...

This idiot's comments annoyed me, partly because he obviously knew little about the game, partly because he was was making blanket comments about OUR team and then because he started making comments about individuals - self included.

Considering that he claimed to have "discovered" a 17 year old bowling 94mph and a leg spinning all rounder of county class elsewhere on the site, the best you could say for this character was that he was delusional (that's my big word for "nut job"). You could have said a whole lot worse.

The moderators first of all said that there was nothing wrong with his comments as he had declared himself a fan. Yeah and I'm Donald Bradman. When I pointed out that they contravened their own very obvious guidelines on posts, they were quick to remove them.

The chap (I'm assuming he was) reckoned that you could only be a cricket fan if you played the game, which really annoyed me. I know lots of people who have played the game rarely and when they did never made any real contribution. Yet their love for the game, its literature and its standards made mine almost pale to insignificance. I've played for my school and University first elevens, played good club cricket in and around the Bassetlaw League and in the Scottish Counties. I've coached junior sides to trophy success but I've never been a great player. Not for me the dashing century, the seven wicket hauls and the like. I've been the dogged forty, the partnership breaker with the ball and the bloke who (at least when I was younger) caught more than he dropped. My best performance was an unbeaten 50 in an all out score of 91 when my team won by 30-odd runs. I've never made a century, never taken five wickets in an innings. Yet with the fifties I've made and the 2 and 3-fors I've loved every minute.

Yet its not essential. I've played cricket for years with a couple of guys who have rarely made double figures, don't really bowl and only occasionally hold a catch. Yet the club would not exist without their love for the game, their work around the place, their diligence on the ground. They're always on the teamsheet for that and always will be. We've enough good players to carry them anyway and I'd sooner lose and have them with me than do so without them.

So that's why I got annoyed with zipthingy. Thinking about my mates and how a game wouldn't be the same without willing them to make contact with another agricultural heave, or hoping that their hands are in the approximate area of the ball when a catch goes their way. Plus all the other guys who like cricket for the craic, the beer, the atmosphere and all the good things in life.

After all, if participation was the only route into being a supporter, there's not many of those naked torsoed footie fans with their manly physiques and beer bellies would qualify.

And how many would follow Formula One?

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Australia pass on Buck

I may not be psychic but the thinking money would have to be on Chris Rogers Australian career being at an end.

After the season he has had, there were strong reasons to bring him into their touring side for South Africa, but the selectors have bypassed not only Rogers but Phil Jaques too and have gone for the precocious talents of Phil Hughes, a left hander who oozes talent and looks set for a distinguished career at just 21.

Rogers thus looks set to be one of the "nearly" men - joining the likes of Stuart Law, Martin Love and Tom Moody in not quite getting the run at the very top level that his talent has deserved. In another era Rogers would have graced the Aussie side, but his time would appear to be up from a national perspective.

Which is, of course, great news from Derbyshire's point of view, as Rogers should now be available for most of the 2009 season. One can only hope that he remains motivated and keen to prove a point - like Simon Katich did.

The surprise selection for the South African tour was Marcus North, who must be getting close to the all time record for "most counties" when he rolls up at Hampshire this coming season. After stints at Derbyshire, Durham, Gloucestershire and Lancashire, North will play down south, unless he is selected for the Ashes tour.
He is a fine player and was a wonderful short term performer for us a couple of years back, but his stint with us was at the right time from a wicket perspective and he is susceptible to the moving ball. A first class average of 44 suggests a very good, rather than outstanding player and his selection as "someone who can bowl a bit of spin" at number six in the words of their selectors smacks a little of desperation. How bare is their cupboard if North is a spinning option. He is a tidy bowler and did well for both us and Gloucestershire with the ball, especially in one day games. As a Test bowler I doubt he would frighten many though. I wish him luck and he will be remembered as an affable and committed player who gave 100% for Derbyshire in his short stay.

