Forgive the alliterative nature of the header, which came to me this afternoon while following online the action in the sensational final day's play in the fourth Test at The Riverside.
I've been critical at times of some of the Derbyshire support and the comments made in the aftermath of defeats, yet some of the stuff being spouted by people as Australia's score inched towards the target set by England today was extraordinary.
I always said Cook wasn't a captain. Broad doesn't look a Test bowler. Swann isn't the player he was. They're not as good a side as they've been made out to be. These and more hit the internet from people who, one assumes, have a modicum of knowledge about the game. How silly to make such statements about outstanding cricketers in the best England team in many years. How silly did these people look later in the day when the expected happened - Australia collapsed like a pack of cards.
Don't get me wrong. I think Cook a decent, rather than fine captain and as I've said before, the captaincy 'gig' is a lot easier when you have the bowlers that he has at his disposal. A top captain makes things happen and will try something different - he's proactive rather than reactive. Someone like Eddie Barlow would have tried Joe Root or Kevin Pietersen today to change it around. Mind you, Eddie would have bowled himself and the job would have been sorted in jig time...
The Aussies were never going to make those runs and there were enough lucky moments, even when Rogers and Warner were going well, to reassure me that all would turn out well. I said so to work mates and so it transpired. The major problem they have is that they have little collective experience of English tracks that move around and it was no surprise that Chris Rogers has looked as good as they have, as his long experience of our conditions has served him well.
Usman Khawaja is a good player but looks short of this level, while Steve Smith is an improving player who really needs to complete his cricket education with a season here, foregoing the IPL where he earns good money but picks up bad habits. When the Aussies ruled cricket, people like Langer, Hayden, the Waugh brothers, Martyn, Hussey et al had solid county experience behind them. They don't have that now and, realistically, won't get it again in a hurry. Why would Smith forsake £100K for six weeks in the IPL for much less in the county game and over a longer period?
Anyway, back to the county circuit and we're at Old Trafford tomorrow. Yesterday was kind of strange, as we batted really well, but realistically you should be able to defend 290 in 40 overs. There's been criticism of Mark Footitt in different places, but we all know what you get with Mark. On his day he can be dynamite and rip through teams, but when its not he's hittable, as line and length go out the window. At 28 I don't know if that will change, so you have to take the rough with the smooth, as you do with Mark Turner.
'We shouldn't play them' is the cry from some, but they are at least fit. Palladino and Clare aren't, while Higginbottom would be a one-day gamble as his propensity to the bad ball an over is known. Ali Evans could have been worth a try, but there's nowt else there. It makes you value all the more the efforts of Tim Groenewald, who has stepped up to the plate once again and been the Mr Consistent of the side, both in performance and appearance. He is, quite simply, an excellent professional.
I expect another defeat at Old Trafford, unless it's a raging bunsen of a track, but I'll settle for encouraging performance. The recent efforts of Paul Borrington and Ben Slater have made me think carefully about our winter recruitment needs and I'm of the opinion that at least one of these lads could become established next summer. It's nice to read others acknowledging what I have said for some time about Borrington's technique and now he is developing the strength to hit the ropes, he is an improved player. Slater is another slight player who will get better in the next few years, if Krikk offers him a permanent deal.
Some might like to see another seamer come in, but we need to be careful and not block the progress of young talent. I don't know how close the likes of Cotton, Taylor, Cork and Marsden are to senior cricket, but at 18, 19, 20 they must be close. I'd hate for their development to be stymied by the signing of a bowler from elsewhere though, such as happened with Tom Knight.
I totally understand why we signed David Wainwright and fully acknowledge the role he played in our success last summer. I understand why we signed him too, with Knight away at the time with England Under 19s. Yet Tom has barely featured for two summers and I feel for the lad. He's seen Peter Burgoyne leapfrog him and despite thirteen wickets at 15 and a batting average of 37 this summer (something he has really worked at) he's had barely a sniff of senior action.
For next season I'd like to see us offer opportunity and encouragement to young talent and sign an experienced batsman and an all-rounder. I know no more than you the available players, nor our budget at this stage, but I will tell you a player I would like to see at Derbyshire.
If I was White, I'd be looking at this as a lost season. He's a very good cricketer who can take wickets and score good runs but has barely featured for Lancashire this summer. He has, to my knowledge, two years left on a contract and at 28 needs second team cricket like I need flower arranging classes. I'd love to see him seek a similar release to that pursued by Ross Whiteley, because I think he would be perfect for Derbyshire, batting six or seven. He averages 70 with the bat and 14 with the ball in Lancashire's second team this summer and is way too good to be wasting his talent at that level. The highlight of his summer has been his efforts for Swarkestone in the Derbyshire Premier League, where he has done as well as a player of his ability would be expected to do.
It would be great to welcome Wayne home to Derbyshire in the near future.
Next season would do me very nicely.