Friday, 7 January 2011

Something for the weekend

Hampshire have made an interesting signing as overseas player in South African seamer Friedel de Wet. He made a good debut in international cricket against England last winter but then missed several months recovering from a stress fracture to his back.

At 30 he is a seasoned cricketer who should get wickets, although the presence of Kabir Ali and Simon Jones at Hampshire makes the signing a strange one in some eyes. Presumably the county will rotate the three and give each a game off on a regular basis, though their collective fitness record suggests that this may be enforced rather than optional. If they all stay fit it should, however, be one of the better attacks in the division. If not, I guess they could assemble the working body parts of all three into a composite super-bowler.

Maybe I’ve watched too many science fiction movies. It reminds me of when our club was looking at a funding bid for a bowling machine which would prepare our batsmen for matches better than ever before. One wag asked if the machine was on wheels or static.

“Och, it disnae matter,” he said. “Either way we should play it. It’ll be more mobile in the field than our regular opening bowlers…”

Meanwhile, Somerset have added to the signings of Steve Kirby and Gemaal Hussain with Saqlain Mustaq, who appears likely to play when Murali Kartik is unavailable. They must have plenty of cash in those parts, as they’re still talking about re-signing Kieron Pollard for the T20. Fair play to them – its nice to see a small club (which they are) competing with the big boys and still turning in a small profit.

Of course, there’s a world of difference between most small counties and us, the smallest of the small, the Mini-me of county cricket (one for Austin Powers fans there…) We made £70K last season from the T20, whereas Somerset made £327K. It illustrates quite nicely how they can afford the players named above. Improving on those figures has to be an off-field target for Derbyshire this season. Only 14,000 people attended our T20 home games last year, the lowest by some distance behind Leicestershire (17,000) and Gloucestershire (19,000).

Quite how we do that when finance makes it unlikely we can bring in a second overseas player is anyone’s guess, though better weather, the lack of a World Cup as competition and improved pitches for batting should help.

As I’ve written before, getting some of the Rams involved would help. Everyone’s says Derby is a football city, so why not get a few in for signing sessions? Get Nigel Clough or Robbie Savage to do a pre-match Q and A session? Photo opportunities with your favourite player? Q and As with former players? Bowl at a Ram in the nets, or at one of the Derbyshire players out of the side? They could use wind balls to avoid a footballer getting hurt, and offer a prize to anyone who bowled out a cricketer.Maybe a contract…

Seriously, such ventures could and should work. Don Amott can pull a few strings at Pride Park and the football club could do a promo at the same time for mutual benefit. Gloucestershire’s extra 5,000 fans saw an additional £50,000 of income, an amount, one would guess, that is roughly what is required for an additional overseas player.

I’m sure John Morris would love such a luxury in 2011. Here’s hoping that he and the team get the support that they need.and the club continue to come up with innovative ways to make more money.

Incidentally, Middlesex have today launched their 'Sponsor a player' campaign for 2011 and it makes impressive reading. For £300 you get:

· Your own sponsor's message in every single Middlesex home match programme (including the Twenty20 event guide), in all Panther magazines, on the official Club website, and in the Middlesex Annual Review

· An invitation to an exclusive after match kit sponsors 'meet the players' party, held at Lord's during the 2011 season

· Ten free match tickets to bring guests or friends along to any LV= County Championship or Clydesdale Bank 40 match at Lord's during the season

· A free gift from the Middlesex CCC Club Shop

· An exclusive kit sponsors' discount card - giving you a discount on any item purchased in the Middlesex CCC Club shop

· Your chosen players' actual competition playing shirt, which will be signed, personalised, and presented to you to keep

· A signed pen-pic of your sponsored player

· Entry into a number of exclusive competitions to win an array of Middlesex and cricket goodies

Not only is that an attractive set of benefits, they’re hitting companies EXACTLY at the right time. January is when many start looking at their budgets and what they have left. £300 isn’t a lot of money, but might meet with greater scrutiny at the start of a financial year in April than at the end of one – always assuming the companies approached have money left….

Hopefully our marketing team will follow suit sometime soon.

Have a good one!

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