Saturday, 27 February 2010

Some week that was...

Sorry that I've not blogged for a few days, but this has been a seriously hectic week for me, as I left a post in a Scottish local authority after nineteen years there.

It has been a non-stop week of lunches and dinners with colleagues and friends and tonight I'm out to a dinner in a nice hotel where all my closest colleagues will be in attendance. I've to give a speech, and although I asked them if they'd like half an hour on Derbyshire's fortunes this coming season, they politely declined and suggested an overview of my time there may be more in order...

The great thing is that one my leaving day yesterday I heard that I've secured an exciting Civil Service post in Edinburgh. This will take the usual plethora of checks before I start, leaving me two or three weeks with my family and to get ready for the start of the blogging - sorry, cricket - season proper.

To be fair, I've not missed much on the Derbyshire front. I clicked onto the club site this week and read something about Women on the Verge of HRT. My immediate reaction was to run through the Derbyshire players, thinking it was the initials of one of them, but it turns out to be a stage show at the Derby Theatre. I'm quite looking forward to similar headlines this season, perhaps on the lines of "Rogers on the verge of TON" and "Derbyshire on the verge of WIN."

Some bloke called Tendulkar became the first man to score a double century in a 50 over international. The diminutive Indian is an extraordinary player and has graced the game for twenty years now, mastering all forms of it. Yet I still think back to the first time that I saw him, playing for India A against Derbyshire at Chesterfield, when he was 16 or 17.

Ian Bishop bowled like the wind from the pavilion end that day, getting sharp bounce and movement and troubling everyone. Tendulkar batted serenely but was beaten on a number of occasions by Bishop, who looked like removing him at any time. Near the end of the game, when the runs to overs equation was getting very tight, Bishop dropped one short and Tendulkar rocked back and smacked him a country mile over the scoreboard at mid wicket. The shot didn't win the game, but it changed it and India won a game that was going away from them.

It is remarkable that Tendulkar's only foray into the County game was a disappointing stint as a teenager at Yorkshire. Hardly surprising really. A young man, no matter how precociously talented, is sure to struggle in a strange land and different environment. Long term, it undoubtedly helped his technique, yet Tendulkar has never since headed for the county circuit - he hardly needs the money!

Loots Bosman, previously mentioned on this blog as someone who may get a T20 deal somewhere, has fairly carved up India this morning with a blistering 68 from just 46 balls. South Africa are going well at present, but they have to. With the Indian batsmen in their current form, 450 should set a decent total...

Last night the Cobras lost a first semi-final (eh?) to the Warriors by three runs. Robin Peterson did well, following a controlled 1-27 in his four overs with an unbeaten 50. He had little support though, and was unable to hit the last ball for the required four to win the game. The Cobras have gone off the boil since losing Langeveldt and Gibbs to the national side and now need to win the second leg on Wednesday to take it to a decider. I might be old fashioned, but I see nothing wrong with a one game semi final and think this is just another "milk the punters" moment.

South Africa have also named an initial squad of thirty for the World Twenty 20 in March. It will be cut down to 15 in due course and they have some fine players for that format. The Caribbean tracks may help them too and I'd see them as contenders - just as long as they don't choke, as they have so often before.

No doubt England will do something similar and we'll perhaps see Steve "perennial tourist" Kirby in the initial squad. The oldest Lion in captivity seems to curry favour in the corridors of power, yet was a disappointment on the recent tour.

What price a place for Graham Wagg? If he averages 60 with the bat this year and 20 with the ball he may get a place in the Hong Kong Sixes.

Cynical? Moi?

Finally, it was nice to see the 1990 Refuge Assurance winners reunited this week. That was a fine side, with tight bowling, a terrific batting line up and some good fielders. Maybe their reunion was propitious and we could see similar success this season?

You never know.

See you soon

Monday, 22 February 2010

Strange symmetry

It is reported tonight that Yorkshire are set to announce profits of almost £700,000 for last season, an impressive achievement at any time bit especially in the recent economic climate.

At the same time, this is my 700th post on the blog, which is just closing in on its second birthday. The hits seem to increase all the time too. I've been astonished by the interest over the close season, so can only wonder what it will be like when the season starts.

