Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Wave and Lawson go

So Wavell Hinds and Mark Lawson are the latest to leave Derbyshire Cricket Club as John Morris reshapes his squad. They join Steve Stubbings, Dominic Telo, Dan Birch and Nantie Hayward out of the door, which presumably creates space for better players.

Head of cricket John Morris said: "Wavell has added some international class to our batting line-up as well as plenty of valuable experience in the dressing room for the past two years.
However, with our young batsmen coming through and the Kolpak penalties to be taken into account, we have decided to look at different options for 2010".

That, of course, doesn't necessarily mean we won't be going down the Kolpak route, but possibly pursuing a better option than Wavell. I've always been loathe to criticise him, partly because I'm a Derbyshire fan and therefore support the players and partly because Morris has gone on record as valuing his off field contribution.

There comes a time, of course, when one outweighs t'other and there are regular 606 contributors who have (rightly) expressed concern and disappointment of a record that was in the mid-30's , perhaps ten runs shy of what you'd hope for from an expensive import. I would reckon that John Sadler or Dan Redfern could make those runs and average, even if we don't sign someone else, which is unlikely. That's four batsmen gone now and we only have Paul Borrington with genuine first team aspirations outside of the two named above and what may become the fantasy quartet (no, not that sort of fantasy!) of Rogers, Madsen, Park and Smith.

Earlier today I mentioned Wes Durston and some of you may remember his highest score for Somerset, an innings of 146 at Derby a year or two back. There are players like Durston, or Shafayat or Jefferson who may be worth pursuing and I'd be surprised if John Morris doesn't have one or two things lined up in the near future.

As for Wavell, he'll be remembered as a gentle, languid player who could thrill and infuriate in equal measure. When he got going he could hit a ball like most of Caribbean descent, but at times he seemed to take a long time to get into his stride. I think we under utilised his seam bowling at times, but maybe there were injury niggles, or maybe he just didn't fancy it.

As for Mark Lawson, there is no real surprise. Having burst onto the Yorkshire scene ahead of Adil Rashid, the latter's batting saw him leap ahead and Lawson's move to Derbyshire was perhaps a last chance saloon. It's a shame, as good English leg-spinners are an endangered species, but after bowling steadily in the early season, Lawson rarely threatened to run through sides, even on the more leg spin friendly tracks of August and September.

With Jake Needham going back this year, a decent spinner for 2010 is a must. DCCC Forever mailed to suggest Nikita Miller, currently bowling good slow left arm for the West Indies but likely to drop out again when their financial dispute ends in favour of Suleiman Benn. With over a hundred wickets at around 19 each, Miller has an excellent record, but I'd be concerned about the standard of the opposition he's faced. You don't know until you try, of course, but I'd be loathe to suggest he could be the 40-50 wicket spinner that we so badly need.

Don't know about you, but I'll be a keeping a close eye on developments at the County Ground.

Another interesting player on the market

Thanks again to DCCC Forever for bringing to my attention that the Somerset all rounder Wes Durston is set to leave the county.

Durston, despite boasting a career batting average a shade under 40 has never been able to cement a place in the batting order at Taunton despite some impressive performances, while his off spin is probably better than it would at first appear, when having to bowl it most of the time on the most batsman friendly track in the country.

He is also a very fine fielder, probably the best on their books and is highly regarded by the Somerset fans - check out their responses to the news on 606 today.

In answer to DCCC Forever's question - yes, I do think he could do a job for Derbyshire and may be another option for that middle order berth in the side. He could comfortably bat at 5 or 6 in the order and his bowling, which seems to get wickets, is quite useful too.

I don't know if John Morris rates him (unless John Morris IS DCCC Forever!) but if he's wanting to know about the lad I'm sure he has only to ask Steffan Jones, who must know him pretty well after his sojourn in the west country.

Time will tell if Durston is an option, or if he will become a target for the likes of Gloucestershire. What is certain is that a talented young (28) all rounder leaving his county at a time when Kolpaks are being shed like Autumnal leaves is sure to be in demand.

Don't you just love conjecture?

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Waggy in the Sixes again

Good to hear that Graham Wagg is in the England Sixes squad who head for Hong Kong to defend their international sixes trophy.

The England squad is Darren Stevens (Kent), Peter Trego (Somerset), Jamie Dalrymple (Glamorgan), Graham Wagg (Derbyshire), Graham Napier (Essex) and Rory Hamilton-Brown (Sussex).

The side is captained by Chris Read of Nottinghamshire.

Congratulations Graham!

Good call by DCCC Forever

Those of you who peruse the comments below my articles will know that DCCC Forever is a regular contributor and I'm very grateful for that.

Today he's come up with a man who would be a fine signing for any county looking to strengthen their side with a Kolpak player who satisfies the existing criteria - Neil McKenzie of South Africa.

McKenzie is a very fine player who can both open the batting and bat in the middle order and would strengthen any side. DCCC Forever asks if he would score more heavily than Wavell Hinds in our middle order and I think he would. I don't think he'd come cheap and with resources tight I think our need is more for top quality bowlers, but if we could afford him...

With a Test average of 38 and a first class one of 43, McKenzie will always score runs. He'd be 34 when next season came around and still have plenty in the tank. Crucially, he'd also qualify as a Kolpak as he played a Test in early 2009, yet now seems to have faded from the international scene in favour of younger models. A top five of Rogers, Madsen, Park, Smith and McKenzie would be worth going to see, but I'd be surprised if it happened. Still, you never know...

I've been having a leisurely day today on my penultimate day before a return to work and seeing if I could spot any potential Kolpaks in the South African ranks. Not having access to their passport details (!) it's hard, but there's not an awful lot out there. I thought of "frog in a blender" Paul Adams as a spinner, but remembered I'd read that he'd retired at the age of 31.

Paul Harris, who had a spell at Warwickshire has dropped down the pecking order in favour of Rolof Van der Merwe and might be an option. An accurate slow left armer, he did very well in South Africa in keeping the pressure on while the quickies had a breather, but could well come back on the scene once they return to Test action from the current spate of one day competitions.

Robin Petersen is an off spinning all rounder of talent, but hasn't played recently enough to qualify and neither would Justin Ontong, who is more a batsman who bowls a bit. Of the seamers, Vernon Philander pulled up few trees for Middlesex, while Jo Louw, who had a spell at both Middlesex and Northamptonshire was in the frame for the post that Nantie got last season and was judged a lesser bowler than the wayward one. That being the case, it is unlikely he'd be back in it sometime soon.

Maybe we need to employ fresh tactics. Sign McKenzie, aim to score 700 every game and then keep our fingers crossed the opposition give in through boredom...

If nothing else, my surfing has highlighted what a huge job John Morris has this winter. I remain confident that he'll come up with something, but I'm guessing that he could run up a big phone bill before next April.

Even more thoughts

Surrey's Chief Executive has said they're looking for 3 or 4 quality players including a top class international spinner.

Blimey, good luck with that one. That's around 15 counties now looking for Mr T C I Spinner. Once his whereabouts are known he can name his price...

Will Jefferson has also left Notts. A good player who has scored a lot of runs, but if we were interested then either he, Rogers or Madsen would have to drop down the order and I'd be loathe to split the Rogers/Madsen alliance.

Stephen Moore of Worcestershire will decide his future in two weeks - also known as "let's see if Warwickshire or Lancashire make me an offer, while Simon Jones and Kabir Ali look set for a move down to the south coast and Hampshire.

Finally, for now, Gareth Breese has signed another one year deal with Durham, rendering any further speculation on his future pointless.

Even more finally, if anyone has any ideas on potential Kolpak signings, why not mail me? The address is Remember, they have to have played a Test in the past two years, or 5 Tests in 5 years or 15 one day internationals in 5 years. Realistically they can only come from South Africa, Zimbabwe (whoopy-doop!) or the Caribbean too. Somewhat limiting, eh?

More thoughts

So Bournemouth triumphed in the Twenty/20 final at Derby yesterday. To some extent, I was quite pleased. Old rivalries die hard and we can't have a Nottinghamshire side win at Derby...

More seriously, Ockbrook didn't turn up after Ault's dismissal, though they had the rough end of some very poor umpiring. First, star batsman Matt Lineker was given out caught behind when he wasn't even close. It was disappointing to see pressurised appealing in such a showpiece and while it was a good take by the keeper, it was a shame to see his histrionics afterwards.

Then Trevor Smith was caught at deep mid wicket having launched into a pull from a chest/head high full toss which should have been called as a no ball. In between John Owen and Matt Cassar never came to terms with accurate bowling and Ockbrook were never at the races.

Ockbrook's bowling was poor too. There was some decent batting, but little sign of bowling to a field and Jake Needham bowled some very poor stuff in his spell.

The Cuckney professional from South Africa, Richard Stroh looked like a decent player, but I'd go no more than that. He plays his cricket at second tier level in South Africa and has a decent, not spectacular record. He looked a better player against Ockbrook than Bournemouth, when he should have been leg before first ball and tnen had a lot of luck thereafter. There is a huge gulf between good players at this level, good players at Second XI County and good players in County cricket. For every Wayne Madsen there are 50 who aren't quite good enough.

It was good to listen to John Morris in the commentaries though. He explained that the key to Twenty/20 was to hit the ball for four (a no brainer you might think) but if that wasn't possible to work it into gaps for two and if that couldn't be done to get a one. When you think about it, if you hit 50% of balls received in a Twenty over innings for a single, then 25% for two, then 25% (30 balls) for four, a team would post 240! Even hitting just ten per cent for boundaries and the rest as above would give you 168, a total defendable on more occasions than not... unless we're bowling like we did in this year's competition.

