Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Bazooka Bosman set to entertain

There is something of an irony in that the side who have been accused (falsely) of signing more Kolpaks than any other county find themselves crossing the sporting divide and picking up a Bosman for the coming season.

This Bosman is no ordinary beast, however. Lungile Loots Bosman is not a man we would have signed as a replacement for Chris Rogers, as his first class record is modest, but as a destructive opening batsman of the highest order in the twenty over thrash, his record is second to none. Bosman averages over 50 in international matches in the shortest form, while his record in domestic matches is a highly respectable 35. If Dave Warner is the King Tonker of twenty over cricket, Bosman is certainly worthy of consideration as the Prince Regent.

He is not just a slogger, despite a strike rate of 176 per 100 balls faced. A record such as his would be outside the compass of someone who just gets lucky from time to time. He has a good technique but a wonderful eye, combined with timing that sends a ball from the middle of the bat to somewhere beyond the boundary ropes on a regular basis. The nine sixes he hit when destroying England earlier this winter ( 94 from 45 balls!) simply replicated those he hit when scoring a similarly paced domestic ton in South Africa the previous year.
In 37 domestic twenty over matches, Bosman has hit 66 sixes, with seventeen more in just six international appearances over the distance. He showed sufficient prowess at despatching the ball to distant parts with South Africa in India to suggest he would have have been an asset in the IPL. In the third of the fifty over matches, his 68 from 46 balls (7 fours, 4 sixes) gave his side a start of 113 in the first fifteen overs before he was dismissed and an initiative they never lost.

I am sure that Derbyshire fans will watch his performances in the imminent World Cup with a great deal of interest, though Bosman has enough feats to his name in the short format to make those further afield take note at this signing. He promises to be the biggest hitter we have had since the halcyon days of Chris Wilkins, another player who hit long and often to enliven our days at the match.

Over the last few months I have written a few times of the need to get either a big name batsman or bowler to help fill the new seats at the County Ground and have suggested Bosman as one worthy of consideration on several occasions. There is little doubt that batsmen will almost always pull crowds more than bowlers, unless you can pick up a Holding or Muralidaran (as he now spells his name.) While a few people may be saying "Who?" at this signing, anyone who really follows the game will be looking at this and realising that Derbyshire mean business. With decent luck from the weather, anyone prevaricating over their attendance at an evening game in the summer may well be swayed by the prospect of Bosman launching the ball to distant parts. If his eye is in, they may need higher netting in front of the play area at Queens Park before the game against Leicestershire in July...

At a time when all counties are finding it difficult to attract big name players, John Morris has pulled out a gem of a signing and should be warmly congratulated. While some may moan that our greater need was a top bowler, the counter argument is that there are few who are prepared to put their body through more work and potentially shorten their careers outside of the IPL. Similarly, many of the really top players - your Tendulkar, Ponting, Kallis - don't need it, period. Others are only able to commit to shorter term contracts, like Cameron White, while some don't manage at all - Virender Sehwag, anyone?

The reality is that Derbyshire have signed an electrifying batsman who, if he comes off on anything like a regular basis, should give a different complexion to our twenty over game. There's not that much difference, at the end of the day, between a bowler who gets through his four overs for 20 and a batsman who hits fifty in 25 balls and enables you to score 190 instead of 160. Apart from the fact that the latter will sell a lot more tickets at the gate and swell the club coffers...

Bosman's signing probably means that we can allow Chris Rogers to do what Tendulkar does so well for the Mumbai Indians and simply bat through the innings. As a naturally quick scorer he will not need to go for the big aerial shots and can simply accumulate while Loots, ideally, puts our totals out of sight. With Madsen, Park and Smith to follow, as well as Goddard, Peterson and Wagg, we should have enough batting to do well. If the bowlers have learned lessons from last year, maybe we could see a decent T20 campaign for the first time. It should be well worth watching, that's for sure.

Loots Bosman at Derbyshire. What's that noise I hear? Ah, 'tis the sound of tinkling cash registers...

Bosman signs for T20!

News this morning on the net that Derbyshire have agreed terms with big hitting South African batsman Loots Bosman to be our second overseas star in the T20 this season.

I'll do more on this later, but the presence of Bosman, who spectacularly hit 94 from just 45 balls against England in the winter, should surely help to fill those extra seats at the County Ground this summer.
It has not yet made the club site, but anyone wishing confirmation of the signing and that I'm not pulling an early April Fool should go to

Bosman hit nine sixes in his whirlwind knock against England and has a number of similar feats in the short format.

Excited? You bet. Nice one Mr Morris, more later.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010


Thanks to Chris for the enlightening piece on Yorkshire's new fast bowling recruit (see comments, previous article), which suggests that life will not be dull around Headingley this season...

Anon also suggests that Surrey and Sussex will be the teams to beat, as I said the other night. They are not unbeatable though. Sussex may be short in batting and will miss Ed Joyce for the first two months at least, though will again hope that the admirable Murray Goodwin scores heavily. Their bowling is steady, without being unduly penetrative, though they will hope for better from Monty Panesar than he showed in South Africa this winter. Much will depend on Yasir Arafat as overseas player.

As for Surrey, they received a huge blow today when the Indian Cricket Board revoked the clearance of Piyush Chawla to play county cricket, so that he is not overworked. The decision has also prevented Sehwag going to Northamptonshire, so there will rightly be some unhappy people in those counties tonight. They have some good players, but both Chris Tremlett and Andre Nel had major injuries in 2009 and there appears little quality bowling in reserve.

As for the rest, Glamorgan surely cannot continue to rely on Robert Croft for wickets, while Gloucestershire's batting needs to be much better than last year for them to be serious contenders. Matthew Hoggard will need untapped powers of captaincy to turn Leicestershire into a strong side, and they are already set to lose Andrew McDonald for at least part of the season. Middlesex are too reliant on Owais Shah and may lose key players to the England set up.

Northamptonshire have David Sales restored to fitness and Mal Loye back, but have lost Van der Wath, Wessels and now Sehwag. That just leaves Worcestershire, who have lost almost all of their big names over the winter and will need a miracle to be competitive this time around.

Every season throws up a surprise package but Derbyshire have every possibility of being in the Championship mix this season. As I said last weekend, with a little luck from the weather, with umpiring decisions and in holding catches I will be disappointed with anything less than a top four place.

There. I've said it now...

Monday, 29 March 2010

Limited action at Taunton

The inclement weather that so often heralds the sight of cricketers throughout the country treading on the green sward once more restricted play at Taunton to just over 21 overs today, though Derbyshire did well in that time to restrict their hosts to 96-3.