Speaking of which, I see Herschelle Gibbs has signed with Yorkshire for the T20. On February 7th I suggested that Gibbs might come under the microscope for a county and I'm starting to impress myself with my mystic-ness (think I just invented a word there!) He'll do a decent job for them, but they'll be hoping that he doesn't get a Test recall and scupper things.

Gibbs will miss the first T20 game against us (there's a pity...) and a chance to play against Robin Peterson. Thereafter he will be available for all the T20. I suppose that the same might go for anyone else in the Saffer one day set up, so if we signed Langeveldt, Bosman or Parnell we would doubtless lose them for the opening round of games.

As I said the other night though, John Morris will wait to see who is available before making his T20 selection. I'm sure he has people in mind, but much will depend on who makes the cut for the Australian and Pakistani squads for the summer's one day games in this country. With Pakistan's selectors not knowing who should be in their top eleven and Australia trying out a lot of players at present, we just do not know who might be in the frame.

News just out is that Nottinghamshire have signed Hashim Amla for the opening weeks of the season, prior to David Hussey's arrival. He is a very fine player, in my opinion. Lancashire had mixed fortunes with Ashwell Prince last summer, but Amla is the real deal, especially in the longer formats.

It was good to see Charl Langeveldt bowling well for South Africa the other night, despite being unlucky when he hit the stumps in his final over without dislodging a bail. I was also pleased to see Wayne Parnell score runs at this level for the first time. He is a fine young player and will, I think, be one of the world's best in five years. Think back to how Dale Steyn was all over the place when he played with Warwickshire. Parnell needs only to progress at a similar rate to be a star for his country for many years to come.

See you soon. The season approaches fast!

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Early thoughts on 2010

You know who's got good overseas players for 2010?


I'll come back to this in a few months time, but I fully expect Andrew McDonald, a team mate of Chris Rogers for Victoria, to star this year for them, while another Victorian, Brad Hodge, will be a great asset to their T20 side.

There's still no news on our equivalent for the twenty over sprint and John Morris is sensible in holding fire on his player for the competition.

With Glamorgan now sweating that Shaun Tait could be in the Aussie squad for the summer one day matches, and Worcestershire doing the same over Steve Smith, no one can it this stage be sure who will/can play for them this year.

I've not mentioned Pakistani players in this blog, but the fact that they are World T20 champions suggests their players have talents at this game. At present they're little better than Bangladesh at Test cricket, as their batsman, Mohammad Yousuf apart, play every innings like a T20 thrash. It appears strange that none of their players were pursued in the IPL and I'd be confident that it was a political, rather than sporting decision.

Part of their problem (and I can say this with conviction having spoken to Pakistani pals who play with our club) is that there is no consistency in the choice of captain or players. Lose a series and you lose the skipper's job. Good job my club didn't work on such principles...

It's the same with players. Abdul Razzaq, as he showed today, can be a player of brilliance when the muse takes him. Tight, reverse swing bowling, explosive hitting - it's a potent package that should make him a fixture in the side. Yet it doesn't. He is inconsistent, as spells in the county game for Middlesex, Worcestershire and Surrey have shown, but on his day he is a match winner par excellence

Kamran Akmal is another, Umar Gul a third and Rana Naved Ul Hasan, formerly of Sussex and Yorkshire a bowler who gets it into the blockhole at a lively pace and hits the ball a long way at the end of the innings. Indeed, the latter was good enough to play with distinction for Tasmania this winter in their Big Bash down under, averages 22 with the bat and 21 with the ball in the format - yet is out of their national side again. I saw him play for Yorkshire 2nds a couple of years back, returning from injury, and he hit the bowling to all corners of the ground at Denby. OK, it was mainly over cow corner, but he cleared the boundary on several occasions and completely changed the game.

Who is to say that one of these talented players may not be omitted from the Pakistan squad to tour England. Or that people like James Hopes or Phil Hughes might not miss the cut for the Aussies to see what other people can do? Hopes batted brilliantly for Australia last week in the one day international against West Indies and is another who is an excellent death bowler.

Be honest, if John Morris signed Travis Birt then one of those above turned out to be available, we'd all be a tad miffed, I think.

I still think our T20 specialist will turn out to be a South African, but there's other players out there who could do a very good job, depending on the vagaries of national selectors in the coming months.

So in the words of Diana Ross, I'm still waiting, just like the rest of you, and for very good reason.

