Monday, 14 May 2012

Monday musings

The unbeaten record may be gone but nothing should detract from the excellent start to the season enjoyed by Derbyshire.

Pre-season there were promises of aggressive, fearless cricket and that has largely transpired. Two Championship wins have been followed by three largely rain-induced draws. While the batting has not been especially prolific - how could it be, on the wickets so far?  - it has succeeded in scoring more runs than the opposition, surely a good starting point for any side.

The engine room of the batting has done especially well. Dan Redfern has moved up a level and is reaping the dividends of his work with David Houghton, a coach who he respects. Ross Whiteley and Wes Durston too have enjoyed success, and all three have the added benefit of scoring runs quickly when they get in, an asset to any side.

Likewise Martin Guptill has made good contributions and carried on the excellent impression that he made last season, although the skipper has not yet returned to his old prolific self. However, no criticism can be levelled at him, given his recent personal circumstances and through it all he has maintained a dignity and control under pressure that bodes well for his long-term captaincy.

The big talking point - and there's always one - is the second opening berth. Derbyshire started the season with three logical opening partners for Martin Guptill - Paul Borrington, Chesney Hughes and Matt Lineker. Thus far we have seen Bozza in the four-dayers and Chesney in the one-day games. Lineker has not batted a great deal, even in nets, after a pre-season operation, so can hardly be considered at this stage, especially when there has been little Second XI cricket to hone his game.

That has left Boz and Ches. Both are young players and as such lack experience and it is telling that Redfern is now coming to terms with the first-class game with over 80 first-class innings to his name. Borrington has just over 50 and Hughes just under that number, yet they have a fifty or hundred ratio in their first-class knocks of one in five or six, by no means bad.

The choice between the two is a matter of debate among fans but Karl Krikken and Wayne Madsen, presumably with some input from batting coach David Houghton, have adopted a "horses for courses" approach to selection. Bozza, the sticker, the gutsy cricketer, has played the Championship games, while the aggressive Hughes has been the obvious one-day pick.

Yet neither has thus far cemented their role. Hughes' slow left arm makes him a handy weapon in one day games if he scores no runs, yet we need him to do so, ideally sometime soon. Borrington has scored 1, 98, 2, 9, 0, 18 not out.0, 4 thus far. I won't sit here and say that these are inspiring statistics, but I would still maintain that he is the better bet  for Wednesday as there is no viable alternative.

Compare it to 24, 9, 17, 1, 1, 10, 0 and 0 - Mark Ramprakash
4, 0, 3, 16, 8 - Murray Goodwin
17, 50, 20, 4, 9, 36, 9, 2, 6 - Chris Rogers
4, 5, 15, 1, 8, 1, 44, 22, 22 - Stephen Peters

Yes, Borrington will doubtless be under pressure for the Glamorgan game, but I would be confident in whatever choice is made by the men at the top. We are all fans, but anyone who suggests they know better than the three people making the decision is silly. They see the players in the nets, the way they are moving their feet and their attitude, then base selection on all of these factors. Sometimes you just need a break in cricket, as those who play the game will know. When luck is out, catches are always held, your good shots are stopped and there appears no way through the infield. Then it changes and you're suddenly back among the runs again.

Bozza needs runs against Glamorgan, but so does Chesney when he next plays. We can't go out and sign someone else, as I've said before, because anyone worth signing is already contracted and the early signs are that there's nothing expecially exciting in, for example, the Unicorns ranks this year.

Get behind them both though guys, because this is the time when players NEED the support of fans. They don't need anyone to tell them they're out of nick and they don't need people jumping onto forums saying "I see he's failed again" within 15 minutes of a dismissal, as if taking perverse pleasure from it. Both will emerge from their current trots and we will be a better side still when they do so.

Onto other, in some ways related news and there was a good article in this morning's Derby Telegraph from Mark Eklid about the Book Shop issue. 

After reading it I am even more of the opinion that I expressed last week that a hasty and wrong decision was made by the Supporters Club committee. The club was well within its right to request the funding for much needed physiotherapy equipment from an organisation that was set up to support it. What I am less sure of is why that organisation felt the need to only offer just over half of the money and then impose conditions on its use, when the reserves were there to pay the full amount. Who else were they going to give it to? I would hope that it wasn't going to be akin to the well meaning auntie who buys you socks and vests for Christmas, when what you really wanted was a CD...

If it had been an umbrella organisation with responsibility to fund various initiatives and organisations, I could have understood the reluctance, but not otherwise. It smacks, unfortunately, of well-meaning amateurs trying to tell professionals how to do their job. I wouldn't accept that in my job and I'm sure few of you would in yours. The Supporters Club has done a terrific job in raising money for the club over many years, but the use of that money should be a decision for the senior club officials alone, from needs identified within the cricket club.

A new organisation will be formed, I'm sure and it will be modernised to reflect the needs of the 21st century game and supporter. That's not decrying in any way the sterling efforts of many fine people over a number of years, it is the way of the world. Bringing it officially under the wings of the club was a natural consequence of such modernisation and it is just a shame that this wasn't accepted by those concerned.

 More tomorrow, with a preview of Derbyshire v Glamorgan


Anonymous said...

Good evening Peakfan. Long time no write.

On the opener issue, whatever the merits of the various options we have, one thing for sure, we must give the chosen incumbent a decent run in the side. I know pressure can build if there is a trot of low scores, but it is easier to persist if the team is doing well.

For me, I think we really didn't know who would likely succeed as Guptill's partner when the season started. Perhaps we still don't, although we will all have a favoured option, but at least the current approach allows the coach to learn something more about Borrington by evaluating his technique, mental strength and so on at the sharp end of senior level cricket. He is being tested, which I suggested last year was what he needed.

PS My google account has gone up the Swanny!


Peakfan said...

Nice to hear from you again MV - and sensible comment from you as always!

Gary said...

To be fair it's really Borrington's first proper run since he entered the team that is not the last few games of the season. If you add in his 87 against Surrey in the final game of last season when everyone else folded like a pack of cards then his record is not horrendous. Personally I do not see Hughes as an opener, especially in the longer game but am happy to be convinced otherwise.

The other worry for me in the championship is whether we have enough quality as a 5th bowler. Whiteley has performed excellently with the bat but is he (or others such as Durston/Hughes) capable of taking enough wickets when required. I fear when wickets get harder (as surely they must do one day) we will struggle to take 20 wickts. However am sure we can cross this bridge when we get there

Peakfan said...

Fair comment Gary - we'll need to see how that goes!