Sunday, 31 January 2010

Just when you think you've seen it all...

Along comes Shahid Afridi and makes you reassess your opinions.

Did anyone else see his astonishing ball-biting episode against Australia in the fifth one day international?

I've never seen anyone do that and never really expected to. I reckon he is lucky to get away with a two match ban personally, as it was a blatant attempt to change the condition of the ball. Where I come from we call that cheating.

Despite his ridiculous attempt after the game to justify it ("I just wanted us to win the game...")there can be no defence and it is especially poor to see a captain resort to this.

Afridi has had a strange career where his reputation has ebbed and flowed. He burst on to the international scene with an astonishing one day hundred, played some remarkable innings in a brief stint at Leicester and was probably the reason his country won the 20 over World Cup in this country. In between, his performances have been very ordinary and his stint with Derbyshire was largely unsuccessful.

Hampshire must be wondering what they'll be getting for this year's T20, that's for sure. The one constant with Afridi is that you never know who will turn up - the guy who will win you a game in a few overs or play very poorly.

I like my overseas players a little more reliable...

In other news, its nice to see Chris Rogers back from his broken hand in Australia. With 24 and 38 in his two innings he's needing some time in the middle but he will soon be back to his prolific best.

Finally, it was interesting to see money bags Hampshire signing Neil McKenzie as a Kolpak for the coming summer. The one thing I would say in favour of the new legislation is that it is making sides bring over only better standard Kolpaks, rather than anyone who has a bat and pads from South Africa and the Caribbean.
Robin Peterson, Makhaya Ntini and Neil McKenzie are all international cricketers - good ones - of recent vintage and will all give good service in the coming season I'm sure.

Peterson will be the best though...

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Congratulations again!

Sincere congratulations to everyone involved in the commercial operations at Derbyshire County Cricket Club as the club are set to announce a profit for the fourth successive year.

The following comes from the ECB website, though it has not yet made it to the official club site:

Derbyshire reveal further profits
30 January 2010

Derbyshire have announced a trading profit for the fourth successive year.

The club revealed a £14,420 surplus for 2009 - subject to final approval by members at the forthcoming AGM.

The figure is a slight increase on 2008, enabling continuing progress on the planned upgrades at the County Ground.

“Four successive profits is an excellent achievement in itself,” Derbyshire chief executive Keith Loring said.

“However, 2009 is probably the biggest success story of all as it has been achieved in the light of the difficult trading conditions which have faced all businesses.

“The ability of the off the field team to attract bumper crowds to our big matches has been crucial to our financial success, as has an increase in advertising and sponsorship income.

“A fourth successive profitable year demonstrates our strategy of spending within our means whilst generating the maximum revenue possible to invest in the team.

“We are continuing to move forward with our planned £700,000 development including new seats, a permanent marquee, a new irrigation system and the turning of the wicket including the repositioning of floodlights and the scoreboard.

“This money has been accumulated in our development fund and therefore we will be incurring no borrowing.

“This work comes after over £250,000 has been spent in the last two years refurbishing existing facilities.

“All of these developments are geared towards making the County Ground a pleasant and comfortable environment for members and cricket lovers.”

Chairman Don Amott added: “Everybody at the club, both on and off the field, has worked hard to achieve these results in 2009.

“However, a special thank you must go to our members, supporters, partners and corporate customers for their continued support during 2009 and in previous years. Their support is greatly appreciated.”

It says it all, to be honest. In the economic climate of the past twelve months, that the club registered any kind of profit was a minor miracle. That they did so amid encouraging performances on the pitch was all the more so.

£14,000 isn't that much money, but there will be a lot of counties who would be delighted to be turning in any kind of positive figure. I read one report that suggested Kent would be looking at up to £500,000 LOSS. Any business returning such figures would have to start worrying.

I would go as far as to say that as we enter our 140th season the club has never been so well run off the field. For much of the pre and post-war period it was a month by month struggle to survive, though people were far less aware of the commercial possibilities at that time.

With good crowds in this year's expanded T20 - which will be easier if we win a few games of course - there will then be more money in John Morris' pot for new players in 2011. The ground will be unrecognisable from the one I first saw in 1968 and I look forward to seeing the new look in the coming season.

