Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Durham v Derbyshire day 2

Ouch. That hurt...

Even optimistic old Peakfan can see no way back from the position we find ourselves in at the end of day two, 348 behind, eight wickets in hand for our opponents, a favourable weather forecast and one of the country's top seamers due back tomorrow to help the Durham cause. To be brutally honest, he is unlikely to be needed on the basis of today's play. We will be chasing over 500 and there's more chance of my winning Miss World than our getting those runs...

It was swinging a bit today, but not enough for our batting to capitulate as it did. When your highest score is 18 and the opposition then rack up 208-2, you have problems. As an Essex fan points out below last night's post, we cannot lose sight of the fact that we over-achieved last season, that we went up too soon and that we should try and remember these positives in adversity. I always try to do that - hey, most of what we do are positives to Essex fans - but I also try to point out where I feel things could be improved from a fan's perspective. It is patently obvious that Karl Krikken has been hamstrung this summer with more injuries than we had last year, by players who look to be short of the very top standard and by chronic (in some cases) loss of form.

As sure as God made little apples we will be back in division two next year and for me the work to make our next campaign an improvement should be starting now. While I fully accept that there may be things that I and other fans are unaware of, most fans have a grasp of the game to some extent and there are two major questions on everyone's lips at the moment.

Why is it that we have three specialist opening batsmen in the club, yet none are in the first team? I fully accept that Billy Godleman had a lengthy run and was found wanting, but Ben Slater should have opened here, if only so we could see how good he is, or isn't. We've read in the last couple of seasons that players should score runs in the seconds and force their way into the side as a consequence. Slater has done that in spades, yet cannot get a game in his preferred position as opener at a time when there's little or no competition. It's odd, to say the least. Is he worth a full-time contract next summer? How do you know, if you don't give him at least the opportunity at a higher level than he will face next year?

Then we pick two wicket-keepers, telling Richard Johnson, who has done a competent job in the middle order, that he is now an opening bat. That's akin to telling Dan Redfern he's the new Curtley Ambrose. I'm sorry, but the move makes no sense, to me or most other supporters.  We've not only lost his middle order contribution, but have gained nothing at the top. Johnson has a good technique, but he's not Sunil Gavaskar, nor does his career average suggest that to be the case.

I'm not and never have been a county cricketer, but I have played at a decent level and coached young players. I know I've said this before, but the occasion demands I do so again - opening the batting is a specialist role that only a handful of players are equipped technically and psychologically to do. Maybe Johnson will score 150 in the second innings, but I don't expect it. He is a good cricketer, but I will be surprised if he makes it as an opening batsman. It's a tough gig and while some don't want to do it, others simply can't, for various reasons.

What happens if he fails? Does he regain the gloves, as he was deemed first choice before this match, or does Tom Poynton get them, if not by default then perhaps not in the way that he would prefer? Poynton is a very good wicket-keeper, but like a few of his team mates has struggled for runs this summer. He is young enough and good enough to come again, but I don't think the move we made in this match has helped either lad especially.

Tony Palladino's injury didn't help the team selection, nor did Ally Evans Scotland duties. I can only assume that Mark Turner is injured, as Jon Clare didn't look fit in the T20s and doesn't seem to be at his peak here. Like a few others, I can't help but think that Burgoyne or Alex Hughes might have offered more in the middle order, even if it meant the skipper moving up to open or Durston doing so, as he's done in the one-dayers.

It's been a mess. I'm sorry to write that, as I have a lot of time for Karl Krikken as a coach and as a man. He is well-qualified, extremely affable, has been a magnificent servant to the club and will hopefully be with us for some considerable time to come. He has had issues with too many players regarding form and fitness this summer and his selectorial role has been like that of a juggler, trying to do so with one hand often tied behind his back.

In this game, however, the juggler's ball has been replaced, presumably through his choice, by a lit candle and we've made mistakes that, as a side, we can ill-afford in our current situation. We all make mistakes in life and the secret is in learning from them. I hope we learn from this one - and quickly.

At least that's my opinion. Over to you....


Mark said...

I honestly think we've thrown the towel in Peakfan, in the championship that is. Krikken and Houghton know we're down and are putting stupid experiments together, like you say playing two wicket keepers in the same side and getting one to open. Maybe Shiv will bat at number 11 and open the bowling in the next championship game. Who knows with Krikken and Houghton.

Peakfan said...

To be fair Mark, the two guys you name won us a trophy last summer!

As I said in the blog, they're hamstrung by injury and form but haven't helped themselves in this game. We all mistakes though and must keep that in mind.

