Friday, 31 May 2013

Derbyshire v Surrey day 2

Another good day for Derbyshire today and, I suspect, a pivotal morning's cricket tomorrow, as Surrey embark on a quest to match our impressive 452 all out.

Mark Footitt apparently bowled quickly with no reward tonight, though Vikram Solanki, who needed treatment after being struck by the fast left armer may disagree. Ricky Ponting, as has been the case for so many years, will be the key wicket and we will need to bowl well on a wicket that is a long way from being difficult yet.

I suspect the spinners will be key to a positive result in this one and we must hope that David Wainwright has discovered some form. In Scotland he was bowling too many short and wide deliveries and the teasing length of last summer was not especially evident. It is quite likely that his winter back issue has caused a slight modification to the action that only long bowls will help him to eradicate. If that's the case, I reckon he'll get one here.

Top marks to the skipper (pictured) and to Shivnarine Chanderpaul for their knocks though, which set us up for an innings that we might have only dreamed of before the game. That Shiv batted through either a heavy cold or flu, depending on which report you read, makes his effort the more laudable, while Madsen is simply a class act.

After finding his range in the first few games, Wayne is now starting to show that he is totally at home at this level. Dropping down to three has been a contributory factor, but as you will know if you read my pre-season blogs, I had few doubts that he would be a major run scorer. The guy can play and class will always, always tell.

It was good to see Richard Johnson getting good and valuable runs down the order too and he is an organised player with a good technique. What Derbyshire really need is a wicket-keeper in the James Pipe mould, one who can change games for them with the bat and keep to a high standard. When I have seen Johnson he has been very slick behind the stumps, but he needs to be, as Tom Poynton will keep working in the seconds and aim to score the runs to earn a recall himself.

In short, another good day, the second on the trot. It was also good to see Martin Guptill put England to the sword today, especially when he was so poorly treated in the Test series. As I have written on here before, opening the batting is a specialist position and I could see no logic to their omitting, then demoting one of the best to the middle order, where he has little recent experience, not least of having to wait to bat.

That was a factor for Ben Slater today. That he was in to face the second new ball was handy. That he had to wait several hours to do so was not. He deserves a run in the side and, in my opinion, is more likely to be successful if he opens, rather than batting six.  I did like the picture taken of his first run for the county though, something that he will doubtless treasure in the years ahead. Nice thought, top marks from me for that.

And finally...has anyone else noticed that one of our best days this summer occurred on the day that family Peakfan went to see the mighty Rush? That's the missing ingredient to our anyone who wants to help replicate the day can simply go to Paypal and donate to 'Peakfan's Gig Fund'.

Next up...Bruce Springsteen. You just know we're going to do well guys, so give generously....

Derbyshire v Surrey day 1

Wonderful, professional, remarkable and  - to be honest - in a league of their own.

But enough about Rush and their three and a quarter hour show at the SECC tonight. This is an occasion to celebrate a terrific effort by Wayne Madsen and Shivnarine Chanderpaul that has put Derbyshire firmly in the box seat against Surrey on day one.

When two wickets went down early after Wayne Madsen won the toss again (party on, Wayne!) supporters can be excused for fearing the worst. But our West Indian star and the skipper batted with sensible aggression, never allowing the bowlers to get on top and scoring at four runs an over.

At 232-2  we are in fantasy territory with both batsmen there to fight another day. Shiv completed a superb century from only 115 balls, while it would be just if the skipper were to do the same tomorrow morning.

There's still much to do and we will want 400-plus, but by any standards that was a wonderful start and a great effort by both.

One final word in closing folks. There was a bit of silliness in comments below yesterday's post and I have deleted three. Please put a name to a post if you don't log in. If you don't do so, I will delete them. I am quite happy for you to have an opinion that challenges mine if you can argue a point and have no issue with constructive criticism about the club, but this site will not become a Mecca for the harbingers of doom and the ones just wanting to be daft.

Still, tonight I close with a toast to Wayne Madsen and Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

And Rush, of course...

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Derbyshire v Surrey YB40

And the rain, rain, rain came down, down, down and saved our county's bacon...

Just a quick blog tonight, as I have an early start tomorrow. I didn't see any of the action tonight, because our daughter's birthday celebrations took precedence (yes, family comes even before DCCC....) but there's little doubt that we were in serious trouble when it came down.

When the opposition are going at 11-12 an over at half way, you know that you're in trouble and Derbyshire's team selection tonight struck me as something of a Hobson's choice eleven, especially when we were playing a twenty over game.

I find it hard to believe that Billy Godleman will be in our T20 side, while the presence of Paul Borrington is unlikely, even though his scoring rate in YB40 games this summer is ahead of some of the supposed 'blasters' in our squad. By the same token, I didn't see our batsmen getting near a ten over chase of a hundred-plus, though my dessert went down better than might have been the case when the club tweet said that the covers were on...

It is tough on Surrey, who have good openers in Davies and Roy, but you have to be relieved at a point, even if not deserved. We will need to do much better over the next four days, that's for sure.

The squad for the championship game has been announced and, on the club site reads as follows:

Billy Godleman, Chesney Hughes, Wayne Madsen, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Wes Durston, Paul Borrington, Alex Hughes, Richard Johnson, David Wainwright, Peter Burgoyne, Tim Groenewald, Mark Footitt and Mark Turner.

Have to say I'm disappointed to see that Ben Slater is omitted and can't see the logic, to be honest. Whether they have good seamers or not, a bloke in nick is likely to do better against them than one who isn't. Alex Hughes deserves a crack and will at least give balance should he play, but the final places would appear to be between Wainwright and Burgoyne, together with Godleman and Borrington, unless Karl Krikken has a late rethink and gets Slater back from York, where he is on second team duty.

Not overly propitious tonight then, but reasons to be cheerful nonetheless. The skipper won the toss (double-headed coins eh...they work every time) while the club's end of match report didn't say "County run chase thwarted by elements".

For me, that's progress...

I'll be back tomorrow, but later. Tomorrow night family Peakfan rock to the sound of Canadian music deities Rush at the Scottish Exhibition Centre.  Three hours of classic rock...though I may be deaf by Friday.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Derbyshire v Surrey YB40 and Championship

I've decided to preface the two games against Surrey in the coming days in the one article for a couple of reasons.

One is that the weather appears likely to render tomorrow's game one of these truncated affairs that are hated by cricketers, fans, TV viewers and, most importantly, the side batting first.

The other is that tomorrow marks the 16th birthday of my delightful daughter, Rachel. She's got to that age with no tantrums and moods and is now a lovely young woman (though it hurts me to say that last word...) who has the sunniest temperament I have ever seen, something for which Mrs P and I are eternally grateful.

It promises to be a busy old day that may well legislate against another report until later, so I'll gladly offer a two for the price of one deal tonight...

For me, the certainty is that Ben Slater HAS to play. Another unbeaten century against strong Yorkshire opposition today for the Seconds means that there is no valid reason for the lad to be omitted. Some might say that he will be up against a good attack of international quality, a long way removed from second XI and Premier League, but my answer is simple - he is in form. That is a precious commodity down Derby way and he should play, without question.

As for his team mates, James Pipe will know better than most who they are likely to be. With three first-choice seam bowlers currently hors de combat along with Wes Durston, and Ross Whiteley and Dan Redfern out of form, much of the side picks itself. It would be good to see Tim Groenewald back, while Tony Palladino would be welcomed back with open arms should his side strain be improved.

I don't think there will be many changes from the last two games, but based on form and likely fitness my side for the Championship game would be:

Slater, Hughes, Madsen, Chanderpaul, Durston, Borrington, Johnson, Wainwright, Groenewald, Turner, Footitt

One of the problems at present is balance. Whiteley's absence affects it, as does Hughes' inability to bowl. If Durston's recent niggle prevents the same we're back where we were yesterday, with Madsen's off-spin needing to be utilised. That might be an argument for the recall of Dan Redfern, who took four wickets today, but his best mate wouldn't call him a front line spinner. Wainwright didn't look to have a lot of rhythm or loop when I saw him in Edinburgh, but we need a slow bowler for variation and Peter Burgoyne appears to have edged ahead of Tom Knight for the time being if an alternative is sought.

So there's Karl Krikken's dilemma. Does he lengthen the fragile batting or allow more bowling options? Based on recent days, Paul Borrington gets the nod from me. He batted nicely in Edinburgh and better than anyone yesterday. Some may be surprised to see him in the middle order, but he did that with success for England U19s and at University while playing spin better than most.

The track will decide the final side, but I can't predict this one. Surrey are full of big names who haven't fired; we're missing a lot of players and are equally low on confidence.

Maybe this is where it turns for the better. The one-day game, with Ponting included, will be entertaining if the weather allows it.

The championship game will be massive.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Durham v Derbyshire YB40

Today's game was a bridge too far for an injury and form-ravaged Derbyshire squad, as they went down by 43 runs on the Duckworth Lewis calculation.

To be fair, we were well out of the game after Durham amassed 273-6 in their 40 overs and the early loss of Hughes and Chanderpaul left us needing snookers early in our reply. I was quite amused by the club Tweet this evening, which read  "Rain ends Derbyshire's hopes at Durham", this at a point where we needed 116 from eight overs....