See you soon.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Mystic moments

Back on February 6 I reported on the concern, expressed on the Somerset CCC website, regarding the proposed listing of Test cricket as a "crown jewel" for terrestrial television. The argument was that the Beeb wouldn't have to pay the going rate and that money would thus be less freely available for grassroots cricket.

Well, now Derbyshire have expressed similar concerns and, as I said on the 6th if you scroll down, I'd sooner it stay on Sky, where they do it well, than go on the BBC to the detriment of, among other things, Derbyshire cricket.

Let's just hope that the government listen to these concerns...

Fabulous knock, ultimately in vain, by Hashim Amla, who is perhaps the most in form batsman in the world game at present, in the Test against India today. Amla is in prime form on the sub-continent and is now set to stay on with the one day side.

That will see Charl Langeveldt and Herschelle Gibbs return to national colours and the Cape Cobras are badly missing both. They were beaten again yesterday, with their problem being getting runs on the board at present. Robin Peterson again bowled tightly, going for just six an over, but 130 in 20 overs is always gettable. Strangely, for a bloke who usually gets his runs quickly or gets out, Peterson didn't bat. Even from this distance that seems strange.

In other news, this year's 40 over compy will be known as the Clydesdale Bank 40. No doubt such a name gives fans the chance to shout themselves horse...

Did you see what I did there?!

Anyway, that's it for tonight. No blog tomorrow as it's Mrs Peakfan's birthday and I'm taking her out for an intimate meal for ... er... four, with the kids coming along too.

Got some brownie points to build up for the coming season!

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Normal service resumed

Good to see Chris Rogers able to bat for Victoria against New South Wales today.

Normal service was resumed too, with Buck crafting an unbeaten 80 from just 100 balls as he steered his side to an all out total of 418.

It is good to see the Derbyshire-man-that-nearly-was Damian Wright back in fine form. Wright is a good cricketer and could have earned representative selection but for a range of back problems. He had a good year for Northamptonshire as overseas professional, completing the mini double, and is taking a lot of wickets for Victoria, having moved there from Tasmania.

Someone who is struggling at present is JP Duminy, who seems to be having major problems with spin and was out lbw for a duck to Harbajhan Singh today in the remarkable South African collapse at Kolkata. 218-1 to 265-9 is extraordinary at any level (we used to do that a lot!) and Duminy seems to have lost form this winter.

Indeed, when I wrote a week or so back that Alviro Petersen may be a possibility for our T20 campaign I didn't expect him to make a Test debut and score a brilliant century, as he did at the start of the South African innings. Given that he has replaced Mark Boucher, who will return for the next Test, a batsman must make way and on current form Duminy should be the one.

So maybe he would be available for our T20 after all...

Finding a quality all rounder to replace Jacques Kallis is South Africa's next quest. Kallis is reducing his bowling these days, Duminy is more a batsman who bowls useful off spin and Parnell is a bowler who bats and has not yet made the runs at first class level that seemed likely when he was the star of Under 19 cricket.

If their very good side has a weakness, it is that they have a long tail. Dale Steyn can hold a bat, but with him at 8 it says little about nine, ten, jack. That is where Robin Peterson was useful to them, as a spinner probably as good as Harris but a far better batsman, as a first class and Test average of double that of Harris' suggests. With a similar bowling record in terms of average and strike rate, logically a side would go for the better batsman, but the Proteas loss is set to be Derbyshire's gain and I look forward to seeing Peterson this summer.

See you soon.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Mixed news from abroad

There's mixed news for Chris Rogers and Robin Peterson today from their respective countries.

With five wickets down, Rogers is still to bat for Victoria in their current game against New South Wales. Local press reports say that he is "ill" and spent the night in hospital, but there's no suggestion as to what is wrong. Hopefully it is nothing too serious, with Buck just back to full fitness after a broken hand.

By the way, the Victoria Bushrangers website is one of the best of its kind I've seen, with lots of media and an eye catching appearance. Have a look at :

Conversely, there was an extraordinary win for the Cobras tonight, especially in the absence of Charl Langeveldt.

Batting first, they made only 116 in their 20 overs against the Dolphins, albeit on a track that appears to have offered a little help to seamers.