The icing on the cake would be the signing of a name for the T20. Still no news on that one, but rest assured I'll be posting it on here as soon as it is made official!

All this and the Rams beat Forest today...


Thursday, 28 January 2010

Word of caution - Cricket World

I've been on to a couple of Cricket World links tonight and my virus checker has both times fired a warning siren about them containing viruses.

As its linked from here I feel obliged to let you know - hopefully it is just a temporary problem.

Things developing nicely..

I've had a couple of blog-free days as it has been fairly quiet on the Derbyshire front.

It was good to see the club supporting Tim O'Gorman's bid to become Chairman of the English Cricket Board. To have a relatively recent cricketer in such a role can be no bad thing, especially when he has played for an "unfashionable" county like us. O'Gorman was a player we struggled to replace for years to be honest, as a gutsy middle order batsman with an ugly stance but effective technique. His early retirement was a blow but he has done well subsequently and I hope that our nomination, plus support from elsewhere, sees him secure the post.

It was also gratfying to read in Wisden Cricket Monthly that our marketing and events team were working wonders off the pitch and are regarded as one of the most enlightened in the country. As Peakview points out on IMWT,

All the counties are having to grow up for the next decade. Grounds now double up as conference centres, party venues and examination halls. Perhaps surprisingly Derbyshire are pioneers, turning into a 365 day-a- year business and the club is hopeful of announcing a fourth consecutive annual profit.
"We started from a bit farther back than other people - and it has actually worked to our advantage that we were so bad in the past" says chief executive, Keith Loring. "We no longer want to be considered the 18th county, either on or off the pitch".

Great to read!

On the pitch, Surrey have signed Chris Tremlett (a good bowler when fit) and Kent have signed Malinga Bandara who should form a good spinning partnership with James Tredwell. Worcestershire have signed Australian all rounder James Cameron. I've never heard of him, but he'll face a Titanic task in turning around their fortunes...I'm wasted, me!

Finally, Durham are chasing a T20 specialist and I'd see them as our major rivals if we are after Albie Morkel. As I've said before, whether its Morkel, Kallis, Duminy, de Villiers or Langeveldt I'd be a happy bunny. I just hope we get our man, like the Mounties, sometime soon.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Wave on fire...

I don't know if anyone else has noticed, but Wavell Hinds is on fire for Jamaica this winter in the Caribbean.

Playing against Guyana, albeit a side with one of the weaker attacks in that part of the world, Wavell made 151 for his side in an all out total of 429. He added 232 for the seventh wicket with wicket keeper Carlton Baugh and then the remarkably consistent Nikita Miller took 3-25 in 15 overs of slow left arm to reduce Guyana to 112-5 at the end of the day.

It doesn't alter the fact that Hinds was a little diappointing for Derbyshire, but it makes you wonder if he could yet earn a recall to the national side to bolster their inconsistent line up. Logic suggests no, but weight of runs is a powerful argument, unless of course your name is Mark Ramprakash...

In South Africa, the Morkel brothers Titans lost to the Dolphins in the MTN40 cup semi final, with Albie scoring a brisk 26 as they fell 15 short in a run chase. I've spent a fair bit of time following South African cricket this winter for fairly obvious reasons and one thing that has impressed me has been the players names. They're simply better than ours, end of story. My five favourites are, for what its worth:

Mbasa Gqadushe - Kwa Zulu Natal(how do you pronounce that one?)
Shadley van Shalkwyk - Orange Free State - simply brilliant
Sybrand Engelbrecht - Cape Cobras
Thandi Tshabalala - Eagles
Siyamthanda Ntshona - Warriors

Can't you just see yourself with one of those names on the back of your club shirt? Your street credibility would go up ten-fold...

See you next week!

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Good piece on 606

There's a nice piece on 606 earlier this week on Derbyshire's team of the decade. The poster, TGLM, suggested the following side for the period between 2000 and 2009

Michael Di Venuto
Steve Stubbings
Chris Bassano
Greg Smith
Ant Botha
Jamie Pipe
Graeme Welch
Graham Wagg
Steffan Jones
Charl Langeveldt
Kevin Dean

It is hard to argue with many of those choices, which leaves a side packed with quality seam bowling. What it highlights is that it was not a decade blessed with quality batsmen. There may be arguments for and against Chris Rogers v Michael di Venuto, but most of the others cannot be disputed. With Ant Botha at 5, however, I would be less confident of our posting totals on a regular basis, especially when for much of the period only Di Venuto could be called prolific.