Unless Chris Grant had done a midnight trip to India and brought back a next four of Gayle, Pollard, de Villiers and Dhoni, we were well and truly screwed, whether the rain came or not. There should be lowered expectations, to be honest, as a side shorn of Durston, Whiteley, Redfern, Clare, Palladino and Groenewald has got to struggle at this level.

Yet there's some nonsense over on the Forum and again the usual barbs in the direction of Paul Borrington. Just in case some narrow-minded souls haven't checked the facts, Bozza scored 32 from 42 balls today, by no means a bad rate, while Chanderpaul got 11 from 21, Madsen 10 from 21 and Godleman 0 from 7. There is no substance whatsoever to blaming the lad today. Maybe we could have sneaked a D/L win, with someone suggesting we should have changed the order. But to what? Talented as they are, could you realistically expect Alex Hughes and Peter Burgoyne to hammer it to all parts? Wainwright? Maybe Johnson, but people need to be realistic. In Graham Onions, Durham have one of the best seamers in the country and the back up isn't bad either.

No side, lacking six key members, could chase that kind of total down. Nor should it be expected that we have a squad that could handle such losses, as we could no more afford it than many other counties. This is a difficult time, but won't get any better with petty moaning.

Burgoyne turned in a good spell of bowling and there were more wickets for Mark Footitt, but it was a tough game. Alex Hughes experienced the roller coaster of cricket after yesterday's fine effort, getting some stick against a good batting side with England players past and likely future among them.

Time to regroup. Time for players to keep working and supporters to be realistic. If we get a few players back we will have a better chance, but for now we celebrate individual success and hope that the light at the end of the tunnel gets a little brighter in the coming weeks.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Scotland v Derbyshire

At the end of it all, this was a potential banana skin of a game, where Derbyshire could quite easily have come unstuck. We have, after all, done it before against the Scots, the Netherlands and Minor Counties.

Today we didn't and the reason was because it was a thoroughly workmanlike performance. We bowled well - the seamers better than the spinners - fielded even better and then chased down a moderate target with a degree of professionalism and common sense that hasn't always gone hand in hand with the county, especially against this opposition.

I was very impressed by Mark Turner and Mark Footitt, who after early locking on of the radar bowled with good pace and good lines. Between them they took 7-67 in 16 overs, good reward for hostile bowling that the home side struggled to cope with.

Both David Wainwright and Peter Burgoyne bowled some good balls, but both were also guilty of dropping short and bowling wide, which was meat and drink to a decent batsman on a good track - prepared, incidentally, by Lee Spendlove, groundsman at the Grange and well-known to cricketers around Derbyshire as both a groundsman par excellence and a very good coach.

Who really caught my eye today though was Alex Hughes, whose spell of 8-0-21-2 was as good as it sounds. Of the runs conceded, only a misfield that went for three was more than a single, a remarkable effort from a young player who I think we will hear much more of. I especially liked his fielding from his own bowling, the player going to ground quicker than Jurgen Klinsmann in his prime to stop a number of balls. Such tigerish fielding was a feature of the day and Peter Burgoyne impressed with a sharp catch at slip and another at deepish mid-wicket.

The run chase never looked a problem after Chesney Hughes and Shivnarine Chanderpaul led off with a partnership of 120 in 22 overs, neither being remotely troubled by the home attack. Hughes played some typically bludgeoning blows, while Chanderpaul's timing was exquisite at times, as was his placement.

Hughes' dismissal came to a good catch, while Chanderpaul followed to a sharp caught and bowled, though both had done their job. Wayne Madsen was bowled playing the reverse sweep, but he scores a lot of runs with it and one has to take the rough with the smooth on that. It was then left to Paul Borrington and Billy Godleman to steer us to the win, something that gave me considerable pleasure. Both have had their critics, but they worked the ball around and, without taking any risks, took us close to the target before Borrington got a leading edge and was caught. He produced perhaps the shot of the day, a towering six that came just when the Scots entertained brief hopes of putting us under pressure

That left Richard Johnson to come in and score the winning runs, leaving Godleman unbeaten on 21, a similarly workmanlike knock, which was all that was required on the day.

Peakfan's verdict? Professional, which was good to see. After two one-day games we're unbeaten and go to Durham for tomorrow's game in much better shape.

Thanks to Cricket Scotland for access to their media facilities today, that enabled me to post the afternoon updates. Thanks also to Mark Eklid and David Griffin for convivial company and entertaining chat. I almost thought I was back in Derbyshire for a little while....

Scotland v Derbyshire

Scotland won the toss and decided to bat here at The Grange today.

Derbyshire's side bore an inexperienced look but is as follows:

Chanderpaul, Hughes, Borrington, Madsen, Godleman, Johnson, Hughes, Wainwright, Burgoyne, Turner, Footitt.

The tactic looks like trying to blast them out with pace, but came a little unstuck when Chesney Hughes dropped a relatively straightforward catch at second slip in the first over. Notts trialist Matt Cross then hit Mark Footitt for two fours in the next, before Turner's pace accounted for him with a routine catch for Johnson.

Footitt seems to be struggling for rhythm and has dropped short and been hit for fours on each occasion, but Turner looks a handful on a wicket that is never lively. Footitt got into the groove in his next, as Warwickshire's Coleman attempted to hit over the top but hit a skier that any of five fielders could have got under, before skipper Wayne Madsen held with ease, coming in from mid off.

26-2 from six

Time for new man Richie Berrington and Ewan Chalmers to rebuild the inning, as Footitt and Turner both get into a good, lively rhythm.

Alex Hughes replaces Turner for the ninth over and nearly takes a caught and bowled second ball from Berrington, who is living dangerously.

Footitt continues for the tenth and Chalmers, who never settled, edges to first slip where Peter Burgoyne holds a good catch in front of his face. Good cricket from Derbyshire, bowling in the right areas and backed up by a fine catch.

Preston Mommsen the new man. 31-3 in the tenth.

Footitt now coming round the wicket and his pace is disconcerting the batsmen. After an erratic start he is bowling well with 2-18 from five overs. 32-3 in ten.

At the other end, Hughes is bowling a steady, nagging line and length and looking a good asset to the attack.

Wainwright takes over for the twelfth over, replacing Footitt.

Good over from Wainers, nearly had Berrington at slip, just wide off the diving Chesney Hughes. 36-3 from 12.

Odd interruption to play, as Alex Hughes is treated for a nosebleed by James Pipe.

Just been off for a couple of chats, but Scotland have moved on to 96-4 from 23, with Mommsen looking a very good player on 42, aided by some short bowling from Wainwright and Burgoyne.

Turner gets the danger man Mommsen who drives uppishly to Madsen at mid off and is dismissed for a good 42. A 'failure' for the South African born player, who has made unbeaten 50s in the Scots last two games. Big wicket for Derbyshire though at 106-5 in 25 overs.

Michael Leask and Moneeb Iqbal both playing some good shots now and the Scots have moved on to 131-5 in 28. Leask hit Wainwright for a six over mid off and looks a composed young player. To be fair, looks a good batting track.

Wainers finishes his spell with 8 overs for 47

Alex Hughes back in the attack and gets a much-needed wicket with a full toss, that Leask hits straight to Burgoyne at deep mid wicket. 137-6 in 31 and Hughes has 2-13 in six. Good bowling by a talented young player.

Good to see young Academy boys at either end. Hughes bowling better than Burgoyne whose line and length has erred on occasion, but both doing well. 145-6 in 32

Burgoyne round the wicket to Haq and bowling well. Only one from four balls in the 33rd

Burgoyne 8 overs for 45

Hughes finishes with 8-0-21-2. All singles except a misfield for three, a really good spell

156-7 in the 36th, as the returning Footitt gets Iqbal through a fine diving catch by Johnson

Good over by Footitt, fast and round the wicket. He has 4-19 in six at present as Johnson takes Goudie to a gloved catch down the legside. After an erratic start he has bowled very well. 158-8 in 36

169-8 in 37. Three overs to go

Top over from Footitt. Only four singles. 173-8 in 38 .

Equally good one from Turner. Fast and awkward 178-8 in 39. Finishes with 8-0-39-2

Five for Footitt as he destroys Haq's stumps and leaves the score 179-9 with three balls left

182-9 Footitt  5-28. Excellent spell of bowling

Derbyshire reply - sound start of 26-0 from 6 from Hughes and Chanderpaul, the former very strong on anything short.

Hughes and Shiv looking very composed against steady bowling, the score 37-0 after nine overs. No real fireworks but nor are they needed at this stage.

53-0 in 12 as Hughes launches trademark booming drives after being given width. Not the place to bowl to Chesney...

Chanderpaul goes over mid wicket to a short ball from Haq, one bounce four. 62-0 in 14 overs. Hughes 39, Chanderpaul 21

The latter now being treated by James Pipe for what looks like either cramp or a tweaked hamstring Set to continue though.

Exquisite cut from Shiv beats the man at gulley and deep point for four. 69-0 in 14, Shiv 27 and Ches 40

Haq bowling well for the Scots but Derbyshire now 72-0 from 16

Derbyshire now strolling this. 114-0 in 21. Hughes 69 and Shiv 43.

