Saturday, 31 May 2014

Hampshire v Derbyshire preview

The disaster that is our current T20 campaign should not, in a knee-jerk reaction, be allowed to mask the improvement that change has brought to the championship side.

Yes, we still await a win, but there was reason for optimism in the Gloucestershire game. A combination of gritty batting, penetrative bowling and being on the right side of helpful conditions for once combined to give us the upper hand in a game that simply lost too much time to the elements.

Graeme Welch has made changes to the championship side and, while in their early days, they have proved successful. Having started both campaigns with senior players, Welch discarded Messrs Godleman (average 11) Chesney Hughes (10) and Durston (12) after their struggles for early season runs. Logic suggests that a similar process may now follow in T20, in the understanding that those coming in can really only improve fortunes.

Thus far their replacements Paul Borrington (40) Scott Elstone (43) and Alex Hughes (52) have done well. Throw in the experience of Wayne Madsen, Marcus North and Stephen Moore and the batting has a more robust look. They will be tested tomorrow, however, by a Hampshire side that early season form suggests will be in the front-runners this year.

Aside from any runs they score, the involvement of the three younger lads has a marked impact on the vitality in the field. The catch held by Borrington against Gloucestershire could only have been held by someone with pace, courage and excellent hand/eye coordination. There was a lot of ground to make up to get under the looping bat/pad and Michael Klinger must have thought he would get away with it

Such catches give bowlers a huge boost and the agility and pace of these lads in the ring will save perhaps twenty to thirty runs in an innings. They don't go in the score book against their name, but it is a healthy credit balance before you go out to bat and should not be overlooked by supporters. It certainly won't be by team mates.

As we enter June, this season can probably be written off from a promotion perspective. We cannot discount the possibility of getting on a roll in the championship, but realistically Graeme Welch will look at his squad in match action and realise who he can count on, who will develop and who will need phased out.

He has already identified the talent of Scott Elstone as one for the future and I think he will do well. I fully expect to see opportunity given to other young players as the summer progresses, if only to see how they react to involvement in the senior match environment.

Lads like Greg Cork, Ben Cotton and Tom Taylor aren't far from consideration. Matt Higginbottom did pretty well last year and may get further opportunity, while Tom Knight will continue to pressure David Wainwright. For what it is worth, I feel that supporters will be more understanding of failure from such tyros than of those of greater experience.

Having said that, I expect little change for the Hampshire match, after the Gloucestershire improvements. They will come up against a side with strapping quick bowlers, aggressive batsmen and a canny skipper. They will need to be ready to battle it out and show the fight that Graeme Welch did on a cricket field.

Yorkshire was yesterday and you can't change that. Tomorrow is a different matter and we have to be much, much better.


Marc said...

At the moment I think any talk of recovery is based on the sort of evidence even a politician would think twice before using.

I resisted the temptation to comment on last night,s disgraceful effort,in the hope I may have calmed down a little after a night,s sleep. I haven,t.

Putting that aside,I can,t see anything other than a Hampshire victory,unless at least half the game is lost to the weather. I have absolutely no faith in the batting as a effective unit. The odd player or two may stagger to something around the fifty mark,but I suspect in both innings we will fall well short of requirements,whether we bat first or second.Relying on the bowlers is something you have to think twice about these days.They certainly haven,t pulled many trees up so far.

Alex Hughes,Elstone and Borrington have done reasonably well ip to now,but failure is an epidemic running rife throughout the club and I can,t see those three becoming any more immune than the rest.

Even Leicestershire will have red ringed the 8th of June as a likely point to begin their own recovery. The Yorkshire fans sitting near me last night were laughing at us and who could blame them. They won,t be the last bunch of fans to do it,either.

I,m sorry,I remain deeply sceptical we are anywhere near to being a competitive team in any format. We are up to our waist in quicksand and I just don,t see any evidence this team has either the mentality nor the will to wriggle free.In saying that,I would love to be proved wrong.

Mark said...

I agree entirely Marc, but Peakfan thinks we have quality in abundance. The young players look to have a good future in the game but throwing them in now will be lambs to the slaughter. I don't know what the answer is.

Peakfan said...

Oh there's quality Mark and it's more tnan a tad disrespectful to say otherwise. At present, we're not showing it, but Graeme Welch is working on it. You don't know what the answer is - hopefully he does, even if it is a longer-term fix.

Josh said...

I don't think 'lambs to the slaughter' is a very fair comment. Last season it took till August to get our first win in the County Championship and I personally don't see it being a coincidence that our form and results improved when Krikken gave the likes of Burgoyne, Higginbottom and Slater their chance around this time. I can only see positives from playing the youngsters this year and here's hoping they all take their opportunities. I for one am excited for the future, even if this summer may be a bit painful to watch at times.

Peakfan said...

Agreed Josh! There's a few rose-tinted spectacles here and there were bad performances under Krikk, as there were under many other coaches. All teams do it at times and I have confidence that Welch and his team will get it right. It's not fun at present, but we need to be patient.
And there's still four months of season and a lot of cricket to go!

Anonymous said...

Apart from Redfern and Whiteley (and the overseas players) all those who took us to promotion in 2012 are still at the club. So the talent is there; it's just a question of getting it to perform. I don't pretend to have an easy answer and our form this season has been catastrophic at times but we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that we do still have the players and youngsters to compete IF they play as they can.

Spireite Tim