Sunday, 29 November 2009

Sunday thoughts

What a strange series is going on in South Africa at present, with both teams taking turn about to play brilliantly and poorly. The other day the hosts slaughtered England and scored 350 in their 50 overs, today it was a paltry 119 all out.

One of the frustrating things about South Africa as a side is that inconsistency. On paper they are one of the best sides in the world and that often translates to the pitch, yet they don't give the appearance of invincibility that the truly great sides have. I think the major issue is the lack of the real "over my dead body" players that a genuinely great side has.

Take the three great sides of my life time. The Australians under Steve Waugh were led by a man who would set the standard and had some fine players in the batting ranks who were of a similar mindset. Justin Langer, Matt Hayden, Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting - in any era of the game they were great players and had the fight in them when things were going poorly. They also had two pretty useful bowlers in Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne...

The same went for the West Indies in their golden era. With quick bowlers like Holding, Roberts, Garner and Marshall there were some of the all time greats, while Viv Richards, Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes would always produce when the chips were down.

Going back a little further, the South Africans of the late 1960's were outstanding. They had such a liberal sprinkling of genuine greatness in Barry Richards, Eddie Barlow, Graeme Pollock and Mike Procter that beating them was always going to be difficult.

The current South African side has players of brilliance - Smith, de Villiers, Kallis - yet they have an air of vulnerability that the genuine greats don't offer. I would accept Kallis as one of the greats of the game on his record and the other two may well end up as such, but Smith and de Villiers often give you a chance. Kallis is still the man that the oppisition want to see the back of more than anyone.

Maybe the problem is that the rest see themselves as bit part players and there's an element of "if they fail, how can we succeed?" Perhaps they need an Eddie Barlow who moulded teams of few stars into tight, competitive units by stressing the role that each played in the overall picture.

Having said that, I wouldn't say no to any of them at Derbyshire should the situation ever present itself. I've said before that South Africans offer good value as overseas signings and they do. Given that this season we may have Madsen, Park, Smith, Groenewald and Peterson in our ranks it would seem John Morris agrees.

Changing tack a little, a few weeks ago I wrote that I thought Adrian Barath may well be the next great West Indies player and his first tour to Australia, which was always going to be a learning curve, has done nothing to change that opinion. A 70 in the warm up match was followed by a Test debut century for the diminutive opener and I think he will have a long and illustrious career in the game. He looks compact and organised and while blessed with a full range of strokes seems less casual than many of his countrymen. At 19 he seems to have it all and the only thing he will need to prove is that the mental strength that is so important at the top level is there in abundance.

Finally today, an innings win for Victoria meant that Chris Rogers had no chance of a second knock for them, just as the Australians easy win over the Windies kept the pressure off Shane Watson the second time around. I'll be following that one closely over the winter months.

See you soon!

Friday, 27 November 2009

Weekend watch

Lots of cricket going on around the globe at present and there's been mixed fortunes for players I've suggested for our second T20 overseas berth next summer.

There was a brilliant century from AB de Villiers today to reinforce why I regard him one of the world's best batsmen. In full flight he is a lovely player to watch and such an innings will no doubt put him under the microscope of a few counties.

Albie Morkel, however was dropped after a run of only average performances, while Jacques Kallis is injured at present. Whether we will move for any of them I really don't know, but I rate them all as players.

Meanwhile Leicestershire have confirmed they are in talks with Australian Brad Hodge about playing for them next summer in the T20, so there are good players already being lined up, following on from Middlesex signing Adam Gilchrist earlier in the week. I just hope that John Morris has money in his coffers for a decent quality player as the standard of opposition in this lucrative format looks set to be high.

A day after suggesting that Buck Rogers needed a good score in Australia to put pressure on Shane Watson he was out for just 9 for Victoria today. A superb century from Nottinghamshire's David Hussey still left them in the ascendant, however.

Back in South Africa, Derbyshire target Robin Peterson bowled a long tight spell for the Cape Cobras and took two wickets yesterday, although today he was dismissed for nought in a low scoring game. There's no more news about him other than that we all have read, so its just a case of being patient and keeping fingers crossed.

Finally tonight, Northamptonshire have secured the services of Andrew Hall and David Lucas for next season and hope to have David Sales fit for 2010. They may turn out to be a decent side and if Hall replicates his 1,000 runs and 40 wickets from this year will be strong contenders, at least in the Championship next season.

See you soon. Have a good weekend!

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Here we are again...

Sorry to miss a couple of days on here but things have been pretty busy on the work front and there’s not been too much to report anyway.

Last night I had to attend the local sports awards and our club picked up one for attaining Charter Club status, which effectively means that we have all our Child Protection and Health and Safety Policies in place. I was very impressed by the guest speaker, Dame Kelly Holmes, who gave an inspirational speech and was professional and approachable throughout. She also glowed with health and vitality and is a very striking looking woman.

I also had the great pleasure of a long chat with cricketer Irvin Iffla. Many of you may not know the name but he is a legend in Scottish cricket. He came over from Jamaica in 1951 with his path into the West Indies side blocked by Sonny Ramadhin and Alf Valentine. Instead, for the next forty years Irvin took hundreds of wickets and scored thousands of runs, primarily for Stirlingshire. He made an average team into one of the country’s best and he returned phenomenal figures. In his last three years as a player, when he was in his seventies, he played for my club and the accuracy of his bowling and the “hum” of the ball as it fizzed through the air is still talked about. By that stage he did little running between the wickets, relying on fours and sixes to put runs on the board. Now a sprightly man of 85, he was recently awarded the Freedom of Stirling, a well-deserved honour.

It was a terrific evening, but a late, late night!