Hughes goes to a good diving catch at extra cover by Freddie Coleman for 74 from 73 balls. Borrington the new man, off the mark with a delicate steer through third man. 125-1 from 24. Shiv on 48

50 for Chanderpaul from 76 balls 131-1 from 26 overs

49 to win from 13 overs...

Chanderpaul goes caught and bowled Drummond for 54.  134-2 from 27.1

Madsen goes to the reverse sweep, wrong shot to the wrong ball and is bowled for 4. 142-3. Godleman the new batsman.

145-3 from 31 overs

150 up as Godleman goes over mid off for 4. 151-3 in 32

Bozza nudging it round nicely, keeping the score ticking over.

156-3 in 33 overs. 29 to win from 7 overs

160-3 in 34  - 23 runs to win in 6 overs. Boz and Billy playing sensibly. The straight SIX from Boz. 167-3

170-3 off 35, good over. Boz looking very composed on 21, Billy on 13

Boz goes, leading edge as he tried to turn Leask's off spin. 172-4 in the 36th. 11 to win with 25 balls left.

Johnson new batsman. Then four to Godleman past point leaving seven for the win

Three to win off three overs. Godleman on 21 and looking good


Saturday, 25 May 2013

Scotland v Derbyshire YB40 preview

Derbyshire will be heading up north today on a six or seven hour bus trip to Edinburgh, where they play Scotland in the Yorkshire Bank 40 tomorrow.

Tomorrow's game could be sponsored by Farleys, given the two sides. Our squad is missing both Tony Palladino and Wes Durston, the latter recovered from a back spasm but having edged a ball into his heel in the nets and the 15-man squad for this game and the one on Monday against Durham carries an especially youthful look:

C Hughes, Chanderpaul, Godleman, Borrington, Madsen, Slater, Johnson, A Hughes, Burgoyne, Clare, Wainwright, Groenewald, Evans, Turner, Footitt.

It is a hard side to call. Given that Chanderpaul and Hughes opened against Lancashire in the three overs possible, should they do so tomorrow we then have three opening batsmen (Godleman, Borrington and Slater) to follow in a side of talent, but an initial look of being lop-sided.

My guess would be that we open with any two from the latter, then have Chanderpaul, Hughes and Madsen in the middle order. Alex Hughes would appear a likely six, with the bowlers decided upon after seeing if the wicket takes spin. I can't see Turner AND Footitt playing, but I have no concerns about the side being capable of doing a good job. Borrington and Slater both score heavily in the Derbyshire Premier League and the Scots bowlers should be no more or less demanding than those faced in that competition.

Don't get me wrong. I won't underestimate a talented bunch of players, but the Scots 'county set' who have joined them this summer, largely qualifying through maternal grannies who once spent a night in a Selkirk B and B, have returned south. There's no Neil Carter, Ian Wardlaw, Kyle Coetzer or David Murphy and their squad for the game is also a youthful one, as follows:

Preston Mommsen, Richie Berrington, Calvin Burnett, Ewan Chalmers, Freddie Coleman, Matthew Cross, Gordon Drummond, Gordon Goudie, Majid Haq, Moneeb  Iqbal, Michael  Leask, Calum MacLeod, Dewald Nel.
There is danger in that squad. Nel has been a wily performer for years, while Gordon Goudie, who returns from injury, is one of the Scots most reliable players. MacLeod had a spell at Warwickshire, where Coleman is making a reputation as a young batsman of considerable talent. Meanwhile, Matthew Cross is currently having trials with Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire will underestimate them at their peril.

Berrington has also attracted the attention of English counties, as has Mommsen, while Haq, as highlighted the other day, is a good, solid cricketer. Yet Derbyshire SHOULD win. Irrespective of the youth of our side, there is talent in spades and enough ability to earn the first win of the season, as long as the attitude is right.

I'll go for the win on this. I'm now heading out to do some work in our lovely garden and look forward to a solid, professional display from a Derbyshire side with more than a few pointers for the future.
Communications willing, I hope to do mid-innings reports on this one tomorrow, so please check in from time to time for some updates from the ground.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Now THAT's exciting

The London Evening Standard reports tonight that Ricky Ponting will be here in time to play for Surrey against Derbyshire at the County Ground this coming week.

Be honest. Ponting v Chanderpaul is the kind of duel that should have the cricket connoisseur sighing wistfully for a good part of the four days. Two of the greatest batsmen of the last twenty years in opposition on OUR ground.

If you can get down there, even for part of the game, you should try to do so.

In an era when the greatest names in international cricket seldom make it to these shores, this is one of those times when you can say with a degree of confidence that we may never see its like again.

It isn't yet confirmed by Surrey, but that really would be something special.

It leaves me remembering the tale told by the late, great Sir Neville Cardus, who was going to see the great Australian batsman Victor Trumper play for his country against England at Old Trafford as a gauche, excitable schoolboy.

As he lay in bed the night before the game, Cardus told how he clasped his hands together and prayed harder than he had ever done before.

"Please God...let Trumper score a hundred and England bowl them out for 150..."

For Trumper read Ponting. I doubt few would complain at that turn of events...

Something for the weekend

Don't you just love the weekend?

Any weekend is good, but this one is set to be special. Around lunch time tomorrow, I would expect Derbyshire to be setting off on the long haul up to Edinburgh for Sunday's match at The Grange against Scotland. And Peakfan will be there, for the closest I've had to a home game for several seasons.

I've seen all but one of the games up here between the two sides over the past twenty years or so, missing the game at Aberdeen in 1985 because I had no spare day's leave for the game (Mrs P and I got married that August, so it was a pretty good trade-off...)

There's been some good cricket too. I saw a lovely innings by Kim Barnett in Glasgow in 1988, after Michael Holding had proved far too good for a Scots side that included Clive Rice, while I have previously written about a professional century by Daryll Cullinan at Titwood in 1995.

1998 saw a trek to Forfar (be thankful you don't have that ahead of you tomorrow, lads..) and a typically Derbyshire display where we slipped to 116-7, chasing 175 to win before Tim Tweats and Karl Krikken silenced a very vocal crowd and took us to the win without further loss. That game saw one of the more bizarre opening pairs in our history...Dominic Cork and Ian Blackwell. Even at this distance it makes no sense whatsoever.

We played the Scots twice that year and were drawn against them in the Nat West Trophy, this time in Edinburgh. It was the easiest win I've seen, the home side slipping to 19-6 as Derbyshire eased to a win by seven wickets marred only by the dismissal of Michael Slater in the first over. I remember sitting by the sightscreen that day and watching Kevin Dean bowl as if the ball was on a piece of elastic. It jerked one way, then the other and Dean's ten overs produced three wickets for thirteen runs. Not bad...

In 2003 there was a chance to see both sides of the mercurial Shahid Afridi. He bowled seven shocking overs as the home side amassed 206 in 44 overs, pitching the ball on the side of the wicket where Dominic Cork had least fielders, the latter making it patently clear that he was unamused. Then the Pakistan all-rounder opened in true combined harvester mode, hitting an enormous skier in the first over that went down, then a six over mid-off that went straight into a waste bin, en route to 35 from 19 balls. It was exciting but not especially clever and there were few surprised spectators when he departed.

A Dominic Hewson cameo won that one, but we lost in 2004 after a poor batting display and some shockingly wild bowling from Mohammad Ali in what was a poor Derbyshire attack. Graeme Welch shone like a beacon, but the likes of Mo Sheikh, Nathan Dumelow and John Moss held few fears for the home side as they won with nine overs to spare.

We struggled again in 2005, but in a rain-reduced game won by three wickets thanks to an innings of eminent common sense by Steve Stubbings. He made an unbeaten 75 but no one else got thirty in another sub-standard display.

In 2007 it was swing that again undid the Scots as they slipped to 46-7 against Graham Wagg and Greg Smith, Derbyshire winning by six wickets and only chasing 103, while a 2008 Friends Provident tie never started. Indeed, it was so wet that day that I didn't bother going, it being patently obvious that there would be no play from as early as the previous evening.

That won't be a problem on Sunday though. The weather has been good here all week and the weekend is set to be fine and sunny.

Here's hoping that the Derbyshire performance does it justice.

More on the teams tomorrow.

Statistical change...

For those with an eagle eye, the new statistics counter on the site will come as no surprise.

For the rest of you and those curious to the change, it is simple. The last counter was only recording hits from within the UK, while the new one records those from overseas too. It greater reflects the level of interest in Derbyshire cricket from those in foreign climes, especially those in India, where the behind the scenes figures show there are a number of hits. There was an anomaly of nearly 60,000 hits between the two, hence the reason for change

So thanks to all who check in on a regular basis, wherever you are, be it Codnor or Canada. Be assured that your visits now register on the site.

More from me later. Have a good day!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Ali Evans interview

There's a good interview with Ali Evans on the Cricket Scotland website, ahead of Sunday's game in Edinburgh.

Well worth a look. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Midweek musings

Not long now until the weekend and the fast-approaching visit of Derbyshire to Edinburgh, for the YB40 fixture against Scotland.

The good news is that there's an encouraging forecast wherever you look and it is set to be a partially cloudy day with some sunny intervals. Given that most of the intervening period appears to be dry and sunny, those of you preparing to head north for the fixture should be able to do so with a degree of confidence.