Such weather was, of course, the rationale behind the trip to the Caribbean. Derbyshire's players have at least had some time in the middle and it appears that Tim Groenewald reaped the benefits with two wickets today, those of Suppiah and Compton, while Mark Footitt took the prize wicket of Marcus Trescothick, caught at slip by Paul Borrington. Encouraging news...

Elsewhere Albie Morkel has agreed to return to Durham, as I wrote on this blog a couple of weeks ago. He's not had the best of IPL's, to be honest, but yesterday put Shane Warne over the ropes three times from successive balls, the last one out of the ground. Strangely, however, his captain only had him in when the game was effectively lost and they needed 15/16 an over. The same often happens for South Africa and some suggest that Morkel rarely plays a "finisher" innings when he can do anything but slog it. I think he would have been an asset to us, but our search goes on.

Several counties are reporting that they are getting worried about the second player as the ones they are chasing are asking daft money. The ones who have played IPL can afford to, of course. I'm sure we'd all love to see Matthew Hayden, Dave Warner or Yusuf Pathan at Derby, but my guess is that these guys will be way outside the compass of most county sides and certainly our budget. Pathan has increasingly impressed me in the IPL. I still think his hitting, magnificent on its day, is nothing you'd put money on, but if he comes off it is spectacular and he combines it with tight spin and good fielding, a potent mixture. As I've said before though, there's so many uncertainties over player availability at present that we may still have to wait for a while to hear who we can get.

Elsewhere, Yorkshire are now looking to sign Tino Best as their overseas bowler (hmmm...) while Middlesex have signed Pedro Collins, ex-Surrey (double hmmm...) Neither would thrill me unduly, although I think Kent could get better service from Dewald Nel, who has plied his trade here in Scotland for a few years and is a steady bowler. Such signings, decent cricketers though they are, reflect the paucity of genuine stars available for county stints.

I hope we get something a little more inspiring.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Celebration time for Peterson

Following on from the fine example set by Chris Rogers and Victoria, Robin Peterson will be celebrating right now after the Cape Cobras sealed an innings victory over the Warriors today and with it the Supersport Series - the South African Championship.

Their success has been down to solid batting down the order together with two outstanding bowlers. Vernon Philander took 45 wickets at 14 as well as averaging 22 with the bat, while Peterson had a very fine year too.

He averaged 35 with the bat, mostly at number eight, while adding 30 wickets at just 23 runs each. In the final match he followed first innings figures of 2-18 in 11 overs with 5-41 in 16.5 overs in the second innings.

It all augurs well for Derbyshire and I hope he retains his mojo for the imminent county season, when Rogers and Peterson can hopefully combine for a hat trick of titles.

Speaking of South Africa, a few months back I wrote that young Saffer batsman Rilee Rossouw was one to watch at 20. Earlier this week he scored 319 IN A DAY against the Titans, with 47 fours and eight sixes. Irrespective of the standard of opposition, which was far from poor, that takes some doing and is the second highest score in a day by a South African, behind Barry Richards 325 in Australia a few years back. I'd say he has potential...

Finally today, news that ex (almost) Derbyshire player Mohammad Yousuf is set to announce his retirement from all cricket following his exclusion from their national side. It is a sad loss for the game and especially for their side, not especially blessed with world class batsmen at present.

It's also one less player for county chiefs to look at for an overseas berth.

I wonder if anyone needs Venkat's number...?

The young ones

Last night I penned my pre-season Championship preview and got an e mail that I had omitted the name of Jon Clare. I did, but then again, I didn't mention Chesney Hughes, Atif Sheikh, Ross Whiteley, Tom Poynton, Matt Higginbottom or Ben Slater either.

All these young players are rich in potential and talent. I think that they may well have long and fulfilling careers ahead of them, hopefully for Derbyshire. Most are, however, unlikely to be too involved this season unless things go badly or we have a lot of injuries.

As I've previously written, Hughes isn't qualified for England so we would incur a financial penalty whenever he played in the Championship. The others named above need a couple of years of continued development - an apprenticeship if you will - under John Sadler and Karl Krikken, with perhaps an occasional first team opportunity at the right time.

Clare is different, much like Jake Needham. I've had people tell me that Needham has lost it, which is both wrong and very unfair. He's only 23, for goodness sake and has already bowled enough good spells in one and four day cricket to suggest that there's something there. John Morris obviously thinks so as he put him on a four year contract until 2012, along with Redfern, Borrington and Clare. Working with Robin Peterson this season will do him no harm, letting him get inside the mind of an international cricketer, watching him work and talking to him in the nets. He may play some one day cricket, but he needs to bowl a lot of overs and get his loop and confidence back.

The same goes for Jon Clare. My selection last night was based on last year's form and the vagaries of a selection process where you must pick age group players to get a share of the loot. Clare burst onto the scene in 2008 and looked like an all rounder of great potential, averaging over 40 with the bat and under 30 with the ball. He spent a lot of time with Charl Langeveldt and learned a lot from the South African. However, such an introduction was always going to be hard to sustain and a perceived weakness against the short ball saw his batting struggle a little last year. Even worse, injury problems meant that the Jon Clare I saw bowl was a pale shadow of the 2008 version.

It was something I could relate to. A number of years ago I damaged my rotator cuff in the shoulder, like Clare, and had physio for months. I couldn't play cricket because it was sore if I threw the ball, certainly when I bowled and niggled when I batted. The following year I started to play again, but I had gone from bowling at a pace akin to Garry Park to one closer to a declaration slow bowler. I was wary of letting go and it took me all that season to mentally realise I was OK, even if physically I had been for months.

I am sure that Steffan Jones and Andy Brown have worked a lot with Clare over the winter and got his confidence back. If they have done, he will be in the frame for a lot of cricket this year as a lad with a lot to offer.

At this stage, I don't know though and none of us do until we start in a couple of weeks.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Maybe it's just me, but..

What the heck is happening with the Second XI 40 over competition?

Each innings of 40-overs will be split into two phases of 20 overs, with each team having 10 wickets at its disposal for the entire innings.

A team’s second phase will continue from the point at which the first phase ended.Then there's 20 overs of powerplays, 10 of which will be the first 10 overs with the other 10 split into two blocks of 5, one taken at the fielding team’s discretion, the other at the batting team’s discretion.

Oh, and there's pink cricket balls and white clothing, ostensibly to understand more about the performance of pink balls in our conditions, and how they combine with white clothing.

Eh? Call me old-fashioned, but isn't this just daft?

