Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Pre-season prospects - the Championship

Just over a week to go until Derbyshire start their 2011 Championship campaign and fans, like those of all counties, will be looking at the prospects of their favourites and dreaming.

As for me, I am quietly confident that the county can put the off-field stuff behind them and produce a steady campaign. I'll not predict the spectacular as I've been there before and regretted it (about 25 times!) but I think that John Morris has put together a good squad that should produce some solid cricket, especially in the four-day format.

I've written before that we have a number of wicket-taking bowlers and that is the case. Footitt, Groenewald, Palladino, Turner and Clare all have good reputations in this area, if not so much at always keeping things quiet in the one-day form of the game. How many play will, of course, depend on the wicket and the improvement the winter has brought in Jake Needham. Atif Sheikh may also come to the fore and we should not lack for bowling strength this year. They've all worked hard with Steffan Jones and the fitness coach over the winter and should reap rewards for that hard work.

I think we all like to see a balanced attack and the presence of Jon Clare means that we can effectively field an all-rounder at eight. Greg Smith's role will also be important and I'm intrigued as to how his season will pan out. Is he a batsman who bowls spin, or a batsman who bowls medium pace? Or is he a bowler who does a bit of batting? The demands of the current game make it very difficult for a player to excel in all areas and Smith's game suffered last year from having to do, or trying to do too much. Will speculation over his future affect him, positively or negatively? Few would deny that at his best he is a fine player. If he can produce regularly, we're likely to do well.

I don't see him batting higher than five or six though, which gives him a decent chance, while Wes Durston could do a little of the spin duties if he cements a place in the batting line-up.

If anything, the batting is perhaps the most likely cause for concern. I'd be fairly confident of good runs from Wayne Madsen, but his likely opening partners are likely to be either Paul Borrington or Chesney Hughes at the start of the season and both have things to prove. Can Bozza combine occupation of the crease with punishment of the bad ball to keep the score moving? Can Chesney overcome second season syndrome when bowlers will know him better? He is a fine talent, but all cricketers have their good and bad times. Good starts make such a difference to teams and if we can get a settled pairing it would bode well.

Then there's the rest. Garry Park went back last year, but is surely too good a player to stay struggling, while Wes Durston needs to score the runs we have seen in one day cricket in the Championship, where an average in the early 20's from a man of his experience (and ability) is under-achieving.

There are other questions. Can Matt Lineker emerge from the local leagues and score heavily in the first-class game. Put another way and taking things in stages, can he force his way into the team first? Most of all, can Dan Redfern show us that the best young batsman to emerge in Derbyshire cricket since Kim Barnett is alive and well, ready to score the runs that his talent suggests?

In the words of the old song, there are more questions than answers and how many of the players prove themselves will dictate our fortunes for 2011.

Two final points about the Championship campaign. We have two gifted overseas batsmen coming in. Will they take to English domestic cricket like a duck to water, or struggle on wickets that often offer more assistance than they are used to? Their respective abilities again suggest they can and will do, but until the action starts we won't know. Martin Guptill is likely to enjoy later season wickets, but key to our success will be the way that Usman Khawaja adapts his game to early season English wickets. If he does, we should be flying.

Finally the new skipper. I'm thrilled we have a good, solid wicket-keeper who just happens to be a good, solid batsman. He's also a man who sets a standard and will expect them to be met every day. Luke Sutton was the first bit of business this close season and may turn out to be the most important.

If we start solidly, keep working at our game and get the rub of the green we could be in the promotion mix. Whether we do better than that will be down to enough people with reputations to build ending the season with their names enhanced. I don't know how it will go, but it should be a lot of fun in finding out!

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

A good effort that, I thought.

Certainly, on paper at least, the strongest suit would appear to be the pace bowling. I fancy Palladino might just surprise a few and cash in after the quicker guys soften up the opposition. From a personal point of view, I really feel Footitt can move up a notch or two - I have a lot of hope there.

