Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The nine and two option

In an idle ten minutes before we hit the promenade in Blackpool today, I took advantage of my wife and daughter's decision to change clothes and had a quick look online.

I came across a couple of things and the first was a piece by Mark Eklid that was published a fortnight ago in the Derby Telegraph that I had somehow missed at the time. In it, he expresses his disappoinment that rumours suggested we were considering a Kolpak signing to strengthen the side for next summer.

I disagree with Mark on this one, for a couple of reasons. One is that it will be incredibly difficult to source overseas players for the T20 next summer, if not impossible. With the competition set to take place on Friday nights throughout the summer, how many players will commit to playing on one evening a week for 10-12 weeks? How many clubs could afford to pay them to stay around for that length of time, even if they wanted to? Conversely, how many clubs could afford to have players coming in and out of the country and how successful would that be, even if they did?

For me, IF there was a good enough Kolpak who was prepared to play for us throughout the summer and we could afford him, we should go for it. Such a move would still leave us within the parameters of the 9 domestic and two non-qualified players that we committed to play in the blueprint, but we should only do it if a player of appropriate talent could be identified.

If we could sign someone of established credentials who was markedly better than we have on the staff it would get my vote, but not just any old South African or West Indian, whose countries would realistically be the source of such a player, as those countries have the requisite trade links.

So, for example, I'd be up for our signing Jacques Rudolph (but doubt we could afford him) but not Richard Levi or Henry Davids who are not that much better than we have. If we are sacrificing a place for an overseas, it has to be, to paraphrase the advert on TV, because he's worth it.

Turning it on its head, if Shivnarine Chanderpaul retired from the international game and signed on as a Kolpak to allow another overseas to come in, it would also get the Peakfan thumbs up, but we all know how tough it is to pick up good overseas players, especially when IPL involvement means that some can't play till the end of May, by which time a season can be shaped.

I've no doubt that Chris Grant and Karl Krikken will sit down and discuss the retained list and potential signings in the near future and that an opening batsman will be one of the targets for the close season. Our finances will dictate how much more we can do in building the team, or if we simply have to go with youngsters and accept that the progress will need to be slower and supporters more patient.

You may not like it, but we cannot sign people when there is no money to do so, though I'm confident that the team at the helm at the County Ground will do all in their power to improve things after a challenging season. Then again, we have all been guilty of impatience and unreal expectations this summer, though many of us - myself included - will expect us to be one of the challengers in division two next year. Work will be required to get us to that stage and what happens between September and April  will largely determine the realism of such thoughts.

Finally tonight, I noticed more than a little stirring going on at the Forum, with people complaining about what appeared to be pretty much everything, from supposed lack of transparency to individual members of the club management.

Yes, it would be nice to know all that went on with the Ross Whiteley departure, or why Tony Palladino hasn't featured in T20 and Jon Clare to a limited extent. But like it or not, Karl Krikken is in charge of team affairs and will be until it is decided otherwise. That being the case, he can pick who he wants when he wants and doesn't have to explain every decision. It would be nice to know, but there may well be issues that are private and as such are no one's business, such as happens in any organisation.

Confidentiality clauses quite likely came into play with Whiteley's move and the team selections, however we may discuss them from a distance, are chosen by a man who is on the spot and knows what is going on in people's lives and physio appointments.

We don't and as such, while we are entitled as supporters to question, we have no right to an answer if this is not appropriate.

So let's all remember that and at the same time be thankful for the quality of personnel that we have in charge at our club at present. Plenty of people at other clubs would love to have such interaction with their senior hierarchy, yet still some aren't satisfied. Some things can be answered and will be if that's the case; others simply can't, for whatever reason

Good night from Blackpool. A sunny day is due tomorrow and the old legs might just get an airing if that happens.

You have been warned...

Youngsters inclusion good to see

The inclusion of two new players for the trip to Sussex at the weekend seemed likely when the names of both Dan Redfern and Wes Durston appeared in the Second XI yesterday. Both could have been having a knock in the side and then pulled from it to make a trip south, but neither scored the runs required to force inclusion after what even they would concede as disappointing summers.

So Alex Hughes rightly and deservedly comes into the squad that travels south, as does Matt Higginbottom, who has taken over thirty wickets this summer. He has been around the Derbyshire squad for a year or two now, but should make his first-class debut alongside Tim Groenewald and either Mark Footitt or Mark Turner.

With Peter Burgoyne and Ben Slater in the squad too, there is a youthful vibe to it and we, as fans, must be patient. There must be understanding in struggles and appreciation of success for young players who, in some cases, could be the cornerstone of our side for the next five to ten years.

Not all will make it of course, as life isn't like that, but if two or three of the current crop go on to be steady successful county cricketers then the Academy will be confirmed as doing a very good job.

The squad in full for Sussex:

C Hughes, Slater, Madsen, Chanderpaul, Johnson, A Hughes, Poynton, Burgoyne, Groenewald, Higginbottom, Footitt, Turner.

I wish them well and supporters should get behind them and realise that results are not now important. More so is that individual success in the remaining games will give a boost to confidence and be of considerable benefit in the medium to long term.

More soon.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Time for a break

Time for a mid-season break for old Peakfan and family, as we head for four nights in the splendours of Blackpool to get some sea breezes, rain, judging by the forecast for the next four days.

Never mind, it will be different, bracing air and just the tonic we're all ready for after a busy few weeks. In this period I will hopefully be online later in the evening to update comments and add anything pertinent about the day's news.

My latest piece about Derbyshire's season is now on Cricinfo and you can see it here

There are other excellent pieces on that area of the site about the other counties, so do please spend a little time reading about the county game from those who follow it.

In between times, please keep your comments coming but avoid reference to the possible departure of club personnel. We are all aware that the summer has been difficult, but suggesting that X or Y will be leaving simply isn't fair. If and when anyone leaves the club in any capacity it is fair and appropriate to comment on the rights and wrongs of that departure, but not to set a hare across the park in between times. I've been around for long enough to know that stories quickly grow arms and legs in any environment and I'd rather such tales didn't emanate from here, thanks very much.

Anyway, thank you for your continued support, of both the blog and the club. Hopefully the boys are rejuvenated by a short break and come out refreshed to put a little pride back into proceedings in the last few weeks of the summer.

During that time clubs will start announcing their retained lists and it will be interesting to see who might be on the market and looking for a new club. Please let me know if you see or hear anything and I look forward to some good discussions on the merits of available players - their salary demands notwithstanding, of course.

Keep well and keep smiling. Things will improve, we just need to be patient.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Durham v Derbyshire T20

No real need to labour this one, as the expected defeat materialised. At least there was a little more fight today, which was good to see, but it was ultimately another year of ifs and maybes.

There was a decent spell from Mark Footitt today, but Durham's powerful batting line-up posted a total that always looked too much for our boys, especially when Chanderpaul and Madsen were removed by Graham Onions.

It was good to see Dan Redfern show a semblance of form again after a tidy bowling spell, while Tom Poynton chipped in with a typically breezy cameo. For me, Poynton is winning the battle of the keepers and is doing well in all facets of the game - keeping, batting and leading the field - and is one of the brighter aspects of the season as it has developed.

A look at the T20 statistics tells its own story. Wes Durston was the only batsman to top 250 runs, though Chanderpaul would have done but for injury.Of the others, only Hughes topped 200, indicative of a malfunctioning batting unit.

The bowling was largely tidy, with only Footitt and Turner (around ten an over each) getting collared. Groenewald took the most wickets, Morkel was the most economical and Alex Hughes finished top of the averages.

We started with a 3-0 record and ended up 4-6. While fully accepting that it is a difficult group and we didn't have the best of luck with injuries, it is hard to be anything other than disappointed in that.

Back to the drawing board.

But we knew that.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Post-match blues

By any standards, that was an awful effort last night.

When the best you can find to say about a batting display is that the Twitter feed from Tony Palladino was very good, you know that you've had a stinker.

It's funny, despite the fact that I still maintain that chasing a total offers a better chance of success than setting one, oblivious to the capabilities of the other team, it goes out of the window when any chase is approached in much the same manner as adopted by the Keystone Cops, perhaps accompanied by Sergeant Jones of Dads Army shouting "Don't Panic!" at the top of his voice.

We simply have to get better and that will doubtless be something occupying the thoughts of Chris Grant and the Derbyshire board in coming months. Maybe there is no quick solution, but whether it is in different players coming in or the coaching setup being tweaked, we cannot afford many nights like that.

The marketing team work wonders in attracting people along to the ground to witness exciting cricket. Three straight wins at the start of the campaign did the same. The remarkable win at Trent Bridge on Monday would have convinced a number of people that there was no better place to spend a Friday evening than the County Ground.

Then we bat like that.

No, I can't and won't defend it and when a team is slaughtered (there is no more apposite word) by a very average Leicestershire side, then supporters have a right to be disappointed and angry.

Yet there is no quick fix. Players we were lauding twelve months ago have not become bad players in that time. Some have found their comfort level exceeded, others have, in unison, hit the bad season experienced by most at some time. Yet no one must lose sight of the fact that we cannot simply, as one correspondent suggests, 'sack them all' except for three. As an example of knee-jerkery (just invented that one...) it's high on the all-time list...