In reply, the Dolphins were all out for 102, with ex-Middlesex all rounder Vernon Philander returning figures of 5-17 in four overs. Peterson was their most expensive bowler with 4-0-24-1 after scoring 14, but it was a very fine win, especially in the absence of Herschelle Gibbs.

Skipper Justin Kemp had a special match for the Cobras, hitting five sixes in his top scoring 59, then bowling his four overs for the amazing figures of 1-12. Kemp is a good player but never produced the stats regularly at Kent that his reputation suggested. On his day he is a a huge hitter and canny bowler but the southern county released him last year after only ordinary returns. Whether they resign him for the T20 is a moot point, though they may opt for Ryan McLaren instead.

Finally tonight, Paul Borrington should be back in Derby soon, after an excellent winter in Australia. Bozza has several fifties to his name in Perth having played at a very competitive level. The experience can only have done him good and he should be fit and ready for the pre-season nets. He should be recognisable as the one with a tan...

Until the next time.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Only a mini rant...

Evening all, just a small blog tonight as its fairly quiet at present.

Thanks for the comments and e mails re last night's piece. Peter raises an excellent point re players in franchise teams - will they HAVE to play in the teams of the franchise around the globe? Could Robin Peterson be seen in Victoria's side and Chris Rogers in the Cobras?

I don't know, but one would imagine if this goes the distance that it is a natural consequence. I still don't think Buck is a natural T20 player, but it is hard to see him do anything but open this season with either Madsen or Peterson (unless we sign someone else...)Given he doesn't play 20 over matches for Victoria he's unlikely to be chased by other sides for that format, but the principle is the issue, rather than individuals.

Anyway, rant time. The England Lions won against Pakistan A today by a distance, thanks to the precociously talented Craig Kieswetter. For me, he's the next England wicket keeper and will be a tremendous asset. Matt Prior will have to stay on top of his game because, irrespective of his South African background, this lad will be in the England team inside two years.

My issue with the side today is Sajid Mahmood and Steve Kirby. No problem with either as players and you wouldn't say no to them at Derby, but why are they in the Lions? If we don't know everything about them now, we never will. I would be very surprised if either got into the first choice side again, so why not blood Steve Finn of Middlesex, or more to the point, Graham Wagg?

Waggy is younger, fitter, bowls in two styles, can score quick runs and field brilliantly. We don't know if he can cut it at a higher level, nor are we going to if they don't pick him. Mahmood will be 29 next birthday, Kirby 33, Wagg 27.

I know which one I would want in my team.

He plays for Derbyshire, if you need a clue.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

More on the IPL

I think one of the comment contributors to last night's article is missing my point.

Mr Bigboy suggests that "we may not be one of the six teams to get an alliance with an Indian team, but there is nothing stopping us getting an alliance with an Australian team. No good folks moaning about 2020 cricket, because it's here to stay for a good while, its want most of the public want to see. Check out attendances and compare them to other forms of the cricket."

There's two points here. First, I didn't complain about T20 last night, merely about the fact that lesser counties will be marginalised. Regular readers will know that it is not my favourite form of the game, but it is a cash cow for clubs, provided that they don't overdo it. Already there's a big danger that countries are playing way too much at the expense of the real thing, while Lalit Modi is now telling the ECB how to organise their fixture list. Hmmm...

Secondly, the idea of the franchises is to be made up of a team from each country. Therefore Hampshire, the Cape Cobras, Victoria and Trinidad and Tobago will become part of the Rajasthan Royals Brand. So we can't team up with an Aussie side as they're part of the global plan. I'm seriously uncomfortable about this, as it is big bucks to the ones who get the deals with the remainder living off the scraps.

The Bradshaw-Stewart plan of a couple of years back wanted to establish an elite grouping of sides to form similar franchises in this country, but the counties were against it. Understandably so - it would be like turkeys voting for Christmas. I still can't get my head around why anyone would want to watch a composite side that was made up of, say, the best players from the East Midlands. The concept disregards decades of parochialism and I couldn't conceive of cheering on Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire players in any circumstance. Maybe I'm unique, but I don't think so.
Besides, under these plans only Nottinghamshire would be likely to survive.

Gloucestershire, Somerset, Worcestershire, Northamptonshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire would seem to be the most vulnerable under such a plan. I hope that it doesn't come to fruition, especially in my lifetime.

