Here we are again, another week gone by and another week nearer the season. Only 48 days to go now...
Like most of you, I was encouraged to read the news of Derbyshire's pre-season trip to Barbados. With Chris Grant generously funding half of the cost and the players and the Barbados Tourism Board paying the rest, the team will benefit from excellent practice in conditions that are nigh-ideal. A few dour individuals may say we should have stayed here, but there are few opportunities for outdoor work in March. As John Morris says, getting the bowlers run ups ironed out and the batsmen out in the middle has to be a good thing and they should be raring to go by April 8.
The other good news came from Keith Loring, with the club due to get a £300K windfall in September after making the requisite ground improvements. While a loss is highly likely after last season, Keith Loring is predicting a profit in the coming year, with most of the above money effectively going into the bank. It is another excellent piece of work from a behind the scenes team that must be the envy of many on the county circuit.
Certainly there are a few counties, including Leicestershire, Yorkshire and Lancashire who will be counting the shekels very carefully in the next twelve months after a disastrous 2010. If, as some are predicting, a county goes to the wall in the not too distant future, the thinking money is that one of these three must be a likely candidate. Like them or not, it would be a very sad day for the game if that happened, with decades of rivalries going in one fell swoop.
It doesn't look like being Derbyshire though, which must really annoy some people within the game. Shame that...
Elsewhere this week there were a couple of interesting snippets of county news among the many articles on the cricket World Cup on the web.
One was that Warwickshire feel they have been let down by Younis Khan. Not only is he now unavailable for the first few weeks of the season, he may not manage to play at all because of his international commitments. That’s the same international commitments that he didn’t have as effectively a persona non grata with his country’s Cricket Board. Now things are all sweetness and light it would appear Warwickshire are an afterthought, to be cast aside. To say the least, for their fans and administrators this is a disappointing turn of events and the old adage ‘one good turn deserves another’ seems far from the truth in this instance.
From this distance Warwickshire appear to have been well and truly stuffed. Not too many Derbyshire fans will sympathise, but this could happen to any county. I’m just glad that we’re ‘sorted’ in that area for the coming season.
One man who isn’t ‘sorted’ is Iain O’Brien, the former New Zealand bowler now living in Matlock. His hopes of playing as a non-overseas player were dashed when the powers-that-be decided his English wife didn’t give him the same qualification route as, for example, Wayne Madsen’s European passport. It is somewhat bizarre, but the bowler’s quest for an opportunity has come to naught. Part of this is perhaps down to his injury record last season, but O’Brien will, I’m sure, find work as a stopgap during the season as others encounter similar problems with the incessant workload of the county game.
Anyway, time to go. In closing, thanks to Chris for alerting me to a Charl Langeveldt shirt you can bid for on ebay (current price just £19.99) while there's also a match-worn Azharuddin top that could be yours if you're happy to pay £55. Alternatively, you can buy a Dominic Cork 'Corky' clock.
Why, I'm really not sure.
Have a good weekend. Soon be time for those pre-season previews...
PS My bet for the World Cup? Hard to go past India on their own patch, but if South Africa are ever going to win things that matter, surely this is their time? With Smith, Amla, du Plessis, de Villiers, Duminy and Kallis in the batting, and Morkel, Steyn and Tsotsobe to bowl quality seam, they have to be in there. With Imran Tahir now qualified and bowling on friendly tracks they should regard anything less than the final a dismal failure.