I'm away to compose my masterplan for next season, which I shall sell to the ECB for a pretty penny. In mine, there are - wait for it - EIGHT innings of five overs each. Any batsman who plays a dot ball is automatically out and will be banned for three matches, while bowlers who overstep or bowl wide are banned for life. Catches can only be held with one hand and there's a powerplay every other over. Boundaries are a maximum of 50 yards and Derbyshire will switch their HQ to Heanor and still bring the ropes in.

Daft? They started it...

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Up where we belong? The Championship preview

There was a good piece in yesterday's Derby Telegraph by Mark Eklid, which added to my growing conviction that the good times are set to roll at the County Ground, especially in the longer, Championship form of the game.

Derbyshire's players all, unanimously, contributed to their Barbados trip. That's right. Yes, it sounded glamorous, it was probably fun and it was undoubtedly beneficial, yet the guys all dipped into their own pockets to contribute to the cost.

That might not make them the best team in the land, but it shows a unity of purpose that will stand them in good stead this coming season. You don't need to be too old to remember a Derbyshire dressing room with more factions than the Sugababes have had line ups and it is good to see the present squad pulling together.

I'll look at the one day campaign in due course, but over the last two years Derbyshire have proved a match for most in Division Two of the County Championship. We're not yet ruthless, but we're hard to beat and we'll battle. Last year we got into a number 0f potential winning positions yet rarely forced the result, something that was very frustrating for everyone.

So what will be different this year? A lot, actually.

For one, we'll have as good an opening pair as there is in Chris Rogers and Wayne Madsen - for the whole season. OK, Madsen may have a little second season-itis, but maybe he won't. Buck will be determined to close his Derbyshire career (Aussie recall notwithstanding) on a high and we should expect a thousand from each of these fine players.

Garry Park and Greg Smith should be thereabouts too. Park excelled last year, his first for the county, while Smith emerged as the player we've hoped for since he burst onto the scene. He will have been disappointed to miss his thousand, but for a bloke who also bowls spin and seam and fields brilliantly it was a fine return.

We've lost the mercurial Mr Hinds from the middle order, but with Dan Redfern likely to be joined by Paul Borrington I have high hopes that we will not lose any runs from that part of the order and will naturally benefit in the field. Both are fine talents with good techniques and Borrington's experience against the new ball will be handy when he gets in with the scoreboard reading 375-4 and the second one due...

Seriously, he will be good insurance against a collapse, while new wicket keeper Lee Goddard will, I'm sure, add around 500 runs from number seven. I really rate the lad and his record in Durham's second string is excellent. If he takes to the county game like Garry Park did, we will have few complaints. He is also an excellent gloveman and I think John Morris has made a very shrewd signing.

Memo to Durham - last year Park, this year Goddard. Watch out boys, we're coming for Di Venuto, if this year is the last for Rogers!

Of course, we will then have new Kolpak Robin Peterson at number eight and he is one of two men who could make the real difference in the Championship campaign. It is a long time since we had a match winning spinner, even one who you could rely on to bowl with control on a regular basis. Yes, Ant Botha had his fans and was a decent player, but if you remember Botha running through sides you're a better man than I. He kept it tight, but he rarely matched the opposition twirlers at Northampton or Cardiff, something I would expect Peterson to do.

With Peterson at one end and a combination of Madsen (an underrated spinner), Smith and Redfern at the other we should get wickets with slow bowling this year. Of course, I'm assuming that Graham Wagg might not bowl as much spin and that Jake Needham will struggle to get into the Championship side on a regular basis.

Graham Wagg, the Derbyshire Sobers. If he stays fit he could be another key man with his penetrative, lively left arm swing. We all know he is another brilliant fielder and he has the ability to score many more runs than he does with his dazzling stroke play. How many chances he will get is questionable, as I cannot see how he will bat higher than nine, but Wagg is an all rounder of talent. Worse cricketers have played for England and I think he will benefit from the arrival of the boy from Nottingham.

For me, Wagg and Mark Footitt could make for an excellent new ball attack. Both left arm, a less common angle, with one relying on swing and the other, make no bones about it, on the nippy side of lively. Three years ago when Footitt burst onto the scene he was thought of as an England bowler in waiting. Pace, bounce and movement is a potent mixture and if he can stay fit and get a little help from our new direction tracks at Derby, we could just have signed the strike bowler we needed.

I see the other position in the Championship being a straight fight between Steffan Jones and Tim Groenewald, assuming everyone is fit. It would be silly to expect the Jones boy to play every match at his age and with coaching responsibilities. He may be of greater use in one day games, where, with Ian Hunter, he could use his experience to good effect. Timmy G had a fine first season last year, took wickets, bowled accurately, fielded well and scored handy runs. You can't ask for more and with that success under his belt, he should have plenty of confidence.

Maybe Tom Lungley can force his way in with a last hurrah as he owes us a season, but I would reckon Derbyshire's first choice side to be pretty close to this in the County Championship:


Such a side would give us long batting, brilliant fielders and EIGHT bowlers. For the first time in a long time it is well balanced and the advent of a quality spinner and a quick could make us genuine promotion contenders.

I know there are good sides out there and see Surrey and Sussex as our biggest rivals. Yet I look at the various squads and genuinely feel that we just need a good start. If we then get the rub of the green with the weather and umpiring decisions, we should be pushing for promotion with that side.

I can't wait for it to start.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Tour a success

For all the fact that a small minority will reckon we should have saved the money, stayed at home and frozen our socks off, even indoors, there is no doubt in my opinion that the Caribbean tour has been both worthwhile and a success.

Most of the players have scored runs, taken wickets or spent time in the middle. More importantly, there has been an opportunity for the squad to gel and for the new boys to assimilate themselves into the team.

Again, there have been good performances from Mark Footitt and Lee Goddard, the former showing himself to be a bowler of good pace and a different angle, while the latter has confirmed his ability both behind and in front of the stumps with some assured displays. I remain convinced that he will be an admirable replacement for James Pipe and will make a major contribution this year and for many more to come. Footitt could just prove to be the strike bowler we lacked last year. If he stays fit, gains confidence and bowls quickly, there will be some batsmen hopping around this summer as the new man can be seriously lively.

Yet for all their promise, the eye-openers have been three men who may have been deemed peripheral figures in the squad by some. Paul Borrington was regarded as lightweight and a one-paced batsman, Chesney Hughes was an untried talent and John Sadler yesterday's man, about to take charge of the Second XI.

In the space of a few days it has all changed. Bozza has produced two very impressive one day displays, the second of which showed an admirable ability to pace an innings. I saw him a couple of years ago for the Seconds and he looked an organised, phlegmatic player, but one who would only accumulate behind square and seldom endanger anyone fielding in front of the wicket. He has now filled out and is obviously hitting the ball cleanly. One only needs to add the figures from an impressive Australian winter to his Caribbean stats to highlight a lad who must come into contention this summer in all aspects of the game.