Anyway, to matters in hand and there’s an excellent article in the Derby Telegraph today on John Morris and the difficulties that he faces for next season. Regular readers will know about this, but it is still good to see what JM says himself and it is worth a read. You can see it at

I was interested to see that Shane Watson had got a duck for Australia today against the West Indies. It puts pressure on him in the second innings and might offer a glimmer of hope to Chris Rogers if he sustains his recent golden form for Victoria – and us for that matter. Next season will be Rogers last for us unless he gets at least one more Test match. If he got even one Test this winter he could then play for us for longer, something that can only be a good thing.

The only other news of note from the last couple of days is that Nottinghamshire have signed the Australian left armer Dirk Nannes for the Twenty/20 next summer. When he’s fit and firing Nannes is a lively customer and will be awkward to get away. Is he, as Mick Newell claims, the best twenty over bowler in the world? I don’t know, but he’s very good. Charl Langeveldt might have claims on the title as a man who mixes up the pace of his bowling and keeps things tight, but for me the best in the world is probably the Pakistani Umar Gul. There are times when he looks like he can’t be bothered, but his unerring accuracy with the yorker, speared in at leg stump, makes him an awkward proposition on his day.

Finally, it was good to see on the club site that Paul Borrington continues to do well in Australia. The experience has got to be good for him and it would appear that he is facing some top quality opposition and still producing scores. Long may it continue – into next season and beyond!

Monday, 23 November 2009

Just a few thoughts

An early finish from a meeting this afternoon has given me a chance to get home early and blog while the night is still young.

I see that team building plans carry on apace around the country, with Jimmy Anyon moving from Warwickshire to Sussex. He's a decent bowler but it was telling that no one was suggesting we make a move for him at Derby. I think we'll be fine now we've added Mark Footitt to the squad and just need that spinner's berth sorted...

There's still a little rumbling around IMWT re Wes Durston and the benefits of signing him, but I don't see it. As Master Villain points out, he's more likely to play Minor Counties and perhaps take up a school coaching post. His age, when one takes into account new regulations is against him and I don't see any merit in signing him to play in our Second XI. If we assume that Rogers, Madsen, Park, Smith, Redfern and Borrington will be our top six, John Morris can drop down to a five, or bring in John Sadler or Chesney Hughes with penalties, both of which will be more financially viable than bringing in another player. Durston has a decent record in the county game, but as I've said before, any batsman plying his trade at Taunton really should have.

I've been watching some of the South African cricket over the last week or so. Despite the flurry of strokes that came from Messrs Smith and Bosman, I still can't take to Twenty/20. It's here to stay but I agree with Ian Botham that we're playing too much of it and are saturating the market and doing the players few favours. There'll be more injuries and niggles from the diving around and sides of lesser quality will then take the field. You only need to look at all England's injuries to see that.

Bosman may well have played himself into the mix for an overseas berth somewhere in the competition, but I'm now more in favour than ever of helping out the poor bowlers. We already have good batting tracks expected as the norm and boundary ropes are brought in to encourage more six hitting. We have heavier bats with bigger middles and mishits are carrying for six. So why not do away with fielding restrictions - or at least change the amount allowed in the outfield? If you're going to go for the big shots that's fine, but risk mishitting one and its goodnight Vienna. We may as well just have a bowling machine at either end plus the fielders, as bowlers have so little margin for error. You can bowl a good four over spell and still go for 40 and I think it is time that something was done for the poor saps who have to run in and bowl.

I'd also propose a little more leeway in pitch preparation. Was there any point to the first Test between India and Sri Lanka? Apart from a short spell on the first morning, the bat was in the ascendancy throughout and we're seeing some very average players boosting their statistics on wickets that make Taunton look like a minefield. Again, it makes for much greater
entertainment when there's an even battle between bat and ball, yet groundsmen live in fear of pitches being condemned and go too far the other way.

I hope that we get our wickets sorted at Derby this year. The best home track last season was probably the one at Chesterfield where the bowlers and batsmen both had a chance if they kept their wits about them. To challenge in the Championship next season we need results and the ability to take twenty wickets if there if bowlers get a little help.

Finally I see that Yorkshire ae looking for a "high impact batsman" for their second berth in the Twenty/20. Isn't everyone? We're looking for a player who can bowl tight like Langeveldt and then hit 70 in half-a-dozen overs... I just hope he's out there somewhere!

See you soon

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Weekend thoughts

Morning everyone! You'll have noticed that I've missed a couple of days this week. Well, I could see no point in going over old ground again and I've been pretty busu on the work and domestic front. Christmas is coming and the goose is not only getting fat, he's a little concerned about it...

Good to see Chris Rogers doing well in Australia. Six centuries in successive matches is remarkable and the fact that he is bracketed in his speed to 7,000 Sheffield Shield runs with Bradman and Greg Chappell shows the ability of the man. He is totally in command of his game right now, as evidenced in the closing weeks of our season.

That, of course, makes it all the more remarkable that he still cannot force his way into their national side. I would fancy him to make a lot of runs against a somewhat threadbare West Indian attack if selected, but for now all he can do is keep scoring runs and hope that Katich or Watson make a mess of things. I'm sure that if you asked 100 neutral Aussies who the better batsman was between Rogers and Watson that the larger percentage would favour Buck. Sadly, they're not selecting the national side and this ain't Family Fortunes...

So good is his record that you wonder if there's something personal and I'd be surprised if that hasn't crossed his mind. When Langer and Hayden were the men in possession he would have had few complaints, but Katich, worthy player that he is, doesn't compare to those two and Watson effectively gets in on his all round game and the few overs that he will bowl. He's still a good one day bowler, but a succession of back injuries have meant that their hopes in him as the new Botham have come to naught. I know who my money would be on in a weight of runs competition as Rogers has shown.

