With Derbyshire's season at the crossroads and a few supporters showing signs of the blues, there was something quite satisfying about Johnson signing a deal with Derbyshire today. There's a musical joke there that I hope you got...
Richard Johnson may lack the guitar skills of his great namesake Robert, but he has an excellent pair of hands on him and will be a great asset to Derbyshire over the next few weeks. It was hardly a surprise that Karl Krikken had a plan B up his sleeve, of course, as it is very difficult for wicket-keepers to go through a season unscathed given the current workload. There are a good number of them out there unattached, so for Johnson to get the call ahead of the likes of Tom New and Steve Adshead suggests that he is very good at what he does.
Tom Poynton's stomach muscle injury will keep him out of at least the Yorkshire game and I'm sure that we all wish him a speedy recovery. The lad has made an excellent fist of his first season as senior keeper and has let no one down. While Chris Durham has kept competently in recent matches, it is asking a lot of a young lad to take the gloves in matches as crucial as we have coming up.
Johnson doesn't have a reputation as a top drawer batsman, but he is competent and will undoubtedly battle. He follows an illustrious line of recruits from Warwickshire to the County Ground, of course and if he acquits himself as well as Messrs Welch, Munton and Wagg in his short stay we will have few complaints.
Derbyshire should return to winning ways against the Unicorns tomorrow and I hope that a few of the batsmen get a decent workout, especially Usman Khawaja, who could do with a few runs under his belt, especially since I've picked him for my Fantasy Cricket side....
Elsewhere, news of players who will be leaving their counties at season-end is starting to trickle out and Leicestershire are not offering new terms to Jacques du Toit and Nadeem Malik, while Worcestershire are allowing the long-serving Vikram Solanki to speak to other clubs.
All are victims of the ECB regulations discussed last night, of course. The records of du Toit and Malik are far from poor, but at 32 and 30 respectively they don't bring in ECB money any more and their returns don't really justify playing them at the expense of a younger player who does. There is genuine pressure on players over 26 to justify their selection and perform regularly and the reality is that those two players simply haven't done that.
On the face of it, Solanki would be a terrific signing for a few counties, Derbyshire included. It is no secret that we need a top opening batsman and Solanki has been one of the best in the county game over the past ten years or so. By the same token, Worcestershire have decided that his average (around 29 this summer) does not represent good value against what they are presumably paying him, which must be substantial. There will be a few counties notionally interested in such a player, but the questions will be simple - is he past his prime and will his demands put him out of reach of all but the big clubs? My early gut feeling is that he could end up at Surrey, where Chris Adams has gone on record with a need to recruit and Solanki could nominally and financially replace Mark Ramprakash, who is likely to finish in September.
However, for Solanki read Usman Afzaal, another fine player who should still be in the county game but who priced himself out of the circuit.
The game has changed my friends. But tonight Derbyshire are 25 points clear of Yorkshire, who have played the same number of matches.