Sunday, 15 April 2012

Remarkable start

Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time - even since pre-season - will know that I fancied a promotion challenge this year in the Championship and that one of the essentials is a good start. That being the case, Derbyshire's season could hardly have started off better.

I'm not going to get carried away. The season is as much about what we do in the next 14 games as what we did in the last two, but those two have created an impetus that is of inestimable value to any side. What we have shown in spades is that there are bucketfuls of character in the side, people who are prepared to graft when things aren't in their favour.

Examples? At Derby on day two, Northamptonshire's approach fell only short of digging trenches across the wicket and hanging a flag from the pavilion saying "We're only here for a draw". Derbyshire's response was to maintain focus and bowl with discipline and control. It would have been very easy to relax and think "this one's going nowhere". To their credit, that didn't happen.

In Cardiff, it was the batsmen's turn. Four of the top five longest innings in the match on an awkward track were by Derbyshire players. I was mildly amused by a comment on the Forum when someone suggested that our batting has been disappointing this year. I think that goes for most counties to be honest and that's what you get when you play cricket this early. If you've never done it. facing a new ball on wickets offering lateral movement and variable bounce is a total lottery and you need luck, as well as considerable technique and skill, to survive.

It augurs well. One has only to watch the celebrations in the footage from the games to see how close the team are too. As the season wears on and players form ebbs and flows a strong dressing room will be important as the players act as a mutual support unit. Minor contributions can play a part in the team success and the side will undoubtedly celebrate as one.

There are a few days to recharge the batteries now before the East Midlands derby against Leicestershire at the County Ground. I'm not sure when this match was last played with Derbyshire top of the table, but would wager it hasn't been recently. There don't appear to be any injuries sustained from Cardiff, unless Jon Clare pulled a facial muscle smiling so much after seeing his bowling figures...

If Tim Groenewald is fit again, it is decision time. Does Krikk bring him back, or does he keep in the variation of Footitt who bowled well but with no real reward in Wales. What Footitt does is offer variety, of course and the additional pace and different angle is a major benefit, for him and for David Wainwright, who is fully equipped to take advantage of the footmarks he creates outside the off stump of right hand batsmen.

Last night I looked down that Derbyshire team and we have a good top four who can make a lot of runs. From nine to eleven we have a talented young keeper and  options for two penetrative opening bowlers who will challenge any team, given the slightest encouragement.

From five through to eight we have four players who could feasibly all gain England Lions selection in the near future, no doubt about it. Redfern is a class act who at Derby looked a genuine international quality player. The time he has, coupled with the range of shots, makes him a real asset to the side and I could see him challenging the thousand run barrier this season.

Whiteley just looks better each time I see him, and whether playing sedately or clumping it brings so much to the side. A brilliant fielder and increasingly useful bowler, in a fair world a winter tour beckons if he continues in such form. Wainwright is a genuine all-rounder whose gritty batting adds value to his probing spin and ballast to any side, while Clare bowls at good pace and hits a ball as hard as anyone in the game.

It is some time since Derbyshire had such players in the side and is another marker in the progress of the team and the club.

They won't be the last either. You can be sure of that.


Marc said...

I would be inclined to pick the same team. Footitt,s extra pace,on what will be a slow pitch could be a telling factor. So far,he seems to have gained a little more control,though the jury is clearly still out regarding his overall usefulness. It,s too early to be talking about any batting changes but pressure will clearly start to mount on one or two should they fail again in the next game.

Peakfan said...

I agree Marc, but not on the batting. Guptill, Bozza, Redfern and Whiteley all got runs, good runs at Derby. Madsen is skipper and Durston will come good soon as he's a class act, just like the captain.
Don't see a way in for Hughes just now until the one days start. Lineker will also have to bide his time.

Anonymous said...

A strong start that augurs well. A couple of annotations: out batting is good but not amazing (yet), and there WILL be days when we crumble for very low scores on good tracks; while, despite our bowling being much better than average (which is good in a championship where draws are pretty useless and a victory and two losses are better than three pattas) we're still only a couple of injuries away from a troubled attack; so, when the wheel of fortune spins, we'll need patience. I still think that we'll have a good season finishing in the top half of the table, let's just avoid knee-jerk reactions (either way), and ignore (for now...) the patronizing rubbish that pops up here and there, I know it's tempting to go 'in-your-face' but we well know how it easily backfires; heads cool, low profile, and wait for the days when, as Trapattoni says, 'the cat will be in the sac' (and we all knows what 'the cat' is, but let's not pronounce it aloud, bad omen it be).


Marc said...

I don,t wish to put a downer on anything Peakfan but we have only batted well on one out of four occasions,so far. I know there is some mitigation at this juncture but it can,t last for ever. The batsmen have to perform aswell as the bowlers. Pitches are not at their best but players have to deal with that. The lower order has done well,as it has in the past,the need now is for the first five to join the party a little more often. We shall see after the next couple of games.

Peakfan said...

Marc, the lower order have done well, but with respect they're not facing the new ball and fresh bowlers. When they get a semi decent track, the top order will score runs, but there's no one out of the team would have scored more runs than those in it, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

The amount of wickets that have fallen throughout the country suggest that it is not just Derbyshires top five which have to start performing. The wickets at this time of year are always going to favour the bowlers. It would be great if 'fans' (if that's what we are) would appreciate that we have won these games WITHOUT our top order scoring heavily, its not worth considering what we could do to teams if they do! Unfortunately, no team will have every player firing every game. Weighing on negatives when we are two from two is a pessimistic and a questionable approach from a 'supporters' point of view.

Peakfan said...

Very good point well made!

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Anonymous said...

KENT havent had problems scoring runs so far this season ? surely putting 300+ on the board against leicestershire is a must in the first innings. we cant keep expecting our bowlers to keep coming to the rescue us every match.


Anonymous said...

As I am sure you are aware, as I am sure are other seasoned cricket supporters, There is a trend that Seamers dominate early season, batters mid season and spinners towards the close as wickets deteriorate. Please note I use the word trend as there are always going to be exceptions as in the case of the named Kent example. It's a great start and I hope the boys, regardless of their role can produce the performance and result they deserve next week!

Marc said...

I,m not weighing on negatives but the fact remains that batsmen are there to score runs. Some of the wickets that fell at Cardiff had little or nothing to do with the pitch. On both sides it was a case of fallible technique and poor shot selection.A better team than Glamorgan would no doubt have proved more resilient and might well have won.

I,m as pleased as the next man we have won our opening games and long may it continue. However,there is always room for improvement and winning doesn,t necessarily mean everything in the garden is rosy,as defeat doesn,t necessarily mean there are no positives. Sometime you have to look at things beyond the result.

We have a top five who are all capable of reaching a thousand runs and i sincerly hope two or three can achieve that. if so,we will be a real threat to anyone. But we have to start to put some scores on the board sooner rather than later. Let,s hope we can do it this week.