Admittedly, the batting could be a bit of a concern, particularly as the odds of a 1000 run Championship return may only look a likely bet for perhaps Madsen, Hughes and the overseas combination. If all three were come off, that would be great. Sure enough, Park could do it and there is no reason why Durston couldn't, but will they? I also suspect Smith will bat lower down the order this year and will have a fair bit of bowling to occupy his time.

The spin bowling area could prove to be a weakness too, particularly away from home, should Smith be off colour or Needham struggles to break through or secure a birth.

All that said, you can't expect it all, particularly when funds are tight. The team looks better than some and maybe weaker than others in CC2. Much will be determined by team spirit and a good start. Hopefully, Luke Sutton will contribute positively on that front.


MASTERVILLAIN

Anonymous said...

I put Radio Derby on for their sports desk this morning at 8-30am and there was no word of our new chairman. It is time the club appointed a Press Officer as we must be the worst informed fans in the country.

Anonymous said...

You are right, they didn't even mention the AGM on the Official Website until the morning of the AGM. It was like they didn't want anyone there. At the AGM John Morris mentioned a friendly at Derby on Monday against Surrey which nobody there knew about.

Anonymous said...

Apparently, according to Sky Sports Chris Grant is our new Chairman which has to be good news and will hopefully clip Mr. Griffin's wings.

Anonymous said...

I went to my first DCCC AGM last night and the impression I got was that David Griffin is running the club and has been for a long time. He has meetings with two of his puppets (Kirby and Nicholas) away from the ground where none of the other committee men are invited. Club policy is agreed in these meetings and Griffin then tells his other two puppets (Morris and Loring) what he wants.

Anonymous said...

Yes, how can the club hold meetings on policy when the Chief Executive and Head of Cricket are not invited to the meetings' which apparently take place in people's houses away from the rest of the Committee!

Anonymous said...

Someone at the meeting questioned the claim that the salary of John Morris was to be reduced by 30%. This was denied by the 'Fun Boy Three' so someone is lying somewhere as this had been previously reported.

Anonymous said...

I was there and saw Griffin attempt to gain friends by telling all that he had offered both Morris and Loring a contract and by saying he wanted more matches at Chesterfield. Who does he think he is?

Anonymous said...

I think Chris Grant sounds a good appointment. I would be very worried if the Griffin puppet Kirby was at the helm.

Anonymous said...

I was there last night and heard about stories of meetings in various places away from the ground where only 3 or 4 of the 14 man committee were invited. I felt I had joined the Masons not a County Cricket Club!

Anonymous said...

John Morris was saying that Hampshire had a rich chairman and could afford better players. We had one in Don Amott until the 'Fun Boy Three' peed him off. I hope that Chris Grant can stand up to Mr. Griffin and involve all of the committee more and take us forward.

Anonymous said...

Who could blame Don Amott for resigning as Chairman. Would you give your hard earned money to David Griffin to spend?

Anonymous said...

It would be nice to know just how much Messrs. Griffin, Kirby and Nicholas have invested in the club.

Anonymous said...

I was at the David Griffin show (the AGM)last night and like most there were sick to the stomach.
I can't understand how a man who has put nothing into the club can hold so much power.
I'd like to know how the voting went afterwards for the Chairman. Do we know who was proposed etc?

Anonymous said...

According to some griffin takes out, for taking pictures, surely someone needs to stand against him next season.

Anonymous said...

I have just been on the official club website but there is still no news on how the voting went for the chairman yet they list results for the committee votes. Is this more stuff the club doesn't want the fans to know about?

Anonymous said...

I shouldn't worry about who got on the committee because although there is 14 on it only 4 seem to have a say in running the club.

Anonymous said...

At the meeting last night David Griffin stated that himself, Don Amott, Phil Kirby and Malcolm Nicholas decided that there would only be 6 days cricket at Chesterfield this year. Why weren't the other 10 committee members or the Cief Executive or the Head of Cricket consulted on this decision aswell?