Contracts are contracts and even though it often seems that they offer security to the player alone, rather than the club when an individual and his agent start getting twitchy, the club cannot rip up the remaining deals of 12 players and wave them off. It doesn't work like that and nor should it, or we would be back in the dark ages. Aside from falling foul of legislation, it would probably ensure that no one else wanted to play for you, ever.

The coaching staff will work over the winter to get the careers of some players back on track and continue the development of others whose encouraging displays have been somewhat overlooked in those kneejerk, but understandable reactions of supporters to last night.There is a massive interest and depth of passion about Derbyshire cricket, as evidenced by this blog setting a new record for hits in the current month, even with four days to go. These people care and they want to see a successful club. Three of them got in touch from overseas, having followed the action from afar.

No one cares more than Chris Grant, who faces a busy winter. He, more than anyone, knows what needs to be done, what money we have and how we can feasibly improve within budgetary constraints. I am sure that Mr Grant will look back on 2012 as a delightful honeymoon period, when all was sweetness and light after the previous year, when the mid-season departure of John Morris gave him a stern introduction to Derbyshire cricket. 2013 will not carry the same memories, but perhaps has given him an even greater appreciation of the size of the challenge.

Keep the faith people. Last night didn't make us a disaster, any more than last year made us the best team in the world. I get as frustrated by the team's inconsistency as you all do and I wish, to use football parlance, that there was a route one to success.

But there isn't. We must continue to be patient and give the boys our backing. Whatever you may think in the aftermath of a poor display, they are working hard and they are trying their best.

It's just that on occasion the best is a long way from good enough and needs to get better.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Derbyshire v Leicestershire

In a nutshell, tonight, we all saw the challenge that Derbyshire will need to address over the winter.


The bowling was largely OK, with good efforts from young spinners Redfern and Burgoyne, as well as an encouraging one from Alex Hughes. Tim Groenewald also bowled a splendid spell, although Mark Turner was again more expensive than he and we would have wanted.

Yet the batting was awful. The heroes of Trent Bridge had gone by the end of the second over and apart from Chanderpaul, who hasn't had an innings for a couple of weeks, we were awful.

It is more fuel for the critics. It is another example of Derbyshire flopping when there was an opportunity in this format of the game. Surely if we can beat Nottinghamshire we can beat Leicestershire? The comments will no doubt hit my mail box sometime soon.

There is a big job to be done in the coming months. Not just in hopefully bringing in a player or two who could make a difference, but in repairing damaged reputations and bruised confidence. In assuring some players that they will be a major component of the club's future and in breaking it to others that they are sadly not up to the standard to which we aspire.

Somehow we must rekindle the spirit of 2012 and introduce players who can be the spirit of 2014, 15, 16 and beyond. Another sterling effort by the Seconds to beat Warwickshire today shows that there are some good lads in there, especially commendable when some of their main players were with the senior side.

The T20 has gone and the remainder of the summer MUST be one of offering opportunity to assess talent and potential. Results won't matter all that much, but we must hope for improved individual performance and a few positive portents for the future.

Let's be honest. It has to be better than tonight.

The times, they are a-changing

One of the great things about cricket is the way that it has evolved over its existence.

From adding an extra stump, to modifying bats and protective gear, what you can and can't do to wickets (glue? Cliff Gladwin would be incredulous...) and the techniques for playing the game.

If you want an example of how the game has evolved, even in a relatively short time frame, here's a look back at a game that had some similarities to the one on Monday against Nottinghamshire, but from 35 years ago.

It was July 2nd 1978 and Derbyshire played Glamorgan in a Sunday League 40-over game at Chesterfield. That was the plan, but the weather had other ideas and the ground staff had their work cut out to get any sort of game underway. Time passed but eventually it was agreed that the 2pm start could eventually get underway at 5.20pm, the game accordingly reduced to ten overs a side.

The were no fielding restrictions at that time, no powerplay and teams could have nine on the boundary if they chose to do so. Nor were there the more stringent limitations on bowling spells and Derbyshire's top four of Barlow, Borrington, Kirsten and Cartwright could have faced only two bowlers if their opponents chose to do so.

As the yearbook of the time recounts, Barlow and Borrington 'rattled the score along' with 33 in 18 minutes from six overs, before the innings ended with a score of 62-4 from the ten. By modern standards that would be deemed a cakewalk, but bats had edges then, not sides and the innovative shots that open the game up today were unknown. 

Besides, Derbyshire had Mike Hendrick and Eddie Barlow to bowl. The former kept one end going, while Barlow took over after Colin Tunnicliffe was presumably deemed expensive with two overs for fourteen.

Glamorgan's reply? 44-4 in ten overs. Their opener Alan Jones, who had played for England in 1970, batted through the innings for 23 not out, while Hendrick recorded figures of 5-0-13-1 and Barlow 3-0-12-1. Both those players would have been brilliant in modern T20, though I doubt that the Welsh fans would let their star opener off lightly were that scoring rate replicated today...

We won by eighteen runs, very similar to the winning margin of sixteen on Monday. Yet the game, the techniques and the regulations were poles apart  from that enjoyed today.

At least the result was right though and I would give a lot to see those names back on Queens Park just one more time...

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Personal plea

Did anyone by any chance record the highlights of the Nottinghamshire win the other night?

My old Dad was saying he'd have loved to see it. Bearing in mind it was T9, rather than T20, that's akin to my old man telling me he's discovered curries, is going to feng shui the living room and is off out to buy the collected musical output of Girls Aloud...

If anyone can help I'd be delighted to pay for postage and disc. Contact me at the usual e mail address if you are able to do so.

Thanks in advance!

Postscript - many thanks to Glyn for coming to my aid. I am very grateful to you mate!

Seconds update

Good game going on with the Seconds against Warwickshire.

Following our 191 on the first day, Warwickshire replied with 213, trialist Waller taking five wickets.

Derbyshire's second innings has been much better, closing at 252-3, with 107 for Paul Borrington and an unbeaten 68 for Alex Hughes. Good finish in store, by the sound of it and Stubbo's impressive work with them continues apace...

Derbyshire v Leicestershire T20 preview

More of the same would do nicely from Derbyshire tomorrow against Leicestershire, to keep their T20 hopes alive.

Following the extraordinary win over Nottinghamshire, interest should be high and the side is boosted by the possibility of a return for Shivnarine Chanderpaul. His expertise would be a real asset and allow a couple of timely tweaks to the side.

Albie Morkel has gone, as he was always going to do, in order to be fit for the Caribbean Premier League. He did well for us, perhaps even more off the pitch than on it, where his bowling was always probing and awkward. Perhaps his batting has gone back a little, as a result of being an in demand hitter, rather than batsman who can hit the ball a long way (there is a difference) but he remains a fine cricketer who we would doubtless welcome back another year if his commitments allowed.

The squad in full:

Wayne Madsen, Chesney Hughes, Wes Durston, Dan Redfern, Billy Godleman, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Alex Hughes,  Richard Johnson, Peter Burgoyne, Tom Poynton, David Wainwright, Tim Groenewald, Mark Turner, Tom Knight and Mark Footitt.

For what it is worth, assuming Shiv is fit, I would go with the following side:

Hughes (C)
Hughes (A)

I can hear the 'ping' of e mails coming in, but with three seamers named and Groenewald sure to be one of them, Turner or Footitt surely play, if only to offer a change of pace. We could go with more spin than a political press office, but one would assume that the four in the above team would be sufficient, aided by Alex Hughes if required.

As we know from the game at Grace Road, Leicestershire have good players and could easily beat us if we are not totally focused and committed. After the other night, our boys should realise that one hundred per cent effort can get results against the best of sides, but anything less from a team that is not blessed with genuinely outstanding players can leave you in trouble. 

Forecast? I'm inclined to go for a win here. The players will be buzzing after the other night and Leicestershire's defeat to Durham tonight makes it effectively a dead game for them.

For Derbyshire it is something considerably more than that. Win tomorrow and it's a winner takes all against Durham to round things off.

Let's hope they're up for the challenge.

Adieu to Whiteley

So it's a premature farewell to Ross Whiteley, who has joined Worcestershire for the remainder of the season and until the end of 2016.

There will undoubtedly be rumours and stories flying around, so I think that I will do my best to unpick the story as I see it at and perhaps nip some of the more scurrilous in the bud.

As the club site states, Whiteley wanted to spend the winter in Australia, which was at odds with the club's plans for him. I know the lad met a girl out there when he has been out in previous winters, as he told me as much back in September in the post-title excitement at the County Ground. On that basis I can understand his desire to go back out there this winter, assuming the romance is ongoing. I cannot see cricket alone as the reason.

To be fair to the club, his employers, his bargaining position was far from strong, after a season in which form and fitness has proved elusive. Derbyshire, quite rightly in my opinion, presumably wanted him to stay home and work on his game with the club coaches, in an attempt to rediscover the form that made him look a genuine talent a couple of summers back but rather less than that of late.

Realistically, there would have been only one way out of such an impasse. Whiteley presumably wanted out and a place with a club who were willing to let him go to Australia this winter. Worcestershire were the interested party and that's how we got to the situation that broke today.

I don't blame the club one bit. As the employer, they were entitled to request the player stayed home and worked on his game. If the employee was digging his heels in, as happens in different working environments, there could only really be one solution and that was a parting of the ways.