Elsewhere, Yorkshire have secured the longer-term future of seven young players, including former Derbyshire youngster Garry Ballance. He left the club when his uncle was dismissed as coach and has since been studying at University at Yorkshire's expense, a nice deal if you can get it. He's now signed up until the end of 2012 and they'll be hoping that he shows the talents that flickered when he came to Derbyshire as a schoolboy.

That's pretty much it for today. It was good to see that interest in the club website has increased and that shows the club are getting more professional. While the club site offers far more than this blog, I'd have laughed if you'd have told me 19 months ago that I'd be well past 50,000 hits. It all proves that the club are going in the right direction, as people don't bother reading about things when they feel it is a waste of their time. Thanks for your continued interest and I'll see you soon!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

News today

Middlesex sign Adam Gilchrist for the Twenty/20, while being linked with signing Sachin Tendulkar as their second player. The IPL hits English cricket with a vengeance.

Given its capacity for generating income that is way ahead of any other form of the game, the Twenty/20 may well see counties putting increasing money towards it in the hope that speculation leads to accumulation. There is little doubt that Gilchrist and Tendulkar as a pairing would generate huge crowds for Middlesex and also for any ground on which they played. Sadly they’re not in our group as Keith Loring’s additional seating would have been filled quite nicely by that duo.

The last that I heard was that there would be no restriction on the use of players in the twenty-over thrash, so counties would effectively have carte blanche to play whoever they wanted, so long as they could afford to do so. The congested international calendar brings its own restrictions and the recruitment of recently retired players of top quality such as Gilchrist is one way to get around that. Matthew Hayden and Andrew Symonds may generate interest too, although the salary demands of such players will be considerable. We could also see those who have the resources perhaps bring in a Kolpak specifically for Twenty/20 AS WELL as the second overseas player. There appears nothing to stop it bar lack of funds, as far as I can see.

Steve Rhodes at Worcestershire strikes me as one of the more honest and straightforward men in the game and speaks quite frankly today about the financial difficulties they face. They hadn’t budgeted for an overseas player this year because of severe cuts to their playing budget – this despite losing almost all their bigger names. The unexpected departure of Stephen Moore has given them a little more scope, but the news comes as a surprise.

Or does it? Several counties are expecting to announce big losses this season, which makes the management of finances at Derbyshire all the more laudable. There are fans who expect us to sign everyone who comes on the market, which is unrealistic. We are living within our means and are slowly but surely moving in the right direction.

For me, Derbyshire cricket was in decline and had been since the Dean Jones era. It is impossible in any organisation to arrest such a decline, one that had taken place over a fifteen-year period, in a couple of short years. They have done remarkably well to streamline the commercial operations at the club in an attempt to increase the playing budget. Intelligent use has been made of club reserves and if success comes on the field – or continued improvement at the very least – the club could be one of the few in the country with a viable economic future.

Speaking of which it was refreshing to see Monty Panesar donate £10,000 to Northamptonshire on his departure to Sussex, thanking them for their role in his development. It was a decent gesture by an honourable man. For the good of English cricket we should hope that he rediscovers his mojo on the south coast.
Sorry about the lack of a blog last night, but it was a quiet day for news and my mother-in-law’s birthday, so we took her for a meal. See how I continue to build up these brownie points?

Finally in my lunch hour, the fixtures are out! We start at the Oval and finish in Cardiff, where we will doubtless celebrate the winning of Division Two of the Championship…

In between we have a lot of cricket and I hope to see a few games next year, all things being equal. At this stage I’m cautiously optimistic about our fortunes, though my expectations will increase if a certain South African signing is finalised in the coming weeks and months. Whether the gentleman concerned is a catalyst to great things is one that the future will tell, but the completion of his signing would give Derbyshire a balanced looking side for the first time in a long while.

That can’t be a bad thing.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Footitt set to make his Mark?

Given that there were some of our supporters complaining that the linked Robin Peterson was not good enough for Derbyshire, there will be a few raised eyebrows at the signing of former Nottinghamshire left arm fast bowler Mark Footitt. After all, Foottitt has had major injury problems that saw him miss the entire 2008 season with a bulging disc in his back, while his struggle for form in 2009 saw him released by his county before the season ended.

So why have we signed him?

There are several answers to that one. For one thing Footitt is, at 23, the right age for Derbyshire, given that we will receive payments dependent on fielding players under various ages this season.

There’s more than that though. At the end of 2007 he was being talked about around the circuit as an England bowler in the making. There was talk of a technical issue with his action and where his feet landed, but Footitt had a rare gift of being seriously quick when everything clicked. He’d had that ability from his youth in League cricket at Papplewick when he rattled experienced players with raw pace that is unusual in left arm bowlers. Very few of that style have ever been genuinely quick. Bill Voce (although overshadowed by Harold Larwood) and Wasim Akram are perhaps the only two who spring immediately to mind.

Perhaps his build wasn’t right for a genuine express bowler and Footitt may need to accept that he will be a lively bowler on the fast side of medium who can bowl an occasional really quick ball. Or will he?

Steffan Jones will step into his role as bowling coach with a dual purpose of getting the bowlers fit to do their job and then putting the ball in the right areas often enough to cause problems. Footitt, on his track record, will give him a challenge, but then so will Tom Lungley and Jon Clare. Part of the problem with any bowler after major injury is psychological. If I bowl flat out will this happen again? We saw it last season with Jon Clare, who looked a much more pedestrian bowler than in 2008 when he burst on the scene. If Steffan Jones can get Footitt and the others fit, they can form a fine line up of seam bowlers that will rival any in Division Two.