I've seen Derbyshire play up here on several occasions now, but have never seen us produce a really confident, professional display. The Scots present a decent banana skin for counties, though their bowling is generally more reliable than the batting. One or two of the current side - Richie Berrington and Preston Mommsen to name but two - have had trials down south but never quite impressed enough yet to earn a county deal.

Of all of their players Mommsen would appear the best bet to do so. At 26 he's trialled with Kent, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire and the South African born player has a good record for the Scots. A batting average of 32 and bowling one of 28 is indicative of a bloke who can play and this year he has followed an unbeaten 60 against Hampshire with an unbeaten 70 against Essex, where he also took 2-20 with his off-breaks. For me he bats too low in the side, but he will be one to watch on Sunday.

So too is Majid Haq, at 30 a fine servant to Scottish cricket, whose aggressive strokeplay enlivens many an innings as well as his wily off-spin can put the brakes on the opposition. They are a team with a few county imports, with former Warwickshire stalwart Neil Carter among them, and they should be underestimated at our peril.

By the same token, Derbyshire SHOULD win and I hope to see a few batsmen finding some of that elusive form on Sunday, as well as bowling of greater discipline than of late. As the saying goes, a win is a win and if we can come out of the game unbeaten in this competition after two games it could serve as the catalyst to the rest of the season.

Onto other matters and there's a fine match report on Yorkshire's site of what appears a close-run game between our and their Academy sides. Given the Yorkies traditional strength in this age group, it would appear our lads ran them close and we seem to have some good ones coming through at the moment.

It is inevitable that some won't make it and as has been said a few times on here of late, everyone has a limit to which their talents can take them. There was a good line on Pointless on TV last night, where Richard Osman said that people spend their lives craving promotions and eventually end up in a job that, in most cases, they can't do. It is sad when some very good players are ultimately remembered in this way. Graeme Hick, for example, is recalled as a player 'just short' of Test class, despite scoring over a hundred centuries and only coming up short against the very good pace attacks of his era. Many of us would settle for 'failing' in such a way...

I played a few games over the years against a very good player who had first-class experience, representing Oxford University for two summers where he had done OK, without being spectacular. He batted beautifully and bowled spinners that you heard 'fizz' on the way down to you.

Every week he scored at least 50 for his club, some way removed from the top tier of the Scottish game, and regularly scored a hundred. He took loads of wickets too, but when asked why he was playing at a level that was considerably beneath him, his response was simple... 'I like scoring hundreds and taking wickets'.

It was hard to argue. His enjoyment of the game came more from personal achievement than testing himself against the best. People who played against him will remember him in years to come as an excellent player, which is no bad things I suppose, but it is still good to see lads who are prepared to fight to the top, countering the odd issue along the way to become the next Cook, Broad or Prior.

Long may it continue. I hope that some of them are in that Academy right now!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Development needs

I'm not sure if anything from today's meeting of the playing staff and coaches at the County Ground  will make it outside of the four walls of the room, but one thing will need to be addressed in the coming months.

How can we get, and continue to get, the best out of our young players?

Over the last couple of seasons, three young cricketers, Daniel Redfern, Ross Whiteley and Tom Poynton, had been elevated to the senior side and impressed people with their displays. All appeared to be pugnacious batsmen with a full range of shots and the confidence to play them. Granted, this was in division two, but the potential of all three appeared considerable.

This year has been a struggle for all three. Redfern has had several starts, but his innings are generally categorised as being a fast start with some flashing shots before giving it away in the twenties. Poynton has kept wicket to his usual high standard but a batting average of just eight saw him give way to Richard Johnson. The latter's batting suggests that he is capable of batting as high as six if things don't improve from the specialist batsmen, allowing for the inclusion of both David Wainwright and Jonathan Clare as all-rounders.

As for Ross Whiteley, the lad has had a horrid start with just 27 runs in seven knocks, with a highest score of just 12. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that none of these young players feature in our next championship match against Surrey, which could leave us without an Academy product in the first eleven.

Developing our own players is one hundred per cent the right thing to do, but we need to find out the formula for their becoming established county cricketers. Over the last few years, we have had some lads through the Academy who were playing representative cricket at age group level and looked like players of serious potential under both Karl Krikken and Howard Dytham. Yet for some reason no one has yet cemented a role in the senior game.

I'm thinking of lads like Jake Needham, Akhil Patel, Atif Sheikh, Paul Borrington and Matt Higginbottom. Some had more opportunites than others, but none have established themselves in the county game. All have proven they can play and dominate at a slightly lower level, but there appears to be an 'X Factor' that is stopping them make that final step.

We appear to have another group of talented players coming through, but the trick is going to be how to assimilate them into the team to best effect. The likes of Slater, Burgoyne, Knight, Cork, Hughes, Marsden and a good few others have rich potential, but key to their and our future success is getting them through that final mental or technical barrier to the big time.

Leicestershire manage it. Look at Buck, Cobb, Eckersley, Freckingham, Smith and Thakor. Yes, it is division two, but one of these lads turns in a performance most matches. Three of them currently average over 50 with the bat and I would love to know how they handle the transition on the coaching and management side. As a county they are in a parlous state, but their record of producing good county and international cricketers is second to none.

Maybe they are blessed with an exceptionally rich crop of young talent in recent years. Maybe they just got lucky. Yet there's always the possibility that they have something that we don't, but really need to learn from.

There's a certain unfortunate irony in that the only product of our Academy who has confirmed himself as a good county cricketer in the last six or seven summers had to leave the club to do it. Wayne White was, of course, that player and we need to hope that Redfern, Whiteley and Poynton emerge from their current troughs of form to emulate him, but in Derbyshire colours of course.

They will all, I'm sure, be aware that such troughs are there for all. I watched Virender Sehwag in the IPL over recent weeks and he appears to have forgotten how to bat. One would never think it was the same player who had slaughtered many a bowling line up in the last ten years or so.

If it can happen to Sehwag, Tendulkar, Ponting and others, it can happen to young lads finding their way into the game. We just need to work out how to help them all through it.

And quickly.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Derbyshire v Sussex day 4

The coup de grace was swift and merciful and Sussex put us out of our misery well before lunchtime today. I didn't expect anything else, to be honest and the team now needs to regroup and work out how they can improve as a unit.

Karl Krikken is holding a meeting on Monday to discuss how they can turn things around. You cannot fault the effort of the players at all, but the crux of it all is that we need to bat, bowl and field better. Some of these players may now be outside their comfort zone and have 'maxed out' as far as their ability goes. That is a painful yet honest truth and good though they are at second division cricket, some may just not be able to make the next step.

Everyone has a level in the game. For some it is as low as an occasional social match, for others it is senior county leagues, or first-class county second eleven. There is no disgrace in it, but Derbyshire will only become an established top tier side when we have more players who look like they can handle the environment.

For some it will be a technical issue that prevents that final step, for others a matter of temperament. It could be both, but this level appears to have caught some players by surprise, perhaps in its greater intensity. Notoveryet mentioned yesterday that we're not winning the marginal sections of the game and it is a valid point. Look how many wickets we lose soon after the resumption of play, as the opposition perhaps 'switch on' quicker than we do. There's also the wickets that fall in clusters, suggesting that the pressure is greater for new batsmen.

The batting needs to be switched around to give those who are really struggling a break, but others need to capitalise when they do get in. A lot of 'nice' twenties and thirties have been scored this summer, without the player concerned going on, so greater concentration would appear an area for improvement.

As for the bowling, until this game we have bowled tidily, without real penetration. Against Sussex the ball flew around the park and not even the usually reliable Tim Groenewald could stem the flow. What is noticeable, in comparison to last summer, is the number of runs we give away as extras. There appear to be more no balls and wides, something that could and should be worked on. If we can get back to making batsmen work for their runs, building pressure on them in doing so, we will improve our chances by some margin.

Tony Palladino would have loved the Derby track for the Sussex game. Had he been fit and had David Wainwright  been selected, the result could have been closer. Indeed, I doubt Sussex would have fancied chasing 200-250 on a wicket where the bounce was erratic and had we bowled (and batted) with greater discipline they could well have been doing that.

The catching has also suffered in comparison to last year. This is a tough one, because the players work especially hard on this aspect of the game, but your hands only need to be in the wrong position by an inch for a catch to go down. The work will continue and one assumes that it will at some point bear fruit.

These will all be areas for the discussions I'm sure. We simply need to go back to winning the battle of every ball, every over, every session and build from there.

It's not all over at this stage, but the fightback has to start sometime soon.

Weekend talking point

"Didn't think you would turn into a defeatist, Peakfan" said the e mail I got this morning from Dave, who's not a regular correspondent but is as welcome as anyone to get in touch.

I'm not, Dave. I'm just being realistic at this stage. Nothing about our performances so far suggest anything other than relegation at the end of the season. We're not batting well, we're not bowling well and we're not holding our chances in the field. That being the case, any team at any level would struggle.

As notoveryet points out in an excellent comment below yesterday's piece, we're losing on the margins of the games. When we have the opposition in trouble we don't force a way through and bowl them out. When we are 100-2, we're suddenly 120-5. We drop players who go on to add another fifty to a hundred runs.

