It is ironic that a county with the smallest membership of all the first class counties is reporting record levels of interest in the club via its web site.
The site has improved over the last few years and now has much better content and navigation, as well as an impressive new look. Interestingly, the figures mirror the development of this blog, although it has only been going for three-and-a-half years. Indeed, the close season usage of this site is now higher than that in the summer even two years ago, with regular readers from eighteen different countries.
This latter fact interests, as well as flatters me. Interest in Derbyshire cricket doesn't wither and die when you move away and the desire for information about the club cannot be fuelled by conventional media sources, as most are only interested in the bad news. Even within the UK I have had e mails from Wales, Sussex, Cornwall, Lancashire, Scotland, Cheshire and Hertfordshire - all of them from Derbyshire fans who still love the club yet, because of their life circumstances, can only get to occasional games - or none at all.
Distance may be the major issue, but for most, people with families and jobs that occupy them five or six days a week, there are other factors - that games are often not on when they have a day off at the weekends and could potentially make a trip to see their team, or are at a stage where the game is effectively over.
I've covered this before - the club are naturally grateful for all those who live close enough to attend regularly, but one should never discount the level of interest or passion for the club in those who stay further away. I live 300 miles away, yet would put my passion for the club up there with anyone. Mind you. I stay several thousand miles from Nashville, yet still read the online Tennessean newspaper every week...
Another thing that interests me is the positivity among fans, something that has grown over the time I've done this blog. That in itself is a sign of progress, but the number of negative comments and e mails I receive about the club now are a small percentage of what I had when I started the blog. There will always be a few people who have axes to grind, of course, but most are aware of what the club is trying to do and appear to be supportive.
Of course, the acid test will come when the action starts. Be prepared for ups and downs, my friends, as that's what you get from young players. I think the coming season will see us playing an exciting brand of cricket under a young and able new captain. There will be days of euphoria, when we play above ourselves and produce individual and collective brilliance, but there will be others where the intensity drops and the performance suffers accordingly. It happens with young players, just as it happens with the more experienced - as we've seen at Derbyshire over the years.
Between them Karl Krikken and Chris Grant have put together a young, bright squad, not forgetting the role played by John Morris in bringing some better players to the club. If I had one wish for the coming season - aside from a trophy, of course - it is that Derbyshire fans get behind and keep behind the team for the campaign. Remember that, win or lose, they are trying their best - but on occasions, when they come up against players and teams in form, that might not be enough.