Saturday, 14 September 2013

Derbyshire v Durham day 4

In the time that it took me to drive from my parents house to Scotch Corner today, Derbyshire were blown away by a Durham side that look like deserved champions. They have a fine seam attack - the best in the country by some distance - a solid batting line-up and a fine fielding side. They don't have an overseas player either, so good luck to them in showing other counties how it can be done.

Yes, it was disappointing to be bowled out so quickly, but I feared the worst when I saw how Tony Palladino was taking wickets in the morning. Onions in particular looked set to be a handful and so it transpired. If he isn't on the plane to Australia it will be a major error, as he is a bowler of the very highest class and simply ripped through our inexperienced batting line-up.

It was a return to the fallibility of early season, but at least with mitigating factors. It also clearly illustrated that our recent form, laudable and impressive as it has been, has papered over some cracks in a side that needs an overhaul before next summer. Perhaps the players were aware of events at Taunton, where the home side's impending win was making our situation increasingly parlous.

It is patently obvious that we need another batsman of experience in the side, at either five or six. The Wes Durston of last season was ideal for the role, but he has some work to do over the winter months to restore technique and confidence. Other personnel may be required too, depending on departures over the coming weeks and months, but supporters need to be realistic.

A cursory glance at the Forum since my return has seen a sadly typical knee-jerk reaction. I can understand frustration, but to suggest, for example, that there was no investment in the squad last winter is so incorrect as to be laughable. Between new players and improved contracts, over £200K went on to the playing budget, but top players cost around £100K, with no guarantee of success - isn't that right Surrey?

Of course we need to strengthen, but until we know where we will be playing, it is a guessing game as to how. Most clubs have yet to announce their retained lists, but with finances tight, there will be players of the right quality and price on the market. Fans should remember, however, that the club could lose sponsorship, membership or marketing income if we are relegated and will perforce need to cut their cloth accordingly. Equally, any strengthening will need to be done carefully, so as not to block off the route to a senior role of one of our better young players. The signing of David Wainwright, for example, won us promotion last year, but has done little for the career progression of Tom Knight.

There's time for all that at season-end. We're sixteen points behind Somerset now, so need something special from our last game against Warwickshire, while Nottinghamshire do us a favour (please). Cue a result pitch at Derby...

It will be tough though. A result pitch will probably see three batting points the summit of our ambitions (or two runs short of it, if I turn cynical for a moment) and a win therefore bringing us a maximum of 22 points were we to manage it.

Can Nottinghamshire keep Somerset six bonus points or less? Three for bowling, under 300 when they bat? Can we beat Warwickshire? All will be revealed this week. Meantime I must change the music in the car. Believe by Cher, You Sexy Thing (I believe in miracles...) by Hot Chocolate...maybe Always Look on the Bright Side of Life by the Pythons.

Its a long shot, but it is still a chance, going into the last game. Keep behind them and let's save the rest until the fat lady has had a last little warble.


Gary said...

60 all out is more than disappointing Peakfan in what was our 'Cup Final'. The first couple of innings showed there were no demons is the pitch and Durham lost their last few wickets this morning going for quick runs to get a lead. The three points that were obviously within our grasp at the start of the day and the few bonus points lost by a couple of runs/wickets in the last 2 games may be crucial. Maybe that is the difference between a Div 1 and Div 2 side? However looking back I still fear the defeat to Surrey was the crucial moment of the season.

Peakfan said...

Yes theres been points in most games where chances were missed and Surrey was the one that got away. Sixteen points there and...

Marc said...

It was a very poor second innings,there is no doubt about that. Rushworth and Onions are good bowlers,no doubt about that either but it seems the pitch didn,t have an awful lot to do with it,just bad batting.

We have had problems bowling sides out in a number of games but the bigger problem has been inconsistent batting and a general failure to reach 300 anywhere near often enough. There may be some argument we were a little unlucky early season,having to bat first in all games,but frankly it hasn,t made much difference when we,ve batted. In fact some of our worst performances have been reserved for our second innings (and the third of the match) when pitches have been largely blameless.

It really will be miraculous if we stay up from this position. We need absolutely everything to go in our favour which I don,t think is very likely to happen.

Anonymous said...

I questioned what Durham's approach yesterday was meant to achieve as it seemed to be going nowhere unless they hoped to get a small lead and then bowl us out quickly. It turned out they understood the psychological make-up of this Derbyshire side better than we (or I suspect the team's leadership)do.

The warning signs were there from the first over, as Derbyshire lacked intensity in the field, and they looked like a side prepared for a dull final day in a rain-ruined match where the captains haven't been able to agree on declarations and with only bonus points at stake. Apart from the challenge posed by Palladino, the only real events in the first hour were Tom Knight being woken up at slip when a simple catch hit him in the stomach (another bonus point dropped) and two of the doziest pieces of running imaginable by Durham. I don't know if Gary was there, but it didn't strike me that Durham were going for quick runs, as there was no particular urgency from them even to get to their third bonus point.

What followed was pure horror show. Onions and Rushworth bowled well, and odd balls misbehaved, but this was mostly our own doing. I'll be interested to see what it looks like tomorrow on video, but I'd say that six or seven of our wickets were due to shocking shot selection.

It's not the first time we've collapsed horribly in our second innings on the last day in a game that seemed to be going nowhere - Somerset at Derby when we went from 36-2 overnight to 94 all out, and Yorkshire, where we were bowled out for 163 in a game that was set for an obvious high scoring draw.

Someone on FF talks tonight about the soft underbelly of our batting, but I think the real issue is the soft underbelly of Derbyshire's leadership. Three times this season, we've switched off on the last day and lost games that should have been nailed-on draws. 9 points lost (and 13 gifted to Somerset). The omission of Palladino against Surrey cost another 16 points. Better thinking might have got an extra batting point in each of the last two games, and if Knight had been on his toes this morning, we'd have had another bowling point.

If all of this had happened. we'd have been 5th on 148 points, 25 points ahead of Somerset in 8th place, and with our only question whether we might sneak 4th place from Sussex.

Yes, of course it's all "ifs" but what ties all of these "ifs" together is management rather than player failures. The selection mistake at the Oval can't be argued, but it seems to me that if a team sleepwalks into the same mistakes time and again, its leadership has to be questioned as much as the ability or professionalism of its players. We know there are weaknesses in the team - the fact that if we survive now against the odds, there are no more than 4 or 5 players who we know for certain belong in Division 1 says as much - but poor selection and preparation has been the critical difference.

It's notoveryet, but it's very hard to imagine that we can win a match and take enough bonus points while Somerset lose and take few enough bonus points. However, what about this as a scenario? Durham wipe out a Notts side later this week that is focused on the YB40 final and takes only a couple of bowling points, Somerset thrash a Notts side hungover from victory (or defeat) in the YB40 final which takes only a couple of points, and we beat Warwickshire.

I'll dream on this one for the next couple of days, but I know what will occupy my waking thoughts is that we didn't need to be here.


Peakfan said...

Think you're a little unfair to Knight there, Notoveryet. He dropped a catch, wasn't woken up, and didn't do it on purpose. As you will know if you've played the game, sometimes you hold blinders - as the lad did the previous day - then drop a straightforward one. I've done it and anyone who plays the game does so.
Of course, it doesn't help, but was no more deliberate than Footitt getting out twice with two needed to the bonus point. Thems the breaks and they don't go with you sometimes.
We regroup, we carry on and we hope for a long-odds turn of events.