Equally it is hard to blame the player, because that's what happens between men and women when things get serious. I might be getting old, but romance does funny things to people...OK, he may have wanted to work on his game there, but if that didn't suit the club, they pay the wages and the piper calls the tune.

It is a shame for the club though, They spent time on the player's development and have lost him before he reached full maturity, if he ever does. Chris Grant in particular was very fair with the lad and put him on a good contract when he had previously only been on a summer deal. It is not the ending that anyone would have chosen to the story and there's no denying that.

That's my take on things and I don't think it too wide of the mark. Ross Whiteley may go on to be a very good county cricketer and emulate Ian Blackwell in developing beyond that level. By the same token he might never realise that early potential, where he could swing the ball and bat with equal gusto. Few will forget his assault on Hampshire that rushed us to victory last September, his brilliant fielding nor his handy bowling. Only the churlish will fail to wish him well. He's a nice lad and a good cricketer. It's just a shame that things turned out this way.

Yet one man's departure is another's opportunity.

In Alex Hughes I think we have a ready-made replacement.

Whiteley leaves

Disappointing news today with the departure of Ross Whiteley to Worcestershire with immediate effect.

I'll have a few thoughts on that later today, but thought I'd just highlight the departure at this early stage in my lunch break.

More later.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Will the real Derbyshire CCC stand up?

Thanks for your comments after last night's game. Mighty perceptive they were too and while I don't agree with all of them, it's a free country and the game is all about opinions.

Thanks also for making this a massive day for hits, with over a thousand visitors today alone, which is much appreciated. It is nice to see that interest is alive and well and there's nothing we all like better than a communal gloat at the expense of our dear neighbours eh...?

Notoveryet was absolutely right in his assertion that the game format helped us last night. The batting order, sans Morkel and Chanderpaul was very inexperienced and had the game run its full course, both our approach and the result could have been different, that fragile underbelly perhaps exposed and the Nottinghamshire batting machine having an opportunity to make a more measured response to what might have petered out to 160 in 20 overs.

Yet we will never know and life is full of ifs, buts and maybes. You can only play the conditions of the time and Derbyshire came out for that game last night like vintage Mike Tyson approached a boxing match. On another night, Chesney could have nicked that first cover drive to the keeper or hit it straight down the fielder's throat, but he didn't and from there it was quite magnificent.

There was an intensity about our cricket that I loved and admired last night and I just wish we had found it against Lancashire at Old Trafford and Yorkshire at Queens Park. Both those games were there for the taking and I'd gladly have swapped last night for wins in those two games if I'm honest. Ten points with two games to go...the fat lady would have been singing the most enchanting of arias by the time this weekend came around...

Watching Wes Durston last night it was astonishing to realise that in around four overs of batting he had equalled his highest championship score of the summer. He looks such a good player when in full flight that his four-day struggles are a mystery. Maybe he should just go and throw off the shackles, play his shots and see what happens. It would, if nothing else, make for stirring stuff while it lasted.

My only criticism of last night was that I felt we were a bowler light. The batting was probably packed when the game was reduced, but my response would be that if you slip to 40-5 in this sort of game you are probably stuffed anyway. I'd have included Tom Knight in place of Billy Godleman and that would have given an extra bowling option, one that Nottinghamshire would have struggled with, given the conditions and the fact that Knight, like Burgoyne, is a good bowler.

It's a personal preference, but if I have a choice to make for an eleventh member of a team and it is between a bowler in form and a batsman patently out of it, I'll take another bowler. Each to their own, but Knight's presence would have meant that Wayne Madsen had another bowling option last night for the last over. I accept that a few of you think the skipper erred there, but I still think that his decision to go with his strike bowler was correct.

For one, he is a strike bowler and should be used as such. Second, his confidence was up after holding one of the best catches you'll see and two others with people shouting all sorts at him. Third he was bowling at Chris Read who has butchered spin in the past and could feasibly have done so again. Four - Durston would have been bowling his first over of the match.

With the runs to play with it was not really a gamble, but suggestions that we don't play him produce a question from me. Who else is there? Footitt is a similar bowler, Morkel has finished, Palladino is injured and Clare would appear to be with his lack of recent bowling. Evans would be a gamble, as would Higginbottom and that's it. Thank goodness for Tim Groenewald, who we seem to wind up in April and who then plays every game until September...

It was a great effort but Karl Krikken and his coaching team have to ask why. Was it the influx of youth? Was it the local derby atmosphere? Was it the realisation that they should simply go for it and see what happened? Whatever it was, harness it please and get them to repeat ad nauseam. It would be so much better for our nerves.

A repeat on Friday would do very nicely, but I'm going to see which Derbyshire turns up. Last night's version should realise they could take on anyone if they can handle Nottinghamshire. The anaemic, less than one hundred per cent commitment version of the side will continue to make a mess of things.

I wish I knew which one would be there on Friday.

I bet everyone else does too. 

Postscript: Despite last night's success, I still feel our better chance of winning is bowling first and hoping stronger sides overreach. If we batted like prime time West Indies and racked up 180-plus it would be different, but we don't. That doesn't happen, so the common sense run chase of a moderate target would  work for me every time.

Always assuming we used common sense, of course... 

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Nottinghamshire v Derbyshire T20

Wow! Did you see that?

What a breathtakingly brilliant effort by Derbyshire to go to fortress Trent Bridge and return along the A52 tonight with both points, courtesy of a superb team performance.

I'll hold my hands up. I didn't give us a chance tonight and would cite as evidence recent displays. Had that level of intensity, passion and togetherness that I referred to last night been shown in recent games, we'd be home and dry in the group by now.

We may not go through and the thinking money would still be against us, but the memory of that display will live long in the memory of those who saw it live or on Sky. Logic suggested a team that is choc-full of internationals would take apart a team shorn of both overseas players. Yet maybe in such adversity was rekindled the spirit of Lords, when an overseas star-light Derbyshire beat Lancashire as the shadows lengthened and Frank Griffith became everyone's hero.

Tonight it was the Wes and Ches show. No matter whether Nottinghamshire gave them width to swing their arms, the shots were magnificent and I was racking my brain to think of a Derbyshire partnership that I had found so exhilarating. Cork and Krikken in that Lords final, Cork again and Phil De Freitas one day against Leicestershire, but that was special. There was brute strength, common sense and considerable skill in their batting and in such a short game the preservation of a partnership is key to success.

Hughes was brutal and Durston showed that whatever his four day travails he remains a fine one-day cricketer. It was astonishing, extraordinary, remarkable and so far removed from recent form that I sat shaking my head at the shots the two batsmen produced.

12 an over was always going to be tough, but when Michael Lumb cut loose after a fine opening over from Tim Groenewald it still didn't look enough. Billy Godleman missed a good chance, though I think he slipped which made it doubly difficult, but when Mark Turner, who had taken serious stick from Lumb, redeemed himself with one of the best catches you will ever see, the game turned.

Top marks to Turner for showing a very sound pair of hands at long on, but special mention tonight to two young cricketers with big futures in Peter Burgoyne and Alex Hughes. Burgoyne bowled beautifully around the wicket and to only concede thirteen runs in two overs of such a game was quite something, He showed common sense beyond his years and kept a tight line and length against a strong batting line-up. Great stuff to watch.

There will have been a few who were worried when Alex Hughes got the penultimate over, but I thought it was a good choice from Wayne Madsen, who set his field very well tonight and kept his players going. Hughes' skiddy length was perfect for conditions and to concede only four runs in taking two wickets was again a special effort from a talented young man.

They were all heroes tonight and apart from two dropped catches the fielding was as athletic and vibrant as you would expect from a young side, all coordinated by the Derbyshire foghorn, Tom Poynton, who kept wicket with his usual sound style and produced a lightning piece of work to stump Steve Mullaney.

Having seen such a display, everyone now knows they can do it, including the wider cricket public. The talent is undoubtedly there, they just need to capture the vitality and desire of tonight and can then give any side a game. Should they doubt themselves in the future, the team should think back to this evening when a young side stormed the Trent Bridge bastille and took a very strong side to the cleaners.

Wonderful, wonderful stuff. By crikey, we will sleep well tonight.

PS Yeah, I'm excited at that one. If you aren't, you'd better check your pulse...

Monday, 22 July 2013

Money and the vicious circles

There have been a few comments over recent nights about our declining fortunes in T20. The end of that sentence could, in the eyes of most supporters, be read as 'for the rest of the season'.

It is hard to see where we can get a win from here, especially as the vast majority of Karl Krikken's squad have no form and a diminishing likelihood of finding it in the remaining weeks of the season. It would be stretching credibility to expect batsmen who have struggled for form to turn suddenly into prolific run machines, just as it is unrealistic to expect erstwhile innocuous bowlers at this level to start bowling teams out.

Indeed, the only way I could see Derbyshire do that is on an old-fashioned Derby green top, the problem then being that we would be unlikely to outscore the opposition anyway. On a good track, our bowlers have been shown to struggle at this level. Heads you lose...tails you lose.

One-day cricket perhaps presented our best chance of success this summer. You might be unable to dismiss a batsman, but a good ball is a good ball and should keep him quiet. Thinking back over our T20 losses, the bowling has done OK, but ten years into the competition we still don't chase targets well, only Madsen and Chanderpaul seemingly having the nous to keep the rate going against niggardly bowling. Seven an over isn't that demanding at this stage of T20 development, but we struggle painfully to do it, with the recent poor results.

