Friday, 4 March 2011

Something for the weekend

Just over a month to go now and I’m sure that most of you are as excited as I am about the coming season.

This week came news that Derbyshire are to return to Leek, this time in the balmier days (at least in theory) of June. It is good to see the club making this commitment to a sizeable fan base in Staffordshire, a county that has also been the source of many players over the years. If they are blessed with decent weather I am sure that the fans will respond in a manner that makes it worthwhile.

To be fair to Keith Loring and the admin team, they don’t miss many tricks and must be the envy of many counties. If Leek can be made to pay for itself, it could be a regular venue in the coming years. Despite the logistical difficulties, taking the show on the road is a good way to show people that you care. While the larger part of the support is concentrated around Derby, games at Chesterfield and Leek let people know the club are aware of their interest. Maintaining that is paramount to continued success.

Speaking of which, it was nice to see “our” Martin Guptill playing another good knock against Kenya. While not an especially demanding attack, Guptill scored runs against them and remained unbeaten at the end. I have vivid memories of much vaunted players in our past who often gave it away against supposed lesser lights. I never saw Shahid Afridi or Michael Slater score many runs against Scotland for example, the type of team against which, with respect, they should have dominated.

Guptill’s talents have already been evident in this World Cup and the thought of him opening in the T20 is one that I relish. That he has all the shots is obvious, but he also has an impressive technique, which should see him do better than Loots Bosman did last year. He is, in short, a batsman, rather than a hitter and the latter tend to come off on only an occasional basis.

As exhibit A I give you Kevin O’Brien. While a decent player, little in his first-class career to date has suggested he was capable of doing what he did to England. Stints at Nottinghamshire and Middlesex suggested a player with only moderate ability, but the England match was his day and when that happens it is time to be joyful. Look at Loots Bosman at Headingley in the T20 last year, yet he seldom looked like replicating that afterwards, somewhat hamstrung by docile tracks, a knee injury and attacks that realised that if you gave him no width he had a limited array of shots.

On another day O’Brien’s heaves could have gone straight to a fielder instead of landing safely, or one of the catches would have been taken quite easily. On your day you have to capitalise on it, something O’Brien did in spades.

I would expect someone to pick him up for the T20 after his display, and good luck to the guy. The IPL could also be an option for him after an innings that captured the imagination. Such a display did Keiron Pollard no harm a couple of years back and given the way the game is going O’Brien could well have secured his future quite nicely, even if he never plays a County Championship match.

Have a great weekend!

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