This game was a case in point. Sussex were 100-5, essentially six with a man absent and we then proceed to bowl some poor stuff, drop catches and allow them to see out the day. That in turn allows the absent man to return and take the lead another sixty runs on. When we bat, we make a good start, then the middle-order goes like a pack of cards and we're in trouble again.

Yet, as I pointed out last night, there is no magic formula to turn it around. We are not awash with the money to bring in Jacques Kallis on a Kolpak (even if he was agreeable...) and the county game isn't awash with talented players who could come in on loan and average 50. I doubt that there's a hypnotherapist out there who could convince the players that they are Bradman, Sobers, Holding or Warne either.

We simply have to make the best of what we have. Rotate the players in and out and allow opportunity and exposure at this level. At the very least, a few games in the top tier would allow players of undoubted potential such as Alex Hughes, Ben Slater, Tom Knight and Peter Burgoyne see what they need to do in order to make it to the top. Likewise, this is a big year for Paul Borrington whose contract is up next summer. Why not, if things don't improve, give him another chance to see if he can make the step from outstanding club player to the county game? Sometimes things just click and Bozza could do no worse than those who have opened so far.

Some might ask how we could expect young players like that to do it, if more experienced ones like Whiteley, Redfern and Godleman can't. Well, some rise more quickly and if you don't allow opportunity you will never know. Playing against the best, if nothing else, fairly sharpens your skills for when you come up against the more mediocre opposition, that's for sure. When I played in the old Scottish county competition years back, the experience against good spinners and quicker bowlers made the ordinary club games a relative walk in the park, as things didn't seem anywhere near so tough.

There is still time for Derbyshire to turn it around, but how they do so is another thing. Maybe this year is the one where, somewhat against the recent run of things, our one-day game is the stronger suit. On the other hand, perhaps it will be a summer that is the complete antithesis of last year and the players come out of it chastened but, in the long term, stronger.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Derbyshire v Sussex day three

Derbyshire may or may not escape this game with a draw tomorrow, at least judging from the weather forecasts that I have seen, but that should not mask the overwhelming feeling as this game draws to a close that promotion came too soon for this young side. Indeed, it is hard to see anything but ultimate relegation at the end of the season as things stand.

At the moment the only players who appear to be ready for this level of the game - and we must not lose site of the fact that the team IS a work in progress, as I've said all along - are Madsen, Johnson, Footitt and perhaps Wainwright. One assumes that Chanderpaul is too, but the West Indian at this stage is not doing his stuff and the side is suffering.

It gives me no pleasure to say that. These are all good players - very good players or they'd not be in the county game, but for one reason or another, be it mental, technical or whatever, they're just not at the races this summer.

For all that we were ecstatic - myself included - when he signed, Chanderpaul has not yet scored the runs to justify the likely high cost. He may yet do so, but in adversity you need your main men to stand up and be counted. It's not happened for Shiv yet, but I recall similar mutterings when we signed Eddie Barlow. He also had a slow start but became a club legend. We can only hope that the genial Chanderpaul does the same.

To be fair, this wasn't a 400 wicket and I'm told that there should have been parity on first innings had we bowled remotely well. Too many poor balls were bowled and catches were dropped, which you simply cannot do at this level. The wicket offers a lot of movement and is now turning, but we didn't play a spinner. While the batsmen will take the flak tonight, the bowlers let us down in this one, no doubt about it. Even Mark Footitt admitted he'd bowled badly, even though he took the wickets.

Chesney Hughes at least has his Headingley innings, but the likes of Godleman, Redfern and Whiteley are struggling and it hurts to see players of talent in their current state. Yet compare it, if you will to football. A player can score 25-30 goals to get a team into the Premiership, yet be short of the requisite standard to score at that level. There are plenty of examples, but this is a cricket blog, so I'll not bother.

We need to allow these lads to develop but it happens in the fullness of time and you cannot accelerate it. Suggesting we can go and sign experienced men is pointless, as first we couldn't afford the ones that were worthwhile and second there's no guarantee that will work either. Look at the money that Surrey spent this winter on the likes of Keedy, Solanki, Smith and Ponting and where they are. They're more competitive than us, but with a playing budget around three times the size they should be. The same goes for Somerset, a club with loads of money, but struggling at present.

It takes time and, while we all want instant success, it doesn't happen that way. In five years time we will look back on this season and see it as a year when some of our brighter young players revealed they weren't quite up to the mark and they subsequently never quite made it. Others will see this year as one where they realised just how much work needs to be done to play at top level with any degree of success and used it as a springboard to success.

The future? Well Ben Slater HAS to come in. He and Paul Borrington added 150 the other day for the seconds and while there has been intolerance from some towards the latter, he could scarce do worse than some others at present. I doubt that both would get the call though and Slater deserves the first opportunity. Having said that, Hughes could then move to the middle order and with Durston back there might be better options for us.

It is Karl Krikken's call but he has a tough summer ahead. I hope that people don't get silly and demanding change, as that would do nothing at this stage. We simply have to stick with the long-term plan of developing our own young players and be patient.

That's all I can say, really. Tough times. At least I should get to see them in Edinburgh next Sunday.

You just know its going to rain, don't you..

Talking points

One of the pleasures of doing this job (and there are a few, believe me) is in the discussions held between like-minded fans over current issues. I like to think that this is a place where sensible comment - positive and negative - can be made without fear of the whole thing descending into the anarchy and character-assassination that has ruined a few other sites over the years.

Last night was a good example. Paul agrees with me that Ben Slater should now get a crack at the first team and on the basis of his statistics in the Derbyshire Premier League and in the Seconds it is hard for anyone to disagree.

Slater is a batsman in form and let's be brutally honest, we're not awash with them at present. There is no logical reason, unless Billy Godleman scores big runs today, for him not to be in our next championship side. Even if he did, Slater should play, which would enable Hughes to drop to his preferred middle order.

You have to select players when they are full of confidence and playing well, especially when those above them are not. I cannot buy into an argument that 'he isn't ready', because until opportunity comes it is hard to make such a judgment. If, on the other hand, one was to suggest that it's too big a leap from the level he's playing at to the one he is required for, then you have to question the viability of a second team. I think the side is a vital conduit for young players en route to the senior game, as well as an opportunity for good players out of form to rediscover it with less media coverage.

Slater has done all he can do in the winter and early season to state a case for inclusion. As far as I'm concerned, there is no counter-argument for his exclusion from the next championship match against Surrey at the end of the month, other than an injury between times.

Thanks to Tim for his point regarding Chesney Hughes's possible finger fracture. If that is the case, then I can understand him not bowling but being OK to bat with the obvious protection of that digit. He will be a key part of our one-day game with the ball though, so we must hope for a full recovery soon if that is the case.

Notoveryet always makes valid and lucid comment and he is also correct in his assertion that the team selection for this game was muddied. I'd suggest it was the least logical since Krikk took over. With Hughes unable to bowl and Durston injured, we piled all our eggs into a seam bowling basket and left Dan Redfern, who hardly turned his arm last summer, to be the spinner.

As Whiteley didn't bowl either and is out of touch at present, there had to be greater logic, as Notoveryet suggests, in playing David Wainwright, a genuine front-line spinner and a batsman more likely at present to score runs than Whiteley. I have said before that Ross is important to this side for the balance he brings but it is only now, when form is elusive for the lad, that some are realising how true that is.

He's not the first and won't be the last player to lose form. It is cricket and it is the game, but there was more merit in his playing with 'Stubbo's Secondos' in their excellent win at Worcester, then having a good hit in Edinburgh next weekend, than playing here.

My comparison of Mark Footitt to Devon Malcolm was based purely on their speed and the occasional 'issues' that brings. Mark has a long way to go to match Devon as a bowler but his inclusion is important because he takes wickets. Yes, they can come at cost, but we've not had too many bowlers yet looking like they may run through the opposition this season.

Notoveryet says that Devon was a luxury that could be afforded because the likes of Cork, Dean, De Freitas and Warner made things difficult at the other end. By the same token, one cannot exclude Footitt because you don't have bowlers of that calibre. If we currently had Hendrick, Welch, Dean and Cork as seamers Mark wouldn't get a game, but as things stand he is perhaps our best chance of getting the wickets we need to win a match. The possible cost of those wickets is something one needs to accept, I'm afraid.

Finally, Mark thinks the weather may save us and asks how many times I am going to suggest we 'need big innings today'. Fair point and perhaps I'm stating the obvious, but as a 'glass half full ' bloke I give people the benefit. If I didn't and adopted my best Private Fraser from Dad's Army voice and cried "We're doooooomed" every match, you'd soon be reaching for the anti-depressants.

Sooner or later this side will come good. I hope it is the former, because then 2014 will be spent in the top tier. If it is the latter, then this year's experience will at least have shown the players how much they still have to learn.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Derbyshire v Sussex day 2

It was a funny old day at the County Ground today, one that ebbed and flowed but ended once again with Derbyshire up against it, despite the best efforts of Mark Footitt. He fully justified his selection with five wickets as Sussex ended the day on 328-8, a lead of 105 runs.

Starting the day on 158-6, we hoped for 250 but fell some way short, though Richard Johnson justified his recall and Jonathan Clare hit well for a while. Again though, it is unfair to lump expectation on the lower order to succeed where the top order fail, handy though it is when they do so.