Chesney Hughes is another, although he is not yet qualified and is unlikely to play much more than T20 and its relaxed regulations. What a prospect he seems though, with more the build of a heavyweight boxer and the power to match. We may yet have the pinch hitter so important in T20 already on our staff, one able to bowl respectable and tidy slow left arm into the bargain. At just 19 he is a tremendous prospect and offers genuine optimism for the future of God's own county cricket side, just like the 21 year old Borrington and the 19 year old all rounder, the precociously talented Dan Redfern. While we have all drooled over his silky batting potential, Redders has suggested his off spin could be another useful weapon for the county.

Where they fit in is the (nice) problem at this stage. One assumes that Rogers and Madsen will be the regular openers, that Park will bat three and Smith at four. All scored heavily last season, so Redfern and Borrington may well find themselves at five and six in the championship, both able to push the score along or rebuild as required.

Yet there's also John Sadler. He showed at Leicester that he was a very good one day batsman and for one reason or another (ill health and injury in his first year, everyone else's form last year) it hasn't worked out at the County Ground. He could, however, be a very good and potent weapon at six in one day cricket, as well as an excellent role model for the younger players in the Seconds.

With Goddard, Wagg, Peterson, Groenewald, Clare and Jones at the other end, we shouldn't lack for runs this season. I'm just thrilled that John Morris has a real, genuine selection dilemma to sort out of the very best kind.

This weekend I will deliver my pre-season preview for the Championship, then next week will do the same for one day cricket. In between times, why not let me know how you expect the Championship campaign to go in this week's poll?

See you soon.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Final score from The Brewery in Barbados

Barbados 201 all out in 40 overs

Derbyshire 202-4 in 39 overs
Borrington 98 not out (116 balls, 9 fours, one six)
Hughes 48
Sadler 34 not out

OK, hands up all those who would have put Messrs Borrington, Hughes and Sadler in their first choice one day side?

Me neither, but well done to all of them. Might need to rethink the plans at this rate.

PS I'm free for second team skipper if Sads is needed in the First Eleven...

Update from Barbados

Derbyshire 143-4 (30 overs)

Paul Borrington 65 not out
Chesney Hughes 48
John Sadler 11 not out

Only 43 from the last ten overs? 59 to win from the last ten. Should still be a win... surely?

Breaking news from Barbados

Barbados Select 201 all out (38.2 overs)
Jonathan Carter 42 – 57 balls, 3 fours, 1 six
Rashidi Boucher 39 – 36 balls, 4 fours, 2 sixes
Jason Holder 38 – 25 balls, 4 fours, 1 six
Antonio Mayers 25
Martin Nurse 22

Greg Smith 2-24; Ian Hunter 3-33, Greg Smith 2-24, Chesney Hughes 2-38, Mark Footitt 1-26, Garry Park 1-41).

Derbyshire 100-2 (20 overs) (Chesney Hughes 48, Paul Borrington 44 not out).

On course to finish the tour with a win!

Tough for Tuffey

Yorkshire may have beaten us once on the pre-season tour but they're now seriously worried at the loss of Daryl Tuffey for the next six weeks at least with a broken hand sustained in the recent Test against Australia.

The number of counties who have had to change their plans for an overseas import this winter is crazy and they're all panicking a little at this stage. Thank goodness for Chris Rogers! I'd still take him over pretty much anyone else on the circuit.

Buck will be delighted that his Victorian team won the Sheffield Shield in his absence through injury by a piffling 457 runs having left Queensland a trifling 640 to win. With James Hopes injured they were never in the hunt, though even with Bradman, Richards and the Chappell brothers in there they'd not have got them in a day. Hopefully the skipper will be fully fit for the start of our season.

Another man celebrating is Robin Peterson, who barring a last match disaster will be enjoying a SuperSport Series title after the coming four day match against the Warriors, starting on Thursday. Peterson played a key role in the innings win over the Dolphins last week, taking 3-37 in 21 overs on the final day. Hope he keeps that economy rate going in England...

Good to see that we've now been granted planning permission to move the floodlight pylons at the County Ground and we can now look forward to watching the game from different angles from now on. The pavilion balcony could be in danger of a peppering in the T20 this season, hopefully from Derbyshire batsmen.

Interestingly the majority of voters in the poll (2/3) seemed to feel our greatest need is a bowler for the T20 campaign. I can see both sides of the argument and wouldn't be heartbroken either way we went. If we ended up with a Loots Bosman-style dasher it would be an asset as we don't really have a player who clears the ropes and gives us a Dave Warner-esque opening to our innings. On the other hand I'm not yet convinced we have five blokes who can bowl four tight overs on a regular basis. Peterson probably will (should do, given his role in the side) but the others have been inconsistent in their one day displays and go for either nowt or plenty.

On balance and assuming that Rogers and Peterson weigh in with runs and we can't sign a top all rounder, my preference would be a bowler. However, if the choice (in my dreams) was between a batsman like Matt Hayden and an average seamer, I'll take the batsman - please and thank you!

Speaking of which, and in closing, I see Jacques Kallis' batting is in decline and he now averages a mere 283 in the IPL after his dismissal today. Meanwhile Pakistan have appointed ex-Derbyshire man Shahid Afridi skipper for the World T20.

I just hope that he doesn't go onto the field without a good meal...

Monday, 22 March 2010

More good news

217 all out for Derbyshire against Lancashire in Barbados today in a 40 over match, with Wayne Madsen making 59, Paul Borrington 44 and Lee Goddard 31.

It is a decent total but may not be a winning one, with Lancashire 128-2 from just 20 overs in reply. The scores above highlight the potential of the side though, with Madsen potentially a free scoring opener and Goddard likely to be a more than adequate replacement for James Pipe.

Bozza has seldom been mentioned in despatches for the one day side, but anybody who can add 101 in 17 overs for the first wicket will do me as an option! Realistically his chances in the one day team are likely to be limited, but performances like that when he gets the chance will do him no harm. The same goes for Chesney Hughes, unlikely to play much senior cricket until he qualifies but a possible option for the T20 if he continues to bat attractively and bowl with good control.

Not much else tonight, so I'll see you again as the week progresses.

Sunday, 21 March 2010


So we lost yesterday to Essex in a 20 over match in Barbados, but then took revenge for our two day defeat to Yorkshire by beating them by 7 wickets today.

As you'll have seen on the club site (follow the links on the left) we were undone by Ryan ten Doeschate again yesterday, the Dutchman probably wishing he could carry our attack around in his kit bag after his astonishing ton in the last game of 2009.

