Friday, 30 April 2010

The times they are a changin'...again.

There are a few observations that I would make about the options for a revamped County Championship from 2012.

Let me say straight away that I am not against change, as long as it is not for change's sake. If there's a better way of doing something, a method to improve what is on offer, then you can count me in as an advocate.

Yet there is more than a suggestion that some of the options have not been thought through properly in the current batch of proposals doing the rounds. Indeed, it seems to me that the ECB are like a computer geek who is always trying to tweak his PC for maximum performance, rather than just letting it get on with what it does..

For example, five day matches. I know that the rationale is to give people practice of playing in Test match conditions, but we're pretty much doing that at present with four day games, not sufficiently distinct from international cricket to be a problem. The idea of adding on an extra day is flawed for two reasons, the first being that some of the wickets aren't up to it. Matches are finishing in two days, sometimes early on the third, which renders the whole thing pointless. At the other end of the spectrum, some run-fests would just become a joke. Taunton is less batsman friendly this year, but I suspect will still be a dream for batting in August, so will anyone care about 930-5 versus 870-8? No.

The other issue is that Test matches are for the crème de la crème, not for average (in some cases) county players. It boils down to the same thing - that matches will either end early, thus rendering the additional time pointless, or will just be a bore draw with an extra day in which to be bored.

The suggestion of regionalised leagues, thus introducing more lucrative local derbies, has some merit on the surface, but hands up who is fed up with playing the same teams in the T20, year after year? I know that it has changed a little this year, but when we are bracketed with Yorkshire, Lancashire and Durham we're going to have to play out of our skins to get through the group stage.

There is a salutory lesson to be learned from Scottish football, where they created an elite Premier League where everyone plays each other FOUR times. The outcome is that the local derbies are too commonplace and the crowds have voted with their feet and simply can't be bothered any more.

Similarly the idea of three new counties is a laudable one, but given that a number of existing ones are struggling to make ends meet (mainly the big ones, heh heh…) how do they expect the new sides to work in a viable financial model? To be competitive they will need to sign decent players, who cost big money that they haven't got, while their grounds will almost certainly need major development money. Hmmm…back to the drawing board with that one.

Part of the problem is that sides have been encouraged to develop their ground to international standard but there aren't enough games - certainly lucrative ones - to enable them to cover their substantial costs. Australia, South Africa and India might pull in the crowds, but few of the other Test nations are a real draw now. With Durham, Glamorgan, Hampshire, Lancashire, Middlesex, Nottinghamshire, Surrey, Warwickshire and Yorkshire all needing to maintain expensive facilities it is obvious where a problem lies.

While there has been criticism of the introduction of a 40 over league, a bigger issue is the fact that the exponential growth of T20 is daft. Like all of you, I'm looking forward to seeing Loots Bosman in Derbyshire colours this summer, but when we're complaining about players being overloaded, where is the logic in doubling the demand in the most intensive form of the game they play? I am still unconvinced that there is an audience for so many matches, especially if your team gets off to a bad start. If we lost our first five matches this summer, how many floating fans would be flocking down to games where there was nothing at stake? I rest my case.

Had they left the T20 as it was, allied to the 40 over league there would have been a natural reduction in the demands on players. As it is, we now have more games where bowlers are expected to throw themselves around in the field, bowl four tight overs and ideally contribute with the bat. No matter how fit they are, these games can leave them coming off the pitch like a limp rag as it is all high octane stuff.

My Dad watched Les Jackson play for years and reckons he never saw him dive. Bill Bowes was once castigated by his skipper for doing so, being told that he was in the side to bowl, not to "blank field." It is little wonder that we are seeing increasing numbers of long term injuries.

These new counties will need to factor some additional medical insurance into their costings...

Northamptonshire v Derbyshire day 4

What a fantastic effort that was today.

Though we eventually fell short by one wicket, which may for some people have brought back memories of last year, I'm pleased to see such comments haven't made the boards tonight. Quite frankly I never thought we'd play today from the forecast and I had little expectation of getting so close to a dramatic win.

Had the game run its course we would, of course, have skinned them. The loss of almost two sessions yesterday was crucial, but this cannot detract from another admirable performance. Derbyshire fans can rightly be proud of the side's performances in the Championship thus far and we have nothing to fear in this division. Sussex may well go on to win the title, but they've not come up against us yet...

Again there were valuable contributions from Greg Smith and Robin Peterson, sharing wickets and bowling with good control. It is great to see Derbyshire with two good spinners and our seamers are all doing a good job. The side is much improved on last year and I only hope that we can translate this excellent form into the one day arena.

While there's an idiot on the Northamptonshire boards on 606 who keeps bringing up the Essex game last season, even some of their fans accept that they were outplayed over the last four days and were very lucky to get out of this one.

Hard to do otherwise really...

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Northamptonshire v Derbyshire day 3

The likelihood is that Derbyshire quest for victory in this match will be thwarted by the weather tomorrow. By this stage, the grand plan will probably been to have had two sessions of bowling and five or six batsmen back in the pavilion. Instead, there seems little chance of enough play tomorrow to get ten wickets, so the game will be a draw.

It is a pity as the game has again produced a lot of positives. As John Morris said today, our two opening batsmen have five centuries between them already, while those below have all scored runs. Paul Borrington became the latest to find form in this match, an innings that was both welcome and encouraging for the future. It is good to see a young batsman who can get his head down and graft, rather than give it away or just play casual strokes. Borrington, Redfern and a few others are key to our long term future, just as Smith, Park and Madsen are key to the short to medium term.

There is reassurance in someone of the calibre of Robin Peterson coming in at number seven and he continues to impress in both batting and bowling. With Tom Lungley and Mark Footitt doing well with the new ball, a win would have been well merited in this fixture.

Anyway, we'll see how the weather goes tomorrow but I'll not be getting my hopes up of a win.

A promotion challenge in this form? That's a different matter.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Northamptonshire v Derbyshire day 2

Northamptonshire 220 all out
Derbyshire 377-2

Looks good doesn't it? Thanks to fine centuries from skipper Chris Rogers and from Wayne Madsen, Derbyshire are in total control at the end of the second day. There were also good supporting runs from Paul Borrington, and while Derbyshire missed out on the final batting bonus point, they will be well satisfied with their work on the first two days.

The only cloud on the horizon is the weather forecast for the next two days, which suggests a reasonable amount of rain. I'm sure that John Morris and Chris Rogers have their eyes on this and will be looking for quick runs tomorrow morning before a declaration. 500 and a substantial lead should do it, but whether we have the time to bowl the opposition out a second time is a moot point.

Still, tonight we must celebrate another fine day of cricket by our boys. The skipper now has 563 runs in seven innings, while Madsen's second century of the season maintained his remarkable record since joining midway through 2009.

They're not half bad, this Derbyshire side. As a four day team they look like being a match for most in this division.

Let's see what tomorrow brings.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Northamptonshire v Derbyshire day one

Dear Diary,

Mark Footitt and Robin Peterson, both of whom I signed in the close season, took seven wickets between them today, while Tom Lungley, to whom I gave another year's contract, took three himself.
Afterwards, the skipper and Wayne Madsen added 57 without being parted to make it a thoroughly satisfying day.

You could easily forgive John Morris for writing that tonight (if he kept a diary) as Derbyshire did very well to bowl out their hosts for just 220 and make substantial inroads into their total before stumps.

Footitt and Lungley did what strike bowlers are supposed to do, while Peterson again bowled with astonishing control and penetration. 24-8-33-3 are extraordinary figures, but when one considers that fourteen came from one over as Nick Boje tried to hit him from the attack they become all the more remarkable. That's twenty wickets already for the South African, who has given Derbyshire the quality spin option we have lacked for years. His control is also crucial to the success thus far, as batsmen struggling to score from him take risks at the other end.

Very impressive, very impressive indeed. Of course, what we now need is a good full day of batting tomorrow, as Wantage Road is usually responsive to spin on the last day. That was doubtless behind Northamptonshire's decision to bat and to play two spinners in Boje and Middlebrook. I am sure that our game plan will now be to bat until lunch on Thursday and ideally get a lead of at least 200, allowing Peterson (and Greg Smith) to rip it on a dusty track.

Time will tell if we can manage it, but it is nice to be able to report on the first day of four and conclude by saying that Derbyshire hold all of the aces right now.

Over on 606, supposed (I doubt it) Derbyshire fans are moaning that we're not playing English youngsters. Sigh.... yeah, but we're winning. Redfern is temporarily out of the team and Borrington hasn't yet made the weight of runs that will surely come, but we're winning for goodness sake! Clare hasn't had a chance as he is still recovering from shoulder surgery, but if you genuinely are Derbyshire fans, enjoy the current renaissance in our fortunes rather than moan. I ask this - who will you drop, in current form, to accommodate Redfern, even if he was in form - which he isn't? If Bozza doesn't get a score soon then Dan may replace him, but all the others are scoring runs.

Finally tonight, I'd an interesting e mail about my suggestion that Greg Smith may attract the international selectors at some point. The correspondent suggested that the England selectors may not want another ex-South Africa Under 19 cap, to play alongside Trott, Pietersen and Kieswetter. While not specifically a Derbyshire poll question, what do you think? How many foreign reared and age group-capped players is acceptable for the England side? Please vote and let me know. Thanks for the question and please keep your e mails and comments coming.

PS Sorry about the late blog tonight. I had a talk to do this evening, but normal service will be resumed tomorrow.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Northamptonshire v Derbyshire preview

Derbyshire have announced a squad of 14 for tomorrow's Championship match against Northamptonshire at Wantage Road.

