Tonight's musings is partly prompted by the most common topic of recent e mails I have received and also by a T20 signing by Sussex last week.
Yasir Arafat was picked up by the southern county for his fourth stint with them and he will undoubtedly prove a shrewd signing, as very much a T20 specialist. Four tight overs and a quick twenty-odd makes you a 'game-changer' in the modern parlance, if not exactly a world-beater in old currency...
He may prove one of the few, as I struggle to see how counties will recruit for the newly titled 'Blast', which is presumably one up from Australia's Big Bash but leaves scope for expansion into a 'Mega-Boom' in the future. I jest and don't wish to be cynical at a worthy marketing ploy, but there is an issue in this for me.
I totally understand the rationale in having these games mainly on a Friday evening. What could be a better way to start your weekend than a couple of drinks at the cricket in the company of friends? Hopefully seeing your favourites win, a few sixes hit over your heads and some entertainment thrown in - what's not to like in that as a concept?
The problem is in the overseas recruitment. A major factor of T20 thus far has been in the quality of imports, which although it will never rival the IPL - there's not the money, for starters - has brought over a few different players for supporters to enjoy. Thus, the likes of Gayle, Warner, Tait, Gilchrist and Malinga have played with varying degrees of success, when the chances of their playing on the county circuit were marginally higher than mine of being this year's Miss World.
How many big names will agree to a stint this year, when the group stage alone lasts for over three months, primarily played on a Friday evening? Try as I might, I can't see the likes of Gayle, Kallis, Bravo et al opting to kick their heels for six days for a thrash around at the weekend. Nor do I see the 'revolving door' policy of them flying in and out of the country work, as it would appear a recipe for disaster. They would barely acclimatise and run the risk of seizing up on long flights, even before considering the costs that would be incurred. Ask Essex, who flew in Dwayne Bravo for a key game a couple of years back at a supposed cost of £10K, then saw him out cheaply and hit around the park. No wonder...
The only thing that might work was if a suitably qualified (i.e international) player was plying his trade in the local leagues and turned out for the county on a Friday night. I'm thinking of someone like Colin Ingram, who played the local leagues in Derbyshire, albeit before he became better known and, I daresay, expensive. Maybe a suitable professional in the local league could be the way to go, but there would be difficulties to overcome. Not the least might be, in a strong club side, playing an intensive T20 on a Friday night, a league match on Saturday and a cup match on Sunday. Also how a league side could afford, or go part way towards the signing of an international cricketer...
When you think about it, Derbyshire have already strengthened their T20 hand considerably with the acquisition of Stephen Moore. An average of not far shy of thirty in that format is impressive and an expected top five of Moore, Hughes, Durston, Chanderpaul and Madsen will give us a good chance of being competitive, at the very least. Having an Albie Morkel-type figure in at six would be great, but I doubt the real thing would be interested in such a long spell over here. If he was, I'd like to think he'd be used a little more cannily than last season, when we not only failed to bowl his full spell on occasions, but left him till too late in the batting order.
If I was a betting man, I'd say the thinking money was on no additional overseas player, purely on the grounds of availability. We will undoubtedly secure cover for the absence of Shivnarine Chanderpaul on West Indies Test duty, but since the dates of those tours are as yet unknown, we'll not know more about that just now. That player will play all competitions, of course, and Graeme Welch will presumably want a player of confirmed quality.
Before then we'll know the coaching set up at the club and it will be good to see those who will help 'Pop' lead us onwards and upwards - probably in the very near future.
Finally tonight, I am delighted to announce that Officecare, Derbyshire's leading professional office and commercial cleaning company, will again sponsor the blog for the next twelve months. I am thrilled to have their continued support and to have made good friends with some extremely nice - and very talented - people there.
A sincere thanks from me - hopefully you will help me celebrate the half million hits mark in the next few weeks!