It shows where Derbyshire's improved Twenty/20 batting came from. This year we post 175, 129 (batting second to win), 158, 131, 127, 130, 153, 164, 165 and 164. Decent batting for the most part and all a repeat next year would need to win a few would be some controlled and accurate bowling.

Which brings us to Chris Rogers in the Derby Telegraph today. Four good pieces on Derbyshire today, the most interesting (for me) being that Rogers is "almost certain" to be back and will be keeping in close contact with John Morris over the winter.

Rogers said that we need a strike bowler and a spinner this winter and few would argue. I've been saying as much for the past few weeks and would also hope we can get another seam bowler and perhaps one more batsman. Don Amott also said in another piece that they were trying to sort extra playing funds for John Morris, which is encouraging.

My guess (only that) is that we have lost Telo, Birch, Stubbings and Hayward from the wage bill and may also lose any or all of Lawson, Lungley and Hinds. Some of that capacity will have gone on improved deals for Park and Smith (quite right too). What we don't know is where the Langeveldt and Law money is. That may have covered Wayne Madsen's signing and Steffan Jones return, or there may still be money spare. Either way, one assumes that John Morris has a reasonable budget for new players and based on his record last winter, I'm confident he will produce some good signings to warm the cockles of our hearts this winter.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Ockbrook postscript...

With the exception of Charlie Ault, they were pretty poor today.

I'd have to say that their old heads let them down badly today. Matt Cassar, Johnny Owen and Jake Needham were all pretty poor. I know Jake is not that old but he was totally outbowled by the Cuckney spinners, youngsters themselves.

I liked the look of Richard Stroh, the South African professional for Cuckney, who both batted and bowled beautifully. Good player.

Here's hoping he has an Italian passport...

Come on Ockbrook...

I'm looking forward to watching Ockbrook and Borrowash on Sky this afternoon.

Matt Cassar, John Owen, Kevin Dean, Jake Needham, Tom Lungley, Kevin Dean, Lian Wharton, Trevor Smith...

That's our County side of some days guys!

Good luck to them. With a side of that calibre, and with one of league cricket's best batsmen in Matt Lineker also playing, they'll take some stopping.

Fingers crossed boys. Go get 'em.

Season Review

2009 will not go down as the year that Derbyshire answered their critics, but will perhaps be remembered as one in which the seeds for future success were sown.

Three players - Wayne Madsen, Garry Park and Tim Groenewald - came in, and all look like being fixtures in a new, stronger Derbyshire side in coming years. Madsen produced a volume of runs in limited appearances to suggest that he could be the opening batsman sought since Peter Bowler left these parts, while Park impressed with both bat, ball and in the field as a dynamic player of real potential. Groenewald became the latest to make the career-changing move from Edgbaston (Graeme Welch and Graham Wagg were others) to find new opportunities and success at the County Ground, bowling bustling and penetrative seam in taking over 50 wickets in all competitions.

Greg Smith was another to advance, becoming a dependable middle order batsman with a range of strokes. Where Park made his thousand runs in the last match, Smith narrowly missed his but contributed with seam and spin to the balance of the side. That both have signed new two-year deals is a sign of a bright future.

Dan Redfern had an understandably mixed first season, but played enough innings of substance to suggest a batsman of rare talent at 19, while Wavell Hinds added experience, yet not quite enough runs for some tastes to a batting line up that was much stronger than those of recent vintage. The success of the batsmen meant few opportunities for John Sadler, who rarely let the side down on his occasional opportunities, but the season marked the end for three batsmen. Steve Stubbings, Dominic Telo and Dan Birch were all released, although only the loyal and dedicated Stubbings will be especially missed.

Above all towered the captain, Chris Rogers, who scored increasingly heavily as the season progressed and exceeded 2000 runs in all competitions, a magnificent effort. Indeed, but for arriving late after visa problems of his own, Rogers could have gone past 2,500 runs. He confirmed himself an outstanding player, one that Australia could have used themselves in an Ashes summer. All fans hope for his return in 2010.

The bowling suffered from the early season loss of Charl Langeveldt to a shoulder injury and most suffered injuries at some point. Nantie Hayward came in to replace his fellow countryman as a Kolpak but looked a spent force, while Tom Lungley and Jon Clare suffered from various knocks and loss of form that left the seam attack a little threadbare.

Graham Wagg came close to his 50 wickets again, but missed several matches with various niggles and the two other successes were from unexpected quarters. Tim Groenewald bowled his way into the Championship side and did so with hostility and skill, while Steffan Jones was re-engaged on loan to bowl tirelessly and with commendable accuracy in the latter part of the season. Most fans will hope for a permanent return for the affable Welshman in 2010.

The side would, indeed should have been promoted in the County Championship but for a frustrating inability to finish sides off. John Morris will undoubtedly be looking for bowlers this winter. with the spin attack giving real cause for concern. Jake Needham seemed to go back this year after a promising 2008, while Mark Lawson arrived on a one year contract yet rarely looked like taking wickets at this level.

In one day cricket Derbyshire are still an enigma and again the problem was the bowling. More often than not a decent total was posted but was quickly rendered inadequate by erratic spells from most of the attack. Langeveldt was especially missed here. The "go to" bowler of 2008 was not replaced and only rarely did anyone bowl a miserly spell in any form of the one day game.

There were flashes of promise from Anguillan Chesney Hughes in late season one day appearances, suggesting that he could play a part as an all rounder in future years, but Derbyshire need more clever recruitment from their Director of Cricket to progress in 2010.

A middle order batsman, perhaps two seamers and a spinner seem essential if the side are to continue to progress. Most fans will see 2009 as year when we did, but 2010 needs to see more notches in the wins column for the momentum to be maintained.

James Pipe retired at the end of the season to become the new club physiotherapist and John Morris moved quickly to bring in former county reserve keeper Lee Goddard from Durham as his replacement in 2010. Morris himself signed a new two year deal during the season. Fans are content that we have at the helm a man totally committed to Derbyshire cricket who is also honest about their achievements. Continued improvement is expected and most are confident that with more shrewd signings this winter, success is not as far away as once seemed the case.

And so it begins..

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I'm an upbeat kind of guy. Glass half full rather than half empty, which has helped me to handle being a Derbyshire supporter over the years!

Since the late 1960's I've followed both Derbyshire and Derby County, but I'd have to say that my interest in the latter has dwindled over the years. The ridiculous amount of money in football, the ever-increasing number of prima donnas, the cheating that goes on have all served to fuel my disenchantment with the game.

There was a time when I'd find solace in the fact that Derbyshire had just completed another poor season by thinking "never mind, there's always Derby County to do well". Of course, more often than not, the Rams would then play like blokes who'd never met for most of the season and end up near the bottom of the table. I'd naturally console myself with "never mind, at least Derbyshire will do well"...

That preamble is my way of saying that today, the day after the end of the cricket season, is about as low as I get. There's long, cold, wet, dark, miserable months ahead until we can follow the boys again. I get a break from a daily blog but I enjoy doing this and as long as there's people enjoy reading it or I'm carried away in a wooden box I'll carry on.

Yet today comes news that would gladden the heart. Two of our better players, Greg Smith and Garry Park have penned new deals that will keep them at Derby for two years. Both are integral to our plans and our fortunes in that time and have just completed excellent seasons.

Almost every year brings a story that Smith may be going to Kent, or Surrey, or Warwickshire. Some of it stimulated by the number of Saffers, the greater money on offer or the presence of the England coach than any cold hard facts, yet it must be unsettling for player, coach and certainly fans. That this multi-talented young player will be in our colours for the next two years is a great start to the winter for Derbyshire fans.

The same with Park. There were probably not that many offers out there when he was looking to leave Durham last season, yet after an excellent first full season at Derby, with many sides having to find new players in the light of the Kolpak visa changes for next year, Park would have attracted admiring and interested glances from elsewhere. Well done to John Morris for securing his services until the end of 2011.

There is still uncertainty over some players and I'd expect this to be resolved in the next few days. Chris Rogers should now be back in 2010, but the ECB have not yet confirmed that those who have played here for three years will automatically qualify for a visa in 2010.

We don't know what will happen with Tom Lungley, nor Mark Lawson, but there would be little surprise if either, or both were released after this season. Nor do we know if Wavell Hinds will return. My understanding is that he qualifies for next season only, but it is down to whether both he and John Morris wish to extend the deal. I maintain that our batting, especially if Rogers returns, is less an issue than our bowling. I think we could ideally use one more middle order player of ability, but a top five of Rogers, Madsen, Park, Smith and Redfern looks good, with Borrington and Sadler as back up.

Much will depend on how good a batsman Lee Goddard is. If he is capable of batting at six, then Derbyshire could play an extra bowler, or all rounder. If Goddard batted six and Jon Clare rediscovered his batting mojo, or we signed an all rounder, we could then accommodate a spinner, a good SIGNED spinner, into the team most weeks. We could then line up:


I firmly believe we need at least one new seamer, ideally two, as well as a specialist front line spinner. One of the seamers should have a little extra pace or perhaps bowl left arm for variety.
If we can pick up players in these areas over the winter, I would fancy Derbyshire in the Championship next year, especially with Northamptonshire staying down.

Essex for me were always the strongest side in the division after Kent and Northants need to rebuild with one or two of their Kolpaks probably going this year. Having said that, they will have David Sales back next year, a batsman I have always rated.

We also have the discussion-worthy second overseas player to bring in for the Twenty/20. No one is sure at this stage if that player is subject to the same stringent visa regulations as the Kolpaks and main overseas stars. If he is, then there will be fierce competition and hardly enough players to go around.

I'm feeling better already. Summer is over, but the planning for next year has already begun!