People will come to watch a successful team, as was proven with the capacity crowd for the Nottinghamshire game and the similar one for Yorkshire. Many will have seen three straight wins and thought that this was the year.

They were wrong. The two games gave us good income, though I'd wager that the club would have ideally preferred a strong walk-up for them, rather than pre-sales, as they would then have got more money. A recent correspondent said that the Board are only interested in attendances and to a point he is right, but such a comment fails to tell the full picture and does the people at the helm a grave disservice.

We need money to bring in better players, but the crowds will not turn up to watch a losing team. A club in Derbyshire's situation has to be mindful of the pennies, but somehow the eminently capable people at the top have to find a way to bring a better class of player to the club without breaking the bank. Anyone any ideas on how? I doubt there's too many players of an altruistic bent out there who would come to us and accept less money to do so. On the basis of this season, we're at least one, probably two good batsmen short and at least two bowlers. Yet bringing in four people of the requisite standard would cost around £350K a year and still have no guarantee of success, as wealthy clubs like Surrey, Essex and Somerset have found this year.

Members might say that they're making their contribution - and they are - but looking at the income figures from last year, membership fees pay for perhaps three players at our current rate. There's a sobering thought for you, even after last winter's membership drive...

There's no easy fix. Perhaps we need to be more tolerant of failure, especially while our younger players are coming through and appreciate that the players we have will have as many poor days as good, especially at this level, especially at this stage of their development. Maybe our expectations were unrealistic after last summer's giddy heights, maybe we could have been better prepared, maybe some things could have been done differently.

The key, for the remainder of the season and in the future will be in making the whole better than its constituent parts, in making team Derbyshire a tougher nut to crack by motivating eleven players to deliver one hundred per cent in every single game, even when the chips are down. It was that kind of leadership, from on and off the pitch, that won us the championship in the 1930's; that made Eddie Barlow's Derbyshire a real handful and that made last year's title-winning side the best we have had in ten years or more. It was all for one and one for all - and performances illustrated the strong team ethic, with hard fought draws and tight wins in the mix, all of it indicative, of course.

One of the biggest steps that Andy Murray made to tennis domination was in controlling his body language. When things got tough, his demeanour made it obvious he was struggling and his head went down. He's conquered that now and some of our players need to realise that in doing so, opponents will tune into their struggles and redouble their efforts.

It has all gone flat, like last week's opened lemonade and rekindling that passion, fire and team spirit will be a good start, whether there's money for winter improvements or not.

Postscript - Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge tomorrow night in the T20. I have to say I am not hopeful, especially as we are likely to be missing both overseas players.

Well worth a watch tomorrow, but unlikely to have a happy ending, methinks...battle to the end though, boys.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Derbyshire v Durham T20

There was a point this afternoon, when Durham were 36-4 chasing 137  to win, that Derbyshire had a sniff of victory.

We hadn't batted especially well again, the loss of another batsman to a run out an unnecessary extravagance, although Hughes, Madsen and Morkel in their respective styles got us to more than at one point seemed likely. It was, at least, a potentially defendable total, but I said last night I fancied our chances more if we were chasing than defending and was proved right. Not that I am remotely happy about that...

With an array of spinners in the side, we could technically have bowled 16 overs with them on a track that, according to Paul Borrington's excellent Twitter feed, was slow and turning. It made it all the more surprising that we turned to Tim Groenewald and Mark Turner at the key point and they went for over ten an over between them. Both have done well in the tournament, but maybe today was a day to keep their input to the minimum, especially Turner, who in fairness has endured a somewhat wretched festival week since last weekend.

Having said that, Albie Morkel only bowled two overs and apparently strained a thigh muscle, which pretty much summed up the luck that has gone with the campaign from that perspective. I doubt it would have changed the result, but to have both overseas injured is tough for any team, especially one that is struggling.

There were encouraging spells from Peter Burgoyne and the recalled Tom Knight, both of who deserved their place and perhaps could have been involved in the side earlier,while I understand Tom Poynton kept wicket with his usual skill and high level of vocal input. Not such a bad day for the Academy product then, but another loss at the end of it all.

Where does it leave us? Out of the shake-up for the quarter finals anyway, with an away game at Trent Bridge still to come, besides the return against Durham. To go from 3-0 to 3-4 is disappointing. The loss of Chanderpaul has been a factor, but the bottom line is that we have not played good enough cricket and that win against Lancashire seems a lifetime ago.

In closing, there was a telling comment from Wayne Madsen as quoted in the Derby Evening Telegraph, when he talked about the defeat against Yorkshire.

"Dizzy ( Jason Gillespie) has got them playing a brand of cricket with energy. They reminded me of how we went about our business last year-the attitude and belief they have in the squad. That's exactly what we had last year but we are nowhere near that this year".

Why is that? Losing regularly can be draining and we must not ignore the positive impact that Martin Guptill had on our out cricket at the start of the summer last year when we won a lot of games. At the end of it all though, recreating that level of intensity and that team spirit of just twelve months ago is something that the coaching staff will need to address somehow.

Otherwise it is going to be a long and miserable road to the end of the season.

Book Review - The Trundlers by Harry Pearson

Trundlers. Dobbers. Line and length merchants. Medium pace bowlers have gone by many names over the history of the game and have largely had an unworthy press. Everyone loves the mystery and magic of a great spin bowler, as well as the sheer excitement of a fast bowler steaming in off his full run (except for the batsman facing, of course).

Harry Pearson's latest book is a celebration of bowlers whose heyday came in the age of uncovered wickets, when their command of line and length made them the trickiest of all bowlers. You might get down the track to a flighting spinner and hit him on the full toss. You might get respite from a quick bowler who was errant in line and length, but the trundler would always be at you, making you play and getting available assistance from the ball, wicket and weather.

Those uncovered wickets at times rendered them unplayable and Harry Pearson's book is a cavalcade of the great bowlers through the history of the game whose feats have entered into folklore. Thus the book starts with Edward 'Lumpy' Stevens, whose eighteenth century lobs were of such accuracy that they necessitated the introduction of a third, middle stump, where previously a batsman would not have been out when it passed through the gap. The names of the intervening period are also discussed, but the book really comes into its own with the advent of the golden era of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

There's George Hirst, whose inswing was so pronounced that at times it was 'like facing a throw coming in from the covers' and Maurice Tate, that most worthy of bowlers from Sussex, not remotely built like an athlete but a man who would willingly bowl all day and find the right line and length every time. Then there's perhaps the greatest of them all, Sydney Barnes, who played occasionally for Lancashire, for England when they made it worth his while and in the leagues until he was old enough to be less of a problem, but never was. When one talented young batsman in the Bradford League said that he intended to play him by blocking the good balls and wait for the bad ones, he was quickly told "You'll wait all year, lad"...

Derbyshire's contribution to the world of fast-medium is humorously described as being 'like Cliff Richard is to pop music; not necessarily the best producer of it, but one of the most persistent'. Such humour abounds in a book that carries the authors trademark bon mots throughout and it is all the better for it. Cliff Gladwin is referred to at some length, 'tiptoeing to the wicket off a short run and bowling feisty in-swing that ninety-nine times in a hundred pitched on a good length" but Les Jackson isn't, on the grounds that he was too quick for consideration in such a book.

Perhaps the greatest post-war exponents were Tom Cartwright and Derek Shackleton, who wheeled away for hundreds of overs every season and snared thousands of victims. They rarely bowled a bad ball and bowled with such economy of effort that each season saw over a thousand overs at an average of two runs per over. All this and little consideration for warm-ups, Shackleton's concession to such things being to comb his hair and smoke a cigarette. Yet in 1962 he bowled 10,303 balls in first-class cricket, the last man to break the five figure barrier and this at the age of 38.

Harry Pearson is an endearing writer and the book is enlivened by his sharp wit and way with words. Anyone who read his affectionate look at league cricket Slipless in Settle will enjoy this one. It does lack a little focus at times and to describe Alan Davidson, among others, as a trundler is stretching a point, while the inclusion of Doug Wright, admittedly a faster than usual leg-spinner, is surprising. There are also factual errors, but if one is reading the book purely for entertainment as opposed to research purposes it does its job.

It didn't win the MCC Book of the Year award for nothing and it is one that I would heartily recommend to anyone who wants to learn more about some of the greats of the game and enjoy a few laughs in doing so.

The Trundlers by Harry Pearson is published by Little, Brown and is currently available on Amazon priced £9.09, as well as from all good book shops.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Derbyshire v Durham T20 preview

Life is full of surprises. I experienced that this afternoon.

Our delightful sixteen year old daughter was listening to music in the back garden when I joined her in the late afternoon sunshine. It has been another lovely day and she had her earphones in. I asked her what she was listening to.

"Blues" was her reply. "It's a compilation with John Lee Hooker, Memphis Minnie, Sleepy John Estes, Robert Johnson and loads of others...stuff that influenced Led Zeppelin".

Given that her musical taste is eclectic and unashamedly retro, I perhaps shouldn't have been surprised, but the contrast with most girls of her age made me smile.