If he can sort out the minor technical issues that account for Footitt losing his radar from time to time we could see a real threat with this lad. In his sporadic appearances for Nottinghamshire he has taken his wickets at a rate of one every 40 balls, which is comfortably ahead of anyone on our staff, and indeed most bowlers in the country. Maybe some of them have come against less demanding opposition, but Footitt has some notable scalps in his fledgling career, including Sourav Ganguly and Simon Katich.

Still not sure? Have a read of this article by Scyld Berry. His comments on Footitt start midway through the article, but it illustrates the potential in the player.

Last season Derbyshire struggled to bowl sides out on the last day of Championship matches, primarily because we had no real variety in our attack. Already this week we have been linked with an international slow left arm bowling all rounder. Now we have signed a young bowler who offers a change of line and potentially something that we have lacked for some time. Genuine pace. In the right areas, no one likes to face it.

Next season we might just find out if Mark Footitt has what it takes to be a force at this level. There are no guarantees, but we’ve signed him in the face of opposition from other counties, so there’s a few professional people out there must rate him.
That will do me.

Monday, 16 November 2009

And so it begins...

We've not yet signed Robin Peterson. We may not sign him, yet over on 606 there are those moaning already that he's not good enough.


I'm not going over yesterday's ground but don't people ever think about giving the benefit of the doubt? He's an INTERNATIONAL spinner with a decent pedigree. He bats solidly (and at times spectacularly) and fields like a panther.

Someone makes the comment that we should stick with "Jake, Chesney, Smudge, Redders and Madsen". Ah yes, that deadly spin quintet. I rate all of them as players of potential, but the reality is that four of them have 48 first class wickets between them and 27 in one day games. Smith has 71 and 42 respectively, but I'd venture that 2/3 of them were taken bowling seam.
Peterson has 242 and 167 respectively, at an average only a little higher than Daniel Vettori. C'mon guys, show the man some respect.

I sometimes wonder if the "fans" ever think about what they write. I've asked a few players if they ever read the message boards and comments and the answer is more often than not in the affirmative. "You can't help it" said one. I don't have a clue whether Robin Peterson reads such things, but if he was sat at home reading 606 and thinking about putting pen to paper, don't you think it could be a deterrent if people are writing him off even before he does so?

How people can look at Peterson's record and suggest "he's not much better than we already have" is ludicrous to the extreme. Last time I looked, our squad wasn't choc-a-bloc with spin bowling all rounders of international experience. How can people write that "he's not worth the outlay" when they don't know what the outlay is?

I'll not be writing any more about Robin Peterson as its pointless until we know he is going to sign. I may as well write about Sachin Tendulkar and Rikky Ponting and what they might do for us.

But please guys - show a little respect and at least a modicum of common sense. If you can't see that the signing of an international class - which he must be because he's played it - spin bowling all rounder isn't an improvement on what we have, or on the names that have been bandied about this winter, then there really is no hope.

We've talked about Middlebrook, Brown, Keedy, Salisbury and Botha - some of them people who aren't even available. Be glad we're even linked with this bloke, and at least reserve judgement until he's signed and played a few games, if that ever happens.

Sunday, 15 November 2009


Calm down.

There are a couple of things about the "signing" of Robin Peterson, announced on the 11th in South African newspapers, referred to yesterday on cricinfo and the subject of great excitement on IMWT that I think need to be said.

First and foremost, IF it happens it will be a terrific piece of work by John Morris

Now the bad news...

The link that "Anon" posted onto the previous blog piece merely says that Peterson has indicated "his intention" to sign a Kolpak deal with Derbyshire, which is great as far as it goes.
But it means that he hasn't yet done so.

If you look at his Test and one-day international record, he hasn't played the prerequisite number of games for South Africa in the qualifying period. We have to remember that the key to this is April 2010, when the season starts.

Peterson's last Test ended on March 3rd 2008, outside the two year qualifying period. It was also his only one in a five year period, so he doesn't make the necessary criteria there, either.

I have him calculated at 14 one day games in a five year period, not the necessary fifteen, though his five twenty-over games may be taken into consideration. So too may be the fact that he has been in his country's squad in the recent Champions Trophy, an indication of a player of some talent. Yet something suggests to me that it might have been better for us, especially if the player was to sign a two-year contract as the South African press suggests, if Peterson had played some more matches for their national side this winter.

As it stands, it would appear that we want to sign him, which is great. It appears that he wants to sign for us - which is fantastic.

But will he get a visa? If anyone out there is an expert on Kolpak visas then please let me know. As with all things cricket, the waters are muddier than any blues guitarist of the same name. Think Duckworth-Lewis. Now the Memorandum of Understanding, then the new Kolpak regulations. Maybe if Peterson has worn blue trousers twice in the past three months on his way to a game and has whistled the national anthem it will work in his favour.

I don't know. If you ask me if I'm excited at the thought of this bloke playing for us, my answer would be an unequivocal yes. If you ask me if I think it will happen, I'm less sure.

I'll be writing in length about it if it happens. Until it is announced on the club site it hasn't.

And it might not.

I'm not being negative, just realistic. Given track record, if the ECB could find a tiny loophole to prevent "little" Derbyshire bringing in an international all rounder that could threaten the order of things in county cricket, I would bet my beer money on it being utilised. I'm thrilled at the thought of this chap playing for us next year, but the time for dreaming will be when its done and dusted and not before.

A cautionary word...

I've had a call from a pal at our village club tonight who saw the information on Robin Peterson on cricinfo earlier today. He's a South African himself and is regularly jetting between the two countries and keeping abreast of information on South African cricket.

He told me that the Peterson deal may not be accurate and that the newspaper concerned has a reputation for getting things wrong. If one newspaper prints something, the feed goes out through agencies and all of a sudden, rightly or wrongly, there's a factual story.