Speaking of Northamptonshire, they suffered a big blow today in losing Rikki Wessels and Johannes Van der Wath to the new visa legislation. They have been resigned to it for some time, but while Niall O'Brien will doubtless be the keeper of choice, replacing Van der Wath's all round skills could be a problem with the season on a matter of weeks away.

Meanwhile, Worcestershire HAVE signed an overseas player for the T20, despite saying they couldn't afford one. Steve Smith may not be known to many people, but he is a fine prospect and his leggies and googlies have been used to good effect at the death of T20 this winter. He is also a good batting prospect and several good judges see him as the next top Aussie spinner. While not the biggest name, that could turn out to be an inspired signing.

Finally tonight, a nice job as Banqueting and Conference Executive at Derbyshire is advertised today. I would have quite fancied that one myself if I lived a little closer, but that would be a heck of a commute...

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

News from around and about...

Hello again, and welcome back to the blog.

With little news to report I've had a quiet two or three nights, well aware that the imminent season should leave plenty to write about.

It was good to read in today's Telegraph that Devon Malcolm is planning to become a first class umpire. I'm sure he will make a good fist of things and I look forward to seeing Dev raise the index finger with a shout of "You're history!" Or maybe not...

I was following tonight's cricket in South Africa and was a little baffled by the tactics of the Titans captain. When, in Albie Morkel, you have one of the most destructive batsmen in the game, it makes no sense whatsoever to hold him back until the start of the 19th over. That he made an unbeaten 13 in the last two is immaterial and they lost quite easily. While Jacques Rudolph made 50, they came at only a run a ball, too slow in that format, especially when someone like Morkel is still to bat.

Call me old fashioned, but surely you want to give your biggest hitters the maximum time at the crease? If they come off you'll score a shedload of runs, if they don't you can rebuild with your conventional players. I would be very surprised if John Morris batted Robin Peterson at 8 in the T20 this summer...

Speaking of the T20, I'm not especially happy with the pursuit of franchise riches in India. With only six franchises out there, all of them rich beyond the dreams of our county sides, the only outcome is that we will have a super six who will be able to afford anything and anyone and will win everything. No prizes for guessing that Surrey are following Hampshire and that Durham are also interested. The others will come from Nottinghamshire, Lancashire, Yorkshire and Middlesex. Test or one-day grounds all, now there's a surprise.

Somerset may have signed Pollard and have the talented Kieswetter and Trescothick, but I don't see a major Indian franchise rushing to partner sleepy Taunton. The same goes, sadly, for us. I haven't a clue whether Keith Loring is currently in Delhi or Bombay, but I would be gobsmacked if we were of major interest to the Indians and I say that as a fan.

I have serious concerns about the way the game is going and I feel that the powers that be may use this as leverage to marginalise the smaller counties and have the elite set up that some of them have wanted for some time.

Which, of course, would make it all the more sweet if we could upset a few sides this summer, especially the so-called bigger guns. While I would assume that Surrey and Sussex will start favourites in Division Two of the Championship, I still think that given the rub of the green that we are a match for them.

Let's just hope that optimism translates into good performances when the action starts.

Back soon!

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Cobras take a Bodi blow

Having said some nice things about Charl Langeveldt yesterday, it is only fair (I'm that kind of bloke!) to admit he got a doing today from the mercurial Gulam Bodi.

Born in India, Bodi emigrated to South Africa as a teenager and has been seen as a player of talent, sometimes brilliance, for some time. Today was one of those days for the left hander as he smashed an unbeaten 88 from just 44 balls as the Titans hit 136-1 in 12 overs in a lightning-shortened 20 over thrash that left the Cobras chasing 140 under Duckworth-Lewis.

In the course of his knock he hammered Langeveldt, who ended with figures of 3-0-45-0. Robin Peterson bowled two overs and took the only wicket for 26, but such a score was a tall order for the Cobras, who fell eighteen runs short on 122-6. It was a good effort, but ultimately in vain.

Ironically, Langeveldt's hammering took place on a day when he was recalled to the national squad for the forthcoming one day series in India for his experience. Mind you, I can't think of a bowler who hasn't had the odd bad day and there are a lot of average batsmen in cricket who have had occasional good ones.