Today we bowled steadily, none more so than Chesney Hughes, whose three overs at the death for just twelve runs kept the Yorkshire total to a gettable 154-3 in twenty.

Hughes then scored a brisk 25 opening the innings and his form will have given John Morris food for thought for the T20 in this country, when my understanding is that he could play without penalty. The win was sealed by good knocks from John Sadler (36) Garry Park (29) and Greg Smith (21), before Graham Wagg hammered an unbeaten 40 from just 17 balls, he and Sadler adding 52 in just over 4 overs.

It was another good workout for the boys. Of course, results at this stage don't matter too much whether it is a win or a loss, but Hughes' all round display and Wagg's batting in an elevated position will have given John Morris a rewarding day.

Elsewhere, Middlesex are the latest to lose out on a star player with Yuvraj now unable to play for them in the summer due to international commitments. They will have a gem in Adam Gilchrist, who has impressed me considerably with his captaincy in the IPL. Especially impressive today was the death bowling of Andrew Symonds and Chaminda Vaas, who never let their opponents get anywhere near the 20 they needed from the last two overs with accurate, intelligent bowling. It was great to watch and Symonds is still a cricketer of the very highest class.

I just wish that we could afford him...

Friday, 19 March 2010

After a week...

I've watched 95% of the IPL this week, thanks to ITV4 and their pretty impressive coverage. Sadly, from next week when I start my new job I'll see very little, but a man has to pay the bills, eh?

There's been some good cricket and there's been some very poor stuff, some of the latter by people from whom you'd expect more. Watching experienced players hitting the ball up into the air two balls after losing their partner, thus leaving two new players at the crease seems odd and not at all professional. Some of the young Indian players have looked rich in potential, with the standout for me, as I wrote last night, Rohit Sharma of the Deccan Chargers. He ran himself out today, but bowled cleverly and fielded as well as ever. Top player.

No one could have failed to be impressed by Matt Hayden's hitting today, especially when he sent for the Mongoose bat. It was the sort of display we hoped to see from Stuart Law last year, but Hayden's power was breathtaking. So too has been some of the fielding, with several terrific catches made. Justin Kemp has also done well, especially with the ball, while his catch today on the boundary edge was magnificent.

The best seam bowler has been Chaminda Vaas, who has bowled beautifully in every game. Today he was too clever for Sangakkara and Yuvraj and is bowling with excellent rhythm and considerable skill.

THE star turn with the bat thus far has been Jacques Kallis, and I now eat humble pie. A few months ago I suggested that this format was not Kallis' forte, but with 198 runs in three innings and nary a sign of dismissal he has proved me wrong. With Tendulkar, he has looked the class act at the crease, the two of them playing orthodox strokes that have left them looking like Yehudi Menuhin at a ceilidh.

I'm sure that all the counties still to fill T20 berths will have looked at these players and wondered if they could tempt them over for the county equivalent. Many won't be bothered, as they can hardly need the money, but I'd be confident that they could all grace the tournament as well as they have this week.

Finally tonight, the Telegraph reports that making the Ashes free to air could see four counties go to the wall. Interestingly, they say that Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire are unlikely to be the victims as they are well run, instead suggesting that "big" counties could be the sufferers. A day after Yorkshire's CEO claimed that their current deficit will take ten good years to wipe out, this is both amusing and worrying in equal measure.

Anyway, enough for tonight. More Derbyshire action from Barbados over the weekend - the season proper is just three weeks away...

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Up to date score

There's a good report on the first and second day in Barbados on the Yorkshire club site.
You can see it by clicking on the link below

You can also see first day highlights on the page - fair play to the White Rose county - their web site has done a very good job.

Not the ideal start, but..

I'm sure that John Morris might have fancied a better start than 185 all out on the first day of the tour in Barbados, but anyone who gets worked up about performance at this stage, in either direction, is silly.

The absence of Rogers, Peterson and Wagg from what is likely to be a first choice side, plus the loss of Wayne Madsen to injury meant that it was a young Derbyshire side taking the field, albeit against young opposition. A few players missed the chance of time in the middle, but this is the time to hone issues of technique and timing so that all guns are blazing come April 9th

There's a comment from Chris on a previous article saying that he is surprised that so many in the poll feel we need a bowler for the T20. He reckons that our greatest need is someone who can put it into the crowd a few times and I wouldn't argue that we have no really big hitter in the current line up. However, where I and a lot of others are coming from is that last year we posted decent scores yet bowled very poorly. The problem with most hitters is that the nature of their game makes them inconsistent - take Yusuf Pathan, Shahid Afridi and Yuvraj Singh as prime examples. It is still possible to score quickly by playing proper cricket shots. I loved watching Tendulkar yesterday as he produced a fine array of shots using footwork and timing to score quickly. There aren't many around of that class though!

I'd have no qualms about signing a batsman, especially if he could bowl a few overs. One who would interest me would be 22 year old Rohit Sharma of the Deccan Chargers, who is one of the best young batsmen I've seen and bowls tidy off spin at less than 7 an over in 20 over cricket. He has yet to play a Test for India but a first class average of 55 and a highest score of 309 suggests that is just a matter of time. He also averages 34 in the short game, with a century to his name and several fifties. Again though, would his name pull people in? Perhaps not, but a discerning county cricket manager could do a lot worse than sign a young player who I think will be a massive star in the next three years. He's the best young Indian I have seen so far and looks to have a lot of time to play his shots.

I've had a couple of e mails from people about the poor coverage from Barbados. To be fair, it is a pre-season tour and the station covering it for Yorkshire are sports-specialists. I just hope that Derbyshire get a fair crack when the season proper starts. I find the online commentary a little frustrating at times, as Charles Collins gets carried away with nicknames and peripheral stuff at the expense of the action. He is a decent bloke by all accounts and I couldn't argue that the cricket side get far less coverage than Derby County. I've always wondered what would happen if Derby County signed a player on the day that the cricket club played a big Cup semi final or something similar. My guess is that the football would get top billing, which is unfortunate. I know more people go to see the Rams than the Falcons, but it just goes to show that the truly discerning in life are only available in limited numbers....

Finally today, I've no idea why the new seats aren't yet in situ. My guess would be that they want them in as close to the season as possible so they don't get weathered. I'm assuming they'll just drop into place and not need individually mounted, so it will not be a huge job when April comes around.

I start the new job next week, so no more daytime blogging and no more IPL. Just when I was almost becoming a fan of the format...

See you soon.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Pre season starts

Derbyshire are 100-4 from 41 overs against Yorkshire in Barbados.