Sunday, 27 September 2009

End of season ratings

I know that we have a game this afternoon against Glamorgan, but to all intents and purposes the season ended in somewhat lively circumstances yesterday. There should be a chance for Jamie Pipe to have one last hurrah today and an opportunity for some of our young guns to get a run out.
I'll do a final piece on the season as a whole in the next few days, but here are my ratings for the players in the 2009 season. Just so that you know, these scores are:

4 - Poor
5 - Below Average
6 - Average
7 - Good
8 - Very Good
9 - Excellent
10 - Flawless

So here goes:

Chris Rogers 9
It is hard to fault the skipper after a season where the runs flowed from his bat. The longer the season progressed, the wider his bat seemed to be. Only his Twenty/20 form dropped below the remarkable. Had he not missed early matches with Visa difficulties he would have probably made 1700 Championship runs. As it was, he ended with the second highest average ever by a Derbyshire batsman and was deservedly player of the year.

Wayne Madsen 8
Madsen emerged from the Central Lancashire League and took to County Cricket like a duck to water. Runs flowed from his bat as Derbyshire fans enjoyed seeing a player who took time to work out conditions and then unveiled a full range of strokes. He seems to have the knack of making the most of the opportunity once he is "in" and the partnership with Rogers is one to whet the appetite over the winter months.

Steve Stubbings 5
The season marked a farewell to a loyal, committed and affable servant to the club. Stubbo never got going this season and knew that he hadn't had the weight of runs to make his case. Fans will remember him as a dogged opening bat, yet one who had the shots which he produced on occasion. A steady slip or outfielder, he was also one of the nicest guys in cricket. Thanks Steve.

Paul Borrington 5
Bozza never really got a chance this season, although his form with Loughborough UCCE suggested that he is producing more shots than of late as he grows. Nor did he score enough runs in the Seconds to press for a first team place, but his technique is sound, he has a phlegmatic temperament and a contract to the end of 2012. His time will come, I'm sure.

Dan Birch 4
The butcher of league attacks never really got going at County level. A lack of foot movement saw him found out, while his size made him somewhat immobile in the field. Diehards will remember 90 before lunch against Gloucestershire, but Dan was a gamble that never really came off. Twenty/20 should have been his game, but he rarely suggested a contribution on limited opportunities.

Dominic Telo 4
Dom came from South Africa (albeit not top level South African cricket) with a good reputation as a batsman of promise. He looked composed and balanced at the crease and had a good range of strokes, yet kept getting out at 20, 30, 40 when he should have been going on. Excellent fielder, like most South Africans, but we need more than flashy 20's from batsmen and with others progressing, Telo never scored runs, even at Second Eleven, to force his way in.

Garry Park 8
A big success story. Park looked a compact, organised batsman and scored over a thousand Championship runs in his first full season. Lightning fast between the wickets, he is set to play a big part in our fortunes in future years and has set a high benchmark. A Mark Ealham style bowler, he could also become a genuine all rounder, rather than a batsman who bowls. In addition, one of the best fielders I've ever seen for Derbyshire, with a great pair of hands.

Dan Redfern 7
Dan is 19 but looks about five years younger! He looks so poised at the crease and has the traditional left hander's skills off his legs. At the same time his cover driving is a thing of beauty and he is another who, as he grows will become an integral part of the team. Good fielder and a useful off spinner, next season people will know more about him (like Park) and we'll see how he rises to that.

John Sadler 6
Sads had a dreadful 2008 but had mitigating off-field circumstances. In 2009 he scored heavily at club and Second Eleven level yet got few first team opportunities because of the form of others. When he did get in he generally scored runs but it was often pre-declaration and there wasn't time to make a big score. 2010 is a big year for him.

Wavell Hinds 6
Wave had a golden spell in mid-season and was our top scorer in the Pro 40. John Morris rates his dressing room contribution highly, but his average is below that of a man with vast international experience. A committed man, he will be disappointed that the weight of runs didn't follow, while his medium pace was under-utilised this year. We'll need to wait and see if he's back again.

Stuart Law 5
Signed for his experience of one day batting, Law produced one innings of brilliance at Northampton yet little else. Surprisingly batted down the order in the Twenty/20 when we needed his input higher up. To be fair, he came straight from the beach, but his early season cover in the Championship for Chris Rogers amounted to little. Unlikely to be seen again, but much will depend on who else is available, as the option was discussed.

Greg Smith 8
Greg just missed his thousand, which would have been fully deserved and looked a much improved player in 2009. He responded well to moving up the order to 4, and is another terrific fielder. With his ability to bowl both medium pace and off spin he is an asset to the captain, but he may at some point decide to concentrate on one of them and perfect the art.

James Pipe 7
Announced his retirement near the end of the season with plenty still in the tank. There was a slight drop in his standards behind the stumps but he averaged around 40 again with the bat and played some punishing knocks. We will miss a genial, battling player but it is good to know that he will remain at the County Ground as club physio.

Fred Klokker 6
Another nice guy, Fred was solid with the bat and competent with the gloves, without suggesting that he was good enough at either to be the replacement for James Pipe, hence the signing of Lee Goddard. He has been around the club for a couple of years but with Tom Poynton likely to be on the full time staff next year, he has probably played his last game for us.

Tom Poynton 6
At 19, Tom is one for the future. He kept quite well in his late season Pro 40 games and batted well enough on occasions to suggest a bright future. Yet at 19 he is too young to be thought of as a replacement for Pipe and will need to learn and work at his craft in the Second XI under the eagle eye of Karl Krikken

Graham Wagg 7
Waggy had shoulder trouble that cost him matches in mid/late season and earlier injury issues, otherwise he'd have reached his fifty wickets for the season for the third successive year. His batting dropped off a little, but in a better batting side he had fewer opportunities. He remains a talisman, dangerous bowling fast medium or spin, a prodigious hitter when he gets his range and a brilliant fielder.

Tim Groenewald 7
Another of the new signings who was a success, Groenewald bowled accurately and with hostility and became a key member of the attack. Having come with a reputation as a hitter, he showed battling qualities as a lower order batsman who produced useful runs and he looks set to be an integral part of the side in future years.

Jon Clare 5
His second season was always going to be difficult and an array of injuries only added to the complexity. He never got going in 2009 but has sensibly been secured on a long term contract. With hard work over the winter, he can come back in 2010 to be the talented all rounder suggested last year.

Tom Lungley 5
Tom had another year of under-achievement and we don't yet know if his one year optional contract will be taken up. On his day he can take good wickets, but those days seem increasingly sporadic and on the bad days he goes for plenty. But for injuries he would have been a very good bowler, but I'm not sure if he will return to his better days.

Ian Hunter 6
In the early weeks of the season, Sticks was our best bowler, but as the season progressed he went further down the pecking order. Tim Groenewald's emergence hit him the most, but he seems destined to be a bit part player for Derbyshire. Another who, on his good days could be a bowler of some ability, but our attack seems to have too many bowlers of only sporadic menace and needs to be overhauled.

Jake Needham 5
Jake is another on a long term contract which suggests there is faith in his ability, but in 2009 he struggled for a place in the side, even in more favourable conditions. Still the best spinner on the books, but needs to do more to get into the side. Useful batsman and very good fielder, but another for whom 2010 is going to crucial.

Mark Lawson 4
Started off bowling reasonably tidily in early one day games, but as more leg-spin friendly tracks emerged in late summer he struggled with line and length. Had a nightmare against Kent in the Pro 40 and four wickets at 83 suggested Lawson was out of his depth at this level. On a one year deal and as such it would be a major surprise if he were to be seen again.

Steffan Jones 7
Steffan took up where he left off for Derbyshire and bowled with great heart and no little skill in the latter part of the season when he returned on loan from Somerset. He probably has another year, maybe two left in him and I'd be surprised if John Morris did not sign a man likely to be a free agent for 2010

Nantie Hayward 4
A gamble by John Morris having lost Charl Langeveldt and concerned that he may be left short of seamers as the season progressed. Didn't really work as he found line, length and rhythm hard to find. Eleven wickets at 43 in the Championship is not what is wanted from a Kolpak and Nantie looked a player who's best days were firmly behind him.

Chesney Hughes 6
We only saw the tall Anguillan in a few Pro 40s but he was accurate with his slow left arm, even though the punishing batting we'd read about from Second XI games was missing. Signed very much as one for the future and I think we could see more of this talented teenager in the next few years. One to watch.

So there it is. I'll give you my closing thoughts on the season in the next few days, but for now I'll hope we can finish on a high against Glamorgan today. It will be an experimental side and there'll be no Chris Rogers, so the thinking money is on a defeat.

Let me know your thoughts on my scores, either by clicking on the comments, or, if you prefer, by mailing me at

Final word on yesterday

Woke up this morning to open my e mails (well, not just to open my e mails) and was amazed to find I'd two from the BBC 606 informing me that my comments last night had broken their house rules.

Hmmm. Hang on a minute. I comment on a Northamptonshire fan suggesting that he saw a Derbyshire player spit in the face of one of his team last year (which no one else saw and no player or umpire complained about) and another suggesting that Derbyshire took bribes yesterday. My comments are deleted because they break house rules. Something wrong with this picture...

The other comments are still up there, along with a new one that changes Buck Rogers to something more blunt Anglo-Saxon. So I complain about them.

Presumably whoever is moderator today has more common sense than the one last night and instantly deletes them. It does make you wonder though. A lot of the vitriol spewing from keyboards across the midlands could have been avoided by a little common sense last night at the Beeb.

Saturday, 26 September 2009


Its as well that they're known as a town of cobblers as there's an awful lot of it on the 606 boards tonight, especially the Northamptonshire one.