Maybe there's no smoke without fire, but for now I've pulled my Peterson piece. There'll be plenty of time for that when the news is OFFICIALLY announced through the club site, but until then I'm going to err on the side of caution, just in case this is a poor piece of journalism.

Good news, however from Perth, where Paul Borrington is playing for Midland Guildford in Western Australia. Last weekend, in the first innings of a 2 day match that continues this weekend, he batted at number three and was last man out for 70 in a score of 140 all out. For a young man on different tracks in a country a long way from home that is an impressive debut. An early example of what you can do takes a lot of pressure off a new player at any club and Paul will benefit from this excellent start.

More to the point, if he comes back from Australia with his confidence high and his reputation enhanced, so will we.

Look on the bright side. Only 137 sleeps until April...

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Weekend thoughts

There's not really too many of these today, to be honest with you, as it has all been said over the course of the week.

Last night's news about John Sadler was welcome and we at least know that he will be around this coming season. How much first team cricket he plays will depend on the form and fitness of others. Given the age restrictions on players this year I'm sure that John Morris hopes he doesn't need to use him too often, but he is a solid, if not spectacular player and will play an important role in the Second XI.

There will be a lot of interest in their performances in 2010 and I hope that we receive regular updates on results and individual performances through the club site.

I've tried to find out how Paul Borrington is doing over in Australia with the Midland Guildford side, but the club site has been down for a few days so that's a job for another time.

Finally I was astonished at how South Africa made a mess of another Duckworth-Lewis calculation yesterday when they had a win against England within their grasp. I know that this is the bane of many a cricketer's life and that the runs required when using it is normally the sort of thing that requires Stephen Hawking to calculate. Yet yesterday seemed, on the surface, fairly straightforward. When England made 202 in 20 overs that was just over ten an over. When South Africa got to 13 overs I would have thought that they therefore needed to have scored 132 to be sure of a win, yet D/L said that they needed 129. Baffled? Yes.

See you soon.

New deal for Sads

Late night for me tonight after a pleasant evening's entertainment and I'm glad I had a last look at the Internet as the club site reveals John Sadler has signed a new one-year deal with the club.

In much the same way as Steffan Jones, Sadler's new role sees him become the Second XI skipper, although he will be available for the first team as and when required.

It is another piece of the 2010 jigsaw and again shows the thought that has gone into next season. Sadler is a decent county professional who will no doubt teach some good habits to the youngsters who will make up the majority of the Second XI. We need these players to progress and follow the likes of Redfern, Borrington and Clare into the first team and having a reliable man on the pitch will do them no harm at all.

It also confirms what has appeared likely for some time, that the top six next season is going to be Rogers, Madsen, Park, Smith, Redfern and Borrington. It is a relatively young and inexperienced line up but one that offers considerable hope for the future.

Morris' squad is now taking shape. There'll no doubt be a few comments about this on the message boards this weekend, but I'm happy enough with it at this stage.

Now its time for bed!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Well done guys!

I'm a firm believer in giving credit where it is due and tonight I'd like to applaud the marketing staff behind the prices to watch Derbyshire cricket next season.

£145 for a season's cricket if bought before April is a steal in this day and age, as anyone who forks out to go and see football will tell you. If the club did well, that could equate to your ticket costing you around £3 a day. Kids under 13 are free, those under 16 just pay £20. It is only £65 for under 20's. I cannot think that anyone could find fault with this pricing and it is a huge inducement to someone to take a youngster along and introduce them to the game.

With the membership transferrable for Championship games and offering discounts at various stores in the city, there is a lot of work gone into this. As someone who does a lot of marketing work, I can only applaud the team for an excellent job.

I think it was DCCC Forever who suggested that today may see an announcement on new players as an inducement to renew. I've two things to say about that. First, that those prices are a great enough inducement themselves. Second that it wouldn't make sound marketing sense to dilute the impact of one campaign with another. This is very much a good news story, and should stand on its own as one. I trust John Morris to continually improve Derbyshire Cricket Club. If you still have doubts, you can always wait until March to get the existing price, but this is a nice early treat for club fans. If we bring in more players, it will become even more so.

Last night I poured a little water on the idea of Oliver Newby coming to Derbyshire. Thanks to Chris for directing me to a story that suggests Middlesex are chasing (and think they will sign) Mark Footitt. As I've said before, we can all come up with players to sign, but sometimes, for no reason, things don't work out. Sometimes they do but take a long while to finalise.

We must all be patient. I don't think we're too far away from next year's side. Most people agree we need a spinner, some think we need another seamer, some think we need another batsman. Most will again agree that a second overseas for the Twenty/20 is essential. The reality is, however, that only John Morris knows who is available and what we can afford. There's a balancing act, of course and sometimes you have to speculate to accumulate. Maybe a little more than expected on a top T20 player would be worthwhile from the extra crowds he would bring in, but I have no more access to the club balance sheets than any of you do.

With a little luck and a little patience we could have a pretty good side in 2010 and beyond. Some people may not realise it, but having supported Derbyshire for over 40 years I can honestly say that these are good times to be a fan. We seem to have people, both on and off the pitch, who know what they are doing and that is very much a rarity in my experience.

Keep up the good work guys!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

A few words

Not much to report tonight. Fixtures out next week, new membership prices tomorrow.

Leicestershire are pleased they've signed Hoggard and he may do well for them, but I have reservations about him as a potential skipper. So, it would appear, did Yorkshire and he will need to make an early impact to keep the fans onside.

As I replied to Master Villain on last night's post, it appears that Oliver Newby hasn't signed for Lancashire but still has a year on his existing deal so is unlikely to be going anywhere in the near future. Mind you, if I was him and saw Daren Powell brought in, ostensibly ahead of me in the pecking order, I might be asking a few questions.

