Tuesday, 20 August 2013
Derbyshire v Middlesex day 1 - Magnificent Madsen.
He is, without a doubt, an outstanding cricketer and once again today we were indebted to his technique, his powers of concentration and his consummate skill in getting us to a position where winning may not necessarily be a pipe dream.
In making his third century of the season, to go with seven half-centuries, he became the first man to reach a thousand championship runs this summer. I suspect that the latter feat is a 'first' for Derbyshire, although I have not yet seen that verified by a greater statistician than I. Given that for many years we struggled to find batsmen who could limp past a thousand runs, it is unlikely that his feat has ever been done before, not even by such luminaries as Barnett, Kirsten or Wright. I am sure that David Baggett, the club's long-time statistician, would easily be able to verify that one.
Some people can't handle the additional pressures of captaincy and prefer to concentrate on their game, but Madsen seems to have thrived on it. His form fluctuated a little last year for understandable reasons, but he still produced some telling innings when they were most needed . This summer, as if aware that his team mates needed a lead, he has had the most golden campaign imaginable. If he can keep it going to the end of the summer, anything really could be possible.
He will need support though and today he got it to varying degrees. Ben Slater again impressed and is surely playing himself into a full contract for next summer. A second successive championship fifty was reward for a gritty effort that gave us the sort of start we badly needed. Shiv Chanderpaul failed and saw his average fall below forty as a consequence, but Richard Johnson gave good support in an innings that promised much but again fell short of the mark at which a point would have been made. That he can bat is beyond doubt, but to confirm his place in the middle order as a specialist batsman he needs to go past attractive thirties and forties to something more significant.
Of course, his immediate goal is probably to reclaim the gloves from Tom Poynton, who failed with the bat today but has kept so well in recent weeks that is not immediately crucial. He will need to keep at the top of his game though and to that effect Johnson's presence is of particular merit.
Alex Hughes also appeared to bat well, before perhaps getting overly ambitious against the second new ball, but his talent is obvious. So too is that of Peter Burgoyne, who saw it through to the close with his skipper and carries the promise of further runs on the second day. Interestingly, Burgoyne is the only Derbyshire batsman above Madsen in the averages this summer, albeit from over nine hundred fewer runs, but only the churlish would deny a precocious talent, one that at 19 has massive potential.
Where does it leave the game? Laudably, Krikk went with the youngsters who did so well in Sussex, so Groenewald, Higginbottom and Footitt will make up our seam attack. Alex Hughes will offer an interesting variant, with the spin in the hands of Burgoyne and, presumably, the skipper. I was slightly concerned when I saw Rayner and Voges taking wickets on the first day, but unless the pitch has been totally misread we must assume that spin is not expected to play a major part on the final day, especially with Durston omitted alongside Wainwright and Knight.
Mind you, in his current form, Madsen will probably take five wickets...
In closing tonight, it was good to see Chris Grant tweeting today about Madsen's potential with regard to an England Lions call up. He was absolutely correct in his assertion that the media would be pushing for it if he played elsewhere.
But they can't deny him for long. He is in the most wonderful form and is now a player of undeniable class. Such a call up cannot be far away and aside from the obvious moaners about his South African background, there is no logical argument that would exclude him from selection in the near future.
Great effort skipper. Take us to 350 tomorrow and it would set the game up very nicely.