Sunday, 1 May 2011

Time for reflection

That's April done and dusted so how was it for you?

The low point was last week's loss to the Netherlands, a competent XI but one that we should have beaten, but otherwise we've done not too badly. We sit mid-table in the Championship having lost to Gloucestershire after one bad day, beaten Leicestershire easily and then plucked a draw from them with an outstanding display of tail end defiance. We also lost to Middlesex, but the early money is on them being the team to beat this year. With all of our bowlers fit I think we'd have won that one and could have been just behind them in the table in second place. The fact that they've breezed their other matches so far suggests we actually did quite well against them.

Consider these numbers: 75, 93, 52, 28, 58, 132, 261, 39, 58, 10, 11. That's the number of first class, four-day innings played by yesterday's side. For comparative purposes, Ed Joyce and Murray Goodwin of today's opponents Sussex have played almost as many between them. Inexperience costs you and you have to take the rough with the smooth. Conversely, experience costs money that we don't have. Like me, you may be astonished that Wes Durston is 30 but has only played 75 first class innings, while Usman Khawaja has only played 52. A few years back that was a season...

Logic suggests that there should be a few times this year we take a pasting. Today, for example, Sussex also bring England's Luke Wright and Monty Panesar to the County Ground and have other very talented cricketers, as befits a side from Division One. Yorkshire, tomorrow's opponents, are also from that level, so is the best we can hope for a competitive match, rather than a win?

I'm not so sure. While inexperienced, John Morris has assembled a squad of talent that, on their day, could play and compete against most sides. The infuriating thing is that you never know which team will turn up. The battling second innings performances against Gloucestershire and Middlesex and the pre-lunch display in the field against the latter suggested what this side is capable of, but the capitulation last Monday and the first innings against those sides was also indicative of naivety in the middle. Yesterday showed batsmen who could get in, get their feet moving and be nearly established before giving it away, although their team mates showed the fighting spirit is alive and well with that epic rearguard.

It will be a rollercoaster season in the absence of experienced men. If we had the money for, say, Usman Afzaal and Ricky Ponting in the batting line up we'd have breezed last week, but we don't and need to accept that. The side will inspire and infuriate in equal measure before September, but what we saw yesterday was a side that will give 100% and not just lie down and die like too many sides of my experience in Derbyshire colours.

At the end of the day, as fans we can ask no more than that.

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