Thursday, 30 April 2009

Glamorgan v Derbyshire day 3

Well, my assertion that this one would be a draw after the truncated first day is making me look like Nostradamus tonight after rain prevented any play on the scheduled day three.

Tomorrow's interest will thus centre on the quest for bonus points by both sides, assuming that we can't lose 18 wickets in a day here. Put it this way, if we did that I'd buy a Lancashire season ticket

Speaking of whom, they're fairly pushing the boat out for the weekend's trip by our boys in the FP Trophy. How's about this, taken from their website:

"All the action starts at 12noon on Sunday and there will be plenty of activities to keep the family entertained.

Freebies at the Chewits Lancashire Thunderbolts Trailer (the WHAT?)
On arrival, families should head to the Thunderbolts Trailer to pick up a free 2009 Team Poster plus a brand new Lanky Transfer. There will also be a banner making station where children can create their own banner to display during the match (IDEALLY ONE THAT READS "come on you Phantoms")

Free coaching clinics in the Indoor Cricket Centre
Qualified coaches will be holding free skills clinics in the Indoor Cricket Centre between 12noon and 5pm. This is a great opportunity for children to get basic coaching on batting, bowling and fielding.
Please wear appropriate footwear, no black soles or heals are allowed (HEALS? WHAT ARE THEY? GUESS THE FASHION FOR CRICKET IN STILETTOS IS DYING OUT IN MANCHESTER)

Following the conclusion of the match, the Lancashire squad will be signing autographs for attending spectators in front of the Pavilion. So bring along your autograph book (AND GET THE DERBYSHIRE ONES FIRST)

Joking apart it is a big game on Sunday and one in which I expect spinners to play a full part. Keedy has been doing well for them thus far, and Jake Needham and Mark Lawson could be key to our chances of success. More on that one on Saturday.

Finally tonight, the news of the new P20 competition for next season will have excited and dismayed in equal measure, especially as it is to run alongside the existing competition. The new tournament will feature two divisions of nine teams, three up and down plus potentially more overseas stars than you can count. I'm not sure how that will work or who will provide the money for them, but surely a 20 over thrash in June followed by another in August/September is overkill? Cricket for Attention Deficit Syndrome sufferers in my opinion. Yes, I'll support Derbyshire and hope we do well, but there's only so much slog a man can stand. I may be alone in this, but for all the stars in the IPL I haven't watched a match yet and can't see that changing. My main interest in it is to see how Charl Langeveldt is getting on and he's been spotted as often as Lord Lucan so far. With his team bottom of the table, he should be back soon and there's little chance of him arriving having been overworked.

Anyway, I'll be back tomorrow to report on the final day of our draw. Unless Glamorgan allowed us to have a thrash, forfeited their second innings and then set us a target, the last day is as dead as the dodo. On the upside, we'll still be unbeaten.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Glamorgan v Derbyshire day 2

We had our first poor day of the season in Cardiff today, as Glamorgan posted over 400 and then removed both Steve Stubbings and Wavell Hinds as we limped to 37-2 in reply.

The seam bowlers stuck to their task quite well, with Wagg, Hunter and Park all returning economical figures, but Jake Needham and Jon Clare were more expensive than usual. From only managing to score at two an over yesterday, the hosts rattled along to their declaration total in the final session, with Powell and Dalrymple both reaching fine centuries.

Losing Stubbo was bad, but the loss of Wavell Hinds to the final ball of the day was a blow. Wavell hasn't appeared to be close to form so far this year and Kolpak or not will need to work at his game to maintain a place. With Dom Telo looking good on Sunday and Dan Birch and John Sadler also waiting on a chance, Wavell needs to get some runs under his belt.

There's still no sign of Chris Rogers and neither the club site nor the Derby Telegraph are mentioning it. I'd have hoped that someone in Australia, perhaps from the cricket world or maybe a political figure might have intervened by now as most of the players elsewhere waiting on visas have now arrived, Danish Kaneria being the latest. It poses the question as to whether Rogers submitted the correct documentation. I hope so, but surely either the authorities in Australia or the club must have some idea of when he is likely to come over? With Stuart Law currently injured we're lacking a batsman of proven class and experience at the top of the order, though Garry Park continues to impress as an all round cricketer.

The bottom line for this game is that we're likely to get a draw. Tomorrow's forecast for Cardiff when I saw it this morning was on the foul side of horrible and I'd guess that there will be little cricket there tomorrow. That would leave us to bat for points on the final day, or avoid losing 18 wickets. I would hope that the former is a possibility and would hope the latter a non starter.

So a mediocre day today but I'm not despondent. With a young side there'll be ups and downs and we must expect that until they gain more experience. Enjoy the good days and tolerate the bad ones - that's my message tonight.

Now time for bed. Survived the nets tonight, hit a good few in the middle and hit the stumps a few times too. As long as I can make it down stairs in the morning everything in the garden will be rosy...

I'll close with a text joke I got today which I enjoyed. It said "I think I've got that swine flu....I've got rashers all over!"

No doubt you can get oinkment for that sort of thing.

I'll get me coat. See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Glamorgan v Derbyshire Day One

Not much to report tonight, as a seriously curtailed first day ended with the home side 78-2 scored at just two an over.

With Cossie the Aussie only scoring at one an over, the bowling must have been pretty accurate. Cosgrove has a reputation back home as a bit of a dasher and is known as Baby Boof in tribute to his similarities to Darren Lehmann. If he makes half the batsman the legendary ex-Yorkshire pro was he will do them fine.

Graham Wagg took another two wickets to confirm his fine start to the season but Glamorgan will have been pleased to win the toss on a track that is likely to spin as the game wears on. With Derbyshire selecting both their spinners and the hosts fielding both Croft and Dalrymple, the chances are that the last day will see the slow bowlers in operation. The loss of time today will make the task of forcing a win for either side difficult, however.

The forecast appears brighter tomorrow so we'll know a little more about match prospects by the end of the day.

Final nets for me tomorrow before the season starts in earnest the week after. I'm planning on following the advice of Verinder Sehwag to Paul Collingwood in the IPL.
"See it then hit it".

At this stage of the season I'll settle for one out of two and the ability to move unhindered on Thursday morning... see you tomorrow night

Monday, 27 April 2009

Glamorgan v Derbyshire preview

No Stuart Law tomorrow as his finger injury, as I reported the other night, has turned out to be a break. Its hard to say how long that may keep him out for, but he'll be sorry to miss the Lancashire game this weekend .

Derbyshire have taken 13 to Wales, namely:

Stephen Stubbings
Garry Park
Dom Telo
Dan Redfern
Wavell Hinds
Greg Smith
James Pipe (captain and wicketkeeper)
Graham Wagg
Jonathan Clare
Jake Needham
Mark Lawson
Ian Hunter
Tim Groenewald

Dom Telo looks set for a start in place of Stuart Law, while the bowling line-up will depend on the look of the wicket tomorrow. It is unlikely we'll go without a spinner, so the final side will probably see the top eight, plus Ian Hunter, with the other two places between the remainder. A lack of bounce may see Lawson and Groenewald miss out, but I'll be keen to see the final decision around 10.45am tomorrow. However you look at it, we've a young side out and I'll be keen to see how they perform.