Sussex came out to take on the fastest gun in the west - aka Mark Footitt (left) - like an aging boxer keen to make one last impression, standing toe to toe and trading blows. His first three overs went for 30, but there were two wickets. Footitt was expensive, his twenty overs costing 104 runs, but five wickets kept us in the match and that's what happens with express bowlers. Those of you who can think back to Devon Malcolm will recall days when the radar was locked on to fine leg, rather than the stumps and he was carted round the park. Yet when it clicks, it is wonderful to watch and Mark deserves full credit for his efforts today, just as for his wickets against New Zealand last week.

He also took a blinding catch from Jonathan Clare, but the latter and debutant Ally Evans were expensive and the visitors scored at not far short of five an over. Ed Joyce had to return home for a family emergency and was missing today, possibly for the rest of the match, but Mike Yardy made the most of a life in the forties and ended the day unbeaten on 121. His stand with Chris Jordan possibly took the game away from us, but we will find out more about that tomorrow.

There was a lop-sided look to Derbyshire's bowling here. If Dan Redfern bowls ahead of Ross Whiteley we must assume that the latter is injured in some way, especially when he doesn't bowl at all. That being the case, I'm not sure his current batting form justifies selection and he might be better getting it back in the seconds. That would allow Hughes to drop to his preferred middle order slot and let Ben Slater, a man in prime form, into the side to open. Hughes didn't bowl either, so again one assumes he is carrying an injury.

Such niggles were largely averted last year, but they are starting to mount up for us and we can ill afford to lose too many players. Wes Durston was missed for his bowling today too and it will be a backs to the wall effort tomorrow to turn this game around.

It can be done. If Chanderpaul strikes top form and the rest chip in, Sussex may not fancy chasing 250 in the last innings. But we need more than the skipper to score runs and if ever there was a time to show their true mettle, the next couple of days are as good as any to do it.

There are big innings for a few players tomorrow. I'm sure we all hope that they come up with the goods.

Book Review: Outside Edge by Marc Dawson

I have had a number of cricket books come through my letter box in the past couple of weeks and thanks to all the publishers who have sent them on to me. They will all be reviewed as I work my way through them, something to which I look forward immensely.

The first is not strictly a 'read', as Marc Dawson's book, subtitled 'An Eclectic Collection of Cricketing Facts, Feats and Figures' is one that you can dip into at any time, its 287 pages crammed with a startling array of information. Some you will know, some will genuinely surprise you and a fair proportion will leave you wondering where on earth the author gets his information.

I mean the latter in a good way, as the book is commendable for a number of things, not least of which is the currency of the information. Events from the recent winter months are there in abundance and the chapters are themed so one can dip in and out at will, finding something of interest on every visit.

It is the sort of book that had me saying 'listen to this' a good few times to my family, something that they took with characteristic good humour. The acid test, I suppose, is when your 15-year old daughter is found looking through it when you go into the living room and starts to tell you a story that has tickled her fancy. I can think of few cricket books over the years that might have had that effect; she has never shown any interest (sadly) in Neville Cardus...

In the course of reading this book I have found out many things. Kevin Pietersen's brother is a vicar in Workington; New Zealander Chris Martin once went three years without scoring a Test run in eleven matches, while Colin Cowdrey and Garfield Sobers scored the most Test centuries in different batting positions -each scoring them from six different places in the order. At the other end of the cricketing spectrum, Strictly Come Dancing judge Len Goodman was once banned from cricket for cheering when he took a wicket at the age of 13. Goodness knows what the officials would make of the dancing after wickets in the IPL..even less than Len, I'll wager.

These are just the tip of the iceberg in a wonderfully entertaining book that will amuse and entertain in equal measure. The fantasy elevens of various 'names' are of minimal value, especially when in some cases the immediate reaction is 'Who?' Some may disagree though and I accept that as a personal preference.

The only error I spotted, somewhat ironically, was in the reference to the stage play and later TV series that bore the same name as the book. As a big fan of the series, that I recently watched again with my family, I can confirm that it was not Paul Eddington who played club skipper Roger Dervish, but the excellent Robert Daws. Eddington played the role in the stage play only.

Yet this is a minor quibble and should not detract from a terrific piece of work.  Top marks to the publishers too, for a well-presented book. Pick this up in a book shop and you will take it home. Trust me.

Now...where was I? Alex Hales' grandfather played Rod Laver at Wimbledon. Really..?

Outside Edge: an Eclectic Collection of Cricketing Facts, Feats and Figures is written by Marc Dawson and published by Pitch Publishing. It is available through all good book shops and is on Amazon at £12.99.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Derbyshire v Sussex day 1

In the old days of newspaper publishing, it was said that the editors of the Derby Evening Telegraph kept a piece of text in permanent typeface, reading "The going was slow at the County Ground today".

Those were the days of attritional cricket, the 'no fours before lunch' of Roses match legend. Yet if I were to fast forward to the computer age and leave my laptop on from day to day, I could equally easily - at least so far this season - copy and paste from blog piece to blog piece something along the lines of "the Derbyshire batsmen struggled to come to terms with the conditions".

Yet during the afternoon we looked to be doing rather well. At 113-2 we were even looking at the promised land of a decent first innings score. Godleman and Hughes set off at a fair lick, yet both perished by the sword as they had lived by it. Chesney has some time on his side after his Headingley heroics, but Godleman will be all too aware of the form being shown by Ben Slater and will realise that nice twenties are of no real consequence at this level.

Indeed, I'm more forgiving of a player who gets out early, before eyes, hands and feet are as one, than someone who gets out at that stage, when often only something special from a bowler or over ambition from a batsman should be the issue on a decent track.

Thus Chanderpaul cannot escape criticism on this occasion. I am sure that he had big plans for his 300th first-class innings but reports suggest he never really settled today. No one will be more aware than him that more is needed for someone in the overseas role that is of paramount importance to a young side. It was most unlike him to give it away to a tame catch to the only man in front of square on the off side. I just hope that the weight of expectation isn't weighing too heavily on his shoulders, though years in the West Indies side should have helped him with that one.

Top marks again to Wayne Madsen, who showed once more that he is a very fine player. Indeed, a lesser one might have struggled to touch the lifter that got him near the end of the day and the quick loss of debutant Ally Evans gave the scorecard a look that was not especially good for Derbyshire eyes.

We missed the injured Wes Durston today, but as I've said before, let's judge this effort when it finishes and when Sussex have batted. There's always something in the track at Derby and with four seamers selected we have a chance of success, especially when Messrs Footitt and Evans have points to prove.

Big day tomorrow. I'd love to see Ross Whiteley get some runs and there's enough batting in the lower order to get us up to 250.

Where it goes from there, time will tell.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Derbyshire v Sussex preview

Sadly a pretty virulent virus has put the kybosh on my first visit to God's Own County for the season. Vocally I am something akin to 'Whispering' Bob Harris of the much missed Old Grey Whistle Test and not sure that a full day on the cricket ground is going to improve things at this stage.

So I will be following this one from afar and will schedule my first trip for next month instead, when hopefully it is warmer and has stopped raining. I've also got a good few books for the revamped book shop, which will hopefully do its bit for developing our young Academy talent.

Derbyshire's Karl Krikken has named the following squad for the game:

Billy Godleman, Chesney Hughes, Wayne Madsen, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Wes Durston, Dan Redfern, Richard Johnson, David Wainwright, Jonathan Clare, Tim Groenewald, Mark Turner, Mark Footitt and Alasdair Evans.

My guess is that Ally Evans will miss out but be there for the experience, while the final choice will be between Marks Turner and Footitt. Turner was bowling well before his injury and for me Footitt deserves a crack for his sterling effort against New Zealand.

Sussex travel with a strong-looking squad that lines up as follows:

Anyon, Brown (wkt) JS Gatting, Hamilton-Brown, Jordan, Joyce (capt),  Liddle, Magoffin, Miller, Nash,
Panesar, Wells, Yardy

For me, the weather looks set to take too much from this game for a positive result, unless the respective sides play very well and poorly.

I'll go for the draw, but I hope we're the team that plays well. There will be a little pressure on Billy Godleman, with Ben Slater scoring well in the seconds and in the league, while Richard Johnson will have to justify his elevation to the wicket keeping role ahead of Tom Poynton. The latter has kept well but not made the runs that are required at this stage, though his time will undoubtedly come again.

In closing tonight, I read with interest that the Falconettes are recruiting for the coming summer. Having (just about) given up on my dream of playing for the county, that could just be the next best thing...

See you all tomorrow

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Derbyshire v Lancashire

Well, that was our best batting performance of the one-day season...

Other than that, there's not much to say about today's 'game', where the rain had the final word. It was such a shame, given the work that had gone into the family fun day, but that's something that can probably be resurrected to better effect later in the season.

It was good to see Ches 'n' Shiv opening, but aside from one pull shot for four by the great West Indian (Shiv, I mean...) there was little else happened.

Attention now turns to the Sussex championship match, which is massively important. A win in that one would put us back with the pack, while a defeat would open up a gap between us and another of the sides that I felt before the season might be in the relegation places.

Sussex have made a decent start and the irony is that two of the sides largely expected to be among the front-runners, Somerset and Nottinghamshire, are not that far ahead of us either Even closer are Surrey, who spent a great deal of money in the close season and had every expectation to be doing better than they currently are.