Graham Wagg misses out, so there are returns for Mark Footitt and Tim Groenewald. The squad in full is:

Chris Rogers
Wayne Madsen
Paul Borrington
Garry Park
Greg Smith
John Sadler
Chesney Hughes
Robin Peterson
Lee Goddard
Jake Needham
Tom Lungley
Tim Groenewald
Steffan Jones
Mark Footitt

Its hard to call the attack for this one, so I'll not try. My guess is that Needham and Hughes will miss out and one of the seamers, but as always, the final line up will depend on how the track looks.

Northamptonshire are an enigmatic side, capable of such batting talent to chase down a target of over 390 against Middlesex with time to spare. Yet they are prone to collapse, with the extravagant strokeplay of Loye, White and Sales sometimes their downfall. Opener Stephen Peters is another player with a liking for our bowling and if we get our lines wrong they are capable of posting 400 in a day quite easily.

Their attack is less threatening, with the aging Andrew Hall and Nick Boje still expected to do their share of the bowling. David Lucas is the spearhead and does well for them, but on paper the bowling does not look like one of the more penetrative on the circuit and they may well miss Van der Wath this season.

Of course, such games are the ones that Derbyshire need to win if we are to remain credible promotion contenders. A draw would be no bad result, but if we can force another positive result from this one, with Sussex and Leicestershire battling it out at Hove, we may have a better idea of the genuine contenders by the end of this encounter.

Northamptonshire squad

A Hall
N Boje
P Harrison (Wk)
J Middlebrook
D Lucas
J Brooks
V Tripathi
D Willey
L Evans

Monday musings

After the defeat at Bristol on Sunday, Derbyshire have an opportunity to bounce back in the four day Championship game that starts tomorrow against Northamptonshire.

It has been a funny season so far for a lot of teams, with only Sussex showing consistency in all forms of the game. Lancashire must have thought they were home and dry against the previously lacklustre Surrey at Old Trafford yesterday, but led by a fine innings from under fire skipper Rory Hamilton-Brown the visitors produced a shock.

The successful chasing of such a total is something we have seen all too rarely from Derbyshire sides over the years and will determine whether we make the transition from being an ordinary, sometimes poor one day outfit to a decent one.

With time to build an innings in the Championship, we are a match for most sides in this division and I still expect to see us in the shake up at the business end of the season. With one day cricket I am not so sure and would be content at this stage with our winning more matches than in previous campaigns. At the risk of stating the obvious, until we manage to both bat and bowl well in the same game we ain't going to win one day games...

Gloucestershire's win was built around a special knock of 130 from one man, when the rest of the side managed little. Sometimes this happens and you cannot legislate for it.

Except having one of yours do the same..
In other news, there's considerable discussion on In Morris We Trust on the poor deal that cricket gets from Radio Derby. It is fair comment from those involved, as the station reports on anything and everything to do with Derby County and Burton Albion, yet cricket appears to be regarded as little more than an afterthought.

For all the fact that Ian Hall seemed negative for most of the time, at times parodying Private Frazer in Dad's Army ("We're doomed…") he at least knew football and cricket inside out, having played them both at professional standard. Maybe that was why he was negative; anyone who played with Derbyshire through the 1960's and early 1970's was bound to be. Whatever you feel about us today, I can assure you that it is a million miles removed as a spectacle from that era. Having said that, I would happily take Harold Rhodes and Alan Ward in their pomp and transplant them into the current squad, as well as Bob Taylor.

I have been told that the online listening figures for some of Derbyshire's matches last season barely made double figures. If true, it is hardly likely that Radio Derby will pay to cover all matches this summer and the associated costs. Ted McMinn was paid a nominal fee for a Saturday afternoon. What price a commentator or analyst for four day cricket?

Conversely, more people may listen if the action was the focus of the conversation. The reason that Test Match Special has remained at the heart of the game for so long is that they never miss a ball of the action and you know what is happening. The references to tea and cake, to pigeons on the square and to buses going past the ground are entertaining embellishments, but never replace the action.

What the Derbyshire commentary team need to remember is that they are the eyes for those unfortunate enough to be unable to get to the game. While the player's nicknames, their thoughts on beer and various other fripperies help to pad out time between balls, they simply cannot be allowed to get in the way of the action on the pitch. It is unbelievably annoying to be told after a mundane conversation, almost as an afterthought "Oh, and Smith's out…"

Doing cricket commentary isn't difficult, if you know the game and the players. Doing it well is different. Painting the picture for those listening, like John Arlott used to do so brilliantly, is a sport-enhancing experience.

I'll confess that it is something that I have always wanted to do myself. When I was at school, my main ambition was to be a cricket commentator and if that proved impossible to be a cricket writer. I suppose I have satisfied the latter through various published articles over the years (and this blog), while the latter will possibly have to go the same way as my other childhood aspirations - to be an engine driver or an astronaut...

Nonetheless, if Radio Derby are ever short, I am ready, willing and able - as long as they make it worth my while. Ted McMinn was released and never properly replaced by Radio Derby after he asked for a rise in the modest sum he was paid. McMinn was worth listening to and entitled to an appropriate remuneration which was not forthcoming. If the station wouldn't pay the going rate for their main sporting area of interest, it is hard to believe they would do so for cricket, which seems to carry minority sport status at the station.

Which effectively means, my friends, that it is as good as it is probably going to get, a shame for all concerned.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Gloucestershire v Derbyshire CB40

Well, we started both innings well, but there's otherwise little positive to report on Derbyshire's first CB40 game of the new campaign.

To be fair, we were undone by a special innings from New Zealand all rounder James Franklin, whose unbeaten 133 took them to a total that was always going to take some getting. No bowler took a real caning, but anything over 200, with the way the Bristol track has played this year, was going to take some getting.

Chesney Hughes got us off to a flyer and even after his and Wayne Madsen's dismissal, at 78-2 in 16 we were in the game. The advent of Gidman and Ireland slowed the run rate, however and we had no one who could bat through, essential to win in such circumstances.

I'm writing this with the score 139-7 in 32. That's 61 runs in the next sixteen overs for five wickets. Unless something spectacular happens, the campaign has got off to an all too familiar start. It won't of course, unless Loots Bosman is next in disguised as Tom Lungley...

It would be foolish to write off our one day hopes on the basis of this game, just as it would have been silly to write off our Championship aspirations on the back of the Leicestershire game. What is clear, however, is that we need to learn from this loss - and quickly - as we were never really in it after Greg Smith's dismissal.

I exchanged texts with a friend after 21 overs, saying we'd lost this as the impetus had gone. We had that in the early innings with good running between the wickets, but it disappeared. The pacing of an innings is crucial in one day cricket. All smash is no good either over the longer distance, but there has to be a combination of the two, something we need to learn pretty quickly.

154-8 in 33 as I close. Some lusty blows from Sads, but all to naught, I'm sure, in the end.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Derbyshire v Glamorgan day 4

I've said pretty much all I need to say about Derbyshire's performance in this match. All I can add is that it was a thoroughly professional run chase this morning.

Nothing spectacular, except for one six by Garry Park, no attempts to finish it in an hour, but more importantly no alarms. We lost Paul Borrington early, but the skipper and Garry Park then took us to the target with cool skill that was satisfying for all of us. Only two fours for the skipper in his fifty, which must be some form of record for him.

The win takes us to second place in the table, behind Sussex but ahead of Leicestershire who have played a game less. In short, we are up with the promotion contenders in the early part of the season and cannot do more than that.

Next up - Northampton on Tuesday in the Championship, while unbeaten Sussex host unbeaten Leicestershire at Hove. Something has to give...

Team announced for Bristol

First Clydesdale Bank 40 match tomorrow and John Morris has announced a squad of 13 to travel to Bristol, namely:

Chris Rogers
Wayne Madsen
Garry Park
Greg Smith
John Sadler
Chesney Hughes
Robin Peterson
Lee Goddard
Tim Groenewald
Jake Needham
Tom Lungley
Ross Whiteley
Mark Footitt

My guess is that the top nine will play, as will Lungley, with the final place being down to the track at Bristol. It has been a batsman's graveyard thus far, but must improve at some point. Whiteley has been doing well at Leeds/Bradford University, but I think he's perhaps there for the experience, with Footitt and Needham contesting the final place.

With Chesney Hughes set to make his debut for the season, Derbyshire could field four spinners if they wished which might be too many and suggest that a seamer will play instead. It looks a decent side, but I just hope there's no knee jerk summation of our one day skills whatever the result. We will obviously miss the injured Graham Wagg, but there are some good batsmen in that side and I think we will do better, if not spectacularly in one day cricket this year.

Gloucestershire Gladiators name the following squad in an attempt to clip the Falcons wings:

Kadeer Ali

Their side is heavy with seam bowling, which also suggests Needham may miss out, but I look forward to seeing a competitive performance from the boys and hopefully starting the campaign with a win.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Headline makers

There are a few headlines that I'm just waiting on the opportunity to use on this blog. You know the ones, the type that headline writers in newspapers spend hours - or perhaps seconds - thinking up, that are normally excruciatingly poor puns.

The best of any I have seen, or am likely to see, was the one where Inverness Caledonian Thistle - "The Cally" as they are known, beat Celtic in the cup a few years back, resulting in the memorable headline that read "Super Cally Go Ballistic, Celtic are Atrocious."

It was the stuff of legend and I've always hoped that the hack responsible got a little extra in his salary that month for a job well done.

In cricket terms, of course, it is less the done thing to produce such headlines, especially in the "proper" press, but I'll give you advance warning of my intention to use, at the earliest available opportunity:

"Batsman Robin to the rescue"
"Buck Rogers 21st century"
"Garry Parks for the day"


"Graham helps the tail Wagg"

Changing tack, I was surprised to see Simon Katich signing for Lancashire as a part-season overseas player with Shivnarine Chanderpaul. Katich was a fine player at Derby, but seems to be on a quest to be the first man to play for all eighteen first class counties. As it stands, he has played for us, Durham, Yorkshire, Hampshire and now Lancashire. Only Marcus North (five counties) stands between him and global domination...

