"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!