Happy New Year everyone!
I hope that the annual festivities were enjoyable for you all, whether you chose to spend them in the company of friends and relatives, or simply wait till it was all over and sleep through it all...
I think we will all be celebrating in the next couple of days, as the announcement of Derbyshire's elite cricket performance director should be made known. You will all have seen, as I have, the names that have been mentioned in despatches, although there's always one that is more left-field that may have required consideration. I remain hopeful, however, that Graeme Welch will get the nod from the interview process.
That's despite an article in the Birmingham Mail, in which the Warwickshire Chief Executive, Colin Povey, states that 'what we offer here is better than what's on offer at Derbyshire'. I'm unaware of the respective salaries for the roles, but I find it hard to believe that being number two is better than being the top dog in an organisation. As Assistant Coach at Edgbaston, Welch has an increased remit, but he will be ambitious and keen to extend himself with the opportunities the job at Derbyshire affords.
Despite Mr Povey's protestations to the contrary, Welch cannot have felt it to be the case, or he wouldn't have thrown his hat into the ring for the job. We'll doubtless hear soon and I'll naturally report on it as soon as the news breaks.
It was refreshing to see young county seamer Ben Cotton thanking the book shop volunteers for the funding that enabled his summer contract, together with those of Tom Taylor and Greg Cork. Everything that I have heard suggests that these lads, with Jon Marsden, have genuine potential and it is precisely the reason why I feel that our top job should go to a recognised coach of seam bowling talent. If we can get a couple of these lads through to the first-class game, it will be a massive step forward. Though to be fair, all steps that the giant Cotton makes are massive...
Elsewhere, you will have read the sad news of the death of Gerald Mortimer. I'd like to add my condolences to his family, as someone who enjoyed his writing for the Derby Telegraph over many years. Whether reporting on the Rams or the cricket club, he combined an obvious passion and knowledge with a rare choice of words, while coming across strongly as being as big a fan of the two sides as anyone. Not all local media personalities support the club that they are paid to follow, though they doubtless develop an affinity over time. Mr Mortimer's great strength was that he appeared to be one of us, something that lent greater credibility to his many pieces.
The Derby Telegraph has been blessed with a very strong succession of sports writers over the years - roles I would have loved myself if I'm honest - and the passing of Gerald Mortimer marks the loss of one of the very best.
Further afield, cricket appears to have a new star in Corey Anderson, the New Zealand all-rounder, who smashed a remarkable century from just 36 balls against the West Indies. At 23, he seems set to add a few zeroes to his bank balance at the forthcoming IPL auction, though it would be unwise for people to build up a player whose record so far is steady, rather than spectacular.
I'm less convinced that an albeit stunning century against an attack that shows less adherence to line and length than most is indicative of genius, rather than a decent player having a spectacular day. When it has been replicated against keener attacks I'll be more than happy to do so, but it's unfair on the lad to be saddled with the comments that have come his way in the last 48 hours.
He'll doubtless get a lucrative gig in India and will be on the radar of counties now for the T20 - there being relatively few left-hand all-rounders on the circuit.
Let's not set him up for a fall though. I've seen that happen way too many times over the years, some of it with players much closer to home than the young Kiwi.