As for Glamorgan, our old nemesis Mr Croft returns. I read on 606 that with Rees, Cosgrove and Croft Glamorgan must have the country's fattest squad, but all three are good cricketers and Croft's omission from one day games is strange. Their side lines up:

Gareth Rees
Mark Cosgrove
Ben Wright
Michael Powell
Jamie Dalrymple (captain)
Tom Maynard
Mark Wallace (wicketkeeper)
Robert Croft
David Harrison
James Harris
Adam Shantry
Garnett Kruger

One of the seamers will drop out for the hosts, who will have two spinners in skipper Dalrymple and Croft. With our injuries and absent players we will have to work hard to get a result but the side are capable of doing so. It would be nice to see Wavell Hinds get a score, but thus far the Derbyshire success has been firmly based on a team ethic and that will again be the key.

After this game we don't play another Championship match until June. How nice would it be to go into the one day matches clear at the top? Don't get me wrong, there'll be a few defeats along the way and the usual moaners will be out, but I suspect that this season will at least be one of progress, and we can ask no more than that.

See you tomorrow.

Post-weekend thoughts...

I spent a few minutes earlier this evening looking through the BBC 606 site and the thoughts of fans on their county's fortunes.

There are some quite content with their lot, a few not sure how the summer will pan out and most thoroughly unimpressed by events so far. Surrey fans are very unhappy, while Glamorgan's feel they made a mistake in not bringing Robert Croft yesterday. They're darn tootin' - the rotund little spinner might have changed the match yesterday and they made a mistake omitting him. Lancashire have fans convinced we're already beaten next weekend but the overwhelming feeling in the media is that Derbyshire are getting a side together.

I'm loathe to make comparisons but am going to. In the late 1920's Derbyshire emerged from a period in the basement of the doldrums by recruiting local young players of talent and bringing them through under the watchful eye of Sam Cadman. This brought the likes of the Popes, Tom Mitchell, Bill Copson, Les Townsend, Stan Worthington and others through to form a side that matched most in the land throughout the 1930's.

Yesterday, Derbyshire announced that four products of their Academy - Jake Needham, Dan Redfern, Paul Borrington and Jon Clare - were all signed up until the end of the 2012 season. Good players all, with the techniques and ability to become much, much better in the intervening period. I know that Clare was picked up from Lancashire, but our coaches have made him into a good prospect, together with the player's attitude to work and willingness to listen.

When one adds other youngsters of talent, such as Atif Sheikh, Tom Poynton and Ross Whiteley, then throw into the mix the likes of mid-20's players like Smith, Park, Groenewald, Wagg and Telo, there's genuine reasons for optimism. We should not discount the claims of the older age group either, all of whom have plenty to offer. I suspect that our interest in Kolpak players will dissipate as these players continue to develop and the regulations tighten up.

It would be fantastic to see a team of locally produced youngsters representing Derbyshire, but for now I'd settle for seeing a winning team on a more regular basis. We seem to have a happy squad with competition for places and the success thus far has been without any overseas or Kolpak contribution in runs or wickets. Wavell's not yet fired, nor has Stuart Law, while Buck Rogers and Charl Langeveldt have yet to arrive. Last season was effectively down to Rogers,Langeveldt,Wagg and Clare, so it is especially nice to see others stepping up this year.

Full marks to John Morris in that all of his winter signings have made early contributions. Park looks a terrific player, Groenewald also offers plenty with bat and ball and Mark Lawson's bowling and enthusiasm in the field has been rewarded with a season-long deal. He's done well, as England in April isn't the place for leg spin to flourish. His partnership with Jake Needham could well be a feature of the one day game this year and he could enjoy the drier pitches of July and August.

So lots of reasons to be cheerful, albeit at an early stage. Tomorrow is Glamorgan, but that's the next piece!

Sunday, 26 April 2009

What a weekend...

So we beat Surrey convincingly on Saturday, the same day as Derby County secure their Championship status, then beat Glamorgan convincingly today as Burton Albion enter the Football League.

Then we secure the talents of four of our brightest prospects until 2012. Dan Redfern, Jake Needham, Paul Borrington and Jon Clare will all be Derbyshire players until the end of 2012. They might just see Chris Rogers' visa come through then...

These signatures not only secure the services of some of our brightest talents for years, it also sends a warning shot across the bows of so-called bigger counties in case they come looking for youngsters better than they are finding themselves. With the right people around them and the services of the existing staff as coaches and mentors, these players can mature to be a part of the best Derbyshire side in a long time.

More about that tomorrow, plus a preview of the Glamorgan v Derbyshire Championship game that starts on Tuesday.

What a weekend though. Think I'll go into work tomorrow and tell my colleagues that we're top of the Championship and unbeaten so far this season. Sadly, none of them are into cricket, but its never stopped me before...

Derbyshire v Glamorgan FP Trophy

Although in the end it was much harder work than looked likely when we were 80-0, Derbyshire won today's game with a professional performance by 4 wickets and with 4 overs in hand.

There was a mid-innings wobble when the spinners came on and tied things down (just as happened in their innings) but ultimately Garry Park showed again why John Morris signed him with a controlled, unbeaten 43 from 81 deliveries. Accompanied by Graham Wagg he saw us across the line when 29 were required, Wagg wasting little time in his unbeaten cameo of 19.

Earlier Tim Groenewald took a key early wicket and the man we wanted, Mark Cosgrove, went to a caught and bowled by Greg Smith. Only the Glamorgan skipper, James Dalrymple, stayed for long and he could never score quickly enough to set a really tough score. Groenewald impressed on his debut and praise is also due to the relatively inexperienced spin duo of Mark Lawson and Jake Needham, who bowled tight spells in the middle of the innings. Dan Redfern also showed the merits of having extra bowlers with a useful five over stint and the Glamorgan total always looked gettable.

When Redfern and Stubbings set off at a rate of knots and we were 80-0 in 17 overs it looked a breeze, yet again the advent of experienced duo Cosker and Dalrymple slowed the scoring. Wavell went cheaply again and is due some runs and the game's levelling powers showed when Greg Smith, unbeaten against Surrey in the Championship match, went first ball. At 108-4 Derbyshire were rocking but Dom Telo, playing in the place of the injured Stuart Law (finger) played a bright innings before he was bowled.

James Pipe then came in to play another bright cameo, but when he was run out with 29 still required, it was left to Wagg and the admirable Park to see us home.

So, still unbeaten this season. Next stop is another Championship match against Glamorgan, when the thinking money would be on a turning track and Robert Croft making an appearance. While not the best of sides, Glamorgan have some fair players and this one came down to our seamers doing better than theirs as back up to the "stranglers" of spin, while Park showed himself a player of fine ability.

Finally honourable mention for Dan Redfern, who again showed what a fine prospect he is with a beautiful knock at the top of the innings. I maintain he is the best young batsman I've seen at Derbyshire since Kim Barnett and if he does as well as the ex-skipper we'll have some happy hours ahead.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Done and dusted - Derbyshire v Surrey day 4

A nice and steady five wicket win before lunch for Derbyshire today, ultimately by five wickets with two sessions to play.

They lost three wickets in doing so, but apart from Chris Schofield getting a little turn from a dry track there were few alarms along the way. Steve Stubbings marathon knock ensured they got near the finishing line and then another composed knock from Greg Smith took them across it after a flurry of boundaries. The latter would be my choice of man of the match, in the face of a lot of opposition. You really can't argue with 94 not out and 27 not out, together with 3-18 and 1-35.

It was a fine effort and after two games the table makes nice reading - Derbyshire top!

There's a long way to go and a lot of cricket to play, but hey, we're top and in the words of the late, great James Brown...

I feel good.

Derbyshire v Glamorgan preview

Hopefully by the time I finish this piece Derbyshire will be close to winning their first Championship match of the season, a victory that will take them into their FP Trophy campaign in good heart.