Steelbacks? Wusses more like. I'd like to think, if the situation was reversed, that I and fellow Derbyshire fans might be a little more sensible and not come out with such nonsense.

I think I'd be wrong though.

At the risk of offending a regular reader or two, why are Derbyshire fans "apologising on behalf of the club"? That is pathetic and you can leave me out of any such apology.

We set a perfectly fair total of 359 in 63 overs. Not overly demanding for a long batting order, but taxing on a track that offered help throughout. Certainly not a breeze. We were missing bowlers but still had four men out for 160 and looked favourites at that point. Then ten Doeschate took control with an astonishing innings with support from his skipper and it was game over.

What happened was that a good player had a great day and he played for our opponents. They are allowed to do that you know. We didn't bowl especially well by all accounts, but to suggest, as some do that "we gave them the game" is nonsense.
So are the spurious and libellous claims of some of the "correspondents" that it was fixed and there were bribes. Absolute, total, unmitigated cobblers.

Whatever happened today there was going to be a set of fans peeved at the end. We could have batted until tea time and set them 450 in 45 overs or even 500 off 32 overs. Some say they'd still have gone for them. Really? They'd have been brassed off, batted out a draw, the fans would have had a wasted day and the spirit of the game would have been tarnished.

As it was, we set them a challenging total. And they got them. It is a day's cricket that will live long in the memory of the Essex fans and rightly so. It is how promotions should be won and has made ten Doeschate a living legend.

Chris Rogers is a thoroughly professional, decent man, a fantastic cricketer and a good captain. I'm sure he was confident of winning when he made his declaration today and but for some erratic bowling and some wonderful, clean hitting from an Essex player he would have ended the season on a high. As it is, he is being accused of everything from crimes against humanity to responsibility for global warming, and it is patently unfair.

For a man who allegedly "wanted Essex to win" he scored a lot of runs in that match, 264 the last time I looked.

There are people out there who should be ashamed and some of them are sadly supposed to be our fans.

Hang your heads in shame guys. No one died, the world didn't end and civilisation as we know it hasn't ended.

After tomorrow's end of season game, Derbyshire will be back in business next April. I hope some of these people are over it by then.

Derbyshire v Essex day 4

Fair play to Essex. That was a terrific run chase this afternoon and on that basis alone they deserve promotion to Division One.

I thought the target was a fair one yet not impossible for a side who bat as low as they do. They looked like losing their way yet Pettini has led from the front and with some mighty blows from the underrated ten Doeschate has taken them to the verge of victory as I type with plenty in hand.

The other thing that it does is highlight where John Morris needs to strengthen for next year. I think the batting, with maybe one addition, will take care of itself, but we need something different in the bowling ranks. The other way of looking at it is that a team chasing around six an over for 60 overs has to bat well and get a fair share of poor bowling.

Look at it this way. In the days of the old Gillette Cup, if you set the opposition 359 in 60 overs, you'd fancy your chances. The bloke I feel sorry for is Chris Rogers, who scored a brilliant double century yet sees it thrown away on the last day. I couldn't see us losing this game, quite honestly.

Yet again this season, the bowling has let the side down. Do we need new bowlers? Notwithstanding the loss of three of them in this game, the answer is yes. Could we benefit from a bowling coach? Again, the answer is yes, but finances are the issue. Maybe its a bowling coach or a player. What would you do? There's a question for this week's poll.

Throughout the season the batting has done a steady job and has almost always produced the goods when it mattered. Even in the Twenty/20 this season, the scores we posted were pretty challenging and certainly higher than many of those that were being posted in the World Cup. Yet 150-170 was quickly rendered valueless as the opposition climbed into our attack and scored 50, 60, 70 in the first five overs.

Where John Morris will find bowlers I don't know. I am confident enough in his contacts book that he will find a few players better than we have at present.

As I close we have been beaten by five wickets and Essex had six overs in hand.

Credit to them, but that's not very good bowling.

On the other hand, we've been a much better side this year than sixth in the division and need to prove that next year. Several weeks ago I said (either on here or 606) that I felt Essex were our main rivals and the second best side in the division. They've proved that.

End of season review in the next few days. Shame about the poor finish...

Derbyshire v Essex day four update

Garry Park completed his second century of the season against Essex this morning as Derbyshire declared on 240-4, setting Essex 359 to win from 63 overs.

Park's innings was latterly completed against declaration bowling, but it was deserved as he had battled well yesterday and again first thing against more challenging stuff. In the process he passed a thousand runs for the season and has ended up with 1059 runs at an average of 42, an excellent effort by a young player in his first full season.Added to his useful seam bowling and brilliant fielding, John Morris has picked up a fine player in Park, who I hope we will see in Derbyshire colours for a long time to come.

John Sadler has finished the season with an average of 71 (four innings, three not out) but is a good player and one who I'm sure will feature in our sides next year.

We'll see what the afternoon holds. If Essex get there they'll be promoted on merit as that's a good run chase. I doubt they'll see the cafeteria bowling either...

Derbyshire v Essex day 4

221 ahead, 96 overs left in the game.

What's going to happen today?

For me, the main thing is that I hope Derbyshire don't do what has been a rarity this summer and capitulate. One of the reasons for our success has been the battling qualities of the side, especially with the bat. We have often displayed frailties against the turning ball (games at old-style Northampton, any game against Robert Croft) and will have to show those fighting qualities against Danish Kaneria today.

There's still help for the seamers too and our first task today is to bat through till lunchtime at least when there'll be around 64 overs of the game left.

We would then be around 300 ahead. As I said yesterday, I hope we don't feel we have to set a fair target as that would undo the work thus far in the game. Anything over 300 will take some getting, as Graham Wagg looked threatening with his slow left arm yesterday, but we need to bat well this morning to get that far then have a look at it. For me, 350 from 60 overs would be a good challenge for them, but we'll not score that quickly. However, they're going to go for whatever we set. If we win, we finish third, if we don't its sixth place which wouldn't be a fair placing for the way we've played this year.

I hope Garry Park gets the 19 runs required for his thousand and the ex-Durham man has been a fine signing. It was a shame yesterday that Wayne Madsen ended his astonishing debut season with a duck, while Chris Rogers finished with 39 runs short of 1500 (having missed the start of the season) and an average of 73.05, only exceeded by Simon Katich.

A good day in store. More later!

Friday, 25 September 2009

Derbyshire v Essex day 3

Nothing to play for but pride tomorrow for Derbyshire, but we can and should set Essex a stiff target in the afternoon.

With three good wickets gone, including Chris Rogers, Derbyshire will be looking to Garry Park (who I thought battled really well today) and Wavell Hinds to push their total to a 300 lead tomorrow -and then some. The danger is that Danish Kaneria could run through us and leave the visitors needing a sedate 250-plus. This evening he looked very threatening and it made fans wish we had a bowler as dangerous in helpful conditions.

Still, over 300 would be a tough chase and if Essex got them they would deserve their promotion berth. I firmly believe that we should make things difficult for them, though and would be disappointed if we let them go for a sporting total.

On to other things and I was really annoyed today at comments on 606 referring to Wavell Hinds as being "lazy". Just because Wavell is a languid-moving Jamaican, it does not mean that he is lazy.

Indeed, I have it on good authority that Wavell is one of the best trainers at the club. Yes, he might have hoped for better returns with the bat and I wouldn't dispute that he isn't the quickest in the field or between the wickets. Yet Wavell has been a model pro at Derbyshire and has been one of the first in to training every day. His preparation for matches has been an object lesson for younger players. I'll be the first to say that his first innings here was not a thing of beauty and yes, he is a slow starter. Yet Wavell doesn't tend to give it away unless it is in the chase for quick runs. When I look back on my lifetime of watching the County, Wavell won't go down as one of the greats, but he's a long way from the worst.

It annoys me when people, from the safety of a computer and supposedly fans spout nonsense like that. There was an appalling comment on the excellent In Morris We Trust earlier this season that earned the man behind it a fair bit of grief that he didn't deserve, the comment not having been made by him. It was a personal attack on a player and both unnecessary and uncalled for.

If you are a fan, you should be behind your team and accept them, warts and all. I've had many more bad days as a Derbyshire fan than I've had good, but I have never nor would never resort to a personal attack. I will say if I think someone is not up to the mark, or has played badly. I don't think, for example, that Mark Lawson is a good enough bowler for Derbyshire, but that's not to say that the guy hasn't tried his best.

Anyway, rant over and soon we'll be at the end of another season. I hope we can finish on a high and we need a good morning tomorrow to make that happen. Then its Glamorgan on Sunday and then a long winter till it all happens again - even better - next year!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Derbyshire v Essex day 2

After a good start to the Essex innings, the weaknesses in the Derbyshire attack were shown up in the final session, when they rarely looked like taking a wicket, with Essex closing on 166-2 in reply to our 474.

It was summed up well by Jeremy Coney, who said that the attack looked "probing" rsther than incisive. It was a fair comment. Graham Wagg bowled a fine couple of spells but was the only one who genuinely looked like disturbing the batsmen. With an array of right arm fast medium bowlers, the quest for something different will occupy John Morris this winter. It was interesting to see that Garry Park is actually a quicker bowler than Jon Clare, which surprised me, but Clare is, while accurate, not back to the bowler of last year at this stage. He probably needs some work in the winter to rebuild his fitness and confidence.

With Northamptonshire bowling out Leicestershire cheaply, there appears to be no way in which we will gain promotion. Essex could still do so, if they win here, but much will rest for them on the next couple of days while Northamptonshire look like winning sometime tomorrow. Our main task is, somewhat cruelly preventing Essex from winning. It will be interesting to see the target we eventually set and if it will be in any way "gettable". So 450 from 50 overs should sort that one...