I think most Derbyshire fans, like her, have the blues right now and it was patently obvious from the chairman's tweets today that he is hurting as much as the rest of us.

"We will get it back on track" he said and there's no reason to disbelieve him. He is a good man and passionate about the club, tireless in his work on its behalf. I suspect that the getting back on track will be longer term, but I try to stop my train of thought going down that particular track. Hope you saw what I did there...

A good time to start would be tomorrow's game against Durham at Chesterfield, one that we should be starting from a position of unprecedented strength. We were in a good position at Old Trafford and lost control after Chanderpaul's injury, while against Yorkshire our excellent bowling should have left the run chase a literal walk in the park. But it didn't.

Until we acquire the skills, or the players, to milk the spinners around in the middle of the innings when the field goes back, our success rate in run chases will usually be less than 50/50. We must not and can not expect Albie Morkel to score 20-odd off the last over every time and greater common sense through the innings is essential. Last week I noted that one third of our innings were dot balls and we can't afford such wastage. No side can.

Were tomorrow's game another championship fixture, I suspect that the side would not include Wes Durston and Dan Redfern, after further failures in what have been difficult seasons this week. As it is, both should appear tomorrow, as their roles in T20 are important to the side and, let's be honest, we're not awash with alternatives.

I doubt we will see the return of Shivnarine Chanderpaul, so the team is likely to be pretty much as was defeated on Sunday. Had Durston  not been injured we could have won that one, though the run out of Wayne Madsen was crucial to the final outcome. For all that some bemoan our chasing totals, I still feel that it represents our best chance of a win, with the opposition hopefully over-reaching and leaving us something attainable.

A win would do much for morale, but Durham, despite a poor T20 campaign, won at Trent Bridge on Friday and have some powerful strikers of the ball. They will also have Graham Onions to lead the attack and will present stiff opposition, as we know all too well from the Riverside last week.

My forecast? I'd love to be positive and predict a win, but the sunny weather has been diametrically opposed to our standard of cricket this week at Chesterfield. If we can pull off a win tomorrow we are very much in the shake up for the quarter finals.

If we don't, we're deeper into the blues than Robert Johnson and our season has quite possibly gone past the crossroads...

Friday, 19 July 2013

Derbyshire v Yorkshire day 3

As Wayne Madsen drove,cut and reverse swept his way to a brilliant and typical century today, it made me think of the plight of Edward Smith, the captain of the Titanic, who stayed at the helm to the very end as his ship sank beneath the waves.

Madsen was - again - magnificent, but his effort was in stark contrast to most of his side. These are difficult times for Derbyshire players and supporters alike and there is no easy way to write about the playing side right now. My first thought today after the early finish was 'we've lost a day's gate money'...

A lot of me feels sorry for the players. There are a few of them have been found out this summer and this level has proven too high for them. Some may come again, some may not get that opportunity. It doesn't alter the fact that they can play - as I have said before, you have to be good to handle this level at all - but the reality is that the next time we hit this level we need to be better.

It is all very well for fans to shout 'disgrace' and suggest X, Y or Z should go, but there is no easy solution. Irrespective of what some fans are saying, the guys are trying their best and working as hard as they can, but they are simply outclassed at this level. If you've played the game, you will know the feeling, when other teams turn up and they're on top of you all the time. You can't get the bowling away and then they paste you around the park. One true thing in this greatest of games is that we all have a level and too many of our side this season have found this one beyond them.

We must not ignore bright spots. Chanderpaul would have enjoyed that wicket and will continue to score heavily for us as long as he is at the club. The captain is top-class and Hughes has shown enough - albeit in flashes - to suggest he is moving forward, if not at the pace we would like. Peter Burgoyne has shown in this game that at 19 he has a bright future, while Tom Poynton confirmed that he has considerable batting ability to go with his excellent glove work.

Therein lies an issue though. The only other player to shape up with the bat was Richard Johnson in the first innings and the question is whether he can become good enough to play as a batsman pure and simple. Both are good enough to be a first choice keeper, but as a batting specialist? With limited resources, can we really afford two keepers of first-class standard?

People calling for big clear outs are being silly. We have players on contracts and even if we chose to pay anyone off, it would cost money that we're hardly awash with. The nucleus of this team will do well in division two and better luck with injury would probably see the majority of the attack as successful next year as they were last. Durston, Redfern and Godleman have struggled this summer, but hard work in the winter should see one or more capable of good second tier runs.

Chris Grant and Karl Krikken will be far more aware of how we can improve than anyone. They will know that we need to strengthen, but will know what resources we have to do so. There is no point any of us speculating unduly as it is not fair on people who are doing their best in trying circumstances.

It could be that challenging in the second tier is the summit of our ambitions for the immediate future, or we could be a side that yo-yos between divisions until young players become established and we can bring in others who can handle the big time. It is patently obvious that some of the current personnel will not be there for the long haul, but their work ethic, ability, mental toughness and age will all be factors in deciding who makes it and who doesn't.

All I ask is this. I hope that young players, like Ben Slater, Alex Hughes, Tom Knight, Peter Burgoyne and Tom Poynton get a chance to test themselves in the remainder of the championship summer. If they do so and fail, it gives them a benchmark to how hard they need to work to make the top county level. They may be found wanting, but then again they might not. Either way, they would benefit ahead of division two and what should be a less demanding platform.

As for those of you writing in - please continue to do so, but as you do, keep in mind that however poorly the results are going, these guys are trying their best for OUR club. They are also the son, brother, relative or friend of someone who might either read or stumble across this site. It isn't fair to write about sackings - if they happen, fair enough, but I don't want this site to become a gathering place for miscreants seeking change and mischief. Constructive criticism is fine and remember that we're all hurting and feeling the same right now, myself included.

Just keep in mind last September. Maybe we did over-achieve last summer. Some may still wonder how we finished above this Yorkshire side, but we did. Their greater resources have enabled them to move forward, while we've not had that luxury, but history will record Derbyshire as division two champions in 2012. However bad this championship summer has been, I wouldn't swap last summer and those crazy scenes at Derby in September for anything.

With your continued support and patience we'll experience that again.

Trust me.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Derbyshire v Yorkshire day 2

Cutting to the chase, my friends, we're getting well and truly hammered by Yorkshire in this one.

It isn't the first and won't be the last time that happens as they are, quite frankly, a massively bigger club than we are. Look at the quality of the side they have out, even when several of their best players are with England and you realise how big that difference is.

Take the attack. Former England man Ryan Sidebottom, big winter signings in Liam Plunkett and Jack Brooks. It is a different level to the guys in our attack and I mean no disrespect to them in saying so. They are decent cricketers, but when 'decent' plays 'very good' there is usually only one result.

Our batting is depleted by injury and poor form but at full capacity it would struggle against a top attack. Wayne Madsen will hold his own, as will Shiv, but the rest are struggling and have done all season. While the players will continue to fight until the last ball is bowled in September, the summer has been a reality check and they will need to work hard and regroup over the winter.

Ben Slater battled well today and Madsen showed his integrity by walking when given not out by the umpire. In doing so he placed himself in a very small minority of first-class batsmen, but we should not be surprised at such an action by the skipper. I've said before that we are lucky to have him and, a few years from now, he will probably say he's learned more about captaincy this year in adversity than he did last year when things were a good bit easier.

The game will probably finish before lunch on Saturday at the present rate, but there shouldn't be too much surprise at that. Certainly, as you will remember from my pre-match write up, I held little hope for anything other than a hammering. So it has transpired, though I did hope for greater resilience with the bat.

Now for a couple of observations after my first foray onto the Forum in a week or two.

For those who want to know the answers:

No, we don't get parachute payments on relegation, as there's little difference financially in the two divisions.
Albie Morkel isn't playing this game as he's contracted for T20 and has a similar contract to come in the Caribbean. He wouldn't want an injury ahead of that, nor one that would rule him out of the still important T20 games to come.

On a different tack, one correspondent should be ashamed of making ridiculous insinuations with regard to Jon Clare and pulling Paul Borrington and Mark Eklid into his puerile argument.

For his information, Eklid, a good journalist who knows his cricket, suggested Clare might be dropped simply because he doesn't appear fit enough to take on the workload of third seamer in a four-day match at present, not because of a 'conspiracy theory'. Anyone who has watched him bowl in recent weeks and compared it to his usual pace should know that.  Nor was Eklid 'belittling' him by saying that he couldn't hit it off the square. He was stating fact. He couldn't and didn't, as he's not in form. It is a common enough cricket comment and should be taken as nothing more than that.

Then for the biggest guff I have read in years. Paul Borrington was 'poking fun while making Twitter reports about Clare swinging and missing again'. For the record, m'lud, I give you exhibit A, the transcript of those comments in the 19th over of our innings. They're still up on Twitter, just in case you doubt the veracity of the comments:

Sidebottom to bowl
2 singles off the first two balls
Another 1 - 111-5 off 18.3
Clare swings and misses
Dot ball - Clare hits it back to the bowler
Clare misses again. 111-5 off 19. Sidebottom 4 overs for 27

Anyone else see 'poking fun' rather than reporting the facts? As I said on Sunday and many others echoed, Borrington did a very good job that he didn't have to do in keeping people updated on the game, especially at the end when it got quite exciting. What exactly do you expect him to say when Clare swings and misses? If he'd written that 'Clare winds up and plays a glorious, expansive drive, straight back to the bowler' I might take the point, but there are some among the Derbyshire 'support' who for their own perverse reasons try to stir it at each and every opportunity. When there is no issue, they try to manufacture it.