Their opponents, Glamorgan, lost their opening game last weekend and on the face of it offer our easiest opponents in the group, but we all know that cricket is a funny game...

The Welsh side travel to Derby with the following 12-man squad:

Gareth Rees
Mark Cosgrove
Michael Powell
Tom Maynard
Jamie Dalrymple (captain)
Ben Wright
Mark Wallace (wicket-keeper)
James Harris
David Harrison
Dean Cosker
Garnett Kruger
Adam Shantry.

No place for Robert Croft (which I think is a mistake given his penchant for bowling against Derbyshire) and all-rounder Alex Wharf is out for weeks. Gareth Rees took a liking to our attack last season and his partnership with "Baby Boof" Mark Cosgrove offers potential for the summer. The Australian scored a memorable double century at Derby a couple of years back and we'll want to remove him early or be chasing a big total. Michael Powell is a good batsman and Jamie Dalrymple a useful all rounder, but I don't look at their side in awe.

South African Garnett Kruger should lead the attack with support from England hopeful James Harris and from David Harrison, while veteran Cosker's wily slow left arm needs watched. Their keeper Mark Wallace is a good player too, competent behind the stumps and scorer of enough runs to have England aspirations of his own (especially if he played elsewhere).

As for Derbyshire, John Morris has announced a 14-man squad as follows:


I'd see that top eleven as pretty much the side, with Tim Groenewald set to make his debut, according to John Morris in the Derby Telegraph. I'd heard yesterday from a couple of sources that Stuart Law had suffered a broken finger but that doesn't appear to be the case. Ian Hunter may well be rested after his work in the four day matches so far which would leave arguably the longest batting line-up in a long while with Clare at 10 and Needham at 11. Given the former scored centuries last year and Needham averages 20-plus in first class cricket, one could argue that there is no tail. Although, of course, they need to prove that where it matters.

There are also 8 bowlers in there if required, assuming that Stuart Law is not required to bowl. Wavell may not be risked as a bowler after his calf strain, but I look at that side and see one of great potential. With hard work and a little luck when it matters they can certainly get the FP Trophy campaign off to a good start.

On a different tack, I wrote earlier in the week that I was unsure about Garry Ballance's future at Yorkshire, having seen a couple of newspapers and websites list him as being released. The reality is that he is on a three-year deal there and Yorkshire are paying his way through University. So he's unlikely to feature much before June but is still very much involved. He looked a good player and I'll watch his career with interest.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Park the popular choice

It's quite apt that Garry Park chose today to register an excellent all-round contribution, as 72% of those voting rated him the best of our winter recruits.

Both Tim Groenewald and Mark Lawson may well have opportunities in the months ahead, but Park has taken his with both hands and looks a very good acquisition. As a batsman he has shown he can stick it out as well as playing the expansive shots, while he is rated the best cover point in the country.

Add that to the fact that he was Durham's reserve wicket keeper and, as we all know, can bowl a mean medium pace, we look like we've a real renaissance man in the South African born player. I look forward to seeing his progress through this season and beyond.

Now for this week's poll and it's one for the officianado! The cricket world is gradually realising that we have terrific all rounders at Derby. Graham Wagg, Jon Clare, Greg Smith, Garry Park - that's not even mentioning the talents of Dan Redfern, Tim Groenewald and Wavell Hinds!

So who do you thin is the best prospect. We've not seen enough of Groenewald's talents thus far, while Redfern is a fine young batsman who can bowl a little spin. Wavell is also a useful, rather than genuine bowler. But who, from the rest, is the best all round prospect.

Can't wait to see how this one pans out...

Derbyshire v Surrey day 3

All things being equal - and mainly as long as the weather stays fair tomorrow - Derbyshire should complete an emphatic win over Surrey sometime tomorrow morning.

That they should do so is down to a thoroughly professional performance in which most of the side have played their part. Heading the roll of honour on day three is undoubtedly Garry Park (pictured), who showed what a discerning bunch of people visit this blog by returning an excellent all round performance. A maiden 50 for the county followed on from Park's first three wickets for us. Amazingly, before today he had taken only two first class wickets at 166 runs each, yet today's 3-25 has brought his bowling average dropping faster than the exchange rate.

It is also encouraging that he has tempered his natural game and dropped anchor as an opener with Steve Stubbings. Realistically he should drop down to three when Chris Rogers arrives and take the place of Stuart Law. The Australian's returns have been modest since he joined the county but he seems to make a major contribution in the field, as you might expect from a man of his experience. He said at the start of the season that it was not just about his runs but what he can impart to other players. On the basis of the first couple of games he must be having an influence on things, although credit is also due to John Morris and Andrew Brown for their winter work with the squad. I did hear a report today that suggested that Law may have suffered a broken finger in today's action, although that has yet to be confirmed, at least on the club web site. If so, it would be a blow to the county in the continued absence of Chris Rogers. Should Law have to miss Sunday's game against Glamorgan, Dom Telo, Dan Birch and John Sadler will battle to replace him.

Ian Hunter continued his excellent early season form with more wickets today and Greg Smith picked up another wicket. Jon Clare did well in picking up the crucial wicket of Usman Afzaal who was going like a train early on, while Graham Wagg, although less spectacular than in the first innings, picked up another to complete a fine match after his valuable innings. Check out the Surrey TV coverage for the slow, floating ball with which Clare completely flummoxed Afzaal. Great stuff!

So 218 to win and, be honest, apart from Chris Rogers who in this side would you want to bat for your life? The scene was set for Stubbo and with Garry Park he gave us a crucial start. Losing early wickets chasing a modest total can set alarm bells ringing, but despite losing both Park and Law before the close, Derbyshire are well set at 145-2, needing just 73 tomorrow to seal an impressive win. There's not even been a need for Wavell and Dan to turn their arms over...

Those fans of sufficient vintage (like me) will have seen enough collapses over the years to take nothing for granted, but there is a growing feeling that John Morris is assembling a good side here. They're not world-beaters, there'll be some losses before the year is out and there's further improvement necessary, but I'm feeling quite enthused by Derbyshire cricket at the moment.

Mention should also be made of the work being done with the bowlers by Phil de Freitas. On the club site the other night Graham Wagg paid tribute to the work he has done with him. On the basis of the bowling in these first games, Daffy could be a major factor for the county in his consultancy capacity.

Let's finish it tomorrow lads - well done!

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Derbyshire v Surrey day 2

What a difference a day makes.

After yesterday's fun and frolics when there was almost a committee meeting to debate installing a revolving door on the pavilion to speed up the incoming batsmen, today was almost wholly in the batsman's favour.

Maybe the pivotal moment of an absorbing game was the wicket taken by Garry Park, his first for the county, when he removed Surrey centurion Scott Newman with one that he edged through to James Pipe.

Up until that point I had visions of men around the county wondering how they were going to excuse themselves from that promised shopping trip on Saturday, safe in the knowledge that the game would be finished by then.

Last night I hoped we would edge to 200. To exceed 250 was astonishing and full marks to Greg Smith, Graham Wagg and Ian Hunter for their efforts in ensuring we got a big lead.

Hunter in particular showed nigh unprecedented levels of talent with the bat as he almost reached his first 50 for the county. He matched Smith stroke for stroke, yet as they found batting increasingly easy there was a feeling that the visitors could do likewise.

So it proved, with Scott Newman, who looked a future Test player when he burst on the scene a few years back, batting sedately until he was settled then unleashing a range of strokes to accelerate towards his century.

