There will be several songs going through the heads of the Derbyshire players today as they make their way to the warmer climes of Barbados for the pre-season tour. We're Going To Barbados, Island in the Sun, On the Beach - why, maybe even I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts...
The tour will effectively finish off pre-season preparations and will give them a chance to get sun on their backs and their run ups worked out, while batsmen should get some valuable time in the middle. Most important of all, it will give players who will spend much of the next six months together an opportunity to bond as a unit, while giving Karl Krikken a chance to try a few things.
Don't read too much into batting orders and team selections in these tour games. Krikk will want to look at various options and scenarios and everyone will get a chance to stake a claim for a place. I remember that last year Ross Whiteley played some good knocks, some of them for a composite XI of players from the different county clubs out there. This time around he is an established player and there is a lesson in that for other young players - work at the game and success WILL come.
In the photograph in todays Derby Telegraph, the players look as lean as the proverbial butcher's dog. Young players such as Redfern, Hughes, Borrington, Whiteley and Poynton could all kick on this season and we've not had such a clutch of young talent for many a year. Tom Knight and Peter Burgoyne will too, though we're unlikely to see too much of them with their international commitments for the summer. Younger players must see the strides such lads are making and think "I want some of that". Maybe in a couple of years we'll be heralding the advent of Ben Slater, Hamza Siddique, Greg Cork and Harry White as young players of genuine quality...
Interestingly Ally Evans has made the trip, suggesting the young Scots seamer via Loughborough has impressed in the winter nets. Several people have told me that Evans swings the ball, never a bad asset and if he gets his lines right can trouble batsmen. He took enough 2nd XI wickets last year to suggest he could be worth a summer contract at least and this trip could clinch a deal for him.
I like the noises emanating from the club. "Fearless and aggressive cricket" say Karl Krikken and Chris Grant. "Train hard and work for each other - no stars" says Steffan Jones from a distance. The captain exudes authority and serenity and I think will do well. They have an excellent coach in Karl Krikken, while the bowlers will have the support of AJ Harris and Kevin Dean. The batsmen will have a world-renowned coach in David Houghton, someone who strips down techniques and keeps it simple - much as Krikken did today.
"I think it's basically a matter of doing the same things and getting more experienced at doing it," he said.
"Some people start to think they have to do something different but the best cricketers do the basics the best. Look at Sachin Tendulkar – when he gets a half volley, he smacks it for four and when it's a good ball, he blocks it. That's basically it.
"What the players need to get in their heads is to keep executing everything the same way and you just get better at it. When people start trying to expand their game, supposedly, and try to hit the off-spinners over extra cover, that's when things go wrong."
Quite. If we get the basics right for much of the time between now and September we will do pretty well.
In closing tonight, Kent have picked up Brendan Nash as their overseas player for this season. Fans may be a little underwhelmed at their signing a 34-year old specialist batsman with only nine first-class centuries, but Nash could be a solid signing. A left-hander in the Larry Gomes/Shiv Chanderpaul/Jimmy Adams mode, he might just give them middle order ballast, important in the post-van Jaarsveld era. Adams is also a shrewd coach, but will have his work cut out in the south east.
Mind you, it makes you wonder how Nash, Chanderpaul, Gayle and Sarwan can't get in the West Indies side for varying reasons. Seeing their capitulation to Australia today made you weep for the current standard of Caribbean batting.
Oh, my Haynes and Greenidge of not that long ago...