Here's an interesting one for you. Compare that team with the one likely to take the field in the Championship in 2010:

Chris Rogers
Wayne Madsen
Garry Park
Greg Smith
Dan Redfern
Paul Borrington
Lee Goddard
Robin Peterson
Graham Wagg
Tim Groenewald
Steffan Jones

There's not that much between them and the current side is definitely the better balanced. Notwithstanding the presence of three inexperienced players in the middle order, the current side has great depth in batting and potentially eight bowlers. Of course, a composite side from the decade has some fine bowlers, but they never played together!

The close nature of the sides in strength suggests, given that the above side WILL probably take the field, that the team has come together well under John Morris. The last decade was far from a memorable one for Derbyshire fans, but the next one, looking at the potential in the above side, could be if they can be kept together.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Pertinent comment

There's a pertinent comment from Derbyshire La La La on BBC 606 tonight, suggesting he has little optimism for Derbyshire's T20 chances this season.

To a point I would agree with him and anyone who has followed us over recent seasons will know we have been poor at 20 over cricket. Last season we came to terms with the batting side of the game - this year we need to maintain that AND bowl in the right areas more often.

I've suggested some names in the frame on this blog in the past couple of weeks. Morkel, Kallis, Parnell, Duminy, Langeveldt, de Villiers - we'd not say no to any of them would we? Realistically though, no one of them could win us matches alone. With a batting order of something like Rogers, Madsen, Smith, X, Peterson, Park, Goddard, Wagg and maybe Redfern, we should put on a decent total. We then need to bowl well, as even the best of batting line ups will falter in the face of decent bowling, full and in the blockhole.

If we score 150 in 20 overs we should win more matches than we lose, but as a few have said on the boards, we then need to bowl well, as a flying start too often last year gave the opposition the initiative they never lost.

There was an example of that tonight in the MTN40 semi final between The Titans and The Cobras. For once the Cobras bowled badly, allowing their opponents to post 274-4 in 40 overs. Robin Peterson bowled 7 overs for 30, but most of his teammates went for eight an over. With Prince, Kallis and Boucher in the opposition they had their work cut out, but even the Cobras line up, featuring Smith, Gibbs and Duminy struggled to match that and lost by nine runs. Peterson got a run a ball 24 and Kemp 71 but the big guns failed to fire.

For Derbyshire to do well in 2010 we need eleven players performing to the best of their ability in most matches. Sometimes a brilliant individual performance can win a game, but successful teams have contributions from everyone. Look at Durham. Their big names are obvious, but sometimes it is Coetzer and Stoneman, lesser lights, who win the games for them.

I'm sure John Morris will be impressing on his charges the need for team efforts in all cricket next year. We should be reasonably confident and expectant that Peterson and our other new man will give us eight decent overs in the T20, but the key to success will probably come from the other twelve and how well they are bowled.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Quiet time...

Not an awful lot to report tonight, but I thought I'd check in to say hello!

I've had a few problems with the hit counter on the site, which has been working fine behind the scenes but not on the front page, so I've changed it to one that will give me a few useful statistics into the bargain. It's a little smaller, but I'm sure you don't log on just to see that...

So Kabir Ali has been released from his contract at Worcestershire. No surprise there, as the club hadn't a leg to stand on. It appears that all any player wanting away has to do is threaten to strike. A shame and it will probably sour the reputation that his performances for them earned over the years.

There's a suggestion on 606 that our new T20 player may be Charl Langeveldt. He may turn out to be and few would be disappointed if it were, but I still think that our first choice is more likely to be an all rounder. John Morris said that others are in for the player concerned and I would have hoped that Charl might have more easily re-signed for us by this stage. He may well be Morris' plan B or C, but I'd be surprised if he was the first choice.

That's it for now - see you soon!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Another week nearer.

So we're halfway through January already and Christmas is but a distant memory. On the upside, the season draws ever nearer...