I'll tell you something. No matter how bad the team plays on occasion, I don't think they could ever embarrass me more than such outpourings, as they leave you and I tarred by association.

To think such people have the temerity to criticise young lads and honest professionals who are trying their best, then put that nonsense in the public domain.

Words, for once, fail me.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Derbyshire v Yorkshire day 1

Not much to say tonight really as its late and my club team got well and truly hammered against strong opposition.

As did Derbyshire, which was hardly a surprise. Whoever won the toss was going to bat under sunny skies, on a blameless pitch, with small boundaries and an outfield like glass. It was nigh-idyllic batting conditions and our seamers, especially Marks Turner and Footitt got a pasting.

In adversity, however, comes a small consolation with a long and very tidy spell by Peter Burgoyne on his first-class debut. On a turning track you want your spinner to cause problems. On one where batsmen  chuckle their way through the day, you can only hope for your spinners to keep it tight and give as little away as possible.

From that perspective, Burgoyne did very well today. It will be one of the longer spells of bowling in his career and he will be tired tonight, but the lad did a very good job today and can be proud of his first day in the senior first-class team.

Hopefully it remains that way through the time that we bat, While the Yorkshire attack is better, we have no reason to fear batting on this wicket and should make a decent fist of things.

We'll see, undoubtedly at some point tomorrow.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Derbyshire v Yorkshire preview

Hark! What is that sound, this summer eve?

Why, 'tis the sound of Peakfan, applauding the team selection for the Yorkshire game..

It is bold, largely dictated by the injury situation, but offers hope for the future and encouragement to the many young players of genuine talent approaching and going through our Academy. It is also, for those players earning selection, perhaps for the first time, fully deserved.

Ben Slater, as I have written times many over this summer, needed a run at the top of the order while he has been in such sparkling form. He worked hard in the winter in Zimbabwe, acquitted himself well on the pre-season tour and has rarely failed since. Limited opportunities at number six are neither here nor there and for me he should be told that he has a lengthy run at the top of the order now, to take the pressure off.

If he fails? Well, he's hardly following illustrious footsteps this summer and will be working hard to better his predecessors. He's a battler and that will always do me from an opener, while the experience can only be of benefit ahead of next year in division two. I totally support the use of remaining matches to gather experience for young players and leave us better placed for the next few campaigns.

The same goes for Peter Burgoyne. He and Slater added 293 last week in the seconds, so they deserve to play. You have to incentivise good performance, especially when the senior team has had such a rough trot. I will gladly applaud an encouraging twenty or thirty-odd from these lads over coming days as perhaps the first instalment of payback for the years of development. Be in no doubt, both can play.

Burgoyne followed his 150 (with sixteen fours and five sixes) last week with 3-13 in 12 overs and two catches. It was the latest in a series of eye-catching performances and I predict big things for a lad who has plenty of time on his side - he isn't twenty until November.

It is good to see Tom Knight back in the mix too. I like the lad. His action is good, his attitude since his first team debut has been first rate and he works hard at his game. To some young players, the signing of a similar bowler such as David Wainwright last year could have been seen as a barrier to development and something to sulk about. Yet Knight has worked hard, kept the weight off that he lost after his premature debut, improved his fielding and worked on his batting. He keeps getting wickets too and that's never a bad habit.

Then there's a real wildcard in Greg Cork. His Dad played a bit and at 18 my guess is that he is in the squad for experience tomorrow. Yet like Dominic there is a spark about the left-arm seamer, who hits the ball hard and scores good runs. He has genuine potential too and the key, as with the other youngsters, is how we develop such obvious young talent into a rounded county professional of genuine ability.

If you're not already, be aware that there are some other talented seam bowlers in the second team. Both Ben Cotton and John Marsden have the potential to become senior players at the club and both are earning good reviews with their ability with a new ball. I plan an article on the Seconds and the Academy in the near future which will highlight the excellent work going on there.

The squad tomorrow:

Hughes, Slater, Madsen, Durston, Redfern, Johnson, Burgoyne, Poynton, Clare, Cork, Groenewald, Footitt, Turner, Knight

Wes Durston has tweeted this evening that he is looking forward to playing tomorrow, which is good news. For what its worth, I would omit Redfern (on the basis of form), Cork (experience) and one of the seamers (balance) tomorrow and go in with two spinners. Youngsters, yes, but why not? Get them in there, get them bowling and feeding off one another and see what happens. 

Yorkshire are at full strength, apart from their England contingent and will offer tough opposition as befits their position in the table. Their squad is:

Moin Ashraf, Gary Ballance, Jack Brooks, Andrew Gale ©, Andrew Hodd (wk), Phil Jaques, Alex Lees, Adam Lyth, Steve Patterson, Liam Plunkett, Azeem Rafiq, Adil Rashid, Ryan Sidebottom

I don't expect a Derbyshire win, but I'll take a battling performance, encouraging personal efforts and a willingness to give youth its fully deserved head.

Keep behind them, my friends and enjoy the loveliest ground in cricket over the next few sun-drenched days.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Monday musings

"It means nothing, we lost the game" said Albie Morkel of his Man of the Match award yesterday.

He was right, of course. We should, as I said yesterday, have strolled that one and only needed someone to play the sort of innings that Steve Stubbings managed tonight for the Derbyshire XI. Fifty off thirty balls at the top of the order for Stubbo, the sort of innings that reinforces the opinion of a number of people that he was prematurely released by Derbyshire and still had much to offer.

We'd take a prime form Stubbings at the top of the order this season, as one thing he always did was sell his wicket dearly. He seems to be making a good fist of this coaching lark too, the Seconds playing some good cricket under his tutelage.

I know that defeats like yesterday hurt. They hurt me, even though I've far too many years of experiencing them for my health. Yet we must still, when the dust settles, take a reality check. Much as it would be good to have a batting line up like those names at Queens Park tonight, it takes time. It also takes money and the game has changed from Kim Barnett's era. Today, another county would come in and make an offer he couldn't refuse and it is unlikely that should another player of that quality emerge from our ranks that we would benefit from his services for long.

We were essentially short of two players yesterday - Chanderpaul and Durston - and struggled with the bat. Yorkshire had Root, Bresnan, Gale and Bairstow absent and still had enough in the tank to beat us. Such is the game of David v Goliath. It will take time for Derbyshire to establish a side and we will, almost certainly, perforce need to shop in the 'released elsewhere' market and hope that genuine first-class talent emerges from the Academy to compete against the big guns.

If we had one more batsman of genuine quality it would make a real difference. A seasoned county campaigner of reputation would probably cost you between £75 and £100K, a quality Kolpak a good deal more. I suspect that a few counties may look at the latter market next year, especially when the T20 is due to be played on Friday nights throughout the summer. There's not a snowball in hell's chance of either getting or affording a player for a two-three month period based on one day a week, but a decent Kolpak who could play through the season might be a different matter for some counties. Mind you 'decent' and 'Kolpak' don't always go hand in hand and since the market is essentially the West Indies and South Africa the options will be limited.

While South African cricket has great depth, their policy of selecting different teams for different formats keeps a lot more players in the international frame and away from inquisitive counties. I know that the signing of Billy Godleman and Richard Johnson hasn't met with universal acclaim, but they were available, affordable and perceived to be better than we had, at least by the people making the decisions. That's why we signed them.

At the end of the season, we will enter into a similar process. IF there are players who are deemed better than we have and who we are affordable I am sure we will be in the market, but don't expect wholesale changes, as suggested by one correspondent in his cups today, as most of our squad are under contract for at least another two years. It was right to do that last year, after a championship success where most of them had done very well. Some have struggled this summer, but it is realistic to expect them to re-emerge next year at a lower level and do well, vying for places in the side with an Academy graduate or two.

We will strengthen when the time, availability and price is right. More sell out crowds like at Derby and Chesterfield in the past week will do us no harm on that front and we will get there. Stick with it folks.

Winning a few close games, instead of falling short at the final hurdle, would help a little too.

Postscript: The McGrath Foundation side beat the Old Speckled Hen Derbyshire XI by 13 runs tonight, despite 'turn the clock back' knocks by Barnett and Rollins, besides Stubbings.

Doubtless good entertainment value for all concerned and I hope it has raised a lot of money. Well done to all concerned and I hope they are all liberal with the autographs afterwards!

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Derbyshire v Yorkshire T20

In years to come, Albie Morkel will look back on what was, even for a player with his credentials, a quite remarkable all-round performance and have but one question on his lips.

How the heck did I end up on the losing side?

Morkel took four wickets for just 25 runs in his four overs, then followed it up with an unbeaten 51 from just 31 balls, including 24 from the last over, yet failed to connect with the final ball that would have given us a remarkable tie. It highlighted what a very fine cricketer he is, but the match served to illustrate how much Derbyshire have still to do in order to consider themselves a semi-decent T20 side.

The bowling was excellent. Mark Turner again turned in a telling spell while Durston and Redfern bowled steadily. On a small ground with a fast outfield, 142 should have been comfortably within our range. Granted, we were missing Shivnarine Chanderpaul, which was hardly unexpected, while the loss of Wes Durston to injury was another blow from which we struggled to recover.