Of course, one problem for John Morris now is going to be finding someone who can fill the new seats at the County Ground given the limited number of players available. Langeveldt is a very fine bowler, but I'm not sure that we would sell 2,000 extra tickets if he was in the side. Mind you, he might help us win a game or two, which would help!

The same goes, to some extent, for fine players like Alviro Petersen and Loots Bosman. Both are batsmen of some ability and are good fielders. Bosman in particular is a very free scoring player who hits the ball hard, high and often. Of the three he would perhaps be the biggest draw, especially after his brilliant 94 (with NINE sixes) against England earlier this winter. A batting average of 35 in twenty over cricket is impressive, while he also averages 52 in international fixtures in that format. He's not played in England though, so would be to some extent a gamble, not being especially well known.

Like all players of his kind, on his day supporters of his teams will laud him, on others they will moan about careless shots... you can't have it both ways. Bosman plays a little like Chris Gayle and when he comes off it is spectacular. It won't happen every time though, as most of us know all too well.

Petersen and Bosman are also in the South African one day squad in India, suggesting that they are players of high quality in a country that has more than most.

Another player in that squad who MIGHT come under the microscope led the Cobras reply today with 48 from 28 balls, including five sixes.

Herschelle Gibbs.

At 35 his very best days are perhaps behind him, but his talent seems still to flourish. He is perhaps the most brilliant of a nation of great fielders in recent years (apart from a World Cup semi final I could mention and a dropped catch) and has averaged over 70 in one day matches for the Cobras this winter. With 21 one day international centuries and 27 more in first class one day cricket he has been there and printed, as well as bought the T shirt.

His career has had its controversial moments and he has perhaps, at times, not done himself any favours. Yet Gibbs is a player who could come under consideration in the coming months as Derbyshire and other counties search for a star in a limited market. With 93 centuries in all cricket he has little to prove and with an average of one fifty in every five twenty over knocks he has a more than impressive record. In 2008 he averaged over 50 for Glamorgan in a short stay, with one memorable knock of 98 taking just 45 balls.

I don't think Gibbs is a full season overseas player to rank with, for example, Chris Rogers. I wouldn't expect him to score heavily in County Championship cricket these days and he hasn't featured in the longer game for the Cape Cobras this winter.

But the bottom line is, would he put bums on seats as a T20 player?

Yeah, I think he would. And if we can't get Albie Morkel, I'd be happy with Gibbs at 3 in the T20

See you soon.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Worth a read

I came across an interesting, though worrying article this morning while surfing the web. It is on Somerset's club web site and paints a worrying picture of the future if the Government go ahead with the free to air Crown Jewels of the sporting calendar idea.

You can read the article by clicking on this link:,,11333~1956259,00.html

Gentlemen (and ladies) of a certain age will pine for the days when Tests and county cricket were a regular feature of the summer broadcasting highlights, but this article suggests that a return may be to the detriment of the game.

No one could deny that Sky do cricket brilliantly. They have brought a lot to the coverage over recent years and although one or two of the commentators/analysts can be annoying, they are thoroughly professional.

The BBC? I'm not so sure. As an example, why did they not have the Derby v Forest game as the main match on the Football League show last week? There were a number of flashpoints and talking points and there were always going to be in such a fixture. So why did they show Cardiff and Doncaster as a main match? Up here in Scotland, it would be like preferring St Mirren v Aberdeen over Rangers v Celtic. Very strange and suggesting there are fingers that are a long way from the pulse.

Back to cricket though and the long term future of the game has to be more important than showing the game without paying of the going rate. If I'm given a choice between Derbyshire's long term survival and seeing the next Ashes series, the old urn isn't remotely in the frame...

Other news this morning says that Leicestershire have returned a profit of £689 for last season after a couple of poor years. Its not a massive amount but at least on the right side of the line and there would be a few counties would happily trade with them. There's something quite satisfying in seeing that counties some people would like to be rid of are the ones that seem to be the most professionally run. And yes, I include Derbyshire in that.

Thanks to those who have sent e mails after yesterday's piece on our second overseas professional. As I replied to Gareth on the blog last night, my guess - only a guess - is that in the light of John Morris' excellent contacts in South Africa we may be chasing Albie Morkel . That is based on the fact that he doesn't make their Test side and is the only one of the big names who is likely to be available.

