The news, as revealed in the Daily Telegraph on Friday, that Dan Redfern has been given permission to talk to other counties confirms what a few people have suspected for a while.
For whatever reason, the club has decided that a parting of the ways is the best for the best and the player's lack of form in the season just finished suggested that he was neither at the peak of his form nor especially in the right frame of mind. Dismissals tended to be of a similar nature and indicative of a player who was not entirely 'there' from a mental attitude perspective.
As notoveryet points out below a previous post, ill-judged Twitter comments have done him few favours but will not be the reason behind the split and one can only hope for cricket's sake that he gets his career back on track elsewhere. Last season he looked to be a player who had come to terms with his game, but this year, in a similar manner to Ross Whiteley, it has all gone pear-shaped, with form elusive. It has been frustrating to be only able to report on useful bowling spells, for a player who has so much natural talent as a batsman.
Natural talent will only get you so far in any sport though and I hope that Redfern finds an environment in which he can flourish. My guess is that he may end up with Ross Whiteley at Worcestershire, given that the pair share the same agent in the former county stalwart Phil Weston.We'll see. It is sad when the time and money invested in people comes to naught, but there is no point in keeping unhappy players and the club will go on.
His likely departure brings greater opportunities for others, which is the crux of today's piece.
I don't see us signing more than a couple of players, perhaps three, in the winter, as I don't think we need to. For me, it is crucial - and especially given the well-known limitations on the playing budget - that we encourage our own talent and afford them opportunity. At this stage, a first choice Derbyshire side next summer would look like this:
There are a number of question marks. Will Chesney Hughes drop to his preferred middle order - hence appearing twice in the above list? Can Borrington or Slater, or both, become established county openers? Will the likes of Peter Burgoyne, Alex Hughes and Tom Knight step forward? Will Richard Johnson wrest the gloves from Tom Poynton, or emerge as a genuine middle order batsman?
I don't think we need any seamers, as we're unlikely to get better than we already have. If Jon Clare rediscovered form and fitness he would fill a position at number seven quite nicely. We don't yet know if Matt Higginbottom will be offered a deal, but with him and Mark Turner in reserve, plus the likes of Tommy Taylor, Ben Cotton, Greg Cork and Johnny Marsden coming through, we don't need to look elsewhere. These lads are coming to an age where we need to give them a try and know what they are capable of.
The same goes for spin. Wainwright, Knight, Burgoyne and Durston cover those bases pretty well and I'd hope that Chesney might be fit to bowl next year. I doubt we need to augment those resources, unless with someone who offers that as a second string to their bow.
So it is on batsmen where available resources should go. Next year is big for Paul Borrington, the final year of his contract and he needs to deliver and be given the opportunity to do so. I think he is further on in his development than Ben Slater but we need another player of experience who can open alongside one of them. The same goes for Alex Hughes and Peter Burgoyne - they have immense potential, but only time will tell if they are ready for day in, day out cricket at top level and we need an option if they need to be pulled from the firing line, or allow them more time to hone their techniques in a more forgiving environment.
A middle order batsman, or all-rounder then. The loss of Ross Whiteley affected the side's balance, but we have enough bits and pieces bowlers to give the main guys a rest. I'd be quite happy with that, if we can pick up the right players within the given budgetary constraints.
One thing to keep in mind. I don't think it will be too long before we see Shiv Chanderpaul announce his international retirement. He may go on for a little while, but I have a feeling that the politics of West Indian cricket - something that rears its head constantly in their game - will dictate that Brian Lara remains as their all-time top scorer before Shiv gets an opportunity to overtake him. He's around a thousand short at present, but Lara is a near-deity in the Caribbean, the Cavalier to Chanderpaul's Roundhead. I might be wrong, but watch this space...
If Shiv did retire from the international game, he could then play, should he wish, as a Kolpak, leaving scope for Derbyshire to recruit an overseas player. That would still, with Hughes and Madsen now England-qualified, leave them within the 9-2 scope of the club blueprint for fielding English-qualified players and maximising ECB money.
I can think of a popular New Zealand opener who would fit the bill very nicely, if we could go down that path...