There's still time for them to improve, but they have now lost their captain, Graeme Smith and have their own injury issues. Former Derbyshire man Chris Adams will hope for better fortune as the summer progresses or his tenure in charge is likely to come under scrutiny.

As for Derbyshire - better batting and catching will give us a chance of improvement.

A little luck wouldn't go amiss either. One of these days the skipper is going to call correctly at the toss, which will make a difference, but that's one of those things that all the practice in the world won't change.

More tomorrow.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Derbyshire v Lancashire YB40 Preview

Derbyshire have named a 14-man squad for tomorrow's game against Lancashire, namely:

Wayne Madsen, Chesney Hughes, Wes Durston, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Dan Redfern, Richard Johnson, Jonathan Clare, Ross Whiteley, Billy Godleman, Alex Hughes, David Wainwright, Tim Groenewald, Mark Footitt and Alasdair Evans.

Much as I suggested in the week, there looks likely to be a season debut for Alex Hughes and I expect Ali Evans to play in tomorrow's game. While I am not privy to the innermost thoughts of Karl Krikken, I would like to see Shiv Chanderpaul open and Derbyshire field the following eleven:


As we're already missing Tony Palladino and Mark Turner from the championship side, I think Krikk will want to ensure the fitness of Messrs Clare and Footitt for the Sussex game in the week. There are plenty of bowling options and good length of batting in a side that should be a good match for our visitors.

They bring the following squad to Derby:

Glen Chapple (Captain), Karl Brown, Jordan Clark, Steven Croft, Gareth Cross (Wicketkeeper), Kyle Hogg, Simon Katich, Arron Lilley, Stephen Moore, Oliver Newby, Stephen Parry, Luke Procter,  Ashwell Prince, Wayne White.

Their side is a good blend of youth and experience and with Messrs Katich and Prince in the middle order will provide a stern test for our boys. It will be a good game, but I just have the feeling that tomorrow might well see the first win of the summer.

Fingers crossed. More tomorrow.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Something for the weekend - the return of 'King' Stubbo

Ahead of our first one-day game of the season, it is good to see a further restructure of the Derbyshire coaching staff, with the return of one of the club's favourite sons in Steve Stubbings. 'Stubbo' takes over as second team coach, with Andrew Harris moving up to travel with the first team as specialist bowling coach.

It is a sound move. Harris has done a fine job with the seconds and developed a good reputation, which is exactly what Steve Stubbings brings to the club. Various coaching roles around the county have been well received and he will be the ideal mentor for the young talent coming through from Howard Dytham's talented academy.

Stubbings was not the best batsman ever to play for Derbyshire, but the feeling remains that he perhaps enjoyed it more than most and he was one of the most approachable blokes to ever wear the county colours. Always happy to stand and chat and with a ready smile, one felt that he appreciated the lot of the county cricketer and, for all its trials and tribulations, the fact that most of us watching would love to have been good enough to do it ourselves.

At 35 he is still young enough to be playing the first-class game and I know a few people who think he was released too early by John Morris. A first-class average of 32 is the mark of a pretty solid county professional and he always sold his wicket dearly, gritting it out on occasions when he was patently out of nick, but dogged in his refusal to give it away. He could play shots too and over his years on the staff played some crucial innings.

If he can pass that mind-set to some of our young tyros he will more than accomplish his goals. I wish him the very best and I will watch his progress with considerable interest.

I'll look at Sunday's YB40 game tomorrow, but I was watching the IPL tonight and realised that we're now only six weeks or so away from the T20 and still don't have a second overseas player.

What a tough job that is for counties! With many of the top names tired after the IPL and Champions Trophy, a number wanting exposure in the Caribbean T20 and others prevented from playing by their national cricket bodies, getting the right man at the right price has never been more difficult.

It would be a lot easier if some of the Indians who grace the IPL were allowed to participate. I'm sure the likes of Raina, Kohli and Sharma would prove a huge draw here and, let's face it, would be a nice bit of advertising for the IPL in turn. Yet their contracts preclude their participation in T20 anywhere else, which is a real shame. The top West Indians will doubtless opt to play in the Caribbean, while the New Zealanders will mostly want to go home. Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor apart, I don't see T20 as the stronger suit of many Kiwis anyway.

The Australians will want their squad and fringe players in a Test frame of mind so are loathe to allow anyone who could feasibly be used in England play, which really leaves Pakistan and South Africa. Neither Bangladesh nor Zimbabwe have what I'd call genuine top players right now, with Brendon Taylor having gone back a bit in recent months. Shakib Al Hasan has been cleverly picked up by Leicestershire and there's little else to enthuse about at the moment.

Pakistan players aren't common on the county circuit, so I suspect a few sides will look to South Africa for an overseas player and their strength in depth makes them a good option.

Who could do a job for Derbyshire? Dean Elgar would be one, a fine batsman and useful spinner. Then there's Albie Morkel, an under-achiever but someone who can win games with bat or ball, and Farhaan Behardien, who has an excellent T20 record with the bat, can bowl useful seam and is a brilliant fielder. There's also Colin Ingram, whose powerful game is well suited to the format and Henry Davids, who is likely to be the top order dasher for his country in the Champions Trophy.

These are names outwith the very top tier of South African cricket but fine players nonetheless. I suspect a few of them will come under consideration by county sides in the coming weeks.

I'd be happy with most of those names.

As long as we don't end up with Chris Harris. And I still keep fingers crossed that Martin Guptill might say yes...

Postscript - apologies: Morkel doesn't have the requisite international appearances (one Test or 15 one day/T20 international matches in the last two years). The others do, but these regulations currently prevent Yorkshire signing David Miller for the summer's T20, unless he makes two more Champions Trophy appearances this summer.

The only way any county could get Albie Morkel here was if they thought him a worthwhile Kolpak and he was prepared to do that.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Midweek musings

Thanks to Andy for pointing out by e-mail that I had omitted David Wainwright from my one-day sides in the last piece on the blog.

I did, but for no other reason than I'd heard he still had a back niggle. This may or may not be true, but I reasoned that if it was the case he could probably live without throwing himself around in the field in one-day games. By the same token, a fit David Wainwright is a very good one-day bowler and would be in there, so I hope that clears that up.

I've had a few e mails from fans who share my opinion that batting reinforcements are required. The problem, as I have pointed out before, is that the players who may well improve our fortunes are already playing for the first elevens of other counties. The  ones who are in the second elevens around the country are generally there for a reason and it would be unrealistic  to expect them to change the fortunes of another side if they were to be signed on loan.

I have no doubt that the somewhat parlous state of our batting is occupying the thoughts of both Karl Krikken and Chris Grant right now, but coming up with a player of substance when we have already spent substantially this year is going to be an impressive trick, perhaps one that is even beyond our outstanding chairman.

More realistically we make do with what we have and try to restore some confidence to the batsmen. Form is a funny thing and watching the IPL has highlighted it with startling clarity. Ricky Ponting dropped himself, as did Adam Gilchrist. Virender Sehwag can barely hit the ball, let alone score runs and these are all great players. Those who are learning the game and are moving up the ladder in the process will have the same struggles that these outstanding names encountered in their youth.

Patience is the key, for them, the club and the fans. Continued hard work will pay dividends and the role of senior players is crucial, but this bunch of players is better than they have showed so far and at some point - hopefully soon - it will click.

Finally tonight, Sussex have made a good T20 signing in Dwayne Smith, an all-rounder of genuine talent, especially in the short form of the game.

If we can pick up someone of international class - whether Martin Guptill or someone else - we will all feel a lot better.

Back soon!

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

One day prospects

We've played over a month of cricket by the time our first one-day match of the summer begins on Sunday. It hasn't been the best of starts, for reasons that are well documented, certainly on this blog.

Is this the summer when Derbyshire reverse recent fortunes and show themselves to be a better one-day than four-day side? If that were the case it would be long overdue, as we've seldom shown one-day form in anything other than a sporadic manner in recent years.

I would hope that Shivnarine Chanderpaul will do what he so often did for the West Indies and open in the shorter formats. That would at least give us a player who can pace the innings, always assuming that whatever combination of bowlers is chosen keeps the opposition within bounds.

For what it is worth, I think we might see an improved T20 this summer, especially if we can prevail on Martin Guptill to return for the competition. If he's keen to get home after a long tour, a batsman of similar power or talent is a necessity so we can take advantage of the power plays more than has previously been the case.

With plenty of slow bowlers to replicate the successful method of the better IPL sides, the Derbyshire team has the requisite skills to do well, though only if the players show their best form. I don't see us playing many seamers in the lucrative T20, where I think we will line up with something close to this as a first choice side:


I'd like to see our two young spinners given a run in this competition and with Hughes and Durston to bowl spin too, we have plenty of bowling options. The batting has potential big guns up top, with the skipper in the engine room if it goes horribly wrong to work with the tail and produce a target.

There is an argument for Hughes to open with Chanderpaul, who could talk him through the tricky patches, but I'm a firm believer in having your best batsmen and fastest scorers at the top and with as long to bat as possible.

As for the Yorkshire Bank Pro 40, it is a competition in its death throes but I think we will see Derbyshire take it seriously unless they have early reverses, in which case it will become a blooding ground for young players.