You'll gather I don't expect us to bowl them out tomorrow. I'd expect them to declare maybe 100 behind, or when they've reached 350, depending on how quickly they score. I may be wrong and the track could sweat in the September morning, but it will be a last day run chase from here.

It was good to hear that Lee Goddard was at the ground this afternoon and, as reported earlier, may well be announced as our new wicket keeper sometime soon. I'm pleased to hear that as he is a good player. He may, of course, just be a huge cricket fan who wanted to see a game, but...

I was impressed by Tom Westley of Essex and I've also been impressed by the umpire, Richard Kettleborough.He's made some very good decisions in this match and I'd see him as an international umpire of the future. I was also impressed by Garry Park at point, who has an excellent pair of hands and is extremely quick to the ball.

See you tomorrow!

Goddard at County Ground

Lee Goddard is apparently at Derby this afternoon and will shortly be announced as Derbyshire's new wicket-keeper, replacing James Pipe.

The talented Durham wicket keeper batsman will be a good first signing by John Morris as he reshapes his squad.

Meanwhile, on the pitch Derbyshire have extended their score to 474 and have Essex 94-2 at tea. Graham Wagg bowled very well at the start of the innings and removed Maunders and Cook, but since then we've had to work hard. Jon Clare and Garry Park looked awkward before tea, but we'll have to work hard to get a win. The ball is still darting around and if we can make further inroads after tea, it will be a good game.

More later.

Radio Essex titbit

Thanks to my friend David, who has watched Derbyshire for nearly as long as I have, for this little titbit from Radio Essex yesterday.

They reported that John Morris had requested that James Middlebrook be allowed to come to us on loan for a period, perhaps to give him the once over for a potential offer, but that he was turned down because of the possible promotion ramifications.

It may mean something and nothing, but it shows that they're all on the Morris radar and we have an interesting winter of team building and conjecture in store.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Derbyshire v Essex Day 1


No other word for Chris Rogers tonight, as he made a second double century in four innings to see us to 368-3 at the close.

Only Peter Kirsten has made two double centuries in a season for us and Rogers today played an innings that entered the top two in my Derbyshire watching experience. With centuries in three successive matches he equalled Rob Weston (remember him?) and it was a sublime display.

Considering that the conditions were very much in favour of the bowlers all day, Buck's double century was an astonishing effort and has put Derbyshire in the driving seat in this match.

I have commented on several occasions on this blog about the brilliance of Mohammad Azharuddin's innings on a turner at Chesterfield when he scored a double century and no one else scored much at all, yet Rogers today looked like a batsman on a different plane.

He had a little luck on occasion, which was understandable with ball moving around, but his innings was composed, stylish, elegant, measured - just name the word and it was that and then some.

He was well supported by all of his partners. Wayne Madsen got us off to a good start, Garry Park also batted well and played handsome strokes and the returning Dan Redfern came through a sticky patch to play some elegant strokes of his own.

At the end Wavell came in for some stick for batting slowly and many perhaps thought that he was playing and missing, but Wave was playing for the close and, with the ball whizzing around, played inside the line and protected his wicket. Late on he clumped a couple of trademark drives off Kaneria and all in all, that was a wonderful effort by Rogers and the boys, especially when there's a bug around the place.

Northants also had a good day, however and must fancy their chances of going up at this stage. If we can get the final batting point tomorrow then push on to 500 and hope for better bowling in the conditions, we can win our game.

The rest is down to fate.

Well played guys. Today was one of the best days I've ever spent watching Derbyshire bat. After 40 years that is quite an achievement.

Derbyshire v Essex Day 1 - Tea

Wonderful batting by Chris Rogers, ably assisted by Garry Park and Dan Redfern has given us a great springboard for this game.

244-2 at tea, Rogers 127 not out. If we can carry on in this vein, maximum batting points will come sometime tomorrow morning, though the innings belies the amount of help there has been for the bowlers.

Still, it has all been about Derbyshire so far. Rogers so correct, so punishing on the bad ball, Park equally dismissive of anything short or overpitched and Redfern looking every inch the top young talent that he is.

More at the close, but for now, if this was a boxing match, two rounds to Derbyshire.

Scores elsewhere not quite going our way, with Northants fighting back well. Still, we can only win our match, the rest will sort itself.

Derbyshire v Essex day 1 - lunch

When I watched Sky Sports News this morning and Paul Allott said it was a green track, I kept my fingers crossed we'd win the toss and bowl.

We didn't, but all things considered, that's a good morning for Derbyshire.

Buck looks in good nick and Wayne helped give him a good start to the innings. We really need Buck to bat and bat here, and if the other guys get their heads down, we can post a good total.

It was interesting to see that Dan Redfern and John Sadler are playing, as is Jon Clare. So our attack is essentially Jones and Wagg to open, Clare and Smith to bowl first change then Wagg and Smith to bowl spin, ably aided by Dan Redfern.

Enough to win? Who knows, but if we win all the sessions as we have this one, we'll have a chance. Essex didn't bowl well this morning, something I hope continues, but we've started well and need to continue in that vein for four days.

Elsewhere, Northants are struggling against Leicestershire at 67-4, Gloucestershire have hardly played against Kent and Surrey have slowly recovered from a poor start against Glamorgan.

Things can't continue to go this well, can they?

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Derbyshire v Essex preview

One of the great things (and there's many) about having some time on holiday from work is that you've time to do things, like this blog for instance.

With my son starting University, I'm off to ferry him around to places and so can do the blog more easily than normal. I'd hoped to get down south this week, but it was not to be.

So, to paraphrase and pluralise the great Cliff Gladwin, cometh the hour, cometh the men.

Can we beat Essex over the next four days? Can the results of the other games go our way? The situation is pretty complex but neatly summed up in this morning's Derby Telegraph by Mark Eklid, who I quote:

"What Derbyshire ideally need is a victory with full bonus points.

That will put them ahead of Essex as long as they don't take four fewer bonus points than their opponents. If the clubs finish level on points, Essex will take the higher league standing because they have won more matches this season.

However, if Northants beat Leicestershire and take one or more bonus points, which they surely would, Derbyshire cannot finish above them.

If Northants draw, Derbyshire can finish above them with a win as long as they don't take three fewer bonus points.

They also need to take more points than Glamorgan, who are away at Surrey, to finish above them because if those two clubs are level, the Welsh will have the higher position having taken more points from their two clashes this season.

Even Gloucestershire can sneak up on the rails for second place if they beat Kent taking two more points than Derbyshire and Glamorgan. They would also, of course, need Essex to lose and Northants to draw."

Have you got that? Don't forget to pack your calculators as you head to the County Ground tomorrow!

Essex are a strong side and have the following 13 travelling:

Alastair Cook
John Maunders
Tom Westley
Matt Walker
Mark Pettini
James Foster
Ryan ten Doeschate
Graham Napier
Chris Wright
David Masters,
Danish Kaneria
Tim Phillips
Mervyn Westfield

I would expect the top eleven to play and for me their strength is in the engine room, with Foster ten Doeschate and Napier often bailing out a batting line up tha blows hot and cold. Masters is a canny bowler while Kaneria has been the Division's stand out bowler this year. Mark Pettini has done a good job as skipper and with Alastair Cook in the side he has some ballast at the top of the order.

As for Derbyshire, there's no news on the squad as yet, although Tim Groenewald is out after picking up swine flu. It's a sad end to the season for a man who has made a very good impression in his first season. Most of the side picks itself, as it has for a good part of the season, but John Morris has to decide who replaces Groenewald and if he goes with a spinner. My guess is that Greg Smith and Graham Wagg can handle the spin as well, if not better than Jake Needham or Mark Lawson, both of whom have had difficult seasons. Here's my side for this make or break match:

Chris Rogers
Wayne Madsen
Garry Park
Greg Smith
Wavell Hinds
John Sadler
James Pipe
Graham Wagg
Tom Lungley
Steffan Jones
Ian Hunter

Jon Clare could also be pressing for a place, but I'd see the more experienced men in the side for this one. It'll be an emotional occasion for James Pipe, in his last game before retirement, while Smith, Park and Madsen all have good or outside chances of reaching their thousand runs.

It would be fantastic if we won this game, but I feel that the game is more likely to end a draw. I hope there's more help for bowlers than of late at Derby, but knowing our luck the ECB would dock us points for a sub-standard track if two balls running moved off the straight and narrow. There are a lot of things need to fall into place for us to gain promotion at the end of this game and I'd be astonished if it happens.

Whatever the result, I've thoroughly enjoyed this season, with the Twenty/20 (bowling) the only downside. The boys deserve a little luck in this game and I'll be watching as often as my taxi commitments allow!

C'mon Derbyshire!

Monday, 21 September 2009

Long line of honour

Whoever follows James Pipe into Derbyshire's wicket keeping position has a huge job on their hands.

Not just in following a very good wicket keeper batsman but in taking over a role that has historically been very strong at the county.

The first of the top keepers was also a very good batsman. Bill Storer was a good enough player to get half a dozen games for England and but for the presence, primarily of Warwickshire's Dick Lilley would have played more for his country. He twice averaged over 50 in a season on wickets of varying quality and a career record of 17 centuries and 63 half centuries suggests a man who could play. He was one of the first wicket keepers to stand up to quicker bowlers and had a style that was similar to Karl Krikken, half standing and half crouched. Strangely he was also a leg spinner good enough to take 232 wickets but couldn't always get someone to take over behind the stumps!

Then Joe Humphries took over in 1899 and kept with great skill until the outbreak of the First World War. He toured Australia in 1907 under AO Jones, playing three Tests. He only made 44 runs in six Test innings, however, and with only 11 half centuries in over 500 innings was a dogged tail ender at best. His wicket keeping was widely admired.