News today that John Morris has an offer in for an unnamed international cricketer to be our second overseas player for the T20. Good news so far then, but the bad news is that there are other counties in for him as well. My guess is that it will all come down to Morris' powers of persuasion. If he can convince this player that a winning stint at Derbyshire will do wonders for their reputation, then we'll possibly, just like the Mounties, get our man. The reality, of course is that money talks and the player concerned may go for the biggest salary, which is unlikely to come from us.

If we do end up with the player, I hope that all fans will acknowledge an extraordinary job by Morris. It is far from easy to do a job with severe financial constraints and JM suffers more than most in this respect. Yet we're still looking like we may have a decent side next summer, so there are plenty of reasons to be cheerful.

My guess - only that - is that our target may be Albie Morkel. Having had a successful stint at Durham he will be in demand and is perhaps THE player in the format in South African cricket. His only rival would be JP Duminy, though much as I would love to see that talented all rounder at Derby I think he would be out of our league financially.

Looking at some of the prices commanded in the IPL auction today I'm surprised many of these top players would consider the T20. Kieron Pollard at $750K anyone? An extraordinary amount for a clean hitter of a ball on occasion, but three quarters of a million? You're having a laugh...

Same for Kemal Roach. $720K for a novice quickie? These are extraordinary sums for what I would deem average players. By those sums ten million wouldn't buy Michael Holding in his pomp. Mind you, there's ten million would never have signed Chris Harris for Derbyshire... and I'm one of them!

$610K for Wayne Parnell suggests he may not need a County deal to pay for his petrol sometime soon, while $250K for ex-Derbyshire player Mohammad Kaif is again a lot of cash for a player who is below top level in my humble opinion.

Elsewhere today Sussex have re-signed Devon Smith, which always seemed likely. He's given them very good service and is a good player in this form of the game.

Finally tonight, Derbyshire are Barbados-bound. In an eminently sensible move, John Morris is taking the squad for some decent practice in the sun before the start of our season. Two years ago there was criticism in some quarters for such a move, but these comments are small minded. With a very early start it is imperative that the guys get outdoor practice and with good standard County sides out there with them, all from Division One, they will get just that.

I just hope that the wickets are of a decent standard, as some of the Caribbean tracks of late have been a little dodgy to say the least, though Barbados seems to be better than most.

So who knows? Maybe next time I blog I will be reporting on a big name signing and we will all be excited at the prospect.

I hope so!

Friday, 15 January 2010

Weekend thoughts

Another easy win for Derbyshire's feeder club, or the Cape Cobras as they're better known tonight.

It was a win based on a first wicket partnership between their prolific opening pair of Puttick and van Zyl, who put on 109 on a wicket that subsequently deteriorated quickly. After they were parted the Cobras subsided to 207 all out, with just three runs for Robin Peterson as The Warriors international spinners Boje and Botha got to work.

Their success suggested that Peterson would enjoy himself with the ball and he duly obliged, taking 3-29 in his eight overs as he ran through the middle order. His figures paled to insignificance however as Charl Langeveldt returned the astonishing figures of 8-2-17-5 as the Warriors could only manage 155-9.

Earlier this week it was good to read of a new County recruit from the High Peak in Matt Higginbottom, whose club figures suggest a player of some potential. It is good to see the club's scouting network reaping dividends and if Higginbottom comes through and emulates Andrew Harris from the same part of the county we will have few complaints. A summer contract gives him an opportunity to shine and fingers crossed he will do just that.

In an encouraging week, teenage opener Ben Slater was voted Premier League Young Player of the Year and good judges predict a bright future for the young Chesterfield opening batsman who was also voted Academy Young Player of the Year. These lads suggest a steady conveyor belt is developing from the Academy and they just need to keep working hard to reap the benefits of a promising system.

It was also interesting to read that Kiwi Iain O'Brien had discussions with John Morris about a deal with Derbyshire, but couldn't guarantee he would qualify as an Englishman through residence or marriage. As it has turned out he will play his first year at Middlesex as an overseas player, a role we couldn't offer with the admirable Chris Rogers filling that position.

Meanwhile Sachin Tendulkar has turned down a T20 stint at Middlesex while, as DCCC Forever points out, Somerset have signed Keiron Pollard, the exciting Trinidadian all rounder, who will share the role with Cameron White. A number of sides are sorted for that competition now, but there's a lot of good players out there and John Morris will sort out our role in due course.