My YB 40 side:

Hughes (C)
Hughes (A)

Much will depend on the fitness of the seam attack though. Having already lost Tony Palladino for several weeks, don't be surprised to see Ali Evans and Alex Hughes get YB 40 matches under their belt, especially if we need to wrap the remaining bowlers in cotton wool for the top tier four-day stuff.

Prospects? We have some good players and if we get on a roll an improved season is a possibility. Though if there's one thing that 47 summers of watching Derbyshire has taught me, it is to expect the unexpected.

But hey...we're playing in Edinburgh this year. I have a 'home' game to attend at the end of this month.

Please don't let it rain...

Monday, 6 May 2013

Book Review - Bent Arms and Dodgy Wickets by Tim Quelch

Tim Quelch's account of post-war English Test cricket to the end of the 1950s is a fascinating description of the players, the series and the performances of the era. Part cricket book, part social history, it balances first hand commentaries and reflections from key figures of the time with politics, as social and economic growth challenged the attitudes of authority to race, professionalism and the end of the empire.

It was an era of great players. May, Cowdrey, Worrell, Weekes, Walcott, Miller, Davidson and many more flit across the pages. It wasn't always an era of attractive cricket, much of it being attritional and teams often aiming to win by wearing down the opposition, but it was perhaps a reflection of an age where post-war austerity only slowly gave birth to the promise of improved lifestyles and the advent of the rock 'n' roll generation.

The author writes of the amateur/professional traditions and their effect on captaincy, selection, and management styles in the game. The accounts of the matches and their highlights are entertaining, but the backdrop of Indian, West Indian and South African changing positions on integration, alongside the gradual loss of colonial power, give this book a particular poignancy for some.

Times were changing and cricket had to do so, but the stance of the powers that be was largely to bury their heads in the sand and hope that the throwing controversy went away. It was left to a few brave umpires to 'call' those they felt guilty of infringing, though as the decade went on there were those who were pulled up when they were bowling legitimately, while others, such as West Indian mystery spinner 'Sonny' Ramadhin, escaped unscathed. The West Indian bowled with his sleeves down throughout his career, thus preserving a reputation that would have been sullied had umpires seen the bent elbow within.

The issues of throwing and poor pitch preparation, as well as the dressing room protocols of behaviour were bodyswerved by the MCC, as it struggled to preserve pre-war ideals of sportsmanship and the myths of the golden age, where differences in class were accepted without visible discontent and the word of the captain was final and sacrosanct.

The book is an excellent read and of particular interest is the reference to improved levels of fitness and to fielding skills, although it would be some years before these reached modern standards. England were the premier side in the world for most of the decade, but as it ended the challenge from the Caribbean was obvious, while the ability of India and Pakistan would see their continued growth.

Well researched and presented with evocative photographs, this book is well worth a look and is a delight for those who enjoy cricket and social history.

Bent Arms and Dodgy Wickets:England's Troubled Reign as Test Match Kings During the 50's is written by Tim Quelch and published by Pitch Publishing. It is available from all good book shops and is currently on Amazon at £10.87

The enigma and the X Factor

I didn't blog last night because of family commitments, but had said pretty much all that needed to be said earlier in the day, anyway. A Bank Holiday off gives me a chance to reply to a few e mails and to put the rest if this game into context.

Mark Footitt (left) again showed in the second innings that he is a force to be reckoned with. New Zealand's batsmen could be forgiven for thinking that they were facing a player on the verge of the England team and with a point to prove. The latter is certainly true, as with Tony Palladino and Mark Turner injured, Footitt has to stake a claim to a place in the side for the Sussex game.

He's done that with a sterling effort, but the next step is to sustain form and fitness for a prolonged period and a glance at the player's statistics tell the story. This is Footitt's ninth year as a professional cricket, but he only has 72 wickets in that time from 27 matches. While fully accepting that for some of that time he was not selected, it is a damning figure for a player blessed with a very rare ability to bowl at serious pace.

An array of injuries have served to ravage the career of a player who once looked a certain international. Perhaps now at the age of 27, when his body is fully developed and his core is strengthened to cope with the demands of pace bowling, he will go on to fulfill that early promise and become the scourge of batting line-ups. Because to be honest, not that many batsmen like genuine pace and, if his direction is as improved as his figures in this game suggest, precious few tail-enders will.

There's many a dogged lower order batsman decides there are more pressing engagements  if the chap bowling at them is alternately threatening toes, head and wicket at 90 miles an hour plus. Especially when that bowler is bowling left arm over. Other than Wasim Akram and Dirk Nannes, I struggle to think of many genuinely quick left arm bowlers so Footit is part of an elite group.

If he was to go even halfway towards the standard of that pair we would have few complaints.

Ali Evans did himself no harm in this game either and I don't think he would let anyone down if injuries necessitated a call up. He can get wickets and just needs to cut back on the one bad ball an over to become a county cricketer of genuine potential.

I mentioned pre-season that luck was a key component of any side's success. Last year, Derbyshire got breaks from the weather when we needed it and although there's an argument that you make your own luck, few sides do much without a few breaks.

It is the X factor of cricket and lady luck has been against us so far. We've lost all the tosses, lost a couple of our seam bowlers to injury and failed to hang on to some sharp chances at crucial points in matches. I'm well aware that the latter is more down to technique and practice, but a diving catch can be dropped when your elbow hits the ground and there's an element of fortune in there too.

The same goes for the batsmen. For some of them, the first ball they get, like Ross Whiteley yesterday, climbs and catches the glove or the edge of the bat, where on other occasions it will fly merrily past untouched. It is uncanny how often this happens when you're out of nick, just as being caught down the leg side by the wicket-keeper is usually a handy, if unfortunate barometer of form.

Before this season, I suggested that there wasn't much between the two divisions, but now I think the gulf is wider than I first suggested. It isn't unbridgeable, but one has only to look at the YB40 game between Nottinghamshire and Northamptonshire yesterday for confirmation. The latter are flying this summer and their prudent winter work will, I think, see them do what we did last summer. Yet our nearest neighbours hammered them yesterday. I know it's a different format, but they will be as aware as we now are that there's a lot of work to do to compete against division one opposition.

Here's to a better day's work from our batsmen today, leading into a resurgence against Sussex next week.

Postscript: we fared a little better second time around, but apart from a spirited 50 from Dan Redfern and useful knocks from Durston, Burgoyne and Godleman, it fell well short of what was required to make New Zealand worry. 

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Derbyshire v New Zealand day 2

There was a certain predictability about the morning's cricket at Derby today, as New Zealand's seamers worked their way systematically through a Derbyshire batting line-up that is largely bereft of confidence at the moment.

The honourable exception was Wes Durston, who showed his importance to the side with a battling display that ended somewhat prematurely, but it was sadly predictable for Messrs Godleman, Redfern and Whiteley. All three are lacking form at present and the additional pressure that this puts on the rest of the line up cannot be overlooked.

Being out of touch is hard going for a cricketer and the pressure must be so much the greater for a professional, when everyone is telling them what they need to do, with the best of intentions but doing nothing but add to the ongoing agitated state. Sometimes its best just to go back to basics and try to play as you always have. Then again, when you're in a bad trot it is hard to remember what that feels like.

When you're out of form, the first time you nick it you will be caught. The first time you miss it you will be lbw, sometimes even if the ball was nowhere near the stumps. You might middle an occasional ball and then you find that someone holds an early contender for catch of the season and sends you on your way. The ring of fielders around you becomes an impenetrable barrier and there appears to be no end to the ongoing feeling of frustration. It is one of the challenges of the game. Misplace a couple of passes at football and a team mate can bail you out. Misplace a shot at cricket and you're on your own, perhaps back to the pavilion for the afternoon.

I just wonder whether there has been any discussion between Karl Krikken and Chris Grant regarding the viability of bringing in someone on loan. Someone mentioned that among the comments a week or so back and I discounted the idea on cost grounds, but it has to be something that is at least considered.

Sides can overcome the occasional player struggling for his best form, but we have three players in our first choice side who seem to be wondering where their next run is coming from. It is far from easy for them and is making life very difficult for the side. Maybe two or three weeks getting bat on ball out of the firing line would be beneficial, though the advent of the one-day games with fewer close fielders might be equally timely.

Ross Whiteley's struggle is especially problematic as he offers such balance to the side at his best. The only player on the staff who could feasibly do that is Peter Burgoyne, but is he ready for a pivotal role in the side at 19? I guess we'll only know if we try it, though swapping a seam bowling all-rounder for a spinning equivalent creates an imbalance of another kind.

Wayne White can't get a game at Lancashire right now but is a good player who is known to us, playing at Swarkestone when time allows. Might a loan for a month be an idea?  Similarly Joe Sayers is a good opening batsman up at Yorkshire but can't get into their strong batting line up, despite scoring heavily in their Second XI this summer. Either would solve a problem for Derbyshire and both know northern wickets well. I haven't a clue how much such players would cost for a month, but they have the requisite experience to enable us to pull a vulnerable youngster out of the firing line for a few games before too much damage is done to their already fragile confidence.

The budget may be spent to the max, in which case we must stand with what we have and hope that they emerge from their current trots sooner, rather than later. If there is any scope, they would appear the best bet to help us out in our current situation.

As always, I would welcome your comments...