We'll see what happens as the week progresses. See you soon.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Tuesday thoughts

I'd a couple of surprises when I got home this evening. England 89 all out v South Africa A. OK, not that big a surprise, but Cook made 22 in 13 overs. Eh? Did he think it a Test match? What a shambles... mind you, what a track.

Then I check the teletext and it says "Derbyshire sign Jones/du Plessis". Blimey, that was a shocker alright (you're best to say that last bit in a Dick Van Dyke "Mary Poppins" voice for true effect). Turns out the Lanky boys hope to retain Frankie-boy somehow, just when I thought JM had picked us up a good Kolpak!

So, we've at last confirmed the signing of Steffan Jones as seamer and bowling coach. It's been a few weeks since I found this signing alluded to in the Bristol local news and mentioned it on the blog. It has taken some time to finalise as Steffan was in India with Somerset and then had a break, but it is good to see him officially a Derbyshire player.

Coach too. I'm not sure how good a bowling coach he will be, but he must have his badges and if John Morris is confident that he can do the job then that will do me and should do the same for other fans. I cannot think there will be anyone better at ensuring bowling fitness, as Jones always looks a strapping picture of health and vitality. If he can pass that on to less robust members of the bowling line up it will be money well spent.

Two more years as a bowler will be an asset as Jones usually has the ball in the right areas and he will be a key member of the attack. Like all the seamers, there will be occasions where he will be rested and at 35 we cannot expect him to play in every game, but I'm confident that Jones will play an important role for Derbyshire next season and could help to energise and rejuvenate our strike bowlers.

Master villain amusingly asked if I was going to do a Simon Cowell and start to praise him if/when we sign Jason Brown. Put it this way, I'll run round the County Ground clad only in my jockstrap if Brown signs for us. The pattern of John Morris' signings is that he likes multi-faceted players who bring more than just batting or bowling to the table. Brown looks to be past his best as a bowler, is only an average fielder and can't bat. If we signed him I'd be concerned that the wheels were coming off, quite frankly. Any signing HAS to be better than you already have to be worthwhile. Outside of his immediate family, few would suggest that of Brown and Derbyshire. Jake Needham, for all that he struggled in 2009, offers far more and crucially has time to improve - something that Brown doesn't have. We need an experienced spinner, but not one past his prime.

Master villain also suggests that we may be interested in Oliver Newby, who has apparently yet to agree terms with Lancashire. Newby and Nottinghamshire's Mark Footitt are both young seamers who, I would agree with him, could do a job at Derby. Any potential move would, for me, be dependent on three things. The first would be their salary demands, which we don't know. The second would be their age, which we do know and where they both score as being under 26. The third is whether John Morris wants another seam bowler.

With Jones, Wagg, Groenewald, Hunter, Lungley and Clare we have six, with Smith and Park as back up to some extent. There's also Atif Sheikh coming through, so Morris may feel that this is enough to get him through the season. If he doesn't, who knows - we may make a move for one of them.

Both have considerable ability and while Newby has the greater experience, Footitt is younger and has the asset of being different to the rest of the attack in being a fastish left armer with an excellent strike rate. Variety is the spice of life, but as I've said ad nauseum on this blog, it may well be hypothetical as we may not have the money.

A greater concern could be the batting. We have what I see as a top six of excellent potential in Rogers, Madsen, Park, Smith, Redfern and Borrington, but only John Sadler, assuming he signs a new contract, in reserve. We only need a couple of broken fingers or injuries in the early season to have a problem, but perhaps Morris would at that point dip into the loan market.

Having been driving up and down the country for the past few days I've had plenty of opportunity to think about next season while watching the proliferating speed cameras and think that if we have the budget we really need to sign a name for the second overseas role in the Twenty/20. There's a lot of cricket in there next season and it does not offer the same restrictions that the Championship and 40-over competition will do with regard to age groups. We really need to make an impression and get the crowds in to see a good side. If we lose the first four games and are left with a lot of dead matches, the County Ground will be like a rock club on Village People tribute night...

A big hitting batsman, perhaps ideally one who can bowl some overs, would be a great asset. I highlighted a few names last week who I thought could do a great job for us but we'll not know for some time who is available with the ever-increasing international calendar.

Finally to Lancashire and what a surprise to see them sign Daren Powell last week. Nothing about the West Indian's career suggests a man who will cut swathes through county batting line-ups and their fans are pretty scathing about it on 606. Some will remember a brief and unspectacular foray at Derby a year or two back and Hampshire fans were unimpressed by him when he had a stint there. I wrote last week that I could see counties still "going Kolpak" in the right circumstances, but I'm not sure what they must be at Old Trafford for this to seem a good move.

If Powell is the answer, I can only assume it's a darned funny question...

Monday, 9 November 2009

Back in bonny Scotland

Evening all and after a brief sojourn south of the border (but not down Mexico way) I'm back in the arms of my family and glad to be back. Even more so, they're pleased to see me too!

Anyway, there's nowt happening on the cricket front, though we should hear this week the fixtures for 2010, which will be eagerly anticipated.

Both 606 and IMWT are choc-full of comments on potential targets, but I've been over the McGrath/Taylor ground and haven't changed my stance on either of them. I cannot see any circumstance in which we would see them at the County Ground next year. John Morris has a decent, improving and competitive squad together and I cannot see any major changes. I still think he will bring in a spinner from somewhere, but just who is something I cannot get a handle on. Middlebrook may be an option, but I don't see Jason Brown as an improvement to the squad at all.

Other than that, maybe another young seamer, if he could find one, but then the chase will probably switch to the Twenty/20 second overseas star. If there is any money in the coffers he'll want to improve our fortunes in the cricket cash cow and fill some seats if at all possible. In short, anyone expecting major changes will be disappointed - and rightly so.