Harry Elliott was 29 when he took over the role in 1920, yet only played his last match in 1947 at the age of 56. Elliott was a superb wicket keeper who had a great knowledge of the game. From 1920 he played 194 consecutive matches before being selected for England against the West Indies, then played a further 232 matches until he was injured in 1937. These statistics suggest that Elliott took the ball very well, much like Bob Taylor, although he was known to play through the pain on occasion. 1206 victims tells of his ability and his 303 stumpings stand as a record unlikely to be challenged for Derbyshire wicket keepers. A dogged, fighting batsman, he had only eleven half centuries in 764 first class innings yet regularly held up an end while more gifted players hit it around at the other end.

After the Second World War George Dawkes moved from Leicestershire as he could not displace Paddy Corrall and was another fine servant. He made his debut in 1947 and was another who, from 1950-61 played in 287 consecutive Championship games. Who needs a reserve keeper? Certainly not Derbyshire at this time. Dawkes was brilliant behind the stumps in an especially fine fielding side. He was also one of our better wicket keeping batsman. Tall for a keeper, he often injected fast runs into the middle order to aid a declaration and more torment for the opposition due to face Les Jackson and Cliff Gladwin. 1041 victims for George, including a memorable day when he caught all of a hat trick by Les Jackson against Worcestershire.

Dawkes retired in 1961 when he saw the potential of Bob Taylor and Taylor was the greatest of them all. He graced - the only word for it - Derbyshire cricket until 1988 and was at times the best (some might say only) thing about it. Lithe yet undemonstrative, Taylor was so good that there was greater consternation when he occasionally - very occasionally - dropped one than when he held them. Hold them he did, with 1649 first class victims. There were 174 in Test matches as Bob took over from Alan Knott when he joined the Packer revolution. Bob was another dogged batsman, workmanlike rather than brilliant, but he won us a few games, especially one day matches, with some quick running, good placement and a never-say-die attitude. One of the greatest thrills of my cricket life was seeing Bob Taylor and I would be amazed to see a better wicket keeper.

Bob was replaced by the talented Bernie Maher who had been around for years but was first choice until 1993. Maher was a solid batsman who scored four centuries for us, and was a keeper of great ability. Realistically, anyone following Taylor was always going to look inferior, but Maher did a very good job, keeping a good level of consistency and contributing well with the bat.

Then the tranquility of Derbyshire cricket was shattered by arguably their noisiest keeper, and probably most unorthodox in Karl Krikken, who was to remain first choice into the new century. Krikk was a bundle of energy behind the stumps and looked for all the world like a boxer as he bounced around waiting on the bowler coming in. Whenever we featured on TV the commentators would talk about his unusual style and if he let a ball drop would attribute that style to the root of the problem. Yet Karl held some of the most remarkable catches I've ever seen by a wicket keeper and perhaps his style was the reason. With almost 800 victims in all cricket he held more than he put down, while his pugnacious batting enlivened many an innings. He is now, of course, one of the top qualified coaches in the country and we are fortunate to have him in charge of the Academy at the County Ground.

Luke Sutton then moved from Somerset to take over behind the stumps and did so with fine style until he moved to Lancashire in 2006. Sutton was probably the best wicket keeping batsman we have had, good enough to open the batting on a number of occasions, while also captaining the side in 2004 and 2005. Sutton was lightning fast between the wickets and was also a solid wicket keeper. Perhaps not a Taylor, but a very good, competent player. Few would dispute that his peak years were at the County Ground and most were sad when he left for Old Trafford.

Then came Pipe. After understudying Steve Rhodes for a number of years, Pipe found himself second choice behind Steve Davies and moved to Derby where he became a firm favourite with fans. Pipe was not the greatest of starters, but once he got in was a tremendous hitter of a ball. He rarely came off when pushed up the order, but most will remember him as a player who led numerous counter attacks as an innings went off the rails. Those at Chesterfield last season will never forget his one man demolition of Worcestershire, while his spectacular blitz against Yorkshire in the Twenty/20 a couple of years ago will live long in the memory. A talented keeper, he was an admirable addition to the long lineage.

So who is next?

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Pipe the new physio

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.

So now we know

Kent 215
Essex 174
Northamptonshire 171
Derbyshire 164
Glamorgan 164
Gloucestershire 163

There's tight and then there's tight...

One game to go and FIVE teams could all join Kent in Division One next year. Sadly, after yesterday's horror afternoon against Yorkshire, Sussex look like joining the four unsuccessful sides in Division Two and my hopes of seeing Derbyshire at Scarborough will have to wait (till we join them in Division One).

Of all the fans, Northants may be the most confident as they play bottom side Leicestershire on their own patch. They're both strange sides, capable of batting well or dreadfully. Northants have done well in the absence of top batsman David Sales, but few would have thought them promotion candidates.

The same goes for Glamorgan. They're a side we often struggle against (check out this year's games as a reminder) but are a long way from a top side. They have three decent spinners and a track that helps them, mind. Something for us to think on next year - we have a good seam attack and need more spice in the tracks to help them.

Gloucestershire have to beat the runaway champions, Kent. Maybe their task will be easier as Kent have nothing to play for, but the champs won't want to end on a defeat. Gloucestershire look a good all round side, with strong batsman and a good seam attack, but they've had some horror shows this year, as evidenced by the six defeats, the second most in the division. Again, their home tracks tend to produce results, one way or another. One win in three matches is better than three successive draws in the points tally.

Which brings us to Essex. They bat well and bat low. Foster, ten Doeschate and Napier are dangerous lower order batsmen and they'll be boosted by the presence of Alastair Cook. Importantly they've got the best attacking bowler in the divison in Danish Kaneria and are probably the best equipped for Division One.

Yet can we beat them or they beat us on a Derby track that, if anything like the last one, will get better and better as the game goes on? Unless we sprinkle some fairy dust on the track, I'd have to say I don't think that at this stage I can see us bowling them out twice. I really hope I'm wrong, but...

By the same token, I think that they will find it hard to do the same to us. We're a good batting side now (I hope I don't regret that comment) and I'd be surprised if our track was something Kaneria would want to carry with him for the rest of his days.

So my prediction? My heart says Derbyshire, but will probably be wrong. My head has a feeling that Essex and ourselves will cancel each other out and Northamptonshire will sneak through on the rails to nick that second spot.

Not long till we find out now...

Saturday, 19 September 2009

A lot to play for

Aside from the many permutations of points and results that will come into play when the final round of County Championship matches start next week, there'll be plenty of players with milestones to aim for.

Take Chris Rogers and Wayne Madsen. Who will finish top of the batting averages? Rogers currently sits top with 66.5 an innings while Madsen has 66.08. I can safely say that Derbyshire have never had a season where two players finished with an average of over 60 and indeed only Simon Katich (75.52) has ended the season with a higher average than these two currently have. Both are currently ahead of Peter Bowler's 65.93, while Rogers could also move to joint third place in the "centuries in a season" table with another against Essex.

Greg Smith only needs another 45 runs to reach 1,000 for the first time, while Garry Park needs 101 to do so in his first season at the club. Wayne Madsen needs 207, but in his current form may still have an outside chance of doing it!

In the bowling, Graham Wagg needs 7 wickets to reach 50 for the third successive season, although he has been hampered by his shoulder injury this year. Unless something remarkable happens, he'll not complete a third successive mini double, but that has been partly down to less opportunities with the bat this year.

Our top four average 66, 66, 38 and 45, with Hinds (35) and Redfern (30) preceding James Pipe (39). Technically that's 319 runs before Wagg gets in, a remarkable turn around on previous seasons and testimony to the work done with the batsmen by John Morris and Andy Brown. Our batting, even in one day games, has usually been much improved this year. Just need another couple of bowlers...

There will also be an eye on the Division One relegation places. At this stage it looks like either Yorkshire or Sussex to come down with Worcestershire. My preference would be for it to be Yorkshire.

Why? Because I think we can beat them next year and because I hope that our game away to them would be at Scarborough, one of my favourite grounds. If that came out in the fixtures I'd be booking my B and B as soon as possible, as I've always wanted to see Derbyshire play there.

If we don't go up, my preference would also be for Essex to be the side that do. Again, that's because I think we can beat other sides in the division more easily. I don't think there's much between us and them, to be honest, but with a year's experience, those couple of bowlers and a little more luck with the weather and decisions, I think next year could be a big one in the Championship, especially if Chris Rogers returns.

We also need to retain the best players. Rumours continue about X leaving and Y being chased by counties, but all counties are getting that at this stage. I've said before, Derbyshire's players must realise that something is coming together here and there's real potential for the next 4-5 years. With a crop of exciting players in their early/mid-twenties (Madsen, Park, Smith, Wagg, Clare, Needham, Groenewald) and another group even younger (Redfern, Hughes, Borrington, Sheikh, Whiteley) I would argue that we've rarely had as exciting a group of players coming through.

Of course, there needs to be progress. Anything less than a Championship challenge next year will be a disappointment after this campaign, while the maintenance of batting improvements coupled with tighter bowling could improve one day fortunes. In two years we'll see how far John Morris has taken us, but I'm pretty happy right now, irrespective of next week's result.

We've got our pride back.

As I close, Gloucestershire are making a good fist of their run chase against Glamorgan. If they win, their last game is against Kent. I'd see that as better for us than if the Welsh wizards were looking for a win at the Oval.

We'll see

Friday, 18 September 2009

Middlesex v Derbyshire day 4

Drat, drat and double drat...

With apologies to Dick Dastardly, that's how I feel, like most of you, tonight.
Eight wickets down with an hour to go and I got a text saying "we can't fail to win now". My reply, sadly and prophetically was "Dunno".