Finally this evening, Graeme Welch has signed a contract to become seam bowling coach at Edgbaston, where he started his playing career. It will be a big loss for Essex, who will need to move quickly to sort that role with pre-season training imminent.

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Just one more point...

A couple of comments on last night's posts that suggest people agree with my wish list, which is nice, but DCCC Forever makes a good point.

We do, badly, need a bowler who can keep it tight. A Langeveldt, to use a very good example. Last season we showed that we could set a decent score and 150 should, if you back it up with decent bowling, win you more games than not.

In the absence of that you need a VERY good batting side who can chase most totals down. I'm not sure we have that yet, but the addition of a Duminy, Morkel or Kallis would not harm us.

I will clarify that I haven't a clue, the same as everyone else, what budget John Morris has to play with. It may be that we're looking at the next level of player down for all I know, perhaps someone like Justin Ontong, though I'd be less sure of their ability to swell the crowd.

As I said last night, I would be astonished if Duminy wanted to come and did come, though he would definitely boost the crowds. Morkel would too, and I think that he may be the most affordable and the best bet. His bowling goes for around eight an over in this format, which is not the most economical, but he would come with a reputation to build and the incentive of reclaiming a place in his national side.

The reality is that irrespective of what the new man and Peterson bring to the mix, there will still be a huge onus on the existing players to step up to the mark and raise their game. If they helped us to reach totals of 180 and we still got hammered due to indisciplined bowling we'd be no further forward.

That our team looks better on paper than two years ago is undeniable. What they will all need to show now is that they can cut it when they get out on the grass, because we will only win as a team, not with two or three good individuals.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

So who's it going to be?

Hampshire have signed Shahid Afridi, Leicestershire have signed Brad Hodge. Gilchrist and maybe Tendulkar are going to Middlesex and Cameron White is Somerset-bound.

So who will be at Derbyshire next season for the T20?

Like all of you, I would love to know who our "bums on seats" player is going to be, though I have little doubt that Robin Peterson will make a big difference to our game in that format. I'm not a betting man, but given that John Morris has good contacts in South Africa and we have picked up several players from there already, my "money" would be on another South African being our new man.

There would be no shortage of their accents next year and whoever he is should feel at home. With Wayne Madsen, Garry Park, Greg Smith, Tim Groenewald and Peterson likely to be in the T20 side, our new signing should be very much at home.

My other suggestion is that it would be someone who could contribute with both bat and ball. Morris likes plenty of options on the park and a top batsman who bowls, bowler who bats or genuine all rounder would have a great deal to offer.

For what it is worth, here is my top four. All of them wonderful options, with the first perhaps out of our league, but there's no harm in dreaming...

JP Duminy

OK, he has had only an average series against England in the Tests, but he's a very fine batsman, a more than useful bowler and a world-class fielder. No one has signed him yet, so we can at least dream until then. He is on a $950,000 annual contract from the Mumbai Indians so can't exactly need the money, nor will he necessarily want to play any more cricket. Just think though - Smith, Peterson and Duminy in the middle order! An underrated off spinner who is getting better all the time and he may just want to keep his eye in and play with a team mate from the Cape Cobras in Peterson. I'd be very surprised if it were him though!

Albie Morkel

He has not yet made the world class all rounder that was predicted in the longer forms of the game, but there are few better at the shortest. A batsman who can score 50 in three/four overs and a reasonably economical bowler. Like Duminy, an excellent fielder too and a real powerhouse of a cricketer. Yes please...

Jacques Kallis

For me a better Test and one day cricketer than T20 player, but you wouldn't be disappointed to see "Special K" in Derbyshire colours, surely? Catches flies and while not as mobile as some of the others as he nears the twilight of his career, he is a wonderful player.

Wayne Parnell

More a bowler who bats than an all rounder at this stage, but Parnell is a tremendous talent who will surely grace the South African international sides for some time to come. He is usually a very hostile opening bowler who bowled beautifully in the T20 World Cup. His youth cricket suggested he would become a genuine all rounder and at 20 he has time on his side.