Wayne Madsen retired hurt with a sore groin, Borrington was lbw, Smith caught at cover and Hughes also lbw.

Garry Park was also out with the score on 55 but Dan Redfern and Lee Goddard have started a stand and turned things around.

There will be 90 overs of play today and tomorrow in what appears to be glorious sunshine.

More later

Another one bites the dust

One player we won't be signing is Rana Naved ul Hasan. I read a piece today that said that he has re-signed with Tasmania for next winter and is close to a deal with Sussex to return there in an overseas capacity.

Ho and indeed hum. Yet he remains the TYPE of player we could do with. I've likewise been impressed by what I've seen in the IPL of Chaminda Vaas, a fine left arm bowler who can also wield the willow effectively. Now he is finished with international cricket he may fancy a stint in the T20 in England and is still a very good bowler, as evidenced by a hostile opening spell the other day

This week's poll should show how many of you agree with me, but much will depend on who is available, as I've said all along.

A slight worry for Derbyshire in that Chris Rogers was unable to take his place in the Victoria side for the Sheffield Shield final against Queensland. Rogers has a fractured knuckle in his left hand, sustained while fielding. He missed the last match of the league season with the injury and was named in their squad but dropped out. From a purely selfish and Derbyshire perspective I'm glad, as Buck is integral to our chances of success in 2010. He now has just under a month to get fit and be ready for our opening match of the season.

For those who want to listen to some cricket sooner than April, Yorkshire Radio have travelled to Barbados to broadcast on their side's matches in the pre-season. If you're interested, the details can be found by clicking the link below

Must be a tough gig, wouldn't mind that one myself. Mind you, I don't know if I could watch Yorkshire all the time...

See you soon.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

We're off on the road to...Barbados

Nice to read on the club site today that the boys are now in the Caribbean for some quality bonding and pre-season practice.

No doubt news will percolate through in due course about their performances, but it should be stressed from the outset that results are not especially important on this tour. Winning is a good habit, but time in the middle for batsmen and bowlers is the key at the start of the season.

There was interesting news on the DET site today, in that Wayne Madsen, Garry Park and Greg Smith will all have a shot at skippering the side in the days ahead. A few eyebrows may have been raised that Graham Wagg is not one of the acting skips, but Morris has an idea of his abilities in the area. Not being provy to the dressing room, it may be that Waggy doesn't want the job, but the reality is that we will need a new skipper for 2011, assuming that Chris Rogers does not get back into the Aussie reckoning. Buck will doubtless want to end his time at Derby on a high with a big summer, but the search for a successor should rightly start within. Both Madsen and Park have overseas captaincy experience under their belts and may be contenders, but that's a decision for some way down the track.

It could, of course, be a useful contractual bargaining tool at some point...

Kent are the latest side to lose an overseas player, with Stuart Clark now not fit enough to play for them. The overseas slots are becoming a nightmare across the country and it is understandable. Why would, for example, an average player like Kieron Pollard opt for a season of county grind that could make him a better player when he can pick up not far shy of a million for a month's stint in the IPL? I can see a scenario in the near future where the only players opting to come are those trying to build a reputation or who have fallen from favour.

I've had a couple of e mails about the T20 specialist, one suggesting that we should go for Yusuf Pathan. Clean a hitter as he is, I don't think he's good enough, as his first ball slog and out after his 37 ball century highlighted. He reminds me of Shahid Afridi, though the Pakistani is a far better bowler.

So tonight marks the return of the poll (cue cheering!) What would you most like to see at Derbyshire in that crucial role for 2010? A bowler who might be able to slog a few quick runs, or a batsman who might bowl an over or two? OK, we'd all love an all rounder, but there's a lot of teams out there in the same boat.

I look forward to the results of this one immensely...

Monday, 15 March 2010

Something's going on

I was delighted to read today that Yorkshire have agreed to hosting ten days of cricket at Scarborough for each of the next ten years.

As my favourite ground outside of God's own county, I'm delighted to hear that and just hope that we will be playing them there in the not too distant future. Seeing Derbyshire there (and at more Lords finals) is a remaining cricket ambition, having given up on the one where I played for the county...

Sorry to hear about a nasty facial injury sustained by Darren Maddy of Warwickshire in pre-season practice. The all rounder, who missed most of last season, needs surgery and may miss more cricket at the start of the season. I wish him a rapid recovery.

Northamptonshire have made perhaps the most intriguing overseas signing of 2010 with that of Zimbabwean all rounder Elton Chigumbura. Their fans appear unconvinced, though he is perhaps the country's best player after Taibu, a fine wicket-keeper batsman. Time will tell if the signing was inspirational or desperate, though he is of an age where he should have plenty of energy and things to prove.

Northamptonshire's signing of Virender Sehwag for the T20 looked good value today, as he smacked 75 from 34 balls to win the game for the Delhi Daredevils. To be fair, he looked the only player on display as there was some fairly ordinary cricket despite a plethora of big names. The players must have been mithered with all the beasties flying around, but there were some poor shots and ordinary fielding, though Graeme Smith held a fine catch to eventually dismiss Sehwag.

Still no news on our T20 signing, though I am increasingly of the opinion that our greater need is a tight bowler who can score quick runs on occasion. With a long and aggressive batting line up, I would prefer to see someone else who could give us four tight overs along with Robin Peterson. Assuming the batting improvement of last year was sustained, we could then look to do better in the coming season.

Not long now...

Great article on Eddie Barlow

Came across a lovely piece on Cricinfo today, talking about Eddie Barlow and the work he did to get cricket in Bangladesh to a decent standard.

It is written by the always excellent Andrew Miller and can be seen by clicking the link below

It is well worth reading the comments that follow too, especially that by "cricketloveit", whose comment on last afternoon transformations of games for Western Province is equally pertinent and relevent to all those who remember Eddie's golden performances for Derbyshire.

Barlow less than his best was better than most at their peak and I would have loved to see him as Derbyshire coach.

Mind you, how he'd have managed without coming on himself to take two quick wickets I don't know.

Have a good one. Am off on the hunt for his autobiography, which I had never heard of...

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Thoughts on the IPL

Thanks to those awfully nice people on ITV4, I've been watching a fair bit of the IPL coverage thus far.

Regular readers will know I've never been a fan of the 20-over format, but I have to admit to being impressed by what I've seen so far.

The coverage has been good, though Graeme Hick needs to relax a little in the studio. It is nice to see a woman doing well as host (Mandira Bedi is nicer looking than Mark Nicholas, at least in my book!) and the cricket has been very impressive.

I've previously criticised the game as being too short for fortunes to ebb and flow, but the games thus far have done just that.