The days of the loyal overseas star are a thing of the past. When one thinks back to such loyal, one county servants as Keith Boyce, Gordon Greenidge, Mike Procter, John Shepherd, Clive Lloyd and many others, it is a world away from the modern "have bat, will travel" mentality, where players change counties as often as some folk change their shirt.

There are still a few survivors of that bygone (better) age. Men like Chris Rogers, Martin van Jaarsveld, Jacques Rudolph and Nick Boje have thrown in their lot with a county to mutual benefit. They have built a rapport with the fans and shown themselves to be men of integrity in the face of offers from elsewhere. I'm not "getting" at Katich, who is entitled to play for whoever offers him the contract as a free agent, but I can't see anything but short term benefit, if that, in a bloke coming over for a few games at some point in the season.

Remember Chris Harris? Daren Powell? They came to Derbyshire on short term deals and were no better than someone from the local leagues would have been. Yet the increasingly congested cricket calendar and the likelihood of an IPL that may eventually go on for half of the year makes such signings increasingly likely in the years ahead.

It'll soon be May - time for our Sri Lankan. We've an Aussie for six weeks in June and a Saffer for September. We'll soon be judging the passing of the season by the overseas pro of the month.

Can't say I look forward to it personally. Unless we get Ponting, Kallis, Vettori and de Villiers for a month each. As the old saying goes, the porcine flying squadron are scrambling at the possibility of that one...

Derbyshire v Glamorgan day 3

Those two little pals of mine.... Peterson

With apologies to calypso lovers everywhere (so many tune in to this blog, you wouldn't believe it) I can't recall the last time a Derbyshire SPIN duo took us to within sight of victory in a Championship match.

Well I can, actually. It was probably Geoff Miller and Fred Swarbrook, unless it was Geoff Miller and Dallas Moir. There's a few observations about today to get through, so I'll crack on.

Firstly, Greg Smith. A well known brand of lager doesn't arrange cricket matches, but if they did, they'd have sorted Greg Smith's. A wicket in the first innings, four in the second and a career-best unbeaten 165 in between. Yup, that's a fine display.

All things being equal, we should win this game before lunch tomorrow. I don't think it will necessarily be easy, but with nine wickets in hand and ninety-five to win we would need to produce the mother of all cobblers displays to lose from here. Had our opposition had Robert Croft in the side I would have had more concerns, but I expect us to win tomorrow and move to the top of the table.

We did very well to bowl out Glamorgan today when lacking one of our three seamers, with Graham Wagg unable to bowl at all. Steffan Jones and Tom Lungley made early breakthroughs and there were again wickets for the admirable Mr Peterson, but Smith ripped out the late middle order with his off spin to take Derbyshire to a good position with a day to go.

Credit is also due to Garry Park, who followed a good knock with two key wickets today. He is another player who is emerging as a key member of the side and gives us good balance, while Peterson has made one of the quickest positive impressions of any Derbyshire overseas import. Only two an over went from him today, putting pressure on scoring from the other end, where Smith bowled beautifully. For an average player (eh, Steve James?) he played a blinder and in this form must attract the national selectors attention at some point. There's not many out there can bat stylishly, bowl seam, spin and field brilliantly and if he maintains this form it will be to everyone's benefit.

Two other observations. Firstly, there was great discipline from the bowlers and no byes in a very tidy display by Lee Goddard. Steffan Jones said yesterday that the bowlers have been working on hitting the top of off stump and keeping tight lines, which looks to be reaping dividends. Jones himself hit his bowling straps in this game and his stand today made a huge difference to the course of the match. Last night I suggested another thirty runs would be useful. We got 78 from the last pair, a superb effort.

Finally, mention should be made of the pitches at the County Ground this season. Two matches, two results. Won one (hopefully), lost one, but the groundsman, Neil Godrich, can only provide a result track and the rest is down to the players. If he can keep them like that for the rest of the season, with two good spinners we won't be too far away when it matters.

Let's just finish it tomorrow lads, then it's off to that batting paradise known as Bristol...

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Derbyshire v Glamorgan day 2

A few years ago - more than I care to count actually - I coached the school cricket team at the State school where I landed my first professional post after graduating.

Initially they were a motley bunch, but eventually they became a very good side. By the time they all reached sixth year, seven of them were playing at a good standard and we went through the season unbeaten, even when our fixture list by that stage included some public schools.

We were a good bowling and fielding side and my only frustration was that we never hammered anyone. We usually won by four or five wickets, when the talent among the boys should have seen us win with much more in hand. The thing about them was that someone always came up with the goods. In almost every game someone would score 40, 50, 60 and it was enough to post a winning total.

Excuse me the history lesson, but there's an obvious analogy there with Derbyshire at present. In three Championship games and five innings, you wouldn't say that our batting has purred like a well-oiled machine, but Rogers has a double century and century, while Wayne Madsen and now Greg Smith have added centuries of their own. There hasn't been a collective batting effort, but Robin Peterson and now Garry Park have posted decent scores of their own and sometime soon there will be that big innings we have been waiting for.

The thing is, on April tracks there are few batsmen piling on the runs, especially if they're playing at Bristol. One who has looked in touch is Greg Smith, who played a fine hand today, ably aided by Garry Park. Their stand got us out of a tricky situation in late morning and by tea time we were in control of the game, only to give it away again in the evening session.

Thirteen runs on with just one wicket in hand is neither here nor there, but if Steffan Jones and Smith can add another thirty or so tomorrow, this looks like the sort of match where any lead will be important. I wouldn't have thought that Derbyshire would want to chase more than 250 in the last innings, though they will be happy to not have to face Robert Croft. We thus need to bowl well tomorrow and, given that he came in at number ten, Graham Wagg may not be able to bowl too many of them.

Much will depend on an early breakthrough and then there is likely to be a long spell for Robin Peterson. We need Cosgrove early, as he can take the game away very quickly, while there will be another big effort to remove Dalrymple cheaply again and Allenby before he adds to a fine record against us.

Do I think we can win this game? Yes, but I'll know more about that, like we all will, tomorrow.

Greg Smith has looked in great nick thus far and seems to be thriving on the additional responsibility given to him. With another big effort over the next couple of days the disappointment of the Leicestershire game may well be behind us.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Derbyshire v Glamorgan day one

That was a good day for Derbyshire today, with the smiles starting before a ball had been bowled when Robert Croft was omitted from the visitors side. He must have been badly injured, as I'd have played him if he'd been in a wheelchair at Derby...

Anyway, bowling out the opposition on the first day was good going having lost the toss and Derbyshire would have taken their end of play position at 11am. There was a "turning back the clock" performance from Steffan Jones, showing his bowling charges how it is done, while Robin Peterson again turned in an admirable spell for three more wickets. It was good to see Tom Lungley bowling with control, though the short spells for Graham Wagg suggest to me that he is not fully over his ankle injury and is being nursed to some extent.

Such a problem makes us all the more thankful for that array of all rounders. I was also pleased to note far fewer extras today, with Lee Goddard taking three catches and allowing no byes, something he would be pleased about.

There was good common sense at the end of the day when Tom Lungley went in first with Wayne Madsen to save the skipper for tomorrow. Who knows, Lungley may score 200 like he did in a local match a few years back, but if he sees off a few overs of the new ball tomorrow he will have done an even better job than he has already done in taking us through to stumps.

"Anon" replying to my forecast of a draw last night suggested we had to win this one. Of course we do, but I didn't think that we would get rid of Dalrymple, Cosgrove and Allenby as we did before the end of the first day and thoroughly expected Croft to play. Assuming the weather holds, the absence of Mr Croft gives Derbyshire a great chance of a win, assuming that our batting shows the skills they look to have on paper.

Of course, we still need to bowl them out again, but we will have a better idea of the course of this game tomorrow night. If we're sitting 350-2 I will be quietly confident with Peterson able to have another go at them.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Derbyshire v Glamorgan preview

Even if I was Welsh I would struggle to convince myself that Glamorgan were one of the country's top sides, but Robert Croft and Jamie Dalrymple must be looking forward to tomorrow as if it was the night before Christmas. Their respective records against us might suggest that they were taken over by the spirits of Jim Laker and Wally Hammond respectively whenever the Derbyshire fixture was in the offing. While someone suggested on 606 that Croft may not play, I would be stunned if he didn't.

Australian Mark Cosgrove is another to reveal a penchant for our bowling in the past, so anyone expecting an easy win in the game that starts tomorrow will be in for a shock. We may do so, but will need to show better with the bat than against Leicestershire.

One or two players need to find their form, but often this is just a couple off the middle of the bat away. Garry Park will soon be back to his form of last season, while Dan Redfern is rested and the experienced John Sadler comes in to bolster the middle order. Paul Borrington has had three starts in four knocks and did better than most in the second innings at Derby, so deserves further opportunities at this stage.

John Morris may have been tempted to introduce Chesney Hughes after a brilliant 129 against Leicestershire Seconds to win us that game, but the financial penalties for doing so in the Championship may legislate against it at this stage.

As for the bowling, I am sure we are all delighted to see the return of all rounder Graham Wagg, while Mark Footitt and Tim Groenewald are also rested to allow for the return of Tom Lungley and Jake Needham.

The Second XI game also saw a century for Needham and fifty for Lungley. The best way to earn a chance is in doing your stuff in the Seconds, by scoring runs and taking wickets. My guess is that Needham will miss out, leaving a seam attack of Wagg, Jones, Lungley and Smith, with Peterson's slow left arm reassuring for our fans after recent seasons bereft of quality spin.

I hope that we see a return to the Oval Derbyshire tomorrow and for the following days. My hunch is for a draw in this one, but I just hope we're not due to face Mr Croft on the last afternoon...