Yet we shot ourselves in the foot. As Hughie Green once said, opportunity knocks in most of these games and it is the better sides who grasp it and go on to win the game. We simply don't do it often enough and from a fan's perspective there were frustrations today.

Losing the skipper to poor running and what appears to have been attributed to Chesney Hughes switching off was a massive loss. The situation was made for Wayne Madsen, easily our best player of spin, to knock the ball around and breeze the total. We were 42-0 off seven when he went, with both batsmen at the same end but the team comfortably up with the rate. Then Chesney compounded the error by getting out himself next ball...

For me, Morkel should have come in at that point, but instead had to wait till the tenth over  to get in, after two batsmen out of form, Dan Redfern and Billy Godleman, had nudged the ball around, but no more than that. I know Morkel is a good finisher, but an extra couple of overs to get his eye in would have made such a difference.

In the remaining overs, Morkel only got 50% of the strike, when common sense suggested his partners should have knocked the ones and got him on to it more often. They are all decent players, but Godleman took 12 balls to score eight, Poynton 16 balls to score fifteen and Clare eight balls to score just three at the death. At one point Poynton had five dot balls in six faced, while in the penultimate over Clare failed to score from the last three balls. We cannot afford such torpidity in twenty-over cricket and must do much better at this facet of the game.That bowlers are canny at first-class level is undeniable, but knocking a single into space is a somewhat basic skill that we simply didn't utilise today.

It is increasingly apparent that we don't play spin at all well and for all we have had players go out to spin clinics in India, the ability to 'milk' them around in such matches still seems to be beyond our compass. Look back over the past two or three seasons scorecards and see what I mean. The advent of spin often sees our innings hit the skids, as poor shot selection and lack of footwork costs us dearly. Rafiq and Rashid are decent bowlers, but one got the impression today that they had been surreptitiously replaced by Bedi and Chandrasekhar...

Qualification isn't yet a missed opportunity, but three defeats after three wins have hit us hard, as have the injuries to Chanderpaul and Durston. There can be absolutely no blame attributed to the bowlers today for a job very well done, but the batsmen let us down. Period.

Top marks go to Albie Morkel though and I am sure those who saw it will remember that last over assault for some time. It is a shame that it didn't get us across the line though and this was most definitely a match we threw away. I just wonder if Morkel might be able to play in the 4-day game against Yorkshire, given that we are almost certainly going to be without Chanderpaul. There could be registration issues I suppose, but he would be a useful asset, for sure.

In closing tonight, a word about Paul Borrington's Twitter feed for the match, which was excellent. His comments were prompt and pertinent and it was good to get a professional's insight to the game. It was also nice  - and time to be constructively critical now - to get a series of Tweets that weren't at times rendered baffling by the remainder of a previous one tagged on at the end, where it has presumably been used as a template.

It speaks volumes for Borrington's attitude that he was prepared to do the job today. Just a pity he couldn't report on a win that was there for the taking.

Postscript - in an innings of 120 balls, and ignoring balls from which we lost wickets, we failed to score from FORTY balls today - one third of those bowled at us.

Derbyshire v Yorkshire T20 update

Sad news today that Jason Gillespie will not be with Yorkshire Carnegie at Chesterfield today after the passing of his father on Saturday.

Gillespie's parents were visiting the UK and staying with him in Leeds. He has been given compassionate leave. My condolences and those of Derbyshire fans go to him and his mother at a difficult time.

As for the Yorkshire squad, they lack a number of big names who are on international duty, while Andrew Gale is still recovering from injury, but have a decent looking squad, led by Azeem Rafiq, who many will recall from his loan period at Derbyshire a couple of seasons back.

That squad in full:

Gary Ballance, Jack Brooks, Andrew Hodd, Dan Hodgson, Phil Jaques, Adam Lyth, Liam Plunkett, Richard Pyrah, Azeem Rafiq, Adil Rashid, Joe Sayers, Ryan Sidebottom, Iain Wardlaw.

It will, as I wrote last night, be a tough game for our boys, but there is enough talent in the Derbyshire side to nick a win IF they play to potential.

More later

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Derbyshire v Yorkshire Preview

Big game with a 'big ask'  for Derbyshire tomorrow, with a win a massive prize for our boys, but one they look like needing to get without the services of Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

Shiv's injury seems to have been the dreaded hamstring and that could see him out for a week or two, depending on its severity. I would be very surprised to see him in the team tomorrow, or indeed for this week's championship game at least.

Winning without him will be tough and one assumes that one of our openers will need to play a major innings for us to do so.  The skipper will always knock it around sensibly, but he isn't a really explosive batsman and to take our score out of the range of Yorkshire's hitters, someone needs to be clearing the ropes a time or two.

There would not be a better time for Albie Morkel to unveil the big shots that have made him a feared T20 opponent. His bowling has been very tidy thus far and his influence considerable, but we really need an Albie special, maybe a fifty off thirty balls or somesuch, which would convince a few doubters and do his batting confidence the world of good.

As for the rest of the team, I share a few concerns regarding Jon Clare's role. He's a top player, but his greater strength is his bowling and he seems to be doing little of that, either through captain's choice or his fitness. If he is fit to bowl he should be in the team, but if not, I would prefer to see the greater batting ability of either Alex Hughes or Peter Burgoyne, both of who offer bowling options, in the side for tomorrow. I think three seamers - logically Morkel, Groenewald and Turner - will be enough and the rest can be split between the various spin options available to the skipper.

Yorkshire got a hammering against Durham and will be keen to return to winning ways. I hope I am wrong, but while the optimist in me considers a Derbyshire win, the realist sees their greater strength in depth and their more dynamic batting and thinks that this might be tough, especially without Chanderpaul.

I really, really hope I am wrong though.

More tomorrow, when we will either be celebrating a step closer to the quarter finals, or contemplating a tricky and nerve-wracking last few games.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Lancashire v Derbyshire T20

A game that looked eminently winnable at halfway through our innings slipped away tonight as Derbyshire fell from 97-2 after 12 to a defeat by 12 runs, while chasing a victory target of 166.

It had looked gettable but the game seemed to turn on the injury to Shivnarine Chanderpaul that caused him to need a runner. This ended with the foresaid runner, Wes Durston, being run out and effectively ending our chances.

A lot hinged on Albie Morkel at that point, but as well as the South African has bowled, his batting hasn't fired in our colours yet and when he holed out at long on the game appeared to be up.

The skipper batted well and took us closer than seemed likely, but the rate was rising and when Madsen was caught off a top edge, the game had gone.

It was a pity. Earlier we had bowled pretty well and the Lancashire innings grew on one big over off the bowling of David Wainwright, when Stephen Moore hit him many a mile. We never quite replicated the 23 that came off that over, despite Wes Durston batting well and leading us off in fine style. It was good to see Mark Turner back and bowling well, while Dan Redfern has become a more than useful weapon with the ball.

So Lancashire move a point ahead of us, but we still have the game in hand. That game at Chesterfield takes on additional importance on Sunday and the fitness of our talismanic West Indian would appear to be in doubt for that one.

More on that tomorrow. Mind you... Gordon Greenidge batted at his best on one leg...

I wonder?

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Durham v Derbyshire day 4/ Lancashire T20 preview

On a day that started with England leading Australia a merry dance, before getting an Agar-doing, Derbyshire subsided with barely a whimper today.

Yes Agar the 'orrible (at least in English eyes) became Agar the Magnificent and broke records at Trent Bridge with a wonderful display of clean hitting, but there was little prospect of that being replicated at the Riverside on a vastly different track. At least Tom Poynton gained some confidence with the bat that will stand him in good stead. After that, I'm struggling for positives.

We were well and truly hammered by Durham and that has been covered more than enough this week. The inquests will doubtless continue behind the scenes and one hopes for a positive response from the players next week at Chesterfield against Yorkshire.

More immediately, we turn our attention back to T20 tomorrow night at Old Trafford, where a repeat of our victory at the County Ground would do very nicely. The boys need to put this loss behind them, remember the way they have played T20 thus far (for the most part) and be well aware that a win tomorrow sees them in remarkably good shape as the group approaches the halfway stage.

The following squad has been announced:

Wes Durston, Chesney Hughes, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Wayne Madsen, Dan Redfern, Billy Godleman, Albie Morkel, Tom Poynton, Jonathan Clare, Peter Burgoyne, Tom Knight, David Wainwright, Mark Footitt, Mark Turner, Tim Groenewald

It is a tough team to call as the top six is unlikely to be changed from earlier games, but the attack will be dictated by the wicket. Lancashire often have slow tracks offering assistance to the spinners at home and I think that Peter Burgoyne or Tom Knight will play tomorrow alongside David Wainwright. Slow bowling has been a great success in T20 across the globe and I think we will play an extra one tomorrow, especially after Mark Footitt's expensive last two appearances. Clare, Groenewald and Morkel can handle that side of things and all offer more with the bat in what I expect to be a close encounter.

Simon Kerrigan should replace Stephen Parry for the home side, the latter having a broken arm while the former took seven wickets today. Lancashire will be desperate for revenge, especially as we have a game in hand on them and a point advantage in the group.