70 runs on then with two days to go. Who knows what will happen from here? Tomorrow we need to remove danger man Afzaal early then dig out Batty and the tail. Schofield is another to show adhesive qualities and at this stage I would guess we will be chasing 200-250 in the final innings. With a little cloud cover it could be less, but the wicket seems to be getting easier all the time and Surrey's spinners are not exactly Laker and Lock...

I still think we can and should win this game, but much will revolve around the fitness of Graham Wagg and Andre Nel for their respective sides. Both have spent time off the field in this game and their bowling over the next couple of days could be a factor in deciding the winner of this contest. With Saturday's forecast less favourable, Derbyshire will hope for early inroads tomorrow. The second new ball is not too far away either and we could yet be celebrating at the end of this game.

Finally, a word of recognition for Greg Smith. In these first two matches he has produced innings that hinted of a more controlled and composed batsman. He has always had talent and perhaps this is the year that this bursts into full flower. With his steady seam as another string to his bow and brilliant fielding thrown in, maybe Smith could be as valid a contender for England recognition in the future as Graham Wagg.

Big effort tomorrow lads. Let's do it!

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Surrey TV

Anyone watched the highlights? Better than nothing, but I got the impression that the camera man for the first two wickets was Vern Troyer...

Random thought on the trial balls

Maybe I'm heartened unduly by today's performance, but if these new balls they're using are kept on throughout the season, do you think we'll need more than three bowlers?

Waggy, Sticks and Smudge have all found them to their liking. Can you imagine what will happen when Langeveldt gets hold of one?

I just hope that Buck Rogers visa comes through sometime soon so we can get our master batsman at the top of the order. It looks unlikely we'll have him for Sunday now, but we live in hope.

Bring me sunshine - Derbyshire v Surrey day 1

Hands up all those who thought, at 88-7 chasing Surrey's 131, that Derbyshire would end the day with an already priceless lead of 21 runs with those same three wickets intact?

Well I didn't, and that Derbyshire have grabbed an albeit slender initiative in this game is down to our very own double act to rival Eric and Ernie, namely Waggy and Smudge.

Between them they took 9 wickets in the Surrey innings, then followed it with a partnership of 64 that could be of huge significance, especially if they could extend it tomorrow morning and take Derbyshire close to the 200 mark.

I understand that pitch inspector Jack Birkenshaw, formerly of Leicestershire and Yorkshire, was in attendance for part of the day but it appears that the reason for the fall of wickets was the extravagant movement that all the bowlers were able to get with the ball. Division 2 bowlers are using a different type of ball this season in a trial (see the Telegraph link to the left for Ian Hunter's comments on it) and it would appear that the batsmen's dominance of recent seasons may be getting challenged. Compare our game with that going on between Essex and Gloucestershire and you'll see what I mean.

The down side is, of course, that games are unlikely to last the course and anyone hoping to catch the denouement of this game on their day off on Saturday may as well offer their loved one a shopping trip instead and build up brownie points for Sunday. Unless the conditions change, the thinking money is on this being all over before tea on Friday, possibly even earlier.

Last night I wrote that Surrey's top order looked fragile and they were blown apart by Graham Wagg. Nice con trick by Coach Morris in suggesting he was unlikely to play and one in the eye for the England selectors who omitted him from the Lions side to play the West Indies at Derby. What a chance they missed to have a local hero involved and boost the crowd, although Wagg's hip cannot be fully back to par and he left the field mid-afternoon.

Greg Smith added to the bowlers celebrating career bests with 3-18 and the early signs are good that he is coming to terms with the demands of county cricket as an all rounder, following on from a good game at Chelmsford. He's always been able to swing the ball and it could be an idea to let him open with Wagg in the second innings.

Derbyshire's innings also struggled and they were three down in no time, although Andre Nel's departure with an injury helped. Pedro Collins had his radar locked on and bowled well, but Redfern and Hinds clawed Derbyshire back into the game before a flurry of wickets left us chasing the game.

That late stand that came close to doubling the score (and how valuable would it be if it did tomorrow) and did so in a way that was encouraging and refreshing. If we could somehow get a lead of 50 tomorrow, then bowl well the second time around, we'll have a shout of our first win of the season.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

See the highlights on Surrey TV!

Apparently you can watch the highlights of each days play on Surrey TV each evening!

Honestly, does life get better than this?

(Well yes, but I'm stuck at work in a day with three meetings so can't be at the County Ground...)

Check it out each evening at:,,12546,00.html

Don't say I'm not good to you!

Derbyshire v Surrey Preview

If the sun hasn't got his head gear on yet, he must surely have it in a nice safe place for tomorrow.

Yep, County cricket, the game of the Gods, returns to the County Ground tomorrow and Derbyshire can kick start their season with a first win in this game, even without skipper Chris Rogers or star seamer Charl Langeveldt.

The frustrating thing is that Charl is sat in his native South Africa and cannot get a game for Kolkata Knightriders, who should surely feature David Hasselhoff in their star studded line-up...

The fact is that young Aussie Moises Henriques, an all rounder of potential is getting a place in place of Langeveldt. The fact is he's not yet strong enough in either discipline to displace Charl in my humble opinion and his four overs for 32 today were not in the same ballpark as the South African.

Nevertheless they won, but when your first three are Brendan McCullum, Chris Gayle and Brad Hodge, with Ganguly to follow you'd fancy your chances. Gayle is a much improved player in the last couple of years and has married a little more common sense to his extravagant stroke play.

Back to Derbyshire and we're also likely to be without Graham Wagg, despite his presence in the squad. They'll presumably make a late decision on his fitness, but its a big gamble to go into a four day game with one of your seamers nursing a hip injury.

The Derbyshire squad is:

Steve Stubbings
Garry Park
Stuart Law
Dan Redfern
Wavell Hinds
Greg Smith
James Pipe (captain)
Graham Wagg
Jonathan Clare
Tom Lungley
Jake Needham
Ian Hunter
Mark Lawson

John Morris said that the pitch was dry this morning which would suggest increasing turn as the game goes on. Assuming Wavell Hinds is fit and Wagg isn't, the coach has to choose between Jake Needham and Mark Lawson for the spinning berth. Alternatively he may opt to play both, which could leave Tom Lungley the odd man out after expensive spells at Chelmsford. This would still leave us with Hunter, Clare, Smith and Park to bowl seam with Wavell available if his calf strain is up to it. With Redfern and Smith's off spin in reserve we still have bowling options and that's without Stuart Law, a man with almost 200 career wickets, turning his arm over...

Surrey have big name absentees with Mark Ramprakash banned and Mark Butcher injured. The game sees Chris Adams return to the County Ground in charge of this squad:

Michael Brown (captain)
Laurie Evans
Scott Newman
Matthew Spriegel
Usman Afzaal
Jonathan Batty
James Benning
Chris Jordan
Chris Schofield
Andre Nel
Pedro Collins
Jade Dernbach
Alex Tudor

There's inexperience at the top of the order, although Newman is a fair player and Afzaal is capable of good scores. John Morris tried to bring him to Derbyshire and I hope that after this game he realises he made the wrong decision in going down south. Batty is also a steady batsman and Jordan an all-rounder of promise, but I think Derbyshire are capable of beating them if the weather stays fine.

While Andre Nel is another of the game's great competitors and West Indian Pedro Collins can bowl a good spell, the visitors attack doesn't fill me with fear. Dernbach gets wickets but bowls his share of bad balls and Tudor must be on the last leg of a long and largely unfulfilled County career.

While such comments could come back to haunt me, I'm confident that a revitalised Derbyshire can win this game and cement a confident start to the 2009 season.

Let's do it boys!

Monday, 20 April 2009

A change in the air...

