I am writing this piece before the result of today’s game is known, but to some extent the result is immaterial to the message.
There has been too great a knee-jerk reaction from some fans already this season and it is only three days old. We are used to this to some extent and the feeling remains that there is a faction of Derbyshire ‘support’ who thrive on the bad times and seem almost to will a poor display so the next chorus of sack the coach/committee/club (delete as appropriate) can commence. To be fair it is not so much a chorus as akin to the ones who sit in church moving their mouths and singing under their breath. I don’t think such comments are representative of the larger fanbase at all.
The reality is that we may well lose to a very average Gloucestershire outfit who I would suggest could be wooden spoon candidates this year. A few people have raised their game for the home side, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that they are an ordinary outfit who will get some pastings this year.
But what of Derbyshire? You can’t make snap judgements on one game and four innings. Truth be told, the batting has looked a little lop-sided because it is. Garry Park is not an opening batsman but manfully stepped into the breach, presumably because we wanted to keep Chesney Hughes away from the new ball in the early season. Likewise I don’t see Wes Durston as a number three, but the withdrawal of Usman Khawaja on the first morning left that position open and Wes was elevated as a result.
It could have worked, but didn’t. It shouldn’t detract from the positivity emanating from the camp and there have been a few in this game. The seamers all did well, although the home side were let off the hook, especially on the second morning. Greg Smith played the innings of a man with a point to make, so let’s hope he makes points all season, while Chesney continued to show his penchant for Gloucestershire bowling in the second innings.
As I wrote the other night, the season will not be defined by one performance, good or bad. Perhaps this will serve as a wake up call, as we mixed it with good sides pre-season and showed up well. Maybe there was a feeling that we were just going to turn up and win, but the truth is, as Luke Sutton said pre-season, players need to roll up their sleeves and graft – every single day.
Two bad sessions will probably cost us this game, in the course of which our first innings fell apart. For the rest of it we competed well.
Hopefully Usman Khawaja will be fit to take his place at three for this week’s game at home to Leicestershire, which will leave John Morris a couple of issues – the opening partner for Wayne Madsen and the seam bowling line up. He could stick with Park – after all, one game is hardly something to make a judgement on – or move Hughes up. Luke Sutton could move up too, though whether he wants that additional responsibility on top of the rest is doubtful. Alternatively, he could offer Matt Lineker an early opportunity, which would be a bold but intriguing move.
As for the seamers, we could perhaps have done with Mark Footitt’s extra pace on that second morning, but the slow pitch and his early season niggle led to his exclusion, while Mark Turner’s time will doubtless come.
I am encouraged by the early season form of youngsters playing for University sides though. I’d be fairly confident in suggesting that John Morris’ five-year plan included the future involvement of the likes of Slater, Siddique, Redfern, Hughes and Borrington in the batting, Whiteley, Clare and Needham as potential all-rounders, Poynton as wicket-keeper and Sheikh, Knight and Higginbottom as bowlers. With a good crop below that little lot (including a young chap by the name of Cork who will attract interest) the future is bright and is largely academy-generated.
Keep that in mind on the bad days this season. There’ll be enough good ones in due course.