If you took the time to look at the footage of our game against Surrey yesterday (posted below) you will, like me have been especially impressed by a couple of things.
One was the bowling of Steffan Jones, who must surely adopt the old Barbra Streisand song ‘Evergreen’ as his theme tune. He was running in hard (which is always easier in April then August) and getting good lift and movement. I especially liked the delicious yorker to remove the last man, as good a conclusion to an innings as I can think of. Derbyshire’s bowlers could not wish for a better role model in terms of fitness and attitude and he will continue to set an example, as he has throughout his time at the County Ground.
Second was the wicket keeping of Luke Sutton, who held several catches of varying difficulty but looks so assured behind the timbers. With no disrespect to those concerned, we missed CLASS behind the stumps last season, as James Pipe was a tough act to follow. No such worries this year, as Sutts exudes confidence that should hopefully spread through the team. If we’re struggling with the bat I could think of no one better to mount a rearguard action, either.
The wicket to wicket camera is a useful addition to the coverage of the county game, the only limitation being its static nature. Days like yesterday, when the catches go to the keeper or most are either bowled or lbw are fine, but it is when the ball goes out of shot there are issues.
Take Dan Redfern’s boundary catch from Tony Palladino. For all we know, Dan could have sprinted thirty yards, dived full length, flicked it into the air before it touched the ground then caught it between his buttocks before retrieving it and claiming the catch. For that matter, he could probably dine out on that, as there would have been few there to dispute it…
I also thought I saw a change in Chesney Hughes bowling, with less of a run up than I have seen previously. The difference was not as obvious as Michael Holding coming off a short run, but what was shown of Hughes (one delivery!) suggested that his new action owed something to the approach to the wicket of Robin Peterson. Certainly it appears that there’s more body in the delivery, which can be no bad thing when you’re as powerfully built as the Ches-meister.
For me, Chesney looks like a player on the verge of the big time, although this is sure to be a challenging season for him. He has all the powerful shots that one associates with top Caribbean batsmen over the years, yet more patience than some of a more recent vintage have shown. If he can contribute useful spin it will be of inordinate value to his skipper, who also has Messrs Durston, Redfern and Smith to do the same. While his heavyweight boxer-like build legislates against him being the most lithe of movers in the field, he has an excellent pair of hands and should be a fixture in the slip cordon this summer.
I’m not sure if you can read too much into yesterday’s team selection, but does the absence of Groenewald, Clare, Turner and Footitt mean they are the likely pace quartet for Bristol? If so, then I would suggest that it is our quickest attack since the halcyon days of Mortensen, Holding and Malcolm. Television speed guns last year showed Footitt bowling at over 90mph, while Groenewald was in the mid-80s with a nowhere near fit Jon Clare. Indeed, Michael Holding suggested Clare was capable of bowling a really fast ball once he was mentally right. Meanwhile Mark Turner turned in spells of real hostility for Somerset and will not look at all slow in comparison.
If this quartet are fully fit and firing and the pitches at Derby offer help as yesterday’s did, very few sides will fancy turning up and having a bat against them if their radars are locked on and their rhythm is right.