Monday, 9 April 2012
Monday musings - Krikk called it right...
Full credit to a Derbyshire side that were patently up for it from 11am on the first day. There was a marked difference between the two sides in the field, where the visitors carried a few passengers and there was an intensity to the Derbyshire play throughout that was an absolute joy to witness.
Of course, Karl Krikken and Wayne Madsen's biggest job will be to ensure that the level of intensity shown is there in every match. If it is, few sides will relish playing Derbyshire in any form of the game. If it isn't, there will be occasions when we struggle, as inexperience is overrun by some sides.
Yet that game was a decent benchmark. Before it, I would have put Northamptonshire as a mid-table outfit this season. I think that their time to go up was last year, but they now have a sizeable nucleus of their side (Hall, Vaas, Middlebrook, Sales) at the veteran stage and their younger players are not as good as ours by some distance. They will need to turn things around , because their batsmen didn't seem to fancy a battle on that last day. They cried out for a Borrington, someone who sells his wicket dearly, that's for sure.
Derbyshire's batting was intelligent and showed signs that we have a batting coach of considerable nous in David Houghton. I had the pleasure of a chat with him at the County Ground and asked him the difference between his first stint at the club and this one. His response was immediate - last time, the players needed taught technique, this time, it is all about cricket and dealing with situations. I thought it an excellent reply.
It is also telling that on the first day, when we lost three early wickets, there was some reassurance in the sight of Redfern coming in. Similarly, when Durston left after a battling effort, the sight of the lean and fit-looking Whiteley coming in at six was satisfying. That, my friends, is progress. When one considers that Hughes and Lineker are outside this eleven, the potential is obvious.
The bowling was tight, accurate, probing and disciplined. A few months ago I smiled as I read someone suggest that Tony Palladino would struggle without the Tiflex ball to help him. Total nonsense, as Palladino has always been a wicket-taker and will continue to be. Tim Groenewald wasn't fully fit but bowled with not far short of his usual fire, while Mark Footitt had both rhythm and pace from whichever end he bowled. His angle offers something different too and if this is a big year for the bowler he has started it in exactly the right manner. Ross Whiteley also bowled well on day two and looked an improved bowler after his winter in Australia - not yet a genuine all-rounder, perhaps, but a very useful bowler to have as a stop gap. It should not be underestimated that these two and Vaas created some handy rough for the spinners on the last afternoon...
David Wainwright was a revelation and his easy action suggested someone who could bowl long spells with little detriment to his line and length. Indeed, the spells in this game will set him up nicely, as he was rarely afforded such a luxury at Yorkshire. I bet there's a few people to the north who saw his figures in this match and concluded that they'd let the wrong man go... not that we're complaining, of course.
The fielding was sharp and focussed, with excellent catches being taken. There were a few, especially on day two, that fell short or just went over heads, but the team backed each other up well and were more vocal than some recent sides. Key to this was Tom Poynton, who kept beautifully. I always reckon that the best keepers are people you don't notice unduly as they simply do the basics correctly. What impressed me most about Poynton was his footwork. There were a few balls down legside but I cannot recall many dives - he was normally across with fast feet and good hands. If he can keep up that standard and perhaps relax a little when he first goes in to bat - he has a tendency to fish, or chase the ball, perhaps with nervous energy - we will have uncovered an absolute gem
Finally a word about Karl Krikken. He had two massive calls on the first day. Should he play Chesney Hughes or Paul Borrington? He got it spot on. He worked out that Northamptonshire would bowl if they won the toss, whereas he planned to bat. Therefore the spinners would come into their own on the last afternoon and he chose a batsman with the best chance of batting a long time, occupying the crease and taking the game to that stage. He showed confidence in Wainwright and in Borrington to which both players responded brilliantly.
His other decision was in actually selecting Wainwright. Many coaches in April pack their attack with seam, as David Capel did. Jon Clare was not fully fit, enough to bowl perhaps twenty overs, but he was not far short and the choice was between him and Wainwright. Krikk had the courage of his convictions and made a call that many would not have done. That being the case, many would not have won the game. Top marks to Krikk for that one.
Our next three games are against Glamorgan, Leicestershire and Gloucestershire, none of them sides I would say were in our league on paper. What we need to do is go out and show that the last four days were no fluke. If Martin Guptill continues to lead from the front and the team approach to batting is continued, we could reach the quarter season mark in a very good position.
I tell you something. Irrespective of their petty and patronising comments, yesterday will have shut a few people up in the media. They will be looking for a return to old ways though, so our lads have an even greater incentive to remain focused and battle.
Don't be at all surprised if they do it.