Matthew Hoggard has now signed for Leicestershire and he'll have a lot to do, in my humble opinion, to justify the bandied around £100K salary. He'll certainly need to play in more than just the Championship and while he will undoubtedly improve the Foxes attack, their fans will be hoping he stays fit and shows early form.

Not much else to write tonight, I'm afraid. Hopefully more (including confirmation of Steffan Jones signing) later this week. Maybe even tomorrow...

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Sorry, but...

Just a quick blog this morning to say that there'll be nothing now until Monday.

I'm shortly to swap the tranquility of the Lakes for my parents place for the weekend and I'll have no internet signal there. My folks are many things, but silver surfers they ain't. Given that I'm not too keen on nicking a neighbour's bandwidth for obvious reasons (even if it wasn't encrypted) so I'll not be able to blog until my return north, which will be sometime on Monday afternoon.

Still, its not that there's lots happening. Pretty quiet around the club at present and perhaps the next we'll hear is the announcement of fixtures and the membership prices next week. As someone wrote on (I think) 606 (I'd check but this hotel wi-fi is fragile to say the least) it may be that they're saving any signing news until then. If there is any signing news. There's still no official news on Steffan Jones, while our search for a spinner presumably goes on. Maybe we're giving Bishan Bedi a chance to get into shape before unveiling him as a new form of Kolpak - one of the "thirty years retired so it doesn't matter" variety!

Anyway, catch up with you soon and remember to keep the faith!

Friday, 6 November 2009

View from the Lakes

I'm typing this while looking out of my hotel bedroom across Windermere, just after a hearty full English breakfast that was made virtuous by dint of my having fruit salad before it with some orange juice. It's dry just now, though not as dry as in the places where all the cricket is being played and if this was a match day, bearing in mind the forecast, I'd have serious concerns.

I've just read an amusing piece on Mohammad Yousuf, who some will remember almost came to Derbyshire a few years back. It turns out that in around 220 one day international innings he has been run out 38 times, which is an incredibly high percentage even allowing for the somewhat manic manner of these matches. Many of them appear to have been his fault, such as the latest, where he hit the ball straight to the short extra cover and for some reason decided he could make 22 yards before the ball could get to the bowler. He was wrong by about 5 yards...

It set me thinking about what would have happened if he'd joined Hassan Adnan in our middle order. Adnan was a shocking runner too, and the traditional "yes", "no" and "wait" would have been joined by "hang on a sec, we might just make it if..." conducted in the middle of the pitch, of course, just before the opposition rejoiced in an "Howzaatt!"

Little else to report today. There's been a few reponses to my last piece on Anthony McGrath and Chris Taylor (thanks for that) but I don't see these guys at Derby. McGrath in form is a fine player and would be a great asset to most sides as a batsman who can bowl, but he'll be way too expensive for us, even allowing for him losing the captaincy at the club, which appears likely. It affected his game last year, but I don't see him leaving over it. As I said the other day, he's over 30 too, and his salary and the financial penalty of playing him would be too severe.

Taylor was (is?) a decent player, but he left Yorkshire a little acrimoniously, then did the same at Derby and last season couldn't get into a Yorkie side that made batting look very difficult most of the time. I don't know the guy and maybe do him a disservice, but none of the above suggests to me someone who would replace Park, Smith or Redfern. Nor is he young enough to be an automatic choice either. The only way that he MAY be considered would be if John Sadler failed to sign a new contract and we needed batting cover. Taylor scored enough runs at Derby to suggest he had talent, but there's a team ethic there that needs to be maintained and maybe he's not the best in that area.

I also read a piece on 606 where someone talked about Derbyshire's "Board" putting their hands in their pockets. I think he was confusing the cricket and football clubs, because the cricket club have a committee to represent the membership but not set up to fund the club. Having said that, Don Amott has done a huge amount for Derbyshire and has dipped into his own money on a number of occasions, yet cannot be expected to do this all the time. Maybe we need to see if Bill Gates is a closet Derbyshire fan...

Anyway, I must go as a day of presentations awaits me at this conference. I hope to return later to big news from the club, but whether I will is another thing altogether!

Wednesday, 4 November 2009


There's a suggestion on a couple of boards that we're in the market for Chris Taylor and Anthony McGrath of Yorkshire.

Not a hope. I may as well start a rumour that I'm going to join the club next year as their first over-50.

While Taylor did OK at Derby, he went away on a bad footing and I would doubt would be welcomed back. McGrath is a fine player, but as such, and most recently the skipper, will be on a salary in advance of what we could afford. Having said that, he'll be 34 next season and therefore no use under the legislation coming into force.

Sorry guys, but this won't happen in a gazillion years and nor should it. Could anyone say Taylor is better than our current top 5?

I can't.


It was good to read today that the club intend to mark the 140th anniversary with a commemorative DVD in 2010.

Changed days from 1970 when the centenary was marked with a bumper edition of the yearbook and the issue of a Crown Derby plate.

There’s plenty of stuff out there and it just needs a little detective work on behalf of some dedicated individuals to pull it all together. I’m sure that, like me, you will look forward to seeing the fruits of their labours and will buy a copy next season.

A week or two back I highlighted a piece of film I came across of George Pope (which I've told the guys about for the DVD). Here's another that you may enjoy, this time of 1950's legend Cliff Gladwin bowling against New Zealand for England in 1949. You'll see Cliff at 2:16 and 3:17.

Modern fans may look at Cliff's modest run up and think he looks non-too threatening. All I'll say is that 1653 wickets at 18 suggest a bloke who could bowl and as Fred Trueman once said, these old films fairly slow a bowler down...

At the end of the day, its not how fast you bowl, it's where you bowl it and the figures suggest Cliff did that better than most in the history of the club, even if he perhaps lacked that something extra for the very top level.