There's a fairly obvious change in the air with regard to the cricket world's perception of Derbyshire and it is heartening to see.

Even the cricket magazines seem to have caught on to the fact that the Morris revolution is gathering pace. One of them this month calls Derbyshire a "dangerous" side this year. When was the last time you heard us called that? The Barnett era perhaps? Newspapers and cricket magazines alike refer to our battery of good all rounders and our pace attack with Langeveldt and Wagg "the best in the division".
There's also universal approval in the signing of Stuart Law, with Dominic Cork calling him the best batsman by a mile at Lancashire last year. It is extremely heartening and if the players can live up to this advance press and produce the results that their undoubted talents justify we could have a good season ahead.

Yesterday's FP trophy scores backed up my impression a couple of weeks back that Lancashire and Essex are the teams to beat. How Glamorgan can pick a team sans Croft is beyond me. If he was the size of WG Grace he'd still be in my side for the Welsh county. Northants have some good batsmen but don't look to have a startling attack. Lancashire now have Ashwell Prince and du Plessis back, as well as having Anderson, Mahmood and Chapple in harness yesterday. With those playing they're a much better side, but I still think we could beat them on our day and Mr Law will have every incentive to do well. Essex are a far better one day side than four day one and destroyed Northants, despite missing all their batting big guns.

Botha and Clarke did nothing for Warwickshire yesterday and it is a sobering thought for Ant that when he takes his first wicket this year his average will be around 200.
I was amused to see a cricket magazine today refer to Clarke as an option for Freddie Flintoff if he was unfit for the Ashes. Considering he was only fourth best all rounder at Derby last year that's a fair old leap...

Interestingly both Graham Wagg and Jon Clare are regarded as options, the latter "at some point but not now", the former a good player but lacking pace when he bowls. That's as maybe, but you can think them out just as well as blasting them. I just hope Wagg's hip injury, which looks set to rule him out of Wednesday's game, heals quickly enough for him to play in our FP Trophy campaign.

Quick aside - Wayne White was batting 7 for Leicestershire today. I know he scored a few runs, but how bad must 8-11 be? He's a fair cricketer, but I never looked at him as a number seven and I would doubt he did either.

Thanks for the responses to my "Please Don't Go" article. How I forgot Ian Blackwell I don't know. He's a fine player and would have been a great asset to us, but he hasn't made the impact I thought he would. I saw him make a hundred for our Seconds at Chesterfield a few years back when Bud Hill was coach and he looked a huge talent, yet he seems to have stayed an eye player and his varying fitness levels seem to have counted against him. Thanks to Matt for reminding me.

I'd not forgotten Bob Stephenson and Keith Stevenson but didn't mention them. Bob was a good keeper and fair batsman who had to move because he was up against Bob Taylor. How unlucky is that? He forged a good and long career at Hampshire and gave them excellent service. Keith Stevenson went the same route and was the victim of a period when we had a few decent seamers coming through. He did well at times and could get extravagant movement, often getting clusters of wickets. He ended up with over 350 at a shade under 30 each, good going in an era when there were some great batsmen around the counties.

Finally tonight, I read a report about Suliemann Benn, the 6'7" left arm spinner from Barbados who took four wickets today. "Undoubtedly the tallest spinner in living memory" it said. Er... maybe not. I'm sure that Dallas Moir, who came to Derbyshire from Aberdeenshire and took over 200 first class wickets was at least that height and possibly slightly taller. I'm six feet tall and don't usually feel a midget, but I remember talking to Dallas one day and feeling like Jimmie Krankie. He naturally got a lot of bounce and had some good matches for us in the early 80's.

That's all for tonight. Tomorrow we'll know more about the likely line-up for the game against Surrey on Wednesday. Still no sign of Chris Rogers, which presumably means another match for Stuart Law. Jake Needham may well come into the equation to give a better balanced attack if Graham Wagg is unfit. Wavell is expected to recover from his slight calf strain, so fingers crossed. Surrey will be without Mark Ramprakash. Shame for those who like to see a class batsman, irrespective of the colours. Good news for those who want us to have the best chance of winning. More on that game tomorrow.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Please Don't Go...

While doing that last post, it crossed my mind that very few players have left Derbyshire for success elsewhere.

I'll accept that Kim Barnett played a great part in Gloucestershire's one day successes and that Peter Bowler gave sterling service to Somerset. Likewise, Chris Adams leadership and batting were a major factor in Sussex's success in recent years and Andrew Harris did well, between injuries, for Nottinghamshire. Yet while John Morris had his good days at both Durham and Nottinghamshire he never really replicated his early days in a fine batting side at Derby.

There were some who really messed up. Robin Weston could have been at Derby for years but opted for an offer at Middlesex that saw him disappear without trace after one decent season. Both Matt Cassar and Adrian Rollins headed to Northampton and suffered injury problems and loss of form that saw their careers at first class level end prematurely.

Luke Sutton and Dominic Cork went to Lancashire with limited success, Both must have anticipated trophy success but it has not materialised and Sutton's best days are probably behind him. I'd argue that we replaced him with a better man in James Pipe, who has given fantastic service over the last year or two. Whereas Sutton often stabilised an innings with a dogged innings, Pipe has changed the course of many a match with brilliant strokeplay and clean hitting, as well as keeping in a highly competent and at times brilliant manner. Cork had his good days and will always compete, but his glory days were at Derby. A new challenge at Hampshire may revitalise the old dog, but we saw the best of him without question.

Ant Botha, Rikki Clarke and Boyd Rankin went off to Warwickshire and limited returns, although only the former was established as a Derbyshire player. I suspect that the current seasons are crucial for all three, none of whom can anticipate further county cricket if it doesn't work out for them.

As for Chris Taylor, he left Yorkshire for Derbyshire, did very well and then went back to Headingley in a huff over alleged ill treatment. Since then he has struggled with injuries and form and looks a long way from their first choice side. Gary Ballance, nephew of Dave Houghton, went the same route after Houghton left the county and according to some reports has now left them, after being rated an outstanding talent when he first arrived from Zimbabwe. I'm currently checking this out and will let you know in a future blog.

Even when one goes back a few years the story is the same. Alan Ward went to Leicester, Mike Hendrick and Harold Rhodes to Nottinghamshire for only limited returns and success.

The other two worthy of mention are Alan Richardson and Michael Di Venuto. Richardson was written off as a youngster at Derby but has carved out a decent county career for himself (as indeed did Paul Taylor at Northants after rejection at Derby) while di Venuto was released in a decision quite staggering in its myopia. Had we retained him, our top four in one day cricket this season could have gone Rogers, Di Venuto, Law and Hinds...

I know I've not covered all those seeking their fortune elsewhere (Nick Walker and Wayne White at Leicester for example), but I hope that this brief run through has highlighted and confirmed that few have used Derbyshire as a springboard to greater success. Rather their reputations have been built at the County and in most cases have remained there.

So if any of the current squad read this, just remember that if John Morris comes with an offer of a new contract - snatch his hand off!

Predictable but encouraging...Essex v Derbyshire day 4

The end of the game was pretty much as I had suggested it would be last night. Derbyshire did indeed set Essex a little over 300 in mid-afternoon and given that it was the first game of the season and our main strike bowler was unavailable that was completely understandable.

Essex were never going to go for their 45 over target, although Chopra batted far more aggressively than in his first innings. Ian Hunter got him and finished with seven wickets in his first bowl of the season, a perfomance that must surely have elevated him above Tom Lungley in the pecking order. Lungley was again erratic in the second innings and after missing so much cricket last year maybe needs some match overs under his belt to get his rhythm back. Assuming Graham Wagg recovers from his hip twinge and Jake Needham comes into the side against Glamorgan on Wednesday, Lungley may drop out temporarily.