The thing is that South Africa has plenty of talented players, some of whom are at this stage unknown over here. If we were going for a batsman, then Alviro Petersen and Ghulam Bodi would have merit, though not as much as the brilliant AB de Villiers. If we were going for a bowler, you might not discount Charl Langeveldt but Jo Louw could be another option.

My guess is that we might know a little more as soon as the current distraction of the Test series is over. I may be completely wide of the mark, but I would be surprised if our T20 man did not come from South Africa. Whatever else, I'm confident that John Morris will pull out a good 'un within our available budget.

We'll see soon enough.

Bits and pieces

It was a shame to hear about Chris Rogers' broken hand today in the Derby Telegraph. That must have been an especially dodgy track and a nasty injury. However, if it had to happen it is best that it does so at this stage, when Rogers is unlikely to miss any matches for us. Selfish? Yes.

Elsewhere, I was interested to read that Steve Stubbings has taken over as player/coach at Alvaston and Boulton and looks to have attracted some decent players there. Hasan Adnan will score runs at that level, while Andy Gray should take wickets and add a few with the bat too.

Perhaps the most interesting signing, however, is Ollie Saffell, fresh from 3 years with MCC Young Cricketers. Saffell is a decent batsman and a bowler of some potential. In his only match for the county he took five wickets and scored an unbeaten 35. While the opposition was only Cambridge University, it suggests that the lad can play. Stubbo reckons that he could yet force his way into the county reckoning and at 23, with the new legislation, he would give us an additional option should he be able to do so.

I would be surprised if John Morris doesn't have a long look at him this summer and it would be nice to see another youngster emerge from local cricket if Saffell steps up to the mark.

One to watch for sure.

Monday, 11 January 2010

I may be missing the point, but...

This England Lions side...

Given that we are now looking at selecting two players in every county side who are under the age of 22 and a further three under 26 you would expect the make up of this side, the natural conduit into the Test side, to be made up of young guns, lads who have years ahead of them in the game.

So why does it include Michael Carberry at 29? Or Sajid Mahmood at 28, Michael Lumb at 29 or Peter Trego at 28? There's James Tredwell at 27, the same age as Ian Bell (who I'd have thought they would have known enough about by now) and Steve "Perennial Lion" Kirby at 32.

Now I'm not disputing the ability of any of these players, all of whom have given excellent service to their counties in the last couple of years. Yet in doing so, they prove a point.

Some of them are late developers.

Take Carberry as a prime example. He has kicked around the county scene for Surrey and more recently Hampshire since 2001, and it was only when he moved to the latter that he came to terms with his game and county cricket to emerge as someone called into the England setup as a first reserve, had Paul Collingwood failed a fitness test.

Would he have got that opportunity with the new quota system? Might he not, at 26, have ended up on the "good, but not good enough" pile? That is the problem with the system. ladies and gentlemen. A lot of players who develop at their own pace which may well not be accelerated by the new system, whether the ECB like it or not.

I would agree with the sender of a recent e mail that most batsmen are at their peak by the time they are 30. If you look at the great players, their really prolific years have come between 30 and 35. Some have extended that to 40. Yet are we not consigning some, perhaps future international players, to the scrapheap by saying that only 6 over the age of 26 can appear in a county side without penalty?

It is very worrying for a small club like Derbyshire, Leicestershire or Worcestershire, all of whom depend on their ECB handout to keep the wolf from the door. Irrespective of how well run we are as a county, Derbyshire simply cannot afford to put two fingers up at the ECB and say we will pick whoever we like, whenever we like.

That Paul Borrington and Dan Redfern will be in our first choice side in the Championship this season is highly likely. The problem will come if one or both hit a bad run of form. Does John Morris continue to pick them and hope they work it out, or does he do the sensible thing and pull them from the firing line to rediscover their mojo in the Seconds?

If any one thing has highlighted the frailties of the new quota system it is this Lions selection. Had it been made up of under 26's awash with talent I could have understood it more and would have held up my hands accordingly to say "well done."

As it is, the selection has made it a bit of a joke. The presence of young guns such as Rashid, Woakes, Finn, Kieswetter and Taylor is encouraging. Yet when a 32 year old seamer is in there alongside another good, near England player who is 28 (Mahmood), it smacks of shooting oneself in the foot, does it not? As it does when the best spinner in the country, on figures is, 27.