I was impressed by the all round skills of Sri Lankan Angelo Matthews yesterday, while Charl Langeveldt proved as hard to get away as ever. Disappointing was the way that the Deccan Chargers big guns gave it up with some poor shots. Their reply was a breeze and simply needed a Michael Bevan or Dean Jones to push twos and stroll to victory. A succession of rash, unnecessary big shots gave the game away and the Knight Riders won a game that looked to be gone at one point.

Today saw an extraordinary knock by Yusuf Pathan, whose hundred from 37 balls almost took the game away from Mumbai. I wouldn't want him to bat for my life, but he can certainly hit a ball. On a flat track and with a short boundary he scores quickly. At the same time, I was again disappointed in Shaun Tait. That he is quick is undeniable, but his scattergun bowling against good batsmen is, for me, a liability. Far better were Zaheer Khan and "Slinger" Malinga, who put the ball in the right areas on a regular basis.

I just hope our players have been watching. The way that batsmen have built partnerships has echoed the way our guys batted last year. Mumbai's plan was for Sachin Tendulkar to bat through and for others to play around him. I said last year that I'd be happy to see Chris Rogers do the same as he naturally scores quickly and I think that would be a good move this season, with a number of good hitters in our eleven.

I've been impressed by the bowling. The spinners have taken the pace off, while the better seamers have mixed up pace and length to keep batsmen guessing. There has been good use of bouncers, while Malinga's ability to drop the ball in the slot was singularly impressive.

Have I seen anyone who might interest John Morris? If Pathan batted like that every time, then yes, but he doesn't. He's like the little girl with the curl - when he's good he is very, very good - but when he is bad... he's awful. The same goes for Yuvraj, who hit a huge steepler today with one hand. On his day he is magnifique, but I suspect the days of this eye player will be more sporadic as he gets older.

I still think - maybe I should say hope - that John Morris will go for someone who can bowl him some tight overs and can hit the ball well in the closing overs. This was an area we fell short last year, despite encouraging batting performances. A team that reaches 100-110 in 15 overs then adds 50-60 in the last five overs should not lose too many games, as long as they bowl in the right areas.

If Steffan Jones can get our guys bowling a fuller length and mixing up the pace a little, we COULD do better in the T20. If the matches are the spectacles of the IPL thus far, few would have complaints.


Mohammad Kaif - how did we end up with him as an overseas professional a few years back? One good innings at Lords built a reputation that has never been sustained, though I've rarely seen a cricketer do the splits more gracefully than he did today.

He was still stumped, which says it all really...

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Time for an oldie...

That old adage "every cloud has a silver lining" may not seem especially appropriate for certain Pakistani international cricketers tonight.

On the face of it, Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf's international careers are over, having received what from this distance appear to be absurd lifetime bans from their national side for supposedly being a disruptive element in the team.

I may be in a minority of one here, but Yousuf in particular has always shone like a beacon in their batting line up of late. A player with a full range of shots, a high backlift and the wristiness that only the outstanding Eastern batsman has, he alone in the last year or two has appeared to have the appetite for battle when the going got tough in anything other than twenty over cricket. With a Test average of 53 and a one day international average of ten runs less than that, this chap can play. He's not, to be fair, a twenty over player, but he has been their only truly outstanding batsman since the retirement of Inzamam-ul-Haq.

I would be very, very suprised if a county secretary of cricket manager didn't put on their best impression of Don Corleone and make him an offer he couldn't refuse sometime soon. At a time when truly world class overseas players are in short supply, the prospect of one who would be theoretically available from April to September should spark a major scramble.

I don't, however, see anyone making him their second T20 player, although I predict substantial interest in the likely availability of Rana Naved-ul-Hasan. He appears to be facing a year's ban and is a player of explosive potential, especially in the shorter form of the game.

He has never come off in Test cricket, though his record at Sussex was excellent. In twenty over games he has a highest score of 95 and has a bowling average of 21, boosted by an impressive ability to get the ball into the blockhole on a regular basis when batsmen are trying to lift the scoring rate at the end of an innings. He did well for Tasmania this winter and would be a shrewd signing for a county now they can count on his availability.

Whether he will come on John Morris' radar I couldn't say, but I would not be disappointed if he ended up in our squad for the summer slog-fest.

Elsewhere, there's a bit of a hokey-cokey going on around the counties. Sussex have a very good T20 signing coming in (Tillakaratne Dilshan) while Hampshire have, as I suggested might happen last week, signed Abdul Razzaq. On their day, Razzaq and Afridi will light up the Rose Bowl and they will certainly pull crowds. Meanwhile Lancashire look set to lose Kumar Sangakkara to a short notice Test series against India and Surrey have signed Rao Iftikhar to replace Piyush Chawla in the early season. Confused yet? Me too...

Worcestershire are ever more resigned that Steve Smith may not be available to play for them this summer, having been called up by Australia for the forthcoming Test tour of New Zealand.
I am sure that Directors of Cricket across the lad are gnashing their teeth right now at the vagaries of international scheduling.

Even more will be looking up the international code for Pakistan sometime soon.

Finally tonight, it is good to see Derbyshire are looking into the viability of a supporters trip to Holland for the game on July 30. I hope they manage to pull it off. It's just a pity that we're not more affluent so the club could pay half of the cost for the fans.

Isn't that the true meaning of "going Dutch?"

I'll get me coat, and see you soon. Pre-season previews are coming.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Good to see discussion back!

Good discussion tonight on IMWT, where one of the contributors has asked whether it is worth our signing a second overseas player for the T20.

The quick response from a couple of regulars is yes, it is. I would whole-heartedly agree with them.

Irrespective of the fact that it is a World Cup summer and that most of the best cricketers in the world have some summer commitments, we have to bring a second overseas player to the mix for two reasons.

Firstly, we need to compete. I think we have again moved forward with our close season recruitment, but the margin between winning and losing these T20 games is often small. A batsman who can blast a quick 40/50 or a bowler who can bowl four tight overs could make a huge difference to any side, not just Derbyshire. Last year we batted pretty well in these matches, but bowled like drains. If we improve in both areas again we will win more matches. As the meercats would say, simples...

The other reason, of course, if financial. You have to speculate to accumulate and our continued financial viability as a club is dependent on making steps forward on the pitch. We'll not fill the 2,000 new seats without a big name, though I'm as concerned as anyone that the congested calendar could leave everyone chasing three available players.

Today Worcestershire have said that they're worried at losing the talented Steve Smith to the Australian one day squad this summer. Just as Glamorgan are worried about Shaun Tait and Somerset are resigned to losing Cameron White. It makes squad building an onerous task and John Morris must be spending a lot of time on the phone at present.

