Friday, 15 April 2011

Something for the weekend

By the time you read this we’ll have a decent idea of the direction that our second Championship game of the campaign is going after a key day’s cricket today. I’m writing this on my morning commute, without the great benefit of hindsight.

Judging from reports we have a few batsmen currently suffering from early season-itis, with their feet not moving properly yet and their techniques not properly grooved. Wes Durston seems to have gone for occupation at the expense of strokes at Bristol, followed by one-day batting yesterday. Neither worked especially well and the feeling remains that he will do better at his natural place at five when Usman Khawaja returns. Logic suggests that he, Dan Redfern and Garry Park will battle it out for one position in the middle order when Paul Borrington is fit. Wayne Madsen is for me the ‘rock’ of the batting and I’m always disappointed when he’s back in the pavilion, while Chesney Hughes and Greg Smith have got some runs under their belts so far and are becoming key players.

Sometime soon I remain confident that we’ll see a partnership between what sounds like a music hall act, Ches ‘n’ Wes, while the prospect of the Derbyshire version of the three Ws all firing is a mouth watering one (Wayne, Wes and ‘waj)…

The bowlers have done pretty well, apart from a tendency to lose it against the opposition last pair. Again, reports suggest that we’ve gone from bowling a probing, full length to the opposition to digging it in short and bowling too wide against the last pair. That’s OK if you’ve got serious pace and an innate ability to lock onto the Adam’s apple of the opposition batsmen, but most young bowlers are taught quickly, as I was, that pitching it up increases the chance of a nick or lbw and reduces the hitting area if someone is trying to get ‘after’ you.

These are skills we need to rediscover quickly, as to lose 70 and 90-plus runs in two matches to the last pairs suggests either common sense is going out the window on occasion or some batsmen are having serious good fortune. It doesn’t detract from impressive performances by the bowlers thus far, but how much better would they be if they finish the job?

Speaking of bowlers, I’d an e-mail today from a Gloucestershire fan asking if I knew that young seamer Mitch Wilson had joined Derbyshire. I’d heard the story, but there’s nothing on the club site at this stage. Wilson would, I guess, at 18 be one for the future, but he has done well for Gloucestershire and his native Dorset and looks to be a talent. It is an indication of last week’s opponents parlous financial state that they apparently couldn’t afford to offer him a summer contract, prsumably having spent the contents of their swear boxes and foreign currency drawers on Muttiah Muralitharan for the T20.

Whether Wilson has signed or not will no doubt be confirmed in due course, but it indicates that the net is being cast far and wide in the quest for new players. Looking at his Facebook page, I'd guess he has signed, unless he has a strange sense of loyalty:

Which brings me neatly and finally to the comment below from ‘Anon’ regarding John Morris. Yes, I agree that at some point the buck has to stop with the Head of Cricket, but I don’t think this is the time. At the end of the day, Morris can talk to players, work with them in the nets (with his other coaches) and tell them what is required. Yet he can’t go out there and bat for them and select the stroke for the circumstances and conditions. No more than Steffan Jones can go out there and stop them bowling short and wide to tail enders. As in every sport, players have to take responsibility for their own actions.

The fact remains that we have players from other counties who are the best that we can afford and youngsters coming through who are progressing at different rates. If coaches work as hard as possible, some will improve when they assimilate what they are being told and some will fall by the wayside. One only needs to look at the number of brilliant schoolboy cricketers who never make the top to realise that some players peak below the required standard for an established first-class cricketer. This isn’t through poor coaching, but down to the fact that their hand/eye co-ordination, their mental resilience, or their powers of concentration simply aren’t up to the job, through no fault of their own. Ask yourself this – is everyone in your office or place of work the same standard?

I rest my case. Have a good one.


If Morris is going to take the brickbats for the way players do badly, does he now get the bouquets for today?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's a fair point that people in any workplace will be at different levels of performance, and some may not capable of making the grade in their line of work. However, it's the primary task of any manager to make sure that they create an environment in which everyone improves to the extent of their abilities, and it's this area that I don't see evidence of at Derbyshire. Of course the team will have good days (and even good matches) because they are able players. The current match might be the start of a renaissance that will make me eat my words about John Morris' potential, but the reality is that flashes of excellence have been few and far between and are always followed by a return to the grim reality of steady decline.

Note Mark Eklid's closing comment in Wisden - "With all trace of the progress made over the previous two years having disappeared, Derbyshire had to start from the bottom again." I doubt whether this was part of John Morris' job application, and he wouldn't have got the job if had been. I appreciate that not everyone will draw the line at the same point, but the shocking performances through a large part of last season was mine. So where would yours be? When will you know that the time has come?