Derbyshire likely side



GP Rees
MJ Cosgrove
MJ Powell
JWM Dalrymple (captain)
BJ Wright
J Allenby
MA Wallace
RDB Croft
DS Harrison
DA Cosker
CP Ashling
HT Waters

Monday, 19 April 2010

Derbyshire's Greatest Overseas Batsman

Quite a week for the blog.

It passed 72,000 hits, 12,000 of which have come since the turn of the year. After 20,000 the first year and 40,000 last year, I continue to be astonished at the level of interest and thank every one of you who logs in on a regular basis.

Yesterday was my 750th post, a landmark it would have been nice to mark with a win, but sometimes life can be hard.

Tonight it's landmark time for the biggest poll vote ever, with 98 people voting for their favourite Derbyshire overseas batsman.

While Mohammad Azharuddin and Dean Jones were mentioned in despatches, most of the votes went to three players.

In third place was Chris Rogers with 23% of the vote. By any yardstick, Rogers has been and is a wonderful servant to Derbyshire cricket. A man of integrity, he continues to set the benchmark and is an outstanding ambassador for his country. We can only hope that the regulations on visas are tweaked yet again so he can continue to entertain us for many years to come.

In second place was the admirable Michael di Venuto, with 28% of the vote. Diva was arguably our biggest loss in the past ten years and I often wonder what Derbyshire might have been like had he stayed. Diva and Rogers as an opening pair? Oh boy....

In first place, and rightly in my opinion, is Peter Kirsten with 34% of the vote. I think the whole poll was correct, with Diva a better one day batsman than Rogers and little to choose between them in the loner form of the game.

Kirsten, however, was sublime. Those too young to remember him missed out on something special. You may have caught one of his late career Test performances, when he was past his best, and may have seen his half brother Gary bat doggedly for South Africa.

Peter, in his prime was a different class. He had so much time to play his shots and had all of them at his disposal. The sight of Kirsten and John Wright together remains (and is always likely to do) the most reassured I have ever felt in watching two Derbyshire batsmen.

Kirsten would take his time when he first came in and would play through the V, before unfurling his strokes all around the wicket, with no one area stronger than another. In addition, he was a brilliant fielder and a useful off spinner before a knee problem put paid to his bowling.

There is no disgrace in coming second or third to Peter Kirsten. To be mentioned in the same breath is a supreme accolade. With Rogers and Di Venuto opening and Kirsten at three, Derbyshire could take on Mars...

Fantasy cricket

If you're interested in Fantasy cricket and a bit of fun, get on to the Daily Telegraph website, choose your side and enter the Derbyshire fans league, as highlighted on the excellent "In Morris We Trust" site, cunningly under the "2010 Fantasy Cricket" heading...

Its only £6 for a team, or you can have three for a tenner. I just went for one, as you only need one to win and I've selected a galaxy of talent.

Seriously, it should be good and the more the merrier.

Go to

Game on!

Monday musings...

There is little point in getting unduly concerned about yesterday's loss to Leicestershire, disappointing as it was.

These things happen to the best of teams. Ask Arsenal and Chelsea, two of the best football sides in the country, after their surprise weekend losses. The best cricket team in the country over recent seasons, Durham, have had a sluggish start, but only a fool would write them off at this stage.

Just the same goes for Derbyshire. As I wrote the other day, I don't see us as being world-beaters yet and perhaps not as good as our display at the Oval, against a side that already looks to be struggling, suggested. Surrey were well beaten again by Sussex yesterday and if the press stories of dressing room discord are anything to go by, we shouldn't expect them to be too big a threat in Division Two.

Leicestershire could be. They have yet to see their Australian professional, Andrew McDonald, but have won two matches and are deservedly top of the pile. Much will depend on Matthew Hoggard staying fit and whether young seamer Nathan Buck can maintain an impressive start to the season. Claude Henderson has also had an inspired first couple of games, but the Leicestershire side does not look as good as ours on paper. Mind you, they did it where it mattered over the last four days.

Where they won was in getting contributions down the order from their batsmen. After Robin Peterson's burst with the ball on the third afternoon, Derbyshire were almost through and potentially chasing less than three hundred to win with all the time to do so. Wayne White took the game away from us with a maiden century that seemed unlikely in his time at the County Ground. Fair play to the lad, he has improved considerably since his move across the East Midlands.

Our biggest concern is that our batting thus far has been heavily dependent on one man. Rogers dominated at the Oval, Madsen played a fine hand yesterday. While Greg Smith and Robin Peterson have looked good and Paul Borrington battled hard yesterday, we need more contributions. I'm sure they're all aware of this anyway - rocket science it most assuredly isn't…

There have been a number of positives in the brief season so far. Rogers, Madsen, Smith and Peterson have their runs, Groenewald has bowled steadily and Peterson looks a class apart from our spinners of recent vintage. It must be great for Chris Rogers to be able to toss the ball to a bowler who he can be confident will take wickets or keep things tight.

At this stage we must all judge Derbyshire in terms of progress made. Despite the reversal yesterday, we continue to move in the right direction with encouraging contributions from the close season signings. Any more comment than that needs to wait until we've played a lot more cricket.

There's no news yet on Derbyshire's side for Wednesday against Glamorgan, but I'm sure we all hope for the return of Graham Wagg, a talisman if there ever was one. Hopefully his injury has responded well.

More on that one tomorrow, but Robert Croft is in the twelve and I would be astonished if he was omitted after his record against us.

Still, we've got RP this year!

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Derbyshire v Leicestershire day 4


Tea on the last day and after a morning in which Wayne Madsen and Paul Borrington batted through without too many alarms, we have lost five wickets in the afternoon session, the most profitable for bowlers throughout the match.

Strange, that. Apparently Borrington got a poor decision when he was well down the track, but our hopes of saving the game now seem to lie with Madsen, unbeaten on 91 in an admirable effort. I'm not quite sure why Robin Peterson was caught at deep square leg in that situation, but I suppose you take the rough with the smooth. I assume he wasn't going for the win...

The visitors are apparently very chirpy in the field which might have unsettled a few, but one would hope that professional cricketers could cope with such stuff.

Two hours to go and four wickets in hand. Useful as Jones and Groenewald are, I wouldn't like the thought of them having to bat for an hour to save this one, so Goddard and Madsen are hopefully going to see it out for the remaining 34 overs or so.

There's a good article in today's Times on the county. If you've not seen it, you can do so at the link below.

It is better than Steve James' cheap dig at us in the Telegraph, where he suggests that our losing Chris Rogers for next season is a classic case of "hoist by one's own petard" for a county that has brought in "back door, moderate foreigners."

What Mr James, a moderate county player himself, overlooks is that while the legislation allows such signings, why shouldn't we? It also overlooks the fact that there are not dozens of talented young players being overlooked instead of these primarily South African-born players. One has only to look at the Minor Counties 40 over composite side that will play this season to see that the next level down is not brimful of talent.

Finally, James ignores the fact that Wayne Madsen, for example, is playing under European Mobility of Labour regulations and is perfectly entitled to, whether it pleases him or not. That Park, Smith and Groenewald have been here for years and were on the staff (Smith apart) of other counties also seems to have been overlooked by someone having a cheap dig. Poor fare, Mr James.

Where he does get it right is in an article on the proposed franchise cricket through Test grounds, where he ask the question "who will watch?" He cites the possibility of Glamorgan joining up with Gloucestershire and Somerset as a non-starter due to antipathy between fans. He should try it in the East Midlands. I'd sooner roll around naked in a patch of nettles than feign enthusiasm for a composite Nottingham, Derby and Leicester side that plays at Trent Bridge. The problem has been that we have allowed eight Test grounds to be developed, more than can be maintained unless we saturate the Test market.

While there are lessons to be learned from the IPL, they are not all positive. The current tournament is way too long and I've watched little in the last fortnight, even at weekends. I suspect that the length of this year's competition will test fans and players alike, especially if there are too many dead games. Can you imagine a team's game 12 in the tournament, especially if they've lost eight previously? You could play it in a sports hall and fit in the spectators who could be bothered...

Oh dear. Goddard is out as I finish and so, I suspect, are our chances of salvaging anything from this game. What was that word again?

Disappointing, that's it.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Derbyshire v Leicestershire day 3

Hands up anyone who thinks we will score another 390 runs to win tomorrow?

Me neither, but I would like to think that we can save the game.

Everything I have heard about the game suggests that the pitch is getting flatter as the game has gone on. To be brutally honest, if Wayne White can score a maiden century on it, surely it cannot be that tricky?

The crux to it all is the first hour. If we can get through the burst from Hoggard and Buck, saving this game should be a possibility. Claude Henderson will have to be watched, but on the evidence of today there's not that much in the track. My suggestions of a long batting order will stand or fall by six o'clock tomorrow, but as George Michael once said, you gotta have faith.

Something lacking in some quarters according to a story on IMWT tonight. I genuinely feel that there are some Derbyshire fans are happier when we do badly than they are when we win. The County Ground has long had its Grumblers Corner, but I don't understand the mentality of "fans" who spend the best part of the day moaning.

Over the years I've heard a lot of them. They moaned when Chris Wilkins played a cavalier shot too many, when Mike Hendrick bowled a bad ball once in every spell, when Bob Taylor dropped one ball a day or when an overseas player is dismissed.

It is ludicrous. I'm not going to comment on it again because I don't want to sound like a broken record, but surely - SURELY - if you are a fan, or supporter, you should do just that? These guys are OUR players doing their very best. At times they can be brilliant, at times they will fall short, but they are still OUR guys. I am sure that the moaners have bad days in their own working lives and fall short of perfection. I know I do.

I hope and think we can save the game tomorrow, but if we don't I'll come on here and express disappointment, yet still be a fan. After forty years you would think I'd be immune to disappointment, but no, losing still hurts. By the time the next game comes around I still think we will return to winning ways, though.