Similarly, the first three in the order are likely to be Carberry, Lumb and Bell - or 29, 29, 27 respectively. It is no great surprise of course. How many under 26 players currently hold together, or even appear regularly in their county side? Outside of Leicestershire, not many is my guess.

So, to cut a long story short - I just hope we bin the Memorandum of Understanding as soon as possible.

There's a big danger that it is being misunderstood.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

It's freezing, but...

I've been pre-season training this weekend. OK, it started a little earlier than usual, but with a housebound weekend due to the weather I decided to have morning and night sessions on the Wii Fit and half an hour shovelling ice and snow from the drive.

It was while doing the latter, with the temperature this weekend somewhere between minus five and minus twelve, that the realisation hit me that Derbyshire's first match is just eighty-eight days away. I can only hope that it warms up in between times. Last week a few of our club members went to the nearby Lake of Menteith and had a game of cricket on the ice there, which currently has ice that is seven inches thick. It played better than our average track, to be honest.

I read today that Wavell scored 95 for Jamaica against the Windward Islands in a game that they look set to win easily. His top scoring knock came after left arm spinner Nikita Miller returned the extraordinary figures of 26-14-28-7. After our season ended and before we signed Robin Peterson, I remember someone one here or perhaps on In Morris We Trust suggesting Miller as a Kolpak option. I don't think he is in Peterson's class as a spinner, but with 140 first class wickets at 19 it is hard to see how he cannot get into the West Indian side. I suspect that he is flattered by some helpful tracks and batsmen who like to hit spin bowlers on to the next island, but his figures are decent by any standards.

I've been trying to find out about Paul Borrington's season in Australia but Midland Guildford don't seem to have a web master as their site hasn't worked for months. If I find anything out I'll let you know.

Anyway, the countdown starts here folks. It may be freezing out there, but sunny days and (hopefully) success may lie just around the corner.

See you soon.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Mixed news from Kimberley

There were varying fortunes from Kimberley tonight, where the Cobras were playing the Eagles in the latest MTN40 fixture.

Batting first, the Cobras once again batted beautifully, making 285-2 in their 40 overs. Stian Van Zyl made another century in a fine season while Herschelle Gibbs smashed 79 from just 53 balls.

It would have been understandable had the Eagles caved in at that point, but they mounted a fine reply, reaching 147-1 in the 24th over. Robin Peterson then took two wickets in two balls on his way to fine figures, in the circumstances of 2-43 in his eight overs.

On the other hand, Charl Langeveldt took fierce stick in his first four overs, which went for over 40 runs. He was then removed from the attack after five balls of his fifth over for bowling a beamer, with his figures an unusual 4.5-0-49-0

Nonetheless, the Cobras ended up winning in a close and exciting finish by 2 runs, with former Middlesex all rounder Vernon Philander taking three wickets.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Plenty of work behind the scenes

It has been refreshing to see the initiatives coming out of Derbyshire Cricket Club over the last few days that should bring additional revenue into the club.

A few months ago I wrote on the blog about how Middlesex were offering fans and businesses an opportunity to sponsor a player for the coming season at £300 a go. Now Derbyshire are offering a similar deal, full details of which can be seen on the club web site - just click the link on the left. If you've got some spare money lying around - sadly I haven't - it's a good deal. For a company it is a very good deal and I am sure that there will be plenty of interest.

The same goes for the Wall of Dedication, where for £50 you can have your name forever connected with the club. That's quite a nice idea too and especially for those who have perhaps recently lost a loved one who was a fan of the club. A good one for everyone, to be honest, and I am sure that there will be a good level of interest.

Elsewhere, I note that Chris Taylor has announced his retirement from the game to concentrate on his coaching business. I hope that the venture, which he runs with Andrew Gale, is a success. Few would deny that Taylor was a player of talent, yet one whose career remained largely unfulfilled. His best year was undoubtedly at Derby, when he showed himself to be a player of application, but also with a good range of strokes. He was especially adept at chipping the ball over the inner ring and then taking two before the outfielders could get to the ball. It was unfortunate that he fell out with the club the following season, when accusations of selfish batting in the Second Eleven caused a major fall out. His return to Yorkshire saw him unable to break into the First Eleven and his retirement is not perhaps unexpected, given the young talent that the club apparently has coming through.

