Who'da thunk it eh? The blog has now had 150,000 hits, proving that interest in Derbyshire cricket is alive and well and living in ....well, lots of places really. I was thrilled to get to a thousand and each successive one seems to get faster, so thanks to all of you for your continued interest. I'm sure you don't always (ever?) agree with what I write, but I'm pleased that you keep coming back for more!
Well, a day after the Dutch draw, time for reflection. Someone mailed me to say they thought it was a point gained, which at the start of the final over looked unlikely, but I still see it as a point lost. For me, a team that can beat Sussex, Yorkshire and Worcestershire should be able to beat Holland/Netherlands/ whatever they like to be called. No arguments. While they are an improving side and have players who have first class experience elsewhere, a first-class county should still have enough to beat them. Had we done that at Derby and yesterday we'd have been sitting so pretty that we'd be asked out on dates...
Having said that, they are the strongest of the so-called minnows and I fancy that we would do better against Scotland or the Unicorns (please God, let us have the Jocks next year so I get a home game...) It is also worth saying that our destiny still lies in our own hands and we have still to play Middlesex and Kent twice, as well as return fixtures against Yorkshire and Worcestershire at Derby.
Remember too that for those games, the first of which is at the end of July, we will be undoubtedly strengthened by the presence of Martin Guptill, an experienced international batsman with 52 one-day internationals behind him and considerable success. It was always going to be difficult for Usman Khawaja to line up the ball in English early season conditions and we have not yet seen him at his best, with the exception of the game at Worcester. He is far from alone in this and I well remember the early struggles of Greg Chappell at Somerset and Glenn Turner at Worcestershire, neither of who turned out bad players.
Khawaja still has time to make an impression in the Championship and T20 and as a dedicated professional will be working hard to do so. I suspect that the experience will do him more good in the long term than it has thus far shown, but he is a player of talent and I hope we see him in full flow before his time with us ends.
It is also worth saying that the fact that we are now complaining about a tie and 'only' second in the group is a fair measure of improvement. I totally agree with Karl Krikken that we lost a grip on the game yesterday when Bukhari was the only player to score with any freedom in their powerplay. Even from a distance, four an over on an awkward track needed players to apply themselves and no one really got going in a mediocre batting effort.
As alluded to by a couple of comments on last night's post, maybe we need to rethink when the tournament starts again and move Garry Park up the order. I think that having Guptill opening will make a difference anyway and Chesney Hughes' recent travails can't go on much longer. Logic suggests that Guptill and Khawaja will open in the T20 with Durston at three, Hughes at four, Madsen at five and Smith at six. I'd then be inclined to go with Park's all round option at seven, the skipper at eight and Jones and Groenewald in there too.
That would leave one place. I would think Yorkshire will recall Azeem Rafiq for the T20, so we will either need to look at another seamer, the spin of Jake Needham or the all round talents of Ross Whiteley.
Not a bad team and one that, like the Pro 40 side, has the capability to do pretty well. It will need everyone on top of their game though. A return to the intensity pre-Sussex and Netherlands is required and imperative.
First though its Canterbury and the Championship next week. A good display there and we'll all be on the happy pills again.
Have a good evening.