There was a fine long spell from Robin Peterson today who continues to show why John Morris signed him. In the age old tradition of cricket, Chris Rogers followed feast with famine but will doubtless be back, while we still have nine wickets left on a decent track to secure draw points.

I would agree with a contributor to yesterday's piece in being a little concerned at 69 extras in two innings, but that thing can happen without being anyone's fault in particular. If it happened on a regular basis I'd be concerned, but its nothing to lose sleep over at this stage.

Anyway, no Scarlett O'Hara quotes tonight. Tomorrow was another day and not an especially good one. Let's just make amends tomorrow, eh lads?

Friday, 16 April 2010

Derbyshire v Leicestershire day 2

After the elation felt by most fans following the emphatic win at the Oval last week, it would have to be said that today was something of an anti-climax.

Indeed, if it hadn't been for a partnership between Greg Smith and Robin Peterson for the sixth wicket, Derbyshire could well have been following on in this game. As it is, they will need to raise their game dramatically in the next couple of days to get out of this one intact.

As at the Oval, the last wicket merriment from (this time) Steffan Jones and Mark Footitt made our innings look a little better than might otherwise have been the case. The Leicestershire lead was not inconsiderable, but the psychological barrier of being over a hundred behind was avoided.

We will need to do much better in the second innings though, that's for sure.

Of course, we have no right to expect to win all of our games and this serves as a reality check for all fans, myself included. I have written before that we will have good and bad days throughout the course of the season. All teams do and the path to success is in keeping these to a minimum.

Winning at the Oval didn't make Derbyshire the invincibles and losing this one wouldn't make them the worst team in the world either. There have been numerous examples of teams making poor starts and doing well and many more of teams getting off to a flyer and doing badly. It is too early to be making an assessment of how far we have come over the winter, but I still feel that we are a better side than we showed when batting today, though not perhaps as good as we showed at the Oval.

What everyone will need to remember is that this is a work in progress. A look at the side from two to three years ago compared to today highlights where we have come from. Mind you, at lunchtime I thought we had turned the game around thanks to the Smith/Peterson stand, then the wheels came off in the afternoon, much as they did for Leicestershire yesterday.

Realistically, I wouldn't have thought we would want to be chasing more than 300 in the final innings, so we will need to bowl and field brilliantly from here to stay in the game. We have only successfully chased over 300 seven times in 140 years, so the portents do not look great. A draw may not be impossible though, but it goes without saying that we also need to bat a heck of a lot better in the second dig too.

Disappointed? Yes. Disheartened? Not yet, by a long chalk.

Finally tonight, there were a couple of unfair comments on 606 (now removed) with regard to Paul Borrington. OK, the lad hasn't yet set the heather on fire in his three innings, but then neither have Wayne Madsen, Garry Park or Dan Redfern. I have every confidence that all of them will come good in due course, but to apportion blame on a young lad starting his career with the county is just crazy. The season has hardly started, for goodness sake and that's what happens in cricket, as anyone who has ever played it knows all too well.

Keep behind your team. They're doing their best - we need to do the same and support them, in the good days and the bad.

As Scarlett O'Hara once said, tomorrow is another day...

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Well done Greg!

On the 9th April (see below - Buck gets off to a flyer) I suggested that Greg Smith appeared to be the vice-captain elect and it appears that he has now been confirmed in the role.

It is a good decision. He is a much improved and talented cricketer who has a lot to offer the county - I'm sure he will do very well.

Derbyshire v Leicestershire day one

One of the more surprising texts that I got today suggested that after just one home session of play there were one or two people moaning that we had only taken one Leicestershire wicket. Presumably someone told them that the visitors were supposed to roll over and play dead…

This is perhaps a consequence of the advent of instant cricket, the twenty over thrash, where things are always happening. If they're not dropping or holding catches, hitting fours and sixes or taking wickets it's dull, dull, dull. Allegedly...

Four day cricket can sometimes take a while to take shape, then can explode into life with quick wickets or a spate of boundaries after a lull. When Will Jefferson and Paul Nixon, two very experienced cricketers, took root this morning, they were doing what professional cricketers are supposed to do - get in, get used to conditions and bat for as long as possible.

I'd have liked to have heard what the grumblers were saying after lunch, when Tim Groenewald and Steffan Jones took quick wickets to alter the game. I'm all for free speech, but my understanding is that a good few runs flew off the edge for boundaries, something you just cannot legislate for. Some days they go to hand, some days they go along the ground or between the gaps. As they say up here, it's just your Donald (Duck)…

Anyway, the Championship campaign will last for 16 matches, 64 days and 192 sessions. If Derbyshire win over half of those sessions and a few end up level they will have a great season. Today we lost the first, won the second and probably drew the third after the loss of the two late wickets.

I think we did well to come back from the lunch position and bowl out our local rivals for 278, but we will know much more this time tomorrow. I suggested last night that we should not be surprised if Chris Rogers went for a low score after his heroics in the last game and that's what happened. Yet in a way it will allow the rest of the team to stand up and be counted. We are a long way from being a one man team and have the opportunity to show that tomorrow.

Much will depend on the first session tomorrow, when Wayne Madsen and Garry Park resume for Derbyshire. I mentioned last night that our depth of batting may tell in this match, and still think so. It doesn't look likely to be a high scoring game, so first innings advantage - for either side - could be crucial.

This will be a close game. I still think we will come out on top, but we will learn a lot about our side and their promotion credentials tomorrow. Winning or losing won't ensure or legislate against promotion, but the victors will leave the ground over the weekend with a spring in their step.

One plus factor was that the newly aligned track seemed to play quite well. They'd have fancied that at Bristol today...

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Derbyshire v Leicestershire preview

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

As I suggested in last night's blog, John Morris has named the same side for tomorrow's East Midlands derby that did such a sterling job at the Oval, with Steffan Jones also included in the twelve. A late decision will be taken on whether we go with an extra seamer or batsman, presumably meaning a straight battle between Jones and Paul Borrington at this stage. With Greg Smith doing a fine job as fourth seamer at the Oval, it may be that Borrington again gets the nod to help combat early season movement and the possibility of batting problems.

As for our visitors, they will be buoyed by their win in the first game and look a useful, rather than impressive side. On their club site, much is being made of the battle between the two skippers, Matthew Hoggard and Chris Rogers, with Hoggard suggesting we may rely more on Buck performing than they do on his wickets. I'm not so sure. If Rogers scores 150 tomorrow the chances are we will be in a good position, but if he doesn't there are plenty of others to step up to the plate. Cricket being the game it is, we shouldn't be surprised if he got a rare failure, but let's leave that as one to see in due course.

Leicestershire will almost certainly name an unchanged side too, which should see a return for Wayne White, Andrew Harris and Tom New to the County Ground. The thinking money is on this side taking the field tomorrow:


Nixon and Jefferson apart, they have a young batting line up that is counter balanced by some old heads in the attack. Henderson and Peterson will no doubt have a private battle going on for slow left arm bragging rights, both of them enjoying good first games. While Wayne White has done well since his move to Leicester and scored 89 in the first game, I would still be worried if he was number seven in a Derbyshire side.

What we don't know is how the newly aligned pitches will perform, but if the weather stays out of it, I am confident that our strengthened attack and long batting order will be sufficient to get another win from this game. I have not often been bullish about Derbyshire prospects over the years, but I like the look of our Championship side this season. Having demolished the side that are supposedly the best in the division, we have set a benchmark and now need to emulate it on a regular basis.

Go get 'em boys.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Thoughts on the opener

Despite the fact that the win was eventually only achieved with less than six overs to spare, the emphatic nature of Derbyshire's win against Surrey was seen as a surprise in some quarters.

But not all. Regular readers will know that I thoroughly expect us to be among the front runners for the Championship promotion places this year and the manner of the win, in a game where Derbyshire won virtually every session of play, suggested that we will have little to fear this year. I have no doubt that there will be some bad days, but we will play everyone on level terms.

As Master Villain comments below the previous article, we look to have a balanced attack with left and right arm variations at different paces. Mark Footitt's additional nip looks likely to prove a potent weapon, while with he and Graham Wagg bowling left arm and Greg Smith and Tim Groenewald bowling right, there is likely to be rough available for Robin Peterson to take advantage of as games progress.

This is also a very good fielding side, perhaps the most agile we have ever had. Smith, Wagg, Peterson, Rogers and Park are all capable of brilliance, while the presence of youngsters Redfern and Borrington ensures we are a long way removed from the days when Fred Rumsey and Ole Mortensen had to be hidden down at third man or fine leg. There isn't a bad fielder in the side, something that will bear dividends as the season progresses.

The key to success this season will, of course, be ensuring that this level of intensity can be reproduced on a regular basis, irrespective of what eleven takes the field. Even the national press today were picking up on the team spirit and camaraderie that exists in the team, a tribute to the captain and coaching staff. Something that I noticed in the game just finished was that everyone contributed. Sure, Rogers scored the bulk of the runs, but there were useful cameos from others and catches were held. In the words of Archimedes, solid cricket + good fielding + team spirit = good results. Then again, maybe that wasn't Archimedes... it would have been against his principles...

John Morris has already said that the bowlers will need to be rotated, understandable and expected with the amount of twenty and forty over cricket coming up. My gut feeling - only that - is that the side at the Oval is likely to be the core Championship side for the season. There may be times when a batsman is sacrificed for an extra seamer, with Steffan Jones ready and waiting in the wings when his coaching commitments allow. So too is Jon Clare, once he is fully recovered from his shoulder operation. Neither of them are slouches with the bat, Clare showing in his debut season that he can be genuinely reckoned an all rounder. Ian Hunter and Tom Lungley may be one day regulars, allowing Mark Footitt to give it all he's got in the Championship with a few one dayers for the experience.