One contributor on IMWT suggests we can't sign a top South African as they're involved in the Caribbean. He's partly right, but as I've said before, their Test players will be unavailable, but probably only one day players for a couple of matches. I'd still not say no to Loots Bosman or Charl Langeveldt, while Alviro Petersen and JP Duminy may or may not be in the Test reckoning. Of course, we could then sign one of them, then lose them if a squad member picked up an injury in the Caribbean, It is little short of a nightmare, but I remain confident that John Morris will come up with someone. Whether it will be a bums on seats someone is a different matter, but if that player contributes to a winning side it will do me.

Speaking of nightmares - Kent, £800K loss last year? This follows losing £690K the previous season, which is a funny way to run any business. With Nottinghamshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire all recording losses in excess of six figures for the past twelve months, it highlights how crucial the Sky TV money is to the game's future. Kent lost big money on concerts by James Morrison and the Sugababes, neither of them names that I'd have expected to make big money at an outdoor gig. They did well to actually get three Sugababes there between splits for "artistic differences"...

See you soon. March 8th today - and the season starts a month from tomorrow.


Saturday, 6 March 2010

Couple of snippets..

Thanks to a couple of regular readers who mailed me after the Members Forum at the County Ground during the week.

During the course of the discussions, John Morris confirmed that he had money for a second overseas player in the T20 this season.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that he said he has missed out on another player who will be joining another county and that he also missed out on an Indian international who was unavailable, or didn't want to come. I suppose it amounts to the same thing.

Conjecture will be rife as to the players concerned, but I've heard from other sources that Albie Morkel is set to join Durham having turned down another good offer. My money is that we were the ones who missed out, with Morkel seeing Durham as a good option to add to his collection of silverware.

As for the Indian, take your pick. It won't have been Tendulkar, who turned down Middlesex, nor Yuvraj Singh who is apparently going there. We'd not have said no to Sehwag, I'm sure, but conjecture is useless.

Like me, watch the IPL and understand that John Morris probably will be too. I am sure that he has another few irons in the fire and will plug away until one of them gets hot.

Finally today, Victoria did beat Western Australia today to set up a final in the next couple of weeks against Queensland. Leicestershire signing Andrew McDonald was again in the wickets, as was Damian Wright as Chris Rogers side won by 54 runs.

Rogers and Robin Peterson will be the only squad members who won't travel to Barbados in the next few days. They have to finish off their domestic commitments before heading to the UK and what should be a great summer of cricket.

Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, 5 March 2010

Weekend thoughts

So, despite late heroics from Justin Kemp, the Cobras fell short in their run chase the other night and their hunt for the twenty-over silverware has gone for this season.

Meanwhile, in Australia, Victoria made an astonishing recovery in their match against Western Australia to be left with a chance of a last day win. Having been bowled out on the first day for just 199, Victoria then bowled out their opponents for 274, with three more wickets for the resurgent Damian Wright.

At 111-5 in their second innings, Victoria were looking down a barrel, but 91 from wicket-keeper Wade and 80 at better than a run a ball from Wright saw them recover to 378 all out, setting a target of 304 to win. At 57-2 overnight, the game is wide open, but I'd fancy Victoria to force a win and cement their position in the Sheffield Shield.

The only "downer" is that Chris Rogers' form isn't perfect at present. After a broken hand then a hospital stay due to a virus he is struggling a little, but anyone who knows Buck will fully expect his mojo to return sometime soon.

Next tonight, for those of you who haven't heard the news, the IPL will be broadcast on ITV4 in this country, having won the rights to show matches, as far as I understand it, live. They are also being shown on Youtube, so there's a good chance to see some of the best players in the format in the next month, starting on March 12

With Derbyshire still to secure another T20 overseas star, who's to say whether the tournament may not showcase our new man?

More (hopefully) over the weekend.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010


The Warriors only made 121-6 against the Cobras tonight, but it looks like being enough.

Robin Peterson bowled a creditable 3-0-15-1, while the returning Charl Langeveldt was the only bowler to take stick, bowling 4-0-43-1.

In reply, Peterson and Herschelle Gibbs went early, but a strange knock by Andre Puttick (22 from 39 balls) has put the Cobras well behind the rate at 63-3 in 13 overs. The Cobras hopes lie with Justins, Ontong and Kemp. They'll need one of them to find their form just in (get it?) time if they're to win this one.

With an opposition attack of Ntini, Parnell, Botha and Boje, my money is on the Warriors.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Don't you just love it?

March, I mean.

I've been at home for the past two days, "between roles" as those of a thespian bent might say. I'd call it resting, but its been far from that. Clearing out the two sheds, checking the lawnmower still works and doing lots of little jobs that need the lovely days that the last two have been.

The mornings have been cold (minus 5 today when I went out) but there was a brightness and crispness in the air that made me feel at one with the world and, for the first time in 2010 I was able to tell myself that little mantra I have come to know and love over many years.

The cricket starts next month!

Less than 40 days now, my friends, less if you count the pre-season foray to Barbados, though the practice matters more than the results in such games. In less than 40 days we'll start to get an idea about our fortunes this coming season.

Can Wayne Madsen emulate his sparkling season-end form of 2009? Will Lee Goddard prove a worthy successor to James Pipe? Will Mark Footitt rediscover his quick bowling mojo and will Paul Borrington and Dan Redfern continue to develop into young, locally raised batsmen of genuine talent?

Equally (more?) to the point, will Robin Peterson prove to be the missing link with bat and ball? In a team of all rounders, Peterson's skills with the ball may prove pivotal to our hopes of success. I hope we don't need to see too much of his batting in four day cricket, otherwise our front line men will have failed, but RP's success this season will go a long way towards deciding our fortunes. Nowt like pressure, then!

As I've said before, we have the ability to do well this year, IF the players all contribute. We can't depend on Buck Rogers for all the runs or any one player for wickets, but if they all pitch in on a regular basis we will be a hard side to beat.

Bad news for Lancashire in the past two days in that Faf du Plessis cannot return this year due to the new regulations. He is a good player and the change has cost him a three year contract. More importantly it has cost the Red Rose county an explosive bat, useful bowler and fine fielder at a time when there's little opportunity to source a replacement. I can think of at least one regular contributor to this blog who will have enjoyed a chuckle at that turn of events...

Finally tonight, there's a big match in Cape Town tomorrow, when The Cobras need to beat The Warriors to take the semi finals to a decider. They'll be hoping for a big performance from RP, though most of us would settle for him saving the big ones for The Falcons this summer. I'll update you on the result sometime tomorrow evening.

Until then, have a good one.