Your suggestion does seem a tad over the top though lad...Shiv was never that fast!

Peakfan said...

Sorry 'Anon' - if you're not big enough to make such assertions and put a name to your comments, I certainly am big enough to delete it.

Please keep in mind that this site SUPPORTS Derbyshire cricket. It will comment - sometimes critically - when things go wrong but will never lead a witch hunt against people who work very hard in its cause.

Paul said...

Hi Peakfan I am a regular reader of your blog which I must congratulate you on for being informative and topical. However I am a little confused?...

Yesterday I read comments from a contributor which you later admitted you had deleted for various reasons including personal criticism of individuals.

Personally I am struggling to see the difference between those comments yesterday and your criticism of KK above albeit you have perhaps selected your words more carefully. The bottom line is both of you were critical.

I have followed DCCC 40 years and played cricket to reasonable standard.

I share many of your concerns above but cannot agree re Slater.

Agreed he has not had many opportunities yet but when he has played he has looked seriously out of his depth. Until he has scored runs at 6 there is no way he can even be considered to open. He may open for the seconds and Chesterfield but there is a world of difference between that and County cricket especially div 1. if he cannot score at 6 when the bowlers are tiring and the ball is old how can he possibly succeed against the new ball and fresh fast test standard bowlers?
Like Joe Root for England he needs to prove himself at 6 ( if he can) and then be considered to open .

The Johnson situation is a mess. At the end of last season Poynton finally seemed to prove himself as a wicket keeper batsmen. So what does KK do? Bring in another keeper of similar keeping standard and possibly better batting but using up vital cash on a far from essential need. We then start with Poynton presumably through nothing more than loyalty. Poynton has now lost confidence totally and gets dropped. But wait a minute along comes The one competition we can still do well in so we drop Johnson and bat Poynton at 7 who by now can't even hit the ball off the square!

At the moment the coach is struggling against the tide with injuries to key players and loss of form/players not good enough. However I don't think he is helping himself.

Against Somerset on the final day Somerset needed 145 to win so a tight start with early wickets before lunch was essential. Tim and Dino had each taken 5 in first innings so we give new ball to Footit who bowls short and gets carted everywhere! 30-0 at lunch off 6! By the time Tim is on the batsmen are set and game is over. I realise Madsen may have had input as well but surely between them they should have had Dino and Tim on first. Even the Somerset fans thought this.

Overall KK seems muddled in te selection and tactics and I certainly hold him far more responsible than Madsen.

I guess come the end of the season when we are relegated CG needs to make some tough decisions. KK has had one good season and one bad. I hope KK can survive as he is a good DCCC man but is he strong enough And tactically aware enough. CG who I fully support will decide.

Incidentally Peakfan you were right at the start of the season when you predicted that we would surprise a lot of people! Trouble is not many thought we would be this bad!


Peakfan said...

Fair comments Paul but we'll disagree on Slater. Very few openers start down the order to earn their spurs and the right to open. You either do it or don't.
Maybe, as you say, he's been overawed, but a few have had that problem in the current side. I maintain he'd settle easier in a familiar environment and role.
If he didn't? Then we'd at least know, rather than suffer a potentially galling alternative of him making it elsewhere, having had no opportunity.

Anonymous said...

Unless you saw it I feel you can't really comment .Today we were appalling.We played some poor shots Again.It was a shame there was a lot of travelling support .Today was a day when I had the stuffing knocked out of me.The pitch looks a belter
Donny Scorpion

Marc said...

That was a shocker. The fact Durham scored more than twice the number of runs we managed in our first innings and have done even better on the same pitch and the same day in their second innings points to major problems within our squad.

This game will end with a comprehensive thrashing and has also removed any lingering doubts that batting first has in any way harmed our chances. For me,this was never an argument that was anything other than a smokescreen,even early on in the season.

I agree with many of Paul,s sentiments,but not concerning Slater. We must give him a chance to open the batting. As Peakfan says,we don,t know how he will perform there unless he gets the opportunity. Maybe he will prove little or no better than most of the others who have been handed the role over the last couple of seasons,but that judgement cannot be made until he has been given a reasonable chance.

How much longer this game will last depends largely on how long Durham keep us in the field. They already have double the amount of runs they need,so it boils down to how much more batting practice they think they need.

Peakfan said...

Anon...as I said yesterday, I am happy to take your comments as anyone else's, but please do not be personal, start a witch hunt or be petty. I will address your comments today but when you put a name to them they will appear on here like those of everyone else.