Samit Patel has signed a new deal with Nottinghamshire today and will presumably enjoy playing alongside his brother Akhil, who made some encouraging performances towards the end of the season. Meanwhile Stuart Clark has signed for Kent as overseas pro in a sensible deal assuming he is at peak fitness.

Finally tonight Robin Peterson for once is taking some stick in South Africa. It happens to all bowlers on occasion of course, though the Cobras will still have to do badly to lose this one. Having made 300-3 in 40 overs (Herschelle Gibbs 121 not out with eight fours and six sixes), the Dolphins are 141-3 in reply as I close in 24 overs. 160 in 16 is 10 an over by my book, though Peterson has gone for 42 in 5 overs so far as Dale Benkenstein and youngster David Miller have been giving it the long handle. He didn't even get a bat today, such is their current strength. He might as well get used to it, when the mighty machine that is the Derbyshire batting line up roars into life...

My money would still be on the Cobras, with Charl Langeveldt, back after injury, still with four overs in hand.

Postscript - Cobras win by 66 runs, with two wickets for Champagne Charl.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Psychic Peak strikes again...

The last day of my holidays today as I'm back at work tomorrow, no doubt like the rest of you. Apologies if you're already back...

I was interested to read today that Middlesex are hopeful of securing Makhaya Ntini on a Kolpak deal for next season. Regular readers will perhaps recall that I suggested such a deal for the fast bowling star a few months back. It has become increasingly evident in recent weeks that his real nip has gone, but he could do well in the Championship. Should he sign he will partner New Zealander Ian O'Brien with the new ball for Middlesex, which gives them a fairly potent attack. With Adam Gilchrist and possibly Sachin Tendulkar playing in the T20 for them, their fans will be looking forward to April with new-found enthusiasm.

There's a nice piece on the club site today on Derbyshire's top players over the last decade. No real surprises, with Graeme Welch the top wicket taker and Steve Stubbings the most prolific batsman over the period. Fine servants to the county, both of them.

Thanks to Chris (I think!) for the link to this Youtube footage of Graeme Welch undergoing treatment for a badly infected Achilles tendon injury, presumably the one that finished his career. The link is below, but I'll warn you in advance that it is not for the squeamish and definitely not something to watch if you're enjoying your night time cocoa...

Finally tonight, news that well rated Yorkshire off-spinner James Finch has been released by the county as they have plenty of options in that department. At 21 he has time to make an impression elsewhere and I'd not be surprised to see another county give him a trial in their Second XI next summer.

Until the next time - have a good one!

Friday, 1 January 2010

Happy New Year!

Hello everyone, Happy New 2010 and I hope you're as pleased as I am to be able to say that THIS year could turn out to be the year of the Falcons!

I was a bit surprised when reading Teletext this morning. On successive page headlines it says that "Taylor is delighted by MBE" then says "Taylor charged after bar scuffle".
I thought that perhaps one had led to a celebration that had got out of hand, but it turned out that the former applied to England ladies cricket captain Claire, while the latter referred to West Indies fast bowler Jerome...

Not much to report today, apart from a decent knock by Travis Birt for Tasmania, which, coupled with a brisk 47 from overseas player Rana Naved ul Hasan (ex Yorkshire and Sussex) enabled them to post a decent, winning total against Western Australia. The Aussie T20 side to beat would appear to be New South Wales, for whom format specialist Dave Warner hit 50 in a competition record 18 balls a couple of days back. He and Phil Hughes added a mind boggling 94 for the first wicket in just 7 overs, although the later batsmen struggled to get going and they fell just short of 200. Still enough for an easy win though against a Tasmania side that look a shadow of their former selves without ex-Derbyshire players Michael di Venuto and Michael Dighton, not to mention our player-that-nearly-was Damian Wright.

Anyway, must go. New Year's Day dinner at my mother in law's beckons and I'll have to find those trousers with an industrial strength waistband to cope with her portion control!

Good job I'm not playing for a few weeks yet... time to get that waistline back in order.

Have a good one and see you soon.