Old Trafford is a tough place to win, but there is enough one-day talent in the Derbyshire ranks, as we have seen, to be capable of doing so. No prediction from me though, as Krikk has to get their heads right after that Durham defeat.

If he does that, we'll win. If he doesn't...

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

From the Northamptonshire CCC website... Second XI update

"Northamptonshire will need a strong batting performance on the final day of their Second XI friendly against Derbyshire at Derby after being set a distant-looking 417 for victory.

The home side - who resumed on 50 without loss in their second innings - eventually declared on 407-4, thanks to a fourth-wicket stand of 293 between Ben Slater (153no) and Peter Burgoyne (150).

Trialist Usman Arif followed his four wickets on the opening day with 3-78 while Gavin Baker claimed the other wicket to fall.

First-innings century-maker James Kettleborough then departed for 25 before the close as the County closed on 44-1 - still needing a further 373 to win on Thursday."

Those lads Slater and Burgoyne sound useful players...

Reveal the legends...

If I think back to the better memories of over forty years of Derbyshire cricket watching, high on that list would be Kim Barnett (pictured) opening the batting and Devon Malcolm steaming in with the new ball.

Both earned their place in the Derbyshire cricket pantheon with some wonderful displays and for younger fans who never saw them - as well as older ones who would like to turn the clock back - there's another (the last?) chance to see them in action for the Old Speckled Hen Cricket Derbyshire side at Chesterfield next Monday, starting at 6pm.

Alongside them will be the likes of Steve Stubbings, Kevin Dean and Adrian Rollins, England women's wicket-keeper batsman Sarah Taylor and some West Indian bloke named Chanderpaul who you might have heard of...

Guesting for the side is Warwickshire all-rounder Darren Maddy, who recently announced he will retire at the end of the season. Against them will be the Glenn McGrath Foundation XI, that features such luminaries as McGrath, Jason Gillespie, Darren Gough and our own Chris Adams.

Some seriously stellar players in that little lot and, with the Derbyshire side skippered by Barnett, it promises to be an evening of unrivalled nostalgia in a very good cause. Proceeds go to the McGrath Foundation, set up by the great Australian cricketer after the early death of his wife, Jane, in 2008.

Players and supporters will don pink themed clothing to increase breast cancer awareness in young women, to support the UK Breast Cancer Care charity and to boost the McGrath Foundation’s excellent work in Australia.

A percentage of funds raised will also go to the Cricket Derbyshire Community Foundation; a new charity established to deliver cricket based sport, education and health projects to benefit the people of Derbyshire. 
 The game is 20-overs per side and the game starts at 6pm. Tickets are priced £15 for adults, £5 for juniors and children under 5 are free.

Adult tickets on the day are £20 or £15 for a card holding member of Derbyshire County Cricket Club; £5 for juniors and children under 5 are free.

Car Parking is priced at £4 in advance; £5 on the day. Please note the match is not included in Derbyshire CCC 2013 Membership.

Purchase match tickets, make donations or enter the draw for a brand new Suzuki Alto courtesy of Match Sponsors Autoworld Suzuki online at or by calling the tickets hotline on 01332 388 101.
Turning Chesterfield Pink at the Hill Dickinson Chesterfield Festival of Cricket is in association with: the McGrath Foundation, Autoworld Suzuki,, Old Speckled Hen, Chesterfield Borough Council, Breast Cancer Care and the newly-launched Cricket Derbyshire Community Foundation.

For further information contact Tom Holdcroft on 01332 388 125, 07768 552 667 or

Should be a memorable night. Get yourselves along there and make some memories! Kim Barnett and Devon county legends...

Durham v Derbyshire day 3

Back in the 60's, when I was a little whippersnapper, I used to watch Batman on TV.

It was a load of hokum, as each week Batman and Robin got out of situations of unimaginable peril with ever more bizarre gadgets, such as anti-blast powder, that rendered them immune to explosions. Realistic it wasn't, but each episode there were recurring scene links that somewhat repetitively said "Meanwhile...back in Gotham City/the Mayor's Office/the Batcave"....

So, at the risk of being accused of plagiarism (at least I cite my sources...) meanwhile, back at the County Ground today, Ben Slater and Peter Burgoyne added 300 against Northamptonshire, each making well over a hundred.

Acknowledging that it was against a second team attack (albeit one with decent first team experience) there is no justification whatsoever for omitting them from our next championship match, against Yorkshire at Chesterfield on July 17.

Indeed, in my opinion, given that we will be relegated this summer, we should now give both lads an extended run in the side to assess their mettle for the future. They've earned the right, with good displays at club and second team level. I totally acknowledge there will be a jump in class, that they may be found out, that they may not be up to it - but then again, they might just make a fist of things.

Our batting averages make worrying reading. Outside the skipper, Chanderpaul and Hughes, no one has yet, in mid-July got 250 championship runs. I love Wes Durston as a cricketer, but the reality is he averages 18 this summer. Dan Redfern averages 15. On the bowling side, David Wainwright has eight wickets at 75. Why not, at this stage see what some of our lads might do?

I feel for Richard Johnson tonight. He has been elevated to opener, far from experienced in the role and has failed twice. Then he sees Tom Poynton make a good fist of what was his role at seven and get an unbeaten 50. Does that mean he will be out of the team? I don't know the answer to that one, but it's a tough man management decision for Krikken in the next few days.

So how about this side for Yorkshire at Chesterfield?

Hughes (C)
Hughes (A)

Maybe a step too far, but with all these lads in good form there's no better time to play them. Whether the rationale for playing the current players is mental toughness, experience or whatever, I'd throw caution to the wind and give the young ones their head. So we lose? Hey, that's happening anyway. People will at least be more understanding.

We're going down. Let's do so and learn a few things in the process.

Postscript - sorry guys, one idiot has meant that I'm now moderating comments prior to publication. 99.9% will still go through, but I won't have anyone make a mockery of this site with petty, vindictive comments. I am back at work tomorrow but will ensure that all comments made each day are posted on the site as soon as I am able to do so.

Circling wolves...

Remember last summer, the one of sweetness and light, where we led the table for most of it (a division below, lest we forget...) and emerged as champion county?

It would appear that a few supporters have forgotten it, so treat the above as an aide memoire if you will. This summer hasn't been easy for any of us, but the reasons have been well enough covered in many previous posts and comments.

Last night I deleted a post from 'Anon'  - it's always 'Anon' - who said that we should dispense with the services of the coach and find a new captain. It's a free country and everyone is entitled to an opinion, but some make less sense than others and are not expressed in a manner that is 'user friendly'.

For the benefit of the above 'supporter', changing coach mid-season has no merit in my opinion and, while Karl Krikken has made decisions that some of us see as mistakes this summer, that's par for the course with sport. Every Saturday afternoon there are 20,000 better managers of Derby County than Nigel Clough, most of them wise after the event. None of them, like us, are privy to the innermost secrets of the club and why player X cannot play for a personal reason, or player Y has a crisis of confidence. It happens and I recall a lengthy chat I had with a head of cricket from another county a few seasons back, when he told me that some of the decisions he had to make regarding the team selection sometimes had nothing to do with cricket.

As supporters, irrespective of results, we need to stay behind the club. We are currently in a decent position in T20 and, as has been said times many, the reality is that last year's promotion came too soon for a young squad. Krikken, Grant and others need time to develop a side or squad, either with the addition of players from within or outside the club. It will be as obvious to them as it is to us where the shortcomings are, but these will need addressed in the close season.

That will be, of course, as finances permit. We're not going to go and sign three £100K players, two of them openers, to change things around, as we haven't got the money. We do need to use the cash that we have sensibly and I am sure that lessons will continue to be learned in this respect. Yet you can only sign players who are available, are not looking for a king's ransom and are not awash with offers. Those three criteria will continue to affect our hunt for team improvements, as unlike a few other counties we cannot simply tell a player and his agent to name the price.

As for replacing Madsen as skipper - why? It is easy to captain a good team. I don't really accept that Clive Lloyd, for example, was a great skipper. He had a great record, but look at the players he had! In the field he had only to bowl Holding and Garner for six each, then replace with Marshall and Roberts, allowing one of the latter to bowl a longer spell to bring back one of the openers. Repeat until you win...

Wayne Madsen doesn't have that luxury. He is captain of a misfiring batting line up, but has led by example, while his bowlers have largely proved less effective at a higher level. When the wickets are conducive to their talents, the batting has struggled to cope. He is on a hiding to nothing, yet has maintained a dignity and composure that has been as striking as his own form. When I was in Edinburgh, a couple of people told me how impressed they had been with him, especially in his conduct and attitude. I can think of no one better to be skipper for some time to come, especially as experience improves captaincy beyond measure.

I am sure that Derbyshire will want to have a succession policy in place for the point, hopefully in the distant future, at which Madsen decides he has had enough, but there is no one in the current set up who could do a better job.

Ride out the storm people. It's been no more fun for me than anyone else this summer, but there have been many darker days than these and it is important to keep a sense of perspective.

In closing - and for the benefit of 'Anon' - I don't set myself up as Derbyshire's biggest fan. I'm just a bloke who writes a blog about the team he supports. Saying 'I'm a bigger fan than you' is akin to 'My Dad is bigger than yours' or comparing anatomical size.

Somewhat pointless, at the end of the day.