Earlier there were good knocks from Greg Smith and James Pipe as Derbyshire made the game safe after a few early alarms. What I like about this Derbyshire side is the capacity to counter attack if early wickets fall. With Hinds, Smith, Pipe and Wagg from 5-8 the opposition dominance can be quickly countered.

All of the batsmen spent useful time in the middle in this game and Dan Redfern showed signs of his obvious talent in both innings. I think that Redfern will be an outstanding batsman in the future and I hope that he rewards Derbyshire's investment in his young talent with the loyalty it deserves.

So, second in the Championship table - that'll do for starters!

A random thought crossed my mind today - is there life after Derbyshire?

I ask the question after Rikki Clarke's nought, followed by 0-99 in 22 overs for Warwickshire against Somerset, while Ant Botha scored 15 and took 0-178 in the same fixture. At around the same time came news that Steffan Jones was going on loan to Kent for a month from the cider county.

None of them have pulled up any trees since leaving the County Ground (I know Clarke's not had that long, but...) and the genial Jones must have had a few days of regret in moving from Derbyshire, where he enjoyed the most productive spell of his career. He gets limited opportunities at Taunton and let's be honest, it hardly does the game of cricket any great service.

There were a few eyebrows raised at the tumbling of wickets at Southampton over the last few days, but at least that was a wicket and a match that kept you flicking back the pages on teletext to find out the latest, while it must have been enthralling at the ground. Surely it is better for the game than has happened in the west country? 500 plays 672-4 plays 108-1. James Hildreth scores the earliest ever triple century. Fair play to the youngster but so what? It showed that he and Kieswetter can concentrate but I hope that the pundits don't start suggesting him as a wild card for the Test side on the back of this. We need - no, we MUST have a return to wickets that offer something to bowlers and make batsmen work for their rewards. I'd say now that Somerset's chance of winning anything with tracks like that at home are as good as my chances of opening the bowling against Surrey on Wednesday...

Anyway, well done guys - good sound first game and let's hope for more of the same on Wednesday.

Fantasy stuff...

I picked my team for Telegraph Fantasy Cricket last night. I'm convinced this is the year I scoop top prize with a galaxy of talent that will be the envy of the cricketing world. Until they're injured or pick up some exotic tropical disease of course...

I included, for what its worth, two Derbyshire players in my side. Tempted as I was to include the skipper, I decided against it as it would be the kiss of death. Given their ratings, however, I opted for Garry Park and Dan Redfern in my engine room.

Park rated as a 2? The man has a first class record of just under 40 and should play most matches this season. He's a brilliant fielder and for my money a steal at that price.

Dan Redfern a 3? Arguably the best young batsman in the country and another who should get plenty of opportunities to cement a place. Like most young players, Redfern may have a season to unleash himself on the circuit before they work on his perceived weaknesses, but I'm hopeful he'll score a good few runs this year.

Crucially, both can also earn valuable points with their bowling and catching so we'll see what happens.

I was also tempted to include Greg Smith as an undervalued 4, but stuck with the lads above after due care and consideration.

In return I ask only two things - that John Morris picks them in every match and that they both score a thousand runs in all competitions before the end of May...

No problems then...

Friday, 17 April 2009

Essex v Derbyshire day three

While the weather may well turn out to be the winner in this game, Derbyshire's performance has been highly impressive and professional.

Having bowled out Essex for 194 and a first innings lead of 132, they extended that by a further six runs before the close for the loss of Steve Stubbings.

It is hard to see where a result can come from in this match as runs have not been easy to come by and there appears to have been help for the seam bowlers throughout, so full marks to John Morris for reading the track correctly.

Serious kudos tonight go to Ian Hunter (pictured). When I mentioned our seam bowling strength pre-season I highlighted the abilities of Langeveldt, Wagg and Clare, mentioned the return to fitness of Tom Lungley and the support available from Greg Smith. Yet I neglected Hunter, which did the man a disservice and I apologise for that.

Earlier in his Derbyshire career he looked quick but tended to be erratic. Then he went through a spell where he struggled with injury and looked to be on his way out. Last season he was far from a regular but I saw him bowl a beautiful spell against Glamorgan in the Pro 40 last year and he looked to have a better control over his line and length than I remember.

Today's figures - 5-46 from 23 overs would have had Cliff and Les purring at the parsimony and the penetration. Praise is also due to Jon Clare for what is becoming his customary tight spell and it was good to see Greg Smith pitch in with wickets, including the important one of Matt Walker just before lunch.

At one point it looked like we could enforce the follow on, but Foster and Masters took them out of immediate danger. The former is an unlucky player and has been as good a wicket keeper batsman as any on the circuit over recent years, yet seems to be penalised for a premature and unimpressive England call up before he was ready. Masters is a canny bowler and has been a good County pro for some seasons now.

Only Tom Lungley struggled for us, going for 5 an over, but he will benefit from the overs and will come back again. He may have to, as there was no sign of Graham Wagg in the field. Presumably he picked up a knock when batting, or pulled a muscle, but there's been no reference to it in the usual sources. If he has a slight niggle it makes sense at this stage to let him take it easy, as there's sure to be a lot of bowling to do before September.

Elsewhere in our division Leicestershire made heavy weather of replying to Northants total of 387 and were 147-8 at the close, with only Jim Allenby (another player I like) keeping them afloat with a battling unbeaten 49. Meanwhile Surrey and Gloucestershire look set for a draw as rain hasn't allowed more than eleven overs in the game's second innings. Looking at the Surrey line-up, I won't be losing sleep
over their visit to the County ground on Wednesday.

As for us, a draw seems likely. I suspect we may declare mid-afternoon tomorrow, perhaps setting a notional 300 or so, but with a bowler short Morris won't want to risk their batting making a better fist of things in the second dig. Still, good work guys - all in all a promising day's cricket.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Poll results

Over half of respondents think that our best chance of success this season lies in the Championship. As long as it stops raining, you may just be right.

For what its worth, I have a sneaking fancy for a run in the FP Trophy. I think we're in a group that could see us do well and if the batting fires (and Chris Rogers gets his visa sometime before July) we have a decent side and an even better chance.

Glamorgan, Essex, Northants and Lancashire - yeah, we could take them on our day. I was surprised to see Matt Maynard saying that Robert Croft may not be a part of their one day side, or words to that effect, due to his level of fitness. OK, he's not a lithe laddie, but come on - he's their best bowler and only takes four paces! If he doesn't play there'll be rejoicing in our dressing room as over recent seasons we've made him look like Jim Laker and Muralitharan combined.

Lancashire are in transition, Northants blow hot and cold. Essex are a fine one day side, but without Napier and Bopara not quite what they might be.

So to this week's poll - who of our new signings (NOT Stuart Law) do you expect to make the biggest impact?

I look forward to seeing your opinions. See you tomorrow.

Essex v Derbyshire Day 2 - its raining, men...

Not that much to report tonight.

While I spent 9 hours working in our garden (its looking very nice, thanks for asking) Derbyshire had only time to be bowled out after adding another 20-odd runs, then see their opponents make it to 29 without loss in reply.

Unless something spectacular happens tomorrow, it is hard to see a result in this game. I'd be surprised if we set them a gettable target in the first game of the season and the likeliest outcome would appear to be a draw.