Rogers averages a shade under 50 in first class cricket but only 33 in one day games. It is obvious where his strengths lie but he should aim to bat an innings through in the longer one day games. Although a pacer of an innings rather than a dasher, he would still score a hundred in most matches if he was there at the end. Generally he gets out when trying to accelerate and we've plenty of dashers in the side who could do that if someone was playing Steady Eddie at the other end. If I was John Morris, I would tell him to aim to bat the innings through and see what happened. That way we'd be likely to get 200-250 rather than the 180 we're more used to. That psychological barrier often troubles sides and if Buck could do this we'd win a lot more one day matches.

That's it for now. Coming home tonight, I pulled into our drive when there was still a little light. Just over two months and we'll be back in action.


Wednesday, 4 February 2009

As if further proof were needed...

Super Charl pulled a tie out of the bag for Cape Cobras tonight.

Playing against the Lions, his side made a respectable 154-6 in 20 overs, with the early contender for the "New Star of 2009" award, JP Duminy, making 56 from 71 balls to anchor the innings. Skipper Justin Ontong blasted a quick 33 but the Lions got away to a flier and at 81-1 in 11 were coasting it.

Proteas opener Neil McKenzie and new one day cap Vaughan Van Jaarsveld gave good support to opening batsman Alviro Petersen and when the last over arrived, the Lions, needing just eight to win were looking good at 147-3.

Charl had the last over and his first ball was a superb yorker - no run. Then Petersen hit him to long on where the catch was made.

Wicket keeper Dane Vilas smashed the next one over extra cover for six, then took a single to level the scores. Two balls left, one to win...

New batsman Werner Coetsee was surprised by the bouncer next ball, tried to pull, but top edged to the keeper. One ball left, one to win.

Cliff Deacon came in for his minute of glory but was yorked by Langeveldt who finished with the outstanding figures of 3-21 in four overs.

I hope that news doesn't percolate through to India...

Memo to Charl - have a word in JP Duminy's ear and tell him how beneficial a stint at Derbyshire in the 20/20 would be for his career. He might even end up a good player!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Bit baffled but more than a little pleased

Like most of you, I was concerned to see that Charl Langeveldt was in the original list of 111 players who were available for signing in the IPL.

I was genuinely concerned that our talismanic opening bowler would be lost to us for a fair chunk at the start of the season. Depending on who signed him and how well they did, we may not have seen him for the first month or so.

So I was pleasantly surprised to see that he had not made the short list of 43 from which teams can select and bid for players. This despite his generally being regarded as one of the best new ball bowlers in the world one day game and especially at 20/20. Indeed, only last year did he win an award for his 20/20 success, where he has returned some spectacular figures. 37 wickets at just 16 in this format suggests a bloke who can play a little, but hey - their loss is definitely our gain.

The remaining concern is that those sides who had Pakistani players signed up for three years (their players have been banned from playing by their government) may sign replacements from that original list. So don't relax just yet...

I was even more surprised to see who had made the cut. Aaron Bird of New South Wales? Brett Geeves, Daniel Harris, Bryce McGain, Shane Harwood, Steven Smith? Some of these guys are possibly not famous in their own houses. McGain has flirted with national selection but, be honest, if Derbyshire signed one of them you'd be underwhelmed...

Then there's Michael Dighton and Jon Moss. Both reasonable (but only that) cricketers who have played for Derbyshire in the past and had their moments. Again though, you'd not look back on their time with us as being golden moments in the club's history. Moss was a bits and pieces man, and we need and deserve more than that from an overseas import, while Dighton could bat explosively but not for long enough. He also bowled tidy wobbly medium pace, but nothing to write home about.

Indeed, while Dighton has averaged only 14 with the bat for Tasmania this winter, Moss has yet to appear for Victoria.

For that matter, I'd not be emptying the swear box to raise the cash for Shaun "Scattergun" Tait either. In fact, looking at the short list, the English players in there look like the auction version of Harrods as compared to the Pound Shop elsewhere. Were it to be the list of options for Derbyshire to sign from for this summer's 20/20, I'd reckon there'd be a short list of:

JP Duminy
Michael Clarke
Phil Jaques
Gulam Bodi

and that's it. Duminy looked a class act in Australia, Clarke is a fine player, Jaques a top bat and Bodi a top of the innings dasher. But that's it (English players apart)

Indian audiences, prepare to be disappointed...