Meanwhile, Robin Peterson, injuries permitting, can look forward to a lot of bowling this season. He got through fifty overs at the Oval, bowled with control and finished things off in a style that we have wanted from a spinner for a long time. While Ant Botha was a decent cricketer, I always felt that the weight of expectation on a turning track weighed heavily on him. He would keep things tight on a decent batting surface, chipping away at the opposition from time to time, but rarely, if ever, bowled us to victory on a wicket that offered help. There were several occasions when Panesar and Swann at Northampton and Cosker and Croft in Wales would work their way through our line up with little being offered in return - rifles against a pea shooter.

I'm not being disrespectful to Botha, who I was sorry to see leave, but Peterson is a better bowler by some distance. The big wicket yesterday as the game approached its climax was that of Meaker, bowled with the classic slow left armer ball that pitched middle and leg, then took off stump. Such a ball sows the seeds of doubt in a batting team, in much the same way that Warne's "magic ball" to Mike Gatting did a few years ago.

As I wrote a few nights ago, Peterson may not be a huge spinner of the ball, but if he bowls with control he certainly spins it enough. When he came on yesterday I expected he would take wickets and it’s a long time since I have experienced that sensation with the advent of a Derbyshire spinner to the attack. It was nice to read in today's Derby Telegraph that he knows the team looks to the experienced players - himself and Rogers - to lead by example. They did that in style at the Oval, the first time Derbyshire have won there since everyone was going around in 1966 singing "World Cup Willie." If you're too young to remember that song, you didn't miss much...

It all augurs well and if Peterson can work with Jake Needham, Greg Smith and Dan Redfern over the course of this summer, his legacy to the club may be even greater than his contribution to a summer that promises to be very interesting.

Now for Leicestershire. More of the same will do very nicely and I'll be back with a preview tomorrow.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Rogers up there with the best

Over the last couple of days, during my commute to Edinburgh on the train, I have been thinking about Chris Rogers' position in the pantheon of outstanding Derbyshire batsmen. I regard him as being up there as the best and it is hard to argue against a man who, when he gets in, just seems to go on and on like the Duracell bunny.

If one was to look at the other contenders, I would say that his closest rivals were Dean Jones, Peter Kirsten, Michael di Venuto and Mohammad Azharuddin. Jones was a better one day batsman than Rogers, but only had one and a bit seasons before he went back to Australia, more than a little miffed at the internal issues at the club. He is still the best pacer of a one day innings I have seen, scoring at his best without risk, with placement, timing and fast running.

Mohammad Azharuddin was a genius on his day, but was never someone you would bank on when the going got tough. Again, his stay was relatively brief and that has to be taken into consideration in assessing relative merits. If I could watch any player for half an hour it would probably have been him, but you could never guarantee that, when the ball was moving around, he would be in that long. A turning track was a different matter and he was a superb player of spin.

Which leaves us with Kirsten and di Venuto. Peter Kirsten was an outstanding player who, like Rogers, could and frequently did bat for hours. He could battle it out when necessary or pull out all the shots once he felt he was "in." He was a very organised player but did have a couple of ordinary seasons before he unveiled the true majesty of his talent. Then, for three years he averaged 55-60 and rarely looked like he would fail.

Michael di Venuto was also an outstanding player, whose departure was undoubtedly the most extraordinary/astonishing/crass thing that I recall in my forty-three years and counting as a fan. As I have written before, surely someone should have had the conversation with him regarding his intentions to use his Italian passport and play on European mobility of labour regulations? Whatever the thought process behind the retention of Travis Birt over him and irrespective of his fitness record at the time with a back problem, one would have hoped that his likely availability alongside an overseas player might have counted for something.

I know what I think, but I've decided to make it the subject of this week's poll, fully aware that some people may not have had the pleasure of watching Kirsten at his best. Fine players such as John Wright, Lawrence Rowe and Chris Wilkins don't really make it into this level of debate I'm afraid. All were among my favourites for their style and commitment, but they couldn't be argued into players of this class.

So what is your choice? I look forward to seeing that.

Finally, I had an e mail from someone who was concerned that I was talking up Chris Rogers' start to the season and "was I not worried that I would put a jinx on him" in so doing.

The answer is no. For one thing he is too good a player to be fazed by a jinx, and secondly I would be flattering myself if I thought he read this blog. All I will say is that it would make enough headlines across the cricketing world if he did it to perhaps make a few people think (especially in Australia), while the timing in our 140th year would be impeccable. A Derbyshire batsman in the record books is a rare old beast, so just make sure that you treasure this bloke for as long as you can.

Surrey v Derbyshire day 4

Is there anything better than winning your first game of the season?

Well yes, actually. There's winning it in style, against the supposed best team in the division. There's winning it with your skipper scoring 340 runs for only once out. Oh, and there's winning with all of your winter recruits playing important roles.

I'm not going to get carried away. There'll be days this season where the moaners will be out after a poor display, but this was a highly professional performance by a Derbyshire side, one doing something that they often failed to do last year. We finished a team off when they were on the ropes.

In doing that they were aided by two wickets from an impressive Mark Footitt, with Tim Groenewald opening the door with the huge dismissal of Mark Ramprakash for a duck. Although we kept chipping away, when the last hour started the hosts must have entertained hopes of salvaging a draw.

Which is when, of course, Robin Peterson (pictured) earned his corn, following his first innings 3-87 with even better figures of 3-32 in 20 overs. With Greg Smith bowling both seam and spin, Graham Wagg had a lighter than usual workload and John Morris will reflect on a job well done.

He can also reflect on the contribution of his winter signings, with Lee Goddard batting well and keeping tidily to go with the bowling of Peterson and Footitt. This is a result that has put down a marker and there will be a few sides looking at Derbyshire in a different light now.

Of course, we now need to do it consistently and it will count for little if we don't turn up against Leicestershire at the County Ground later in the week, but winning is a good habit and the boys "done well" today, to quote the football parlance.

Earlier Cap'n Fantastic took his second innings score to an unbeaten 140 and there were good runs from Dan Redfern as Derbyshire pushed for the declaration. If any one thing summed up a fine team display, it was Graham Wagg's selfless hitting (2 sixes, a four and out) that enabled us to do so earlier than might otherwise have been the case. No thought of his average, just doing it for the team. It was good to see.

Last night I wrote that Chris Rogers could be an outside bet of scoring a thousand before the end of May. The Times correspondent also suggested this today, though he included in his tally of those who have done it before, the players who scored a thousand by the end of April. He also suggested the latter feat may not be beyond Chris Rogers, although the fact that Rogers only has six more knocks in April might make that a tad fanciful.

With 340 already, and potentially 12 more innings before the end of May, I would reckon the other landmark is eminently possible. From here, he would only need to average 50 per innings, very much within the compass of an outstanding cricketer. I'm sure he'll not even think about it, certainly not at this stage and will take each innings as it comes.

So, enjoy your evening, my friends. as I know I will. Watch the highlights later on and rejoice in a job well done by our team.

I'll not get carried away, but John Major, Sir Jack Hobbs, Peter May, Jim Laker, Mark Butcher and Alec Stewart - your boys took a hell of a beating!

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Surrey v Derbyshire day 3

There's only one word to describe Chris Rogers recent run of form for Derbyshire.


Aside from the fact that he is one run away from being the first Derbyshire batsman EVER - in 140 years - to score a double century and century in a match, Rogers in his last four Championship matches has turned in an astonishing array of scores:

208 v Kent
25 and 112 not out v Middlesex
222 and 42 v Essex
200 and 99 not out v Surrey

That's 908 runs in seven innings...

With Derbyshire 260 ahead going into the final day, the chances are that the first hour tomorrow will see a push for another hundred or so runs in 20 overs, leaving Surrey perhaps 360-380 to win. With the wicket apparently showing signs of variable bounce and a little more turn, that is likely to be something that will interest Robin Peterson. He will have benefited from a long bowl in the first innings, where he took three wickets and bowled with the control we have lacked from a spinner for a long time.

The sensible money is probably still on the draw in this game. I would be astonished if Surrey could be bowled out on their own track inside 75 overs, but one would hope Derbyshire would bowl better than they did in a similar position against Essex in the final game of last season.
I was pleased today to see Mark Footitt take the wicket of Mark Ramprakash, adding it to that of Marcus Trescothick he took in a pre-season friendly. Good scalps both of them and Footitt promises to be a good asset.

So too does Greg Smith, who added four wickets to his 66 runs and may bowl off spin tomorrow if conditions suit, especially bearing in mind how he did so well with it at Uxbridge near the end of the last campaign.

Of course, Rogers heroics shouldn't mask the fact that, Smith apart, the rest of the Derbyshire batting hasn't really fired in this game. On an early season track with substantial movement at times, run scoring can be difficult, but Derbyshire are very much in control of the game at the end of day three. We shouldn't lose from here, but whether we can force a win is another matter altogether.

In closing tonight I'm going to be the first person to make an observation about Chris Rogers, or Captain Fantastic as we should now be calling him. This season's fixtures see seven County Championship matches scheduled to be completed before the end of May - the most in a long time. Given that he currently has 299 runs in two innings, it is not being silly to suggest that Rogers has an outside chance of being only the seventh man in history to score a thousand runs by the end of May.

Tom Hayward did it in 1900, Bradman in 1930 and 1938, Bill Edrich in 1938, Glen Turner in 1973 and Graeme Hick in 1988. Could Rogers score another 700 runs in 12 innings? I don't know, given the vagaries of early season tracks, the thinking money would be against it.

Then again, in his current form I'd be interested in seeing the odds.

And that would be sure to make a stir back home in Australia.

Chris Rogers, the Derbyshire Bradman. Nice ring to it, eh?

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Surrey v Derbyshire day 2

If John Morris was a script writer at work on something to encapsulate Derbyshire's first two days of the season, he would have found it hard to better their work on the first two days of this match.

Indeed, if Surrey are, as many good judges suggest, one of the two favourites to go up this year, I would suggest that a few people might be looking to revise the odds on Derbyshire at this stage, after two excellent days at the Oval.