Waggy set off on his latest quest for a third successive mini double with an unbeaten knock but there was little support from the tail. It was good to see Ian Hunter bowl a probing new ball spell too and the encouraging thing of the pre-season and this match has been the way in which so many players have staked a claim.

That can be said of Garry Park too. I wouldn't expect to see him open too many times this season, but full marks to the man for volunteering to go in on his county debut and make a decent fist of things.

On a different tack, one erstwhile captain made a fine debut for Hampshire and another showed us glimpses of his past skills for Warwickshire.

Yes, Dominic Cork has had a blinder for his new county and I'm sure will prove a fine acquisition. He's always been and still is a good cricketer and above all is a competitor. As for Mr Clarke, a two ball duck for Warwickshire was reminiscent of his season for us last year. I understand that someone (his Dad?) e mailed Radio Essex on the first day of the game to say that Clarke had been unfairly treated by Derbyshire.

Hmmm. We made him skipper, put him on a big salary, suffered his on the field failings and his off the pitch issues and retained him longer than I did. I refer, of course, to his presence in my Fantasy Cricket Team, where he took pride of place until the end of May... when I dropped him forever. He did about as well as the rest of my side, all of whom played below par except Mr C Rogers and Mr G Wagg, both of who served me well. And no, I didn't pick Derbyshire for my fantasy side.

I'll have a go this year again but will probably avoid picking our players. Being picked in my team generally sees players fall out of form, break bones, pull unheard of muscles or contract bubonic plague - often at the same time. Then as soon as I replace them they rediscover their mojo and are cutting swathes through the county circuit.

My first game of the season next Wednesday, Gargunnock v Cumbernauld. We've a good team this year and I fancy a few wins in what will be my ninth year as captain. Thankfully, the lads play through the pulled muscles and bubonic plague unless its hospital-worthy. The biggest problem is keeping twenty-odd guys (that's twenty something, they're not that strange) interested in playing when you can only play eleven at a time. Unless the opposition aren't counting fielders of course...

Anyway, here's to a dry Friday and Saturday and a few bonus points. Who knows, a golden spell or two from our bowlers and maybe?

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Let battle commence - Essex v Derbyshire Day 1

After a pre season that could scarcely have gone better, a bad day at Northampton apart, Derbyshire will be reasonably sastisfied with their first day's work at Chelmsford today, having compiled 306-7 against Essex.

Almost everyone got going and some runs on the board. The snipers will say that they made mess of things and got out when they had all established themselves at the crease. Yet there was regular swing and movement to be had and I feel that, having lost the toss, John Morris' men will be quite happy tonight.

The only absentees from what I saw as the likely team were the visa-awaiting Chris Rogers, who was replaced by Stuart Law and the additional seam bowling of Ian Hunter in place of Jake Needham. I was surprised to see Garry Park opening, but the new man did a good job with Steve Stubbings and gave us an all important start.

One assumes from the selection of Hunter that there is plenty of help expected for the seamers, and with Lungley, Clare, Wagg, Smith and Hunter, plus Wavell Hinds gentle wobblers we have plenty of options. Waggy, Redfern and Smith can also offer a spin option so we'll have plenty of bowlers to work with tomorrow.

Importantly we will also have Jon Clare and Graham Wagg to resume their innings and if we could take the total to 350 and an extra batting point there should be general satisfaction all round.

Time will, as always tell and the hosts are missing Cook, Napier and Bopara from their batting line up. Shame that...

Still, Jason Gallian has a history of runs against us and we'll be hoping to remove him fairly early tomorrow to reinforce our position. Of course, if he doesn't get to bat before lunch and they're then chasing 400 we'll all be permitted a smile or two.

Its good to be back and fantastic to have a summer full of cricket to look forward to. I believe the Ashes are taking place (!) but let's hope first and foremost for a summer of cheer on the county front!

Come on Derbyshire...

Thursday, 9 April 2009

See you on Wednesday

This will be my last blog for a few days as I'm heading down with the family for a few days in deepest Derbyshire with my folks. Unless I find a friendly local library I'll be out of internet contact and won't be commenting on the Friday game against Lancashire at Old Trafford.

I think Lancashire look a much more beatable side this season and having dispensed with the services of Messrs Cork and Law have more of an air of vulnerability about them.

At the end of the day, it os just a friendly but I'm sure that John Morris (and Stuart Law) will be keen to win it to finish an impressive pre-season.

Then its down to Essex for the first proper match of the season in the Championship.
There's not a great weather forecast for this one - see the club message board link to In Morris We Trust - but assuming that they're all fit and based on pre-season form I would expect to see the following side take the field next Wednesday:

Chris Rogers (captain)
Steve Stubbings
Dan Redfern
Wavell Hinds
Garry Park
Greg Smith
James Pipe
Graham Wagg
Jon Clare
Tom Lungley
Jake Needham

Let's see how close that is next week!

Have a good few days - don't forget to vote in the poll - and I'll be back after a blast of air in God's own county!

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Nice win guys!

I know its only another friendly but today's comfortable win over Somerset at Taunton augured well for the coming season.

The home side made a challenging 276-8, although we all know that Taunton is a fast scoring ground with short boundaries. It maybe that they will miss the mid-innings impetus this season that Ian Blackwell gave them for so many years, as they didn't seem to capitalise on the brisk start given by Justin Langer and Craig Kieswetter. Maybe today's tactics were a sign of things to come as the hosts were slowed by the spin bowlers - Dan Redfern, Jake Needham and Mark Lawson.

Short boundaries, good track or not, I've seen plenty of Derbyshire sides that would have folded in the face of such a total and the way we set about the reply was encouraging. Dan Redfern hitting Andrew Caddick for two sixes in his second over in a quick 42, Stuart Law scoring an equally quick 39 and then Dom Telo hitting close to a run a ball in making 51 before being run out chasing the winning run.

Top of the list is Steve Stubbings, who batted throughout in making an unbeaten 135 from 141 balls. The BBC 606 boards have had people writing him off in recent weeks but personally I love the bloke. He's been a good servant to Derbyshire and can grit it out or play the shots, depending on the greater need. Yesterday he ground out an unbeaten 47 in two sessions - such is the measure of the man.

The great thing about the pre-season is that a number of players have stated their case. Dom Telo is the latest and maybe this will be the springboard for the South African to show us what he can do. 277-3 and a win with four overs in hand is good going and gave no chance to Garry Park or Greg Smith to show their talents. Let's also remember that Chris Rogers and Wavell Hinds need to slot into this side too!

So John Morris now has a very nice dilemma as we approach the season, although he's some four day games before the one day campaign begins. Who opens with Rogers - Stubbings or Redfern? Or is Dan Birch worthy of inclusion instead - or maybe even Dom Telo? I'd previously got Redfern down to open with the skipper, Law at three, Hinds, Park, Smith at 4-6.

Be fair though, Stubbo has staked a claim and thrown down the gauntlet. If similar competition develops throughout the side I reckon we'll be alright this year.

Third Umpire - pre season prospects

I was asked to do a preview of Derbyshire's season for Third Umpire blog, which I've now done.

You can find it by going to

Hope you like it!

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

A good workout

A nice workout for Derbyshire over the past couple of days at Taunton, which will be followed by a one day game there tomorrow.

The bowlers all seemed to do tidily enough while the batsman mostly spent useful time in the middle. Dan Birch got the innings off to a flyer, Stubbo ground it out for two sessions for an unbeaten 47, Dan Redfern made an accomplished 50 and so too did new signing Garry Park.

The match petered out to the inevitable draw, which 95% or more of 2-day games will do on a decent track. Still, useful work with the season just over a week away.