Elsewhere, there’s a terrific marketing ploy by Middlesex for next season, which you can see at

There’s has to be people or companies out there who would be happy to do a similar thing at Derby. Maybe the guys there have considered the idea or are working on something at the moment, but I think it is a very innovative piece of work by the marketing guys at Lords and top marks to them.

The only other bit of news today is that Craig White has rejected a move to Edgbaston, where he was to become their bowling coach and has decided to stay at Yorkshire, where he is in charge of the Second XI. White cites personal reasons for the decision, but I can understand him not wanting to move from the beauty of Scarborough to Birmingham. The latter is not one of my favourite cities and would be a long way from a bracing walk along the sands on the east coast.

As for me, I’m off for a tropical few days in the splendours of the Lake District tomorrow for a three-day conference, followed by a couple of days seeing the folks. So early warning that there’ll be no blog on Saturday or Sunday, but should anything happen up to the weekend I’ll be taking advantage of the promised wi-fi at the hotel.

See you soon!

Monday, 2 November 2009

Monday musings

There's not a lot happening in the world of county cricket at present, but I thought I'd dash off a few lines tonight as I'm unlikely to have the chance tomorrow.

My son and I are off to a rock gig together (The Orchestra, a spin off of ELO) and we'll not be back till later. So unless I get back tomorrow to find we've signed Jacques Kallis or Ricky Ponting, I'll not have chance to do much.

Around the counties, Yorkshire are looking for the soundtrack to their 2010 season, so there'll be plenty of Grateful Dead and Bad Company no doubt (tee hee..!)

Meanwhile, Middlesex are close to signing two experienced seam bowlers, with the thinking money being that one of them is ex-Matlock and Leicestershire professional Ian O'Brien. He had a decent year with the Foxes, but they've gone for Aussie Andrew McDonald for next season and O'Brien would be a shrewd signing.

The Hong Kong Sixes saw South Africa beat the hosts in the final by hitting a six on the last ball. England therefore failed to defend their trophy and it is to be hoped that the national side do better in South Africa in the coming months. As I've written before, I think they are emerging as the team to beat, with plenty of good batsmen and bowlers and England will do well to return with their reputations intact.

That's pretty much it. Still no news of anything at the County Ground but it will all happen in its own time.

Time to go. My Sweet Talking Woman has just brought me a coffee and some home made cake. Tomorrow I'll be listening to Mr Blue Sky and imagining them over the County Ground next season.

See you soon.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Sunday thoughts

Really not all that much to report this weekend my friends.

I mentioned yesterday that Cap'n Buck made 149 for Victoria. Leicestershire fans will be pleased to see that their pro for next year, Andrew McDonald also made a century, as did former county overseas Brad Hodge as South Australia were left with a lot of batting to do on the last day to avoid defeat.

Victoria have the quick and awkward Dirk Nannes in their attack, which is always handy. Every top side has a quick, awkward opening bowler and Nannes is certainly that. In fact, it crossed my mind as to whether South African quick bowler Makhaya Ntini may be tempted into signing a Kolpak deal somewhere after dropping down the pecking order in the national side.

With Steyn, the Morkel brothers, Parnell, Tsotsobe, Van der Wath, McLaren and Langeveldt all vying for a Test place, Ntini may see a last pay day in England as an opportunity not to be missed. At 32 his express days are behind him, but he's a decent bowler who on his day is a real handful.

As we saw in the Championship last year, there aren't loads of real quickies out there, with the best of them not keen, or able, to undertake a year's county grind.
You can understand why, when they've not only got 64 days of Championship cricket, but the 40 over game and around 16 Twenty/20s where they'd be expected to throw themselves around in the field. Gone are the days when the young Bill Bowes, when playing for Yorkshire, got a row from his skipper, Brian Sellers, for diving to stop a ball. He was told, in no uncertain terms that he was in the side to bowl, not field. You can't see such a conversation happening today.

Despite the restrictions on Kolpaks, I think there will be a few in the county game in 2010, but they will have to be of a higher standard than has sometimes been the case in the past. The days when a South African or West Indian with a passport could come and ply their trade in England as a matter of course are gone, as evidenced by the departure from the scene as such players as Pedro Collins, Dwayne Smith, Wavell Hinds, Francois du Plessis, Dominic Telo, Grant Hodnett, HD Ackerman and many more.

Instead, those who are here will be recent Test or one day internationals and therefore, by definition, of a higher standard than has sometimes been the case. The trick for all county coaches is to find the right man who is available, at the right price and who will add to the side, especially when taking into account the financial penalties. A batsman who would guarantee a thousand runs, a bowler who would take fifty wickets or an all rounder who could perhaps score 500-750 runs and take 30-40 wickets would still be worth every penny. If you have the money.

There are counties, as highlighted by Steve Rhodes last week, who are paying way over the odds for ordinary players. While he is a good bowler, might someone not consider that, instead of paying £100K for Hoggard, paying £50-70K for a talented, ex-international South African or West Indian (plus the financial penalties) might not be better value? Just a thought.

As I wrote earlier in the week, there's not been many players who have moved so far, even if we had the money, that I'd have been desperate to bring to Derby. In fact, with the possible exception of Nick Compton, I'd say there were none. I'm not sure he'd have got into our top four, based on last year's form.

If we could sign a top spinner (maybe a top spinner who can bowl a top spinner!) I'd be quite happy with where we're at. A young batsman, a talented under 22 (or under 26) would be useful, as would perhaps another young seamer, but I don't think we'll see much more than that over the winter.

Then its down to the second overseas role for the Twenty/20. The BOSS - Bums On Seats Signing. I'd be surprised if we sorted that one before the New Year, to be honest, but you never know.

See you soon.