Chris Rogers duly completed his fourth double century for the county - an outstanding effort, which saw him the first Derbyshire batsman to do so against Surrey since 1976, when Eddie Barlow put them to the sword in a wonderful innings at Ilkeston. Here's a trivia question - what name links both of those knocks? Answer at the bottom of the article...

After he was dismissed there was a cameo from Graham Wagg but what really hurt Surrey was the last wicket stand between Lee Goddard - a heck of a good number nine - and Mark Footitt, who showed he can bat too with a new career best. There's a fair psychological difference between chasing 250 and 300 to avoid the follow on, while the batsmen prepare to go in and bat, only to find themselves hanging around in the field.

The overnight press suggested we'd be happy with 400 and exceeding that by some distance was an excellent effort on an April track. Greg Smith followed his batting efforts with three wickets, while the late dismissal of Stephen Davies, who became Robin Peterson's first victim for Derbyshire, could be very important in the context of the match as he looked very dangerous.

As for tomorrow, we need to split Ramprakash and Batty early, then are through to what looks a fairly lengthy tail. I'm not sure that we would enforce the follow on unless we rolled them over for less than 250, and the skipper may fancy setting them 400-plus on the last day with a bit of turn for Peterson to exploit.

One thing struck me today - are we perhaps the only county with two bowlers who can handle different styles? With Greg Smith and Graham Wagg we have two excellent, multi-faceted cricketers who offer so much to the side and will play crucial roles if we are to have a good year.

Another good forecast for tomorrow, so lets just hope for some more cloud cover and early wickets. As for that trivia question - the link is Borrington. Dad Tony batted at the other end to Eddie Barlow in 1976, while Paul obviously did the same with Chris Rogers in this one. We won that game, so let's hope that the portents are good.

Finally tonight, 77% of those responding thought we are set for better fortunes at least in the T20 this year. I'm one of them, though I'll maybe reserve judgement until I see how we bowl in these games. I'm confident we'll score decent totals, but we'll still need to bowl much better than last year.

Until tomorrow, adios my friends.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Just a thought, but..

There's a telling comment in the middle of Andrew McGlashan's piece on Cricinfo tonight.

Talking about Chris Rogers, he says "The ECB are completely right to try and block the influx of random players from abroad, but precluding the likes of Rogers from doing a sterling job for a small club shows the chink in the system."

He's right, of course and a comment from someone on this blog a few months back is equally relevant. As things stand, a very average cricketer from Zimbabwe or Bangladesh with a few international appearances for a weak side could come and play county cricket next year, while a journeyman pro of outstanding talent and professionalism like Chris Rogers will not be able to do so. Rogers, of course, is penalised by being Australian at a time when they have outstanding batsmen everywhere you look. Even their retired ones have taken the IPL by storm, but by any yardstick Rogers is unlucky to have only a solitary Test appearance in an excellent career.

If part of the idea is to make the overseas players of a high standard, surely it would make sense to award a visa through a cumulative points system, much the same as in a tendering process?

Consider this.

Have you the requisite number of international appearances? (10 points if yes)
Have you played in the UK in the previous 5 years? (5 points per year played)
Have you made, as a batsman, 1,000 runs in the previous season? (10 points)
Have you averaged over 50 with the bat? (5 points)
Have you averaged under 25 with the ball? (5 points)
Have you taken, as a bowler, 50 wickets in all competitions? (10 points)
Have you featured in the top three of your county's Most Valuable Player rankings? (10 points)
Have you held another role with the county? (15 points for captain, 10 for batting/bowling coach)
Have you played a minimum of 75% of the previous season? (10 points if yes)
Can you commit to the same in the coming season, barring injury? (10 points if yes)

The questions and figures could be up for discussion, but if an existing county player could total, for argument's sake, 50 points, they could then be recommended for a visa by the ECB. We would then see a player of talent earning a return contract. Those of lesser ability would not. While there may be potential to rig the scoring (make an average player captain? Surely not...) the principle would at least ensure that the wheat was separated from the chaff if sufficient time was put into the scoring matrix.

Sure, I want to see Chris Rogers in a Derbyshire shirt, but I'd quite like to see County cricket as it used to be. If the proliferation of international knockabouts means the best of the best cannot play, surely the next plan should be to get the highly talented and committed in to teach good habits and set examples? Seeing counties have three players sharing overseas duties does no one any favours. It does little for attendances, has marginal effect on teams and often has a detrimental effect on the players, who cannot acclimatise properly.

First time players would, of course, have to satisfy the existing regulations, but this sort of scheme might ensure that their potential return would be dependent on a solid season in which their reputations and their team's fortunes might well benefit.

Worth a thought?

Buck off to a flyer

On my way home tonight I wondered whether it was worth starting a petition to the local MP in Derby, to see if legislation can be introduced that allows all professional cricketers with the initials "CJLR" to ply their trade without question in the UK for the next ten years…

OK, it's a little facetious, but on the evidence of today Chris Rogers is going to make this a season to remember for Derbyshire fans, while making us all wonder how on earth we can replace him in 2011 if the current regulations stay as they are. Top batsmen prepared to commit to a summer in England are getting to be a rare species. Those who will do it AND play well on a regular basis are getting to be endangered…

Chris Rogers has been a great servant to Derbyshire cricket and today made Surrey regret dropping him in the forties by going on to the first century of the domestic season, all compiled in the style that we have come to know and love.

He received good early support from Paul Borrington, before Greg Smith helped to turn a slightly wobbly 134-3 to a more reassuring total of 204-3 at tea. I may have missed an announcement and may be making summat out of nowt, but in the official picture on the club website Don Amott is flanked by Chris Rogers and Greg Smith, suggesting that the latter may be the vice-captain elect. I know that he impressed in Barbados and he has a lot to offer and he might well prove to be an inspired choice.

There's a good report on the first day on Cricinfo at

It is a sound report by a good writer, though I would take exception to his comment that for us to challenge Rogers will need to score 1500 runs plus. Our batting is better than it showed today but I am glad we played the extra batsman. There appears to be more in the wicket than our score might suggest and Robin Peterson will have watched their two spinners bag a brace with interest. If we can push on to 400-450 tomorrow, it gives us something to bowl at. With Goddard, Wagg and Groenewald still to bat there is potential for more runs, while Rogers and Peterson will hope to add to their totals.

Apparently the commentators were moaning that Derbyshire didn't "have a go" in the last session. While the merit of scoring against a tiring attack is clear, two experienced cricketers decided they would stay to fight another day. We're not playing T20 here, and I would back the collective nous of Rogers and Peterson against the casual observer any day.

Highlights of Championship matches can now be seen via all the club web sites, so tune in to ours or theirs when you can.

As a postscript, only Derbyshire's excellent statistician David Baggett would know if any other Derbyshire batsman has been the first to score the initial ton of the Championship season. I think I would be safe to say that none have scored the first double century in the first fixture. If he got there, it would be Rogers' fourth for Derbyshire, a tally matched only by Kim Barnett and exceeded by Peter Kirsten.

That's something to keep an eye on tomorrow. I hope it goes as well as today.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

On your marks...

I've received a couple of e mails over the past few days that are worth a mention.

One suggested that Robin Peterson is not a massive spinner of the ball and therefore we should not expect him to take too many wickets this season. Never having faced Peterson, I couldn't say and I've not seen enough of him to pass judgement. What I would say is that there are very few bowlers out there who I would deem a "massive" spinner of the ball, with Muralidaran probably the biggest, albeit as something of a freak.

Nor would I think, at that level, that substantial spin will get you a lot of wickets. At average club level, anyone who can make a ball deviate from straight acquires a somewhat mystic quality, with the bats of many being drawn towards it as if attached by string.

Yet in the words of perhaps the greatest ever left arm spinner, Wilfred Rhodes, you only need to turn the ball enough to miss the middle of the bat and find the edge. Balls spinning massively might look impressive on the TV replay but will not get good players out as often as one that perhaps beats them in the flight and then finds an edge. The great Wilfred also said that "if the batsman thinks it's spinning, it's spinning." Another sage comment, as Rhodes took as many wickets with flight as he did with the turning ball. It is, after all, as likely that you could get a batsman out by bowling a consistent line and length and making him take risks as by other methods.

While the jury will be out on Peterson until we see how he bowls (and bats) in English conditions, I find it hard to believe that anyone would not see his signing as a step in the right direction. He has taken wickets at a good domestic level in his own country and in international cricket, as well as scoring a respectable amount of runs. I can safely say at this stage that he'll do me and I look forward to his contributions as the season unfolds.

Another contributor to an article below suggested that we should be concerned that we have no reserve batsmen apart from John Sadler. That supposes that we will go into every game with six (which we may not) and ignores the claims of Chesney Hughes, who may be deemed ready for a first team game at some point in the season. Of course, Hughes might see us incur a penalty in our funding from the ECB as he is not qualified for England yet, but we may have to bite the bullet on that one if a rash of injuries occurred, or his precocious talent merited promotion to the senior side.

John Morris may wish to have an extra bowler in some matches, which is most likely to see Dan Redfern and Paul Borrington competing for one place with Peterson and Goddard at six and seven. I don't anticipate a problem, but it should also be considered that we could bring in an emergency loan from another county if we had injuries among the top order. We did this with success last season (Steffan Jones) and I'm sure could do so again if required.

As for tomorrow, the squad has been announced and is essentially the twelve I named last night plus Hughes. Today's Derby Telegraph suggests that final choice will be down to the captain as to whether he wants an extra bowler or batsman. Rogers will have more control of affairs this season and the relationship between he and Morris is refreshing to see.