One wonders if John Morris is closer to his side for that opening match. With Hinds and Rogers to come in, one would assume that Redfern, Park, Birch and Stubbings are playing for three places. Smith should be at six and John Sadler's lack of serious runs thus far suggests he's a little further down the pecking order, while Dom Telo's absence suggests he's not currently in the frame.

The good news for John Morris is that three quarters of those voting in the latest poll think that he's pulled off an astute bit of business in the signing of Stuart Law. To paraphrase one of the questions once posed by Mrs Merton to Debbie McGhee - what attracted you to the run machine who has averaged over 50 throughout his career Mr Morris? If Law produces his best form our fortunes in one day cricket could well be in the ascendancy.

This week's poll is nice and easy. Which competition do you feel we will do best in this season? Lots of things to consider, such as the availability and unavailability of Law and Langeveldt. I look forward to seeing your responses!

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Overseas mediocrity

If this offends anyone then that's too bad, but on the surface of it there's a reasonable level of mediocrity around the counties where overseas imports are concerned this year.

We all know that the big names don't need the grind of our season and are discouraged from participation by their ruling bodies by the increasingly packed international schedule and the use of central contracts. Except when they're Aussies and they want fringe or inexperienced players fit for the Ashes.

Look around the counties and see what I mean. This morning comes news that Warwickshire have signed Jeetan Patel of New Zealand. His career record of 150 wickets at FORTY doesn't suggest the world has a new mystery spinner. I know that spinners are hard to find these days and they've lost Ian Salisbury, but...

With the exception of Herschelle Gibbs for part of the season at Glamorgan, Laxman likewise at Lancashire and the perennial Justin Langer at Somerset there are few on the circuit that you would expect to put crowds on the gate. I'm not decrying the likes of Ian O'Brien (who is well known locally after playing with Matlock),Grant Elliott or Adam Voges, but they're more the journeyman pro than the exciting overseas import of yore.

It makes me all the more pleased we have Chris Rogers at Derby, a man who will almost certainly lead from the front and add to the stack of runs he has made on the circuit. Interestingly, there are perhaps bigger names among the Kolpaks around the counties than the overseas players. We have Wavell and Charl, Andre Nel is at Surrey, Diva is at Durham with Dale Benkenstein, Craig Spearman and Hamish Marshall at Gloucestershire, Nicky Boje at Northants, Martin Van Jaarsveld at Kent and Boeta Dippenaar and HD Ackerman at Leicester

Good cricketers all and the performances of these players will, as it almost always does, dictate where the silverware ends up this season.

Great expectations? Season Preview

The cynics among Derbyyshire fans would follow that line with something along the lines of "we haven't the Dickens of a chance". Boom and indeed boom...

No doubt after the first defeat there'll be the usual moaners (Roy from Littleover anyone?)that its the same old rubbish, but does anyone think that realistically we can win something this year?

I'll be the first to admit that this looks a stronger squad than we have had for some time, but the major consideration for this season has again to be progress. There are a lot of young players in this squad and it is unrealistic and unfair to expect them to play to potential in every game. Young players don't do that and its part of the reason why John Morris has engaged Stuart Law and can also count on Chris Rogers and Wavell Hinds when the going gets tough.

This season we are likely to see signs of rare talent in Dan Redfern, mercurial ability in Greg Smith and all round excellence from Graham Wagg and Jon Clare. The potential for which both Garry Park and Tim Groenewald were signed will also surface, but the success of the team will be dictated by how frequently this happens. It is unfair for us to expect this every time they play, but more realistic to expect them to be giving 100% and playing competitive, attractive cricket along the way.

That's not always possible of course, and there'll be times when a gritty four hour fifty from Steve Stubbings or John Sadler will be crucial. If we lost two or three seamers we'd have a problem and if Jake Needham sustained an injury we've only got a trialist leggie (Mark Lawson) in reserve apart from part timers.

The opposition is considerable too. In the Championship this season we will face the relegated Surrey and Kent. Both have a galaxy of batting talent and must aim to return to the top flight at the first time of asking. There is also Middlesex, another side of talented batsmen and young bowlers of potential, as well as Essex, a one day side of talent and flair who don't seem to translate their talent into the longer game. Many judges would deem these sides as being "better" than Derbyshire.

The other half on paper may not look as strong. Northants blow hot and cold, Glamorgan are a younger side than us, Gloucestershire rely too heavily on Jon Lewis for wickets and Leicestershire are another side of youth and variable ability.

I would like to think we could get a top four finish in the Championship, with anything more than that down to players staying fit and young ones making a stride forward. If we get a good start then something higher may be on the cards, but if I was a betting man I'd think any two from the four southern counties are favourites for the promotion slots.

In the FP Trophy we're up against Glamorgan, Lancashire, Essex and Northants. Out of those sides I would argue that on our day we could beat any of them but Essex are the strongest side on paper and reputation. Glamorgan in Wales are a fair side and Robert Croft always takes wickets against us. Lancashire are a side in transition and Northants are a little like us - big scores are possible but they can also fall apart. With the signing of Stuart Law to add to Wavell Hinds and Chris Rogers one would hope our batting should post a few totals. Tom Lungley's return to fitness should compensate for the loss of Charl Langeveldt and our depth of batting should keep us involved in matches. Group qualification is not beyond us, but after that, who knows?

In the 20/20 I'm less confident. We've never got to grips with this game and maybe this is the year, but a group that also includes Yorkshire, Lancashire, Durham, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire won't see us regarded as favourites or anything like it.

I am sure John Morris will get them up for games and don't for a minute think I'm writing off our chances. No one will be more delighted than I if we exceed expectations. I have no doubts regarding the talent of the Derbyshire players, simply on their ability to make it count on a regular basis. With powerful stroke players, a plethora of all rounders, good seamers and a young spinner of genuine talent we can surprise teams this season. If we start to do it regularly we'll be making serious progress.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Much better!

Nice to read of the emphatic win over Northamptonshire on the club web site today.
After a major doing on Wednesday, today was payback time and Derbyshire won easily by 42 runs having endured difficult batting conditions.

When you've done and said all, these games were only friendlies, but a win is a win and to quote from that old Chicago classic, winning is a hard habit to break. OK, they weren't singing about cricket, but stay with me here...

Earlier in the week Northants enjoyed a better track with a short leg side boundary. They also got some less disciplined Derbyshire bowling and a total of 300-plus will always take some beating. With the exception of Stubbo, we capitulated and lost by a hundred and plenty.

Today's 261-6 was based around a lightning partnership of 122 in just under 12 overs by James Pipe and Tim Groenewald. Dan Redfern and John Sadler battled earlier in the day, with Redfern's 47 being especially worthy of note. We all know what Pipe can do but this should post notice of Groenewald's explosive qualities down the order as his 63 from 40 balls saw the ball disappear to all parts.

Then it was time for the bowlers and Tom Lungley and Jake Needham both took four wickets as Northants never recovered from a slow start and early wickets. I said the other night that a fit Tom Lungley is capable of filling the gap left by Charl Langeveldt and figures of 4-23 and 4-19 respectively are indicative of both accuracy and penetration. Needham took a brilliant caught and bowled in another telling spell that followed his efforts earlier in the week. Good prospect is Jake, and he should benefit from being first choice spinner this season.

It should also be noted that neither game featured Chris Rogers, Stuart Law or Wavell Hinds, so there is much more firepower to come in this side. Next up is a 2-day game against Somerset, starting on Monday, followed by a one-day game on Wednesday.

Not long till the serious stuff starts - nice to see plans taking shape. Well done guys...