Of course, Morkel has made a name and big money in the IPL and will not lack for suitors. I may be well wide of the mark and he may be outside our financial compass (I wish I'd had one of them at school!) He will, I'm sure, play T20 with someone and he'd be a huge asset to Derbyshire.

Of course, so too could Loots Bosman as a cavalier batsman at the top of the order, or Alviro Petersen in the middle order, or Charl Langeveldt as, at the risk of sounding like an advert, probably the best 20 over bowler in the world...

As I said last night, I don't think we should all spend the next few days scouring the world's press for news as I can't see it happening just yet. What happens if Wayne Parnell is left out of the South African Test squad in the Caribbean, or Australia decide to blood youngsters in the one day tournament this summer leaving some big names available?

John Morris is far from daft and will have his plan A, B, C and probably D. He'll still have to wait though, like the rest of us.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Good news from the Cape

The Cobras started their Standard Bank Pro 20 campaign tonight with a convincing win against the Lions.

Batting first the Cobras made 179 all out in 20 overs, always likely to be a challenging score. With Herschelle Gibbs making 53 from 32 balls and youngster Richard Levi an unbeaten 43 from just 20 balls, that was always going to be a tough call.

Robin Peterson made a brisk 18 opening the innings, but then he and Charl Langeveldt showed the control that is necessary in these matches to restrict the Lions to 137.

Peterson bowled four overs to take 2-25, while Langers bowled his usual, exemplary 4-0-18-3, five of the runs being early wides!

It makes such a huge difference if you have one man who goes for less than seven an over in these games. When you have two, you will win many more than you lose.

In the light of my earlier piece and what appears to be undimmed ability in this form of the game, Langers at the County Ground may still be a good option for the T20

I'm off now to see if there are any others who might come under consideration!

Houston... we have a problem

Back to the drawing board I’m afraid…

I’m afraid that I’ve been going down the wrong track in relation to our possible second overseas player for the T20 this season.

I was looking at the ICC Future tours programme last night and South Africa are on tour in the Caribbean at the same time as the T20 takes place. The schedule of the tour suggests that any player who is in the respective Test sides would be unavailable for the county circuit, obviously a major blow.

In short, that would rule out all of the South Africans that I have previously named, with the probable exception of Albie Morkel, while also ruling out such possibilities as Dwayne Bravo and Chris Gayle from the West Indies.

So where does that leave us?

Well, we’d all be thrilled if Albie Morkel appeared in Derbyshire colours, but I would be surprised if he were not on Durham’s radar. He had a successful stint for them a couple of years back and may well be set for a return. Realistically, they can offer him more money and, whether we like it or not, they are a better bet for him if he is chasing silverware. If he is up for a challenge, it’s a different matter, of course. You couldn’t rule out improving our fortunes appealing to his professional pride, but money talks. It does for most of us, anyway.

Then there’s other non-Test playing South Africans who may come under the microscope. Loots Bosman, Alviro Petersen, and Charl Langeveldt could come under scrutiny, good players all. It will be interesting to watch the South African 20-over competition in the coming weeks, for people who are good at the game and may come into the frame.

What about other nations? Realistically they are almost all busy, with Sri Lanka, India and New Zealand set for a triangular tournament and Pakistan and Australia in England.

What a nightmare.

I cannot think of a non-Test playing West Indian who would be worth bringing over, so the only other possibility would be perhaps a Pakistani or Australian who doesn’t make the squad for the summer’s one day series against England. Someone like Andrew Symonds may well be able to name his own price and will not lack for suitors, which probably rules us out.

One who may come under consideration for someone, and who has dropped out of the Aussie reckoning, is Queensland all rounder James Hopes, a player with plenty of international experience. Hopes, of course, nearly came to Derbyshire a year or two back, albeit under different management, before a shoulder injury scuppered his plans. Again, though, who knows whether he may have earned a recall by that stage?

A detailed look at the Australian twenty-over season might reveal an option or two, but last night’s revelation has told me one thing.

That John Morris won’t make a decision sometime soon.

He can’t. Until he knows who is playing for South Africa, the West Indies, Australia and Pakistan there is the risk of raising expectations, only for them to be dashed. We’ve been there before with a few players…

And if I’ve raised your expectations this time – sorry.

I still think we will end up with a good player, as Morris has such good contacts within the game, but whether that player turns out to be an explosive batsman, a niggardly bowler or a bit of both will be dependent on who is fit and available, rather than necessarily being top of the list.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Oh, we're going to Barbados...