As for our hosts, they have named the following twelve:

Rory Hamilton-Brown (Captain)
Arun Harinath
Matthew Spriegel
Mark Ramprakash
Usman Afzaal
Steven Davies (Wicket Keeper)
Gareth Batty
Stuart Meaker
Jade Dernbach
Andre Nel
Tim Linley
Chris Schofield

It is an impressive looking side with a new skipper (albeit one with a lot to prove) and wicket keeper in Davies. With Batty also making his debut and Derbyshire fielding likely debutants in Peterson and Footitt, there will be a lot of people hoping to make an early impression.

In closing, I would urge all Derbyshire fans to get behind John Morris and the side throughout this long season. I will always express my opinion on this blog (why do it otherwise?) but am one hundred per cent behind Morris, the players and the club. Whether we win silverware, come close, or have one of those years that doesn't go to plan, I will always be a Derbyshire fan.

This season marks my 43rd following the county and there have been many more bad ones than good in that time. I just hope that by the time September comes around, my conviction that we are a side on the up has been vindicated. Reading the pre-season comments in the newspapers and websites has made a refreshing change, with most of them now seeing Derbyshire as a side to be reckoned with.

That is an achievement in itself. It is now down to an exciting young team to take things on from there.

Go to it boys...

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Only a day till the first team is announced!


The season is nigh. After months of conjecture over who we'll sign, who has signed and who just might, the first game is set for Friday and some time tomorrow we should know John Morris' squad for the first game, away at the Oval against Surrey at the Oval. I just hope that the weather allows the match to unfold and more than just an early flexing of muscles.

Surrey have been buoyed today by news of the signing of Andrew Symonds for the T20, but that has been dampened by the news that talented all rounder Chris Jordan is out for a few weeks with a back problem.

As for Derbyshire, Graham Wagg has been talking us up on BBC Derby

Like me, he sees Mark Footitt's extra pace and Robin Peterson's all round abilities as crucial to our improved chances in the coming season.

I would hazard a guess that the following side will take the field on Friday, assuming everyone is fit:

Chris Rogers (captain)
Wayne Madsen
Garry Park
Greg Smith
Dan Redfern
Paul Borrington
Robin Peterson
Lee Goddard
Graham Wagg
Tim Groenewald
Mark Footitt

None of us know how much cricket Steffan Jones will play this season. He obviously has coaching commitments over and above the playing ones, but for me the only likely change to the above side might be Jones instead of Paul Borrington if John Morris wants an extra bowler.

With Wagg, Groenewald and Footitt, backed by Smith and Park for seam options, and Peterson backed by Smith, Redfern and possibly Madsen and Wagg for spin, we hardly lack for bowling. Much will depend on the wicket, but Morris may prefer the insurance policy on an early season track of the extra batsman.

Another talking point will be the order of the talented late middle order trio of Goddard, Peterson and Wagg. Peterson suggests (below) that he's likely to bat six or seven. My guess would be that he would follow Redfern and Borrington, coming in before Goddard so that we didn't have three relatively inexperienced players on the trot. Still, that's just my opinion and Morris will have this sorted.

More tomorrow with the definite team news. For now, enjoy your evening - two sleeps to go!

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Hello again!

After a lightning trip down to Derbyshire to say hello to the folks over Easter, I'm now safely back home and relaxing after a six hour drive today, courtesy of road works on the M62...

I had hoped to get to the County Ground but attempts at play came to naught, with the pitch apparently waterlogged. This, of course, makes the Barbados trip all the more worthwhile, with little chance for any domestic cricket since our return.

Mention of the pitches, of course, reminds me that this was something I overlooked in my pre-season previews. None of us knows how the rotation of the tracks will affect them. I've read stories to the effect that they are likely to be quicker this year, which is no bad thing for batsmen or bowlers, but we don't know how they will play. Ideally, we'd like something akin to Durham have at the Riverside, where a result is always likely and there is help for bowlers and something for a batsman prepared to work for his runs.

Logically, the length of our batting should mean that even if we were five down for less than a hundred at lunch we would still be capable of posting 250-300. If most innings at the County Ground were around that this year our chances of promotion will be all the more positive. Of course, there's a danger that we could fall foul of pitch inspectors, but tracks with a little more help for the bowlers must have been high on John Morris' Christmas list last year.

I'd certainly accept Madsen and Rogers dropping their average to 40 on more sporting tracks. Such circumstances would mean that the likes of Goddard, Peterson and Wagg in the lower order would be of great importance to the batting. I still think that Derbyshire, Sussex and Surrey are the three best sides on paper. Someone on 606 has suggested Northamptonshire as contenders, but I can't see where their wickets will come from.

I saw a terribly sloppy piece of "journalism" in this month's issue of All Out Cricket. I was set to buy it and had a quick look at what they'd said about us. The correspondent, Jim Hindson, said that our weakness would be our lack of quality spin that had not been addressed -this of course despite the signing of Mr Peterson. I hope there's an apology next month - as it was, I put it back on the shelf in disgust. I can take different opinions, but not factual nonsense from people paid to do better. Hindson, a former Nottinghamshire spinner, should really have done better than that.

Finally tonight, I took a walk around Queens Park with the family yesterday and imagined the carnage that Bosman could wreak there this season. Those boundaries look well within his range. It is just a pity that we're not drawn with Middlesex, who today have signed Dave Warner. To see the two of them at their best on the same day would be well worth the price of admission.

Back soon.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Random thoughts...

I'm heading down to God's own county this weekend, and if the weather is semi respectable I hope to be along for a bit of the play at the County Ground on Sunday, when Derbyshire entertain Loughborough UCCE. The forecast doesn't look great though, so it may all come to naught.

Anyway, it will be good to see the season back in full swing and we at least know that our squad is now complete. Essex have now lost Yusuf Pathan from their plans, while Somerset have engaged the almost-Derbyshire seamer Damien Wright, a colleague of Chris Rogers in Victoria. He's had a fine winter and will do a good job for them.

I was pleased to see the results of this week's poll, with 28% of respondents fancying us for promotion and 40% thinking we will go pretty close. Only 14% thought it would be a poor season and most of these votes came before the signing of Loots Bosman.

Here's this week's poll - in the light of the Bosman signing and others over the winter, do you think we'll do better in the T20 this season?

That's likely to be it from me until Tuesday - enjoy your Easter weekend and remember - this time next week the real thing begins!

Derbyshire - the one day season preview

It was very thoughtful of John Morris to sign Loots Bosman just before I did my preview of Derbyshire's one day prospects for 2010, as there can be few doubts that it changes a few things.
I can just visualise the scene on his debut at Derby in June. We have a capacity crowd on a glorious evening, in the light of our encouraging, one hundred per cent start to the competition. The local faithful, in a manner reminiscent of the fans at a Bruce Springsteen concert, are shouting "Loooooooooots" as he goes in to bat with Chris Rogers, chasing a modest total after a fine bowling display. Meanwhile, Keith Loring, looking out at all of his new seats filled, is shouting the same, but perhaps dropping the letter "s"…

OK, back to reality. Or something like it, as a few weeks ago I watched a DVD with my family titled Coraline, about a young girl who passes through a hidden tunnel to find another, more sinister version of her family in a parallel universe. It reminded me a little of Derbyshire, as last year in particular there was little resemblance between the one day and four day sides. While the latter battle hard and are difficult to beat, the one day side were all too often a less robust outfit that leaked runs and lost more matches than was good for them, or their fans.

In the light of the signings of Robin Peterson and Loots Bosman, I will be very disappointed if 2010 doesn't mark a change in our T20 fortunes. The reorganisation of the competition means we face some different opposition for a start, but the Derbyshire side looks to be better equipped than it has for some time.

It will be interesting to see if we follow the trends of the IPL, where five of the top six most economical bowlers are spinners. There is little doubt that taking the pace off the ball helps bowlers to both get wickets and keep it tight. Any bowler worth his salt has a decent slower ball, while some of the better seamers have now cultivated a slow bouncer to go with the usual quick one.

I'm really looking forward to seeing John Morris' selection for the T20 competition. One would assume that Bosman and Rogers will open, with Madsen, Smith and Park offering fine fielding and potential bowlers below them. Presumably Goddard, Peterson and Wagg are sure to play, so the rest of the side will be anyone's guess.

Does Morris play John Sadler, as a good one day finisher? Does he play Dan Redfern as a batsman and potential bowler, or Chesney Hughes for much the same reason? I'm assuming, perhaps wrongly, that Paul Borrington will play little of this format, but then he did well in Barbados.

Then there's the seam attack. I think that Mark Footitt is likely to be kept for the Championship and maybe the FP40, but Groenewald, Hunter, Jones, Lungley and Clare could all be in contention, as of course could Jake Needham, if we want to use more spinners.

It will be dictated by fitness, form and the wicket, of course, but the likelihood is that we will play most matches with anything from eight to ten batsmen AND bowlers, thanks to the rich array of all rounders in the squad. Or at least batting bowlers and bowling batsmen, if you're less convinced by some of the all round credentials.

While Bosman and Hughes will be unable to play in the 40 over season, there should still be enough to play some good cricket. There will again be competition for places and we should at least be capable of a top half finish.

Last season we saw a more mature approach to one day batting from Derbyshire and I hope to see that extended this year. With the addition of Bosman and Peterson we have introduced a more explosive element to the side that can only be good, while the additional experience of Messrs Madsen, Park and Smith should be invaluable.

The key to improvement in results will undoubtedly be if the bowlers, whoever plays, put it in the right areas on a regular basis. The IPL has highlighted that length bowling travels a long way and any batsman given a bit of room will usually be looking for boundaries with few concerns.

Assuming that we get decent totals and the bowlers can find their line and length, I think that this Derbyshire side can be competitive this year and win a lot more one day games than those of recent vintage. While any expectation of silverware may be premature, as long as we don't place the burden of expectation on any one player and produce some good, solid team efforts, I think we could get to September and reflect on a year when Derbyshire's promising young squad finally came of age.