Fair play to young Adam London, who produced a very brave and skilful knock with a broken and recently dislocated finger in batting for almost two hours. Having said that, I wish the lad had wimped out and not bothered right now...

Fair play also to Derbyshire and Greg Smith in particular for getting nine out on a previously moribund track. When we finish up 281-2 in the morning it suggests there'll be hard work for the bowlers and I never expected us to come close to a win. Had they finished 270-4 we'd all have been disappointed ight now the closest word is "gutted".

There was a close call on the penultimate ball when there was a big shout for a catch. Shades of the Northamptonshire game. Had those decisions gone the other way, that would have been 24 points in the bag and we'd be putting candles on the promotion cake right now, needing only maximum bonus points against Essex to go up.
Two lost sessions were pretty crucial, methinks.

Chris Rogers did a great job as skipper, ringing the bowling changes and not allowing the batsmen to settle. I'd have been tempted to let Wavell have a couple in the last hour as he's got a golden arm, but maybe he was injured.

As it is we can still do it, but need to beat Essex while Northamptonshire don't beat Leicestershire and Glamorgan don't beat Surrey. We could probably do with maximum bonus points too. That's a lot of things to fall into place, but while there's still hope...

Bound to rain next week and scupper it, of course.

Let's remember one thing tonight though guys. In the County Championship, at least, we've played some terrific cricket this year. We've got to the last game of the year with an interest in promotion and John Morris has unearthed some terrific cricketers this year.

After such a season, progress next year will mean promotion, if we don't manage it next week. With another bowler and especially a spinner added, I'd fancy our chances.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Middlesex v Derbyshire day 3

244 runs ahead with a day to go. So what do we do tomorrow?

A thrilling opening stand by Chris Rogers and Wayne Madsen of 181 at six an over gave Derbyshire a chance of a mid/late morning declaration tomorrow. Madsen just missed out on a second century in the match, while the skipper is still there, unbeaten on 75.

My guess is that we'll either thrash (or be given through joke bowling) another hundred tomorrow and leave Middlesex 350 in around 75/80 overs. Maybe even as I type Shaun Udal and Chris Rogers are having a friendly chat about what they will go for and above anything we need to allow time to bowl them out. 85 overs would be handy but would need some serious hitting.

We need to risk losing in order to win, dangle a carrot and hope that we can take wickets at regular intervals. Pray for cloud cover, a crumbling track (some hope!), maybe even a 24 hour bug to affect the Middlesex batsmen...

Sorry, went too far with the last one, but we need to figure out a way to dismiss Nick Compton, who is developing a penchant for Derbyshire bowling of late. With the exception of Compton and "Ice" Berg, there weren't many contributions from their batsmen, with the prolific Dexter going cheaply to Greg Smith. Four more wickets for Steffan and a huge day for the guys tomorrow.

Last chance saloon really. If we don't win, a draw doesn't matter. It would need a strange combination of scores for us to leapfrog Northamptonshire in the last game. As things stand, with Northants looking like drawing their game, a draw here would leave us eleven points behind them in the table with a game to go.

We'd then need to take maximum points - i.e. score 400, take nine wickets, then win - from our game against Essex while Northants didn't do the same against Leicestershire. IF (sorry, can't make that IF any bigger)they dropped a couple of bonus points, then we could theoretically pip them by one point.

Too tight for me and its making my brain hurt. Let's hope for a day to remember tomorrow, which will make things much clearer. If it doesn't go our way there's always next year when we'll win it.

Just one thing, please. If we don't do it tomorrow, no nonsense on 606 about "choking" or "not turning up". The guys will be going flat out and giving their all.

Let's just hope it is enough.

Let's sort the tracks

Whatever happened to good cricket wickets?

You know what I mean. The ones where good batsmen could get their heads down and score some runs, yet bowlers who were prepared to bend their backs could get some return. The sort of track that we used to have at Derby in the Kim Barnett era of captaincy, in fact.

I grow increasingly frustrated in seeing cricket matches that are a complete and utter waste of time, as conditions are so heavily weighted in favour of batsmen. Taunton is the worst, Edgbaston is not far away, but it is becoming the norm and it’s crazy.

Derbyshire have had ten draws this season yet have played purposeful, bright and aggressive cricket for most of it. They have been frustrated on several occasions by wickets where they would have been as well bowling with an orange as a cricket ball and it makes me worry for the future of the game.

For cricket to continue to be a genuine spectacle, there has to be a possibility that things could happen - for either side. I remember years ago my Dad telling me that he was convinced that some fans at Derby County would have been happy watching Derby play a team of dustbins as long as they scored plenty of goals. Cricket is going that way. You bat for a day and a half and score 500, we’ll then do the same, then we’ll have a token run chase – but not too serious, mind – on the last afternoon.

A look at the statistics says it all. In Division Two ONLY this season, there are fifteen batsmen averaging in excess of 50, seventeen others over 40 and seventeen more over 30. That’s 49 players between 9 teams.

At the same time, there are only nineteen bowlers who have bowled regularly who have an average under 30 and only five of them under 25 runs per wicket. That tells a story and one that needs to be addressed.

Clubs should be applauded, not penalised for producing result pitches. Perhaps the best track Derbyshire have played on this year was at Chesterfield for the Northamptonshire game. You could score runs, but had to keep your wits about you, while bowlers felt they might get something if they worked at the game.

How much better for the game! We could start to think about introducing a little spice into the game by leaving wickets uncovered once a match has started (except at night), but that wouldn’t go down too well, especially with the accountants. Games would be done in two days given our recent climate, but there are skewed statistics coming from the modern game.

If one went by average alone, Steve Stubbings was a better batsman than Arnold Hamer. He was better than Donald Carr, Laurie Johnson, Stan Worthington, Les Townsend. All these fine players had to battle away on uncovered tracks and ended their careers with an average in the top 20’s or early 30’s. Fans of a certain vintage will laugh to suggest Stubbo, great servant that he was, had anything like their ability.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not decrying the ability of the current players. Chris Rogers is probably in the top six batsmen we've ever had, while Wayne Madsen may eventually be regarded in the top bracket. But they're never going to need to show the sticky track technique that Hobbs, Hammond and May were famed for.

I would love nothing more than for the ECB to allow clubs to leave a little grass on wickets, or maybe introduce balls with a bigger, more pronounced seam. Durham have a fine side, but they’ve been aided by having result tracks at the Riverside. As long as batsmen aren’t in danger, I see nothing wrong with it. If duration of matches was the issue, why not return to three-day games? It would free up time for more Twenty/20….

More seriously, it would allow another tournament in, or the players time to recover and recharge their batteries between matches. There’ll be those who would use the same argument as that in reducing from 50 overs to 40 in one day games.

“We won’t be properly prepared for international matches”. Well, we’re not that good at it now, when we’ve been preparing for years. We’ve played Twenty/20 longer than any other country, but most have overtaken us.

I’m maybe in a minority of one here, but batting four days on featherbed tracks is scant preparation for facing the Aussies in a Test series. I know we won, but it was down to them having two bad sessions in a series. Let’s try to help the bowlers a little. We’d all see the benefit and the batsmen would have really earned their averages.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Close poll

So 57% of people in the poll last week wanted us to sign Kabir Ali...

Shame he's off to Hampshire then. 52% liked the idea of signing Will Jefferson too, while 22% of those voting didn't like the idea of either of them.

Blimey, you guys are hard to please!

OK, let's lay another couple of names that are out there for you. Chris Silverwood and Bilal Shafayat. What do you reckon?

Get voting...

Great piece on Wayne Madsen

Sincere thanks to John Phair of Unsworth Cricket Club in the Central Lancashire League, who sent me this terrific piece in praise of Wayne Madsen's contribution to the club.

It says a lot for the guy and although, as I said earlier, he just failed to reach the 2,000 run barrier, his was an extraordinary season. Here's John's article - thanks again John!

"71 is the magic number

The last First XI game of the season approaches and with it the final game in Unsworth colours for Wayne and DJ.

A significant milestone is in the offing as currently Wayne has scored 1929 runs for Unsworth this season in all competitions and hopefully he will get the 71 runs required to reach the magic 2000 run mark. The older ones amongst us will have to look back through the record books to see if this feat has been achieved before, by any other players in the CLL.

Good luck to Wayne and DJ in the last game of the season and please turn out to either the game or the festivities after, when we bid them adieu.

I thought I would take this opportunity to have a quick look back at Waynes achievements over the past few seasons.

When Wayne arrived at the club we all new he was capable of playing cricket. What we didn’t know was how good that ability was to become. Wayne flew in to our lives in April 2007 and made an immediate impact – caught and bowled for 6 against Crompton! Not the best of starts even he would admit. It didn’t take too long for us to see a bit more of the cavalier in him, when the following week he scored 96 (caught and bowled again) and took 4 for 36 in 16 overs against Middleton.

We had to wait until the end of May before we were celebrating his maiden century in the CLL, with 113 not out against Heywood on May 27. In fact that weekend he also scored 68 not out against Royton.

This set the scene for the remainder of the season, with centuries against Monton, Clifton, Oldham and Walsden, and half centuries against Littleborough, Royton, Werneth, Monton, Milnrow, Heywood and Rochdale. To finish the year off with 1227 runs at an average of 94.38 and 55 wickets in 277 overs an average of 17.42.

2008, saw the return of Wayne to the CLL and with an opening day 59 against Rochdale was this the portent of things to come? We managed to play more fixtures this year but the damper wickets seemed to take their toll on the South African Musketeer, that and the fact that most of our opponents had seen the reverse sweep the previous year and had learned to guard against it. Even so, May proved to be a fruitful month with 3 50’s and 2 tons to yield 485 runs. Then the rains set in. June brought 289 runs with 3 50’s, July garnered 314 runs, including the biggest CLL score of the season, 154 not out against Rochdale and August/September saw just 175 runs over the four games played.

