After a long, long journey that included Dallas and Heathrow, we're finally home after a wonderful holiday that will live lon in our memories. Certainly longer than Derbyshire's T20 campaign will do...
On only the first three days of it was the temperature below 100 degrees and it peaked out at 112 on a day that broke local records and could easily have seen you fry eggs on pavements. If you are in any way interested in music I would strongly urge anyone to go to Memphis and Nashville and we managed to see some old favourites as well as some hot new acts. We also enjoyed a liberal dose of southern manners and hospitality, both commodities that are increasingly difficult to find.
I had planned to blog a time or two from Nashville but time overtook us and, to be honest, the computers in the hotel had so much rubbish on them (and an inactive firewall) that I was loathe to jeopardise my security arrangments on the site, so didn't bother. Sincere apologies to those who logged in during this period and found no updates. I can only assure you that normal service will now be resumed.
As for Derbyshire, what can I say that hasn't been said by contributors already? I obviously didn't see any of the games in the past two weeks, but to be fair, if you know your cricket you didn't really need to do so to understand where things were going wrong. In eight matches prior we had only two fifties, both from Wes Durston, and that is simply not good enough.
My concerns about Usman Khawaja's ability in this format were (and I have no pleasure whatsoever in saying so) sadly justified. His record for us was pretty much what he has done back home so far and with a highest score of 36 in eight innings he didn't come off. I think that his coming to Derbyshire depended on him playing T20, something in which he wanted greater experience and can only say that he now needs to get serious runs when we resume "proper" cricket in the near future. I think he will do that, but we need a major re-think on overseas players and on strategy for next summer's T20 if we are to be in any way competitive. That is something for another piece, another day.
It is handy to have a "go to" bowler, someone who can take the pressure when the going is tough, but it is fair to say that Rana Naved has not been the player we expected either. He was out of season and rusty when he got here and it showed in early matches when he was hit more than in his prime. He has improved as the tournament progressed and has finished with an economy rate of just under nine, but that sees him seventh among regular Derbyshire bowlers. A few decent cameos with the bat (especially today) were appreciated, but the feeling persists that he could and should have batted higher to better effect. I don't feel Naved has done enough to warrant a return next summer, but much will depend on the availaibility of players in what will be a very hard season in which to recruit overseas stars.
The bowling hasn't generally been the problem, with most of the players returning decent economy rates but no one proving especially penetrative either. Jonathan Clare is not yet the T20 bowler that he is in the Championship but there were decent efforts by most of the rest of the attack. With a little more to bowl at, a few more results could have been possible.
Young players such as Alex Hughes and Chris Durham got an opportunity and let no one down, but T20 is an unforgiving game and the merit of old heads in tight situations is obvious. We didn't have enough of them in the side, period and I just hope that players like Dan Redfern and Ross Whiteley, both of who made way as the tournament progressed, rediscover their mojos when the serious business starts again.
I suppose it is ironic that a team that has batted so well as a unit this summer in the County Championship did so poorly with the bat in the shortest form of the game. They will come again, I am sure, but no one will claim that the T20 saw any genuine form of progress in 2012.
Certainly not me.