Monday, 26 March 2012

Monday musings: The tour, the keeper and spinners

So, a tour that started somewhat inauspiciously with defeats in the opening matches ended on a high as the team got match fit. Barbados were roundly thrashed, Hampshire beaten in a pulsating game that saw reputations built and enhanced, while Yorkshire were outplayed in a 2-day practice match.

Yes, its pre-season and yes it would be stupid to make assertions on the basis of that, but the signs are good and Derbyshire would appear to have a talented squad together ahead of the new campaign. We knew that, of course, but a young side appeared to gel in the Caribbean and, although shorn of the services of many first team regulars, they gave an excellent account of themselves.

At least one of the pre-tour questions appears to have been answered, as captaincy seems not to remotely faze Wayne Madsen. It is too early to say whether Tom Poynton can establish himself as a first-class wicket-keeper but again, the signs are good. Poynton is a very solid, competent keeper and is capable in the long term of scoring good runs for the club in the next ten years or more.

A correspondent below the last post asks how many runs Poynton might score this year. I'm not going to put the lad under unnecessary pressure by saying he'll get 500 - he is likely, after all, to be batting no higher than number nine - but for me anything over 300 is a bonus. As I wrote last week, more important to Derbyshire is that at this stage he establishes himself as a wicket-keeper who catches most things that go his way and sets a vociferous and high standard in the field. Realistically, if he got more runs than I suggest the likelihood is that the guys above him have got us into problems too often for comfort.

I'll say one thing though - the people that have him down as a one in fantasy cricket simply haven't a clue. The lad is a genuine talent and will surprise a lot of people in the coming season - but not me. He has good hands, and has looked a player of real promise for several seasons.

This is his time and he has the chance to prove it.

Equally it was great to see David Wainwright and Tom Knight both bowling lengthy and excellent spells against Yorkshire. Knight burst onto the scene last summer but the photographs from Barbados reinforce what I had already heard - that the lad has lost a lot of weight and is now much more prepared for the county game. There was unfair criticism in some quarters of his fielding last year, but in a couple of months he went from being a good club and school cricketer to someone who was bowling at international stars. None of us have ever done that, nor were we remotely good enough at that age and Knight did astonishingly well in the circumstances.

We'll not see much of him this summer due to international commitments but I have no qualms about Knight whenever he plays, as he is simply a very good cricketer who can and will only get better. He has recovered well from a nasty injury and the healthy competition between him and Wainwright can only benefit the club.

Nor should we discount the spinning abilities of Chesney Hughes and Wes Durston. It would appear that left arm spinners are like buses - you wait for ages on one turning up and suddenly you have three at once! Hughes is a different bowler to the other two in that he fires it in at a pace closer to slow medium on occasion. Yet he is very effective and gives Wayne Madsen another weapon in the field, as does Durston. For all that he appears to spin the ball, differently if not uniquely, off his middle finger, Wes gets good wickets and was a very special signing by John Morris.

Nor should we discount the abilities of Daniel Redfern or Jake Needham. Redfern could yet develop his bowling, if he ever gets to turn his arm over with so many ahead of him, although his classy batting is always likely to remain his stronger suit. Needham was unfortunately injured in Barbados, but is another ready to step in if an opening arises.

Finally there's the number one option, David Wainwright. Crucially he also offers plenty as a solid lower middle order batsman and fine fielder, but if he can pick up 30-40 Championship wickets Derbyshire will be at the business end of the table come September.

Have Derbyshire ever had such options in spin bowling? No -  the slow bowling options for Wayne Madsen this summer are many and intriguing. We may not yet have a modern day Mitchell, Rhodes or Miller, but we'll not lack for options when the shine goes off the ball.


Marc said...

I don,t read too much into pre-season games. There are too many variables to make any sort of realistic analysis. Of course,it can,t do any harm for batsmen to score a few runs or bowlers to take a few wickets. Let,s hope we hit the ground running.

I agree with much you say Peakfan,though as one of those who questioned Knight,s fielding,i feel that last season,s criticism was justified. The fact he has lost weight etc is clear evidence that others thought along similar lines. He is young enough to sort that side of his game out and i,ve no doubt he will improve.

Peakfan said...

To be fair Marc I'm sure the lad was well aware of what he needed to do himself. I doubt he expected more than a few games in the Seconds and that the level of fitness required in the senior side took him by surprise.
You don't reach that in a a month or two, but full credit to the lad - and the coaches/his parents - for getting him to what looks a much more lithe condition.