Bad year? Well the average was down slightly, but Wayne still managed to accumulate 1263 runs and finished 2nd in the CLL batting averages losing out by less than ½ a run. So, not bad really.

We’ve always maintained that it takes time to come to terms with English Club cricket, especially for players from warmer climes. Our ‘temperate’ weather, generally has a fair amount of rain around – which most of us hope will descend during the winter – makes the wickets a little slower and harder to ‘get the ball away’. That combined with the idiosyncrasies of some grounds, can make things take a bit of time to get to know.

We hoped for great things in 2009, and we were not too disappointed. The first three games saw Wayne facing Middleton, Walsden and Rochdale and surprisingly, only one 50! Normal service was soon resumed and May saw clubs from all around the league searching for balls as Wayne bludgeoned 522 runs including 3 tons. The highest score being 131 not out against Crompton. June and July saw Wayne only achieving three figures once, 116 against Milnrow, but 6 fifties helped add 714 runs to the total.

Having scored as many runs as the previous two seasons with a month to go, Wayne set himself a new target – 2000 runs. It needed a big month! Rain washed out the first two games of the month, then came an 80 against Clifton, 59 against Werneth followed by a massive 156 not out at home against Rochdale. Just short of the clubs all-time record. An innings against Middleton added 41 runs, but then came a mighty innings against Werneth. Fourteen fours and six sixes saw a total of 167 not out to break the clubs batting record, followed by 104 not out against Walsden. Target in sight.

So at the time of writing Friday September 11, we have one game to go and we’ll all gather to watch and see whether Wayne is successful in his goal of 2000 in a season.

And now the disappointment. We had hoped to have Wayne returning for one more season with us, but unfortunately (for us) , Derbyshire CC have also realised his potential and he has signed a 2 year contract to play county cricket with them for the 2010 season onwards. He has played a number of innings for Derbyshire this season and his prowess with the bat has continued, scoring 170 not out on his debut – a record for Derbyshire debutants. So sadly as a season draws to a close we must wish Wayne all the best for the coming years and no doubt a number of his fans here at Unsworth will continue to watch and admire his progress on the county scene.

Good Luck Wayne and thanks for all your efforts over the last 3 years."

Brilliant stuff and confirms what a terrific talent we have acquired.
Just make sure the next guy you sign is as good John - and that he has a European passport...

Oh - and you WILL let us know, won't you!

Middlesex v Derbyshire day two

Try as I might, I cannot think of a single Derbyshire batsman who has burst onto the scene as Wayne Madsen has this year, since being plucked from the Central Lancashire League by John Morris.

I know that Daryl Cullinan reeled off a few early centuries for us when he was our overseas player, but to be honest you hope that an overseas player might do that for you and the South African had a reputation before he joined us as a batsman of real talent.

While Madsen was known in South Africa, it is fair to say that his deeds there had put him in the "talented but nothing spectacular" pile. One century and some decent scores, but an average in the mid-30's suggested steady, rather than spectacular.

Yet this year seems to have seen him transform into a genuine top batsman. 704 runs in 13 innings at an average of 64 is spectacular stuff, yet perhaps pales alongside his record this year at Unsworth.

In 29 innings for the club he scored 1995 runs at an average of 99.75. Seven hundreds and eleven fifties. Oh, and 41 wickets at 16. That's almost 3,000 runs and he has exceeded that if you count the runs he scored in our Second Eleven. Mr Morris, you have found us a star...

Don't get me wrong, he'll have less fertile periods with the bat, but with the news that we are likely to be able to keep Chris Rogers next year, who can honestly say they're not excited at Rogers and Madsen opening together next year?

Today he scored 167 and what I like about him is that he starts steadily and then, when he's got the measure of the track, opens up and scores as quickly as anyone. He also scores BIG hundreds. I like batsmen who don't just slog it when they get to a hundred. Rack them up on that scoreboard.

With good support down the order he allowed us to declare once we'd reached the maximum batting points. There was selfless batting from Smith, Pipe and Hinds and John Sadler was again left cursing what might have been on a belter of a track, left unbeaten at the declaration.

Yet anyone who thinks Middlesex will roll over and die will be disappointed. The early wicket of Housego was welcome, but little else looked likely until Dawid Malan was run out in the last over. Earlier Housego was reprieved by Peter Willey who gave him out lbw then recalled him having realised he'd made a bad decision. Maybe he just wanted another go at the decision as Steffan got him in front shortly afterwards.

The hosts are effectively three down as Adam London, their young opening batsman fractured his right little finger stopping a ball in the covers and is unlikely to bat in the match. Shame for the youngster, but on such things can seasons turn...

Much will depend on the first session tomorrow. If we can split Compton and the in-form Dexter (how redolent of English cricket at its best are those names?) then there's still a chance we could break through. If we don't, then we're probably looking at a last afternoon teasing run chase, enough to keep them interested, enough to risk defeat - but maybe enough to nick that priceless win.

Meanwhile Northamptonshire were bowled out for 299 (missing that extra bonus point - shame...) at Essex, who closed on 3-0. All we need tomorrow is for them to post a big total, then for Kaneria to bowl Northants out on the last day.

Now if we can just sort our side of things...

Random thoughts...

The news in this morning’s Derby Evening Telegraph that the ECB are set to announce a rethink on the qualification rules regarding overseas players is extremely welcome at Derbyshire.

Apparently the English Cricket Board is set to announce that for 2010 only, overseas players granted work permits for the last four seasons will get another. On that basis, assuming that Rogers and John Morris can sort out a deal, we can expect to see the Australian opener back in our colours for next season.

I cannot think that many Derbyshire fans will be unhappy at this news. While many feel we need a strike bowler or a quality spinner, the reality is that there are very few of the latter in the world game and even fewer of the former who wish to add to their workload and commit to a long and tiring English season on top of their international commitments.

If Rogers is able to sign on the dotted line before his departure for another season for Victoria at home, it will be one less thing for John Morris to worry about and will ensure that next season we will have as good an opening pair as there is in the country, with Wayne Madsen available full time.

Batsmen prepared to commit to the county game who are good enough to average over 60 are also in short supply and we are very lucky to have as able and committed a cricketer as Chris Rogers as Derbyshire skipper. Regular readers of the blog will know that I was frustrated in the early season when the skipper seemed to get out at 50 on a regular basis, especially in one day games, but you cannot argue with the facts and the statistics emphasise that Rogers is one of the leading batsmen in the County game.

In the same piece is the news that Nantie Hayward has flown home to South Africa, ending his stint with the club. It didn’t work out for the ex-South African Test bowler at Derby as he struggled to find rhythm. As John Morris said in the article, you could not fault his effort, but he’d had little preparation and it just wasn’t there for him. As I’ve said before, however, you cannot blame John Morris as he acted quickly to bring in a bowler of Test experience. If it had come off we’d all be shouting from the rooftops. It was a gamble and they don’t always come off. Anyone replacing Charl Langeveldt was going to have their work cut out but Hayward will go down as one of our least successful overseas imports.

Speaking of overseas players, even if we secure the services of Chris Rogers for 2010, there’s still plenty of opportunity for conjecture as we will be able to sign a second player for the Twenty/20 cricket next year. Each county is allowed two, but at this stage the regulations for that second player are not clear. If they have to satisfy the new requirements it will be a very difficult task and we can perhaps expect a number of recently retired from international cricket players for one last hurrah. If the regulations are relaxed, then there are obviously more possibilities out there.

It would be no great surprise, in the latter scenario, for John Morris to use Chris Rogers’ contacts in Australia to bring over a young player, maybe one who bats and bowls, for the role. I would be surprised if our budget stretched to an Afridi or Symonds, names no doubt on the lips of many fans.

This morning came news that Somerset have approached Cameron White and Graeme Smith to be their second overseas player for the Twenty/20 next season, while at the same time announcing that current Middlesex spinner Murali Kartik will be their full time overseas professional in 2010. It is a shrewd signing and he is a good bowler. He’d also better get ready for long spells at Taunton…

More realistic for us might be someone like young New South Wales all rounder Moises Henriques, who can hit the ball hard and bowl at a quite lively pace. Good enough to have been signed by the Kolkata Knight Riders last winter in the IPL, Henriques also fields brilliantly and would be an exciting signing, as well as being young enough to want to build a reputation.

A great thing, conjecture!

Elsewhere, it is interesting to read in various places that Nottinghamshire are resigned to losing Bilal Shafayat at the end of the season as the talented all rounder’s contract is up. I’d definitely sign him if we had the chance. I don’t think we could afford Kabir Ali and I’m not sure that Will Jefferson would add more to the mix than we already have, but Shafayat is a good cricketer, better than his figures at Trent Bridge have suggested. He is a stylish batsman and a more than useful fast medium bowler and at 25 is nowhere near his prime. A batting and bowling average of around 30 suggests someone with a fair amount to offer and Shafayat would be a fine addition to the squad for 2010. He’s not quite made the impact that he suggested when he starred with England development sides, but is a sound player. Having said that, there’ll be plenty of sides after him and much will depend on whether he is looking for a convenient move or an especially lucrative one.

Finally, another piece in the Derby Telegraph today highlights our prudent work off the pitch and gives more detail on the plans for the winter months at the County Ground. Astonishing is the news that Kent look like they could lose half a million this year, which hardly suggests shrewd financial management.

As for Derbyshire, the club is in good hands off the pitch and we’re making continual strides on it. Happy days…