Bring out the steel drums, look out the sun block and get the calypsos written!

Derbyshire are off to Barbados on a pre-season tour between March 15 and 25. With five matches scheduled against good standard opposition, the tour should give the boys plenty of excellent practice in readiness for the season that starts on April 9.

63 sleeps to go!!!

With Yorkshire, Lancashire and Essex also involved, plus a University of West Indies Select and a Barbados Select it should be good to watch. If I had some spare shekels I could quite enjoy that sort of a break. I have always fancied Barbados, so it would be a great chance to see the place and pull in some quality cricket at the same time. Sadly, there's a small matter of work, unless I win the lottery between times...

On the subject of the Caribbean, I'm feeling quite psychic (maybe I should do the lottery this week?) On January 24th I wrote that Wavell Hinds' form could see him get a national recall.

Lo, and yesterday he was called up for their forthcoming one day series against Australia, replacing the injured Dwayne Bravo. Amazing, huh?

You would have to say that it is not a like for like replacement, despite Cricinfo calling him an all rounder. You could have fooled me, given the little bowling he did last year, though his wobblers sometimes seemed a useful weapon in his first year. I still don't know if he was injured, didn't fancy it or wasn't rated, but maybe he would have seemed a more valuable player had he turned his arm over more often.

Either way, if Chris Gayle stays in nick they will set some targets. The other day the West Indies posted 399-5 in 45 overs against the Prime Minister's XI, with Gayle smashing 146 in 89 balls (eight sixes and fourteen fours.) It saw them win by 90 runs after a Duckworth Lewis calculation, despite a young Aussie named Tommy Cooper scoring an unbeaten 160, no doubt just like that!

Back home, Middlesex failed to sign Sachin Tendulkar so are set to "make do" with Yuvraj Singh for the T20. If Adam Gilchrist and Singh don't pull the crowds for them, they may as well wrap up and go home. Colossal signings, although whether they bring success will depend on the contributions of the other players. Like I've said before, two players doesn't make a team, unless perhaps one is Bradman and the other Sobers...

I still don't think its fair that the MCC part finance these guys for Middlesex so they can afford two. Maybe we should ask them to part finance an extra player for us, as we're one of the few clubs that are professionally and profitably run?

The T20 signings I am aware of at present are:

Glamorgan - Shaun Tait
Hampshire - Shahid Afridi
Leicestershire - Brad Hodge
Middlesex - Adam Gilchrist AND Yuvraj Singh
Notts - Dirk Nannes
Somerset - Kieron Pollard
Sussex - Dwayne Smith
Worcestershire - can't afford one

In closing, still no news of our T20 specialist, but an increasing number of counties are sorted now and there are still a lot of good players out there. I would still take any one from Kallis, Duminy, Morkel (Albie), Parnell and de Villiers and be blissfully chuffed.

I suspect we may not hear until the South Africans return from India. I still think that will be the source of our player, though I wouldn't be gutted if it turned out to be Chris Gayle :o)

And if anyone has some spare cash lying around for sponsorship, and the IMWT sponsorship of a player for the club is too low key for you, just let John Morris know.

Any two from that little lot should set us up nicely!

See you soon

Monday, 1 February 2010

Nice idea

There's a good idea on In Morris We Trust today, where they're looking for potential sponsors to put in a sum of money so that the site sponsors a player for 2010.

If, for example 14 people were prepared to put in £25, that would sponsor a player in 2010. Who that would be is dependent on who is still to be sponsored as the initiative has been on the go for a couple of weeks now.

There would then be a draw between those putting up money, with the winner getting:

• Invitation to attend a Meet the Players Event

• Four complimentary tickets to a match of your choice (excluding Friends Provident T20 matches and the fixture against Australia)

• A signed shirt from your sponsored player

• A signed photograph of your sponsored player

• Two tickets for the 2010 Player of the Year Awards Evening

If you are interested, go to the site via the link on the left of the page and register your interest. It's something that I'd have been keen to do with this site as the promotional possibilities of the sponsorship are excellent, but I'm afraid I've not worked out a way to make this pay and it will have to make do with word of mouth marketing for the time being.

Not much else to share tonight, my friends.

See you soon!