Monday, 19 May 2014

Monday musings

At my morning break today, a friend asked me to take over from him on the pool table, as he had to go back to work.

He was getting well beaten by a lad who is a much better player and was probably glad he had to go. The thing was, within five minutes of me taking over the game, a number of our friends passed by.

"You're getting well beaten" was the gist of most comments and it was true, but a long way from the full picture. Truth be told, I had only two shots before the inevitable happened and my opponent potted the black to win the game.

It struck me on the way home tonight that this was very similar to the situation in which Graeme Welch finds himself. In much the same way, it is not fair to be overly critical when he, just like me earlier today, is playing with the cards he has been dealt.

And what a perverse old hand it has proved to be thus far. The Poynton tragedy, for all the support mechanisms put in place, had to have some impact on morale. Besides losing a man who was very close to everyone in the club, we lost a wicket-keeper who is pivotal to the team's on-field success. We'd already lost an all-rounder of considerable talent in Peter Burgoyne to a stress-related illness and then had a similar issue with our other wicket-keeper, Richard Johnson. Both players are, in my humble opinion, unlikely to play this season, so Welch was very quickly three good players down.

The loss of the two wicket-keepers was relieved by the signing of Gareth Cross, an excellent replacement, but the money spent on the ex-Lancashire man has probably taken away any remaining playing budget that was perhaps intended for a second T20 overseas player.

His senior players have had mixed form too, with a few batsmen and bowlers struggling to find their best in the summer's early exchanges. It has, in short, been anything but an ideal start.

Yet there have been glimpses of light that promise to turn into radiant beams. Both Ben Cotton and Tom Taylor have shown considerable potential with the ball, the Second XI look to be a good side and the Academy looks very strong.

Today we beat Yorkshire's Academy. Nothing to write home about, you might say, but we beat them fair and square and by some considerable margin. They have traditionally had the strongest of Academy sides in the past five to ten years, which goes some way towards explaining the success of their current senior side. We made 223 against them in fifty overs today, before bowling them out for 181. Greg Cork, another who will soon be pushing for a senior berth at his current rate of progress, took 5-29 while Tom Knight took 3-36.

They're unbeaten so far this summer and I watch their progress with great interest, because several of those involved will be in the Derbyshire side we hope for. I remain convinced that our fortunes will improve this summer and we will get some wins under our belt. We're making daft mistakes at the moment that will be eradicated and the wins will start to come.

Yet this summer isn't close to the time to start judging Graeme Welch, nor the club's coaching structure. Think back to when you started jobs and how you were after four months in post. Most people are coming to terms with the demands of the role and sorting out what their predecessor has or hasn't done. If it is a new position, you're identifying the demands of the job and what you need to do in different areas. If you're a manager, you're starting to suss out the staffing wheat from the chaff and keeping your fingers crossed that the former is in the majority.

It is exactly the same for Graeme Welch. I think that even at this early stage he will be aware of players he can rely on and others who, when the chips are down, don't quite have what it takes. He will weigh up the merits of younger players and ponder introducing them, piecemeal fashion, to get a taste of what senior cricket is all about.

Fans will criticise, because it's their raison d'etre in some cases, but most do it only for the best of reasons, that they want to follow a successful club. I think we will get one, but in the short term it will be as a qualified success, until Welch gets to bring in and bring through HIS players, ones who subscribe to his way of working and have the requisite mental toughness, as well as talent, to succeed.

I think a healthy number of the current Academy intake, as well as recent graduates, will make up the majority of that side. Some will fall by the wayside, but there is greater depth of talent in that age group right now than I have ever seen in the county, their abilities quite remarkable in young players.

Keep your eyes on their progress.

Be assured I will...


Mark said...

The Gloucestershire game next Sunday is a must win match already Peakfan. Failure to gain a victory and I'm afraid the alarm bells will be sounding already. The balance of the side just doesn't look right to me at present, and that is something Welch has to address pretty damn quickly.

Peakfan said...

Must win? For confidence yes. A good display on Friday night would do us the world of good but Gloucs are hammering Kent at present with an average looking side. A win would boost confidence and I have an idea on the side for this space!

Marc said...

I do feel some sympathy for Welch. As you point out he has had little chance to mould the team to suit his own requirements,as far as individual personnel are concerned, and that is something we all need to take into account.

At the same time though,he is charged with the task of bringing the best out of those he has inherited. To change sport,Mclaren has transformed Derby with more or less the players he had when Clough was sacked. From going nowhere fast, the club could now be promoted and even it we aren,t,few would point the finger at McLaren.

Welch is faced with a similar challenge. It could be that a number of our players are simply not up to the task,in which case there will have to be changes made and replacements sought. Whether that involves promoting from within the club,trying to recruit from outside, or a combination of the two is open to debate.

In the meantime we have to get the best out of those who represent the here and now. There is growing evidence to suggest we are not currently doing that and not all of it can be blamed on the players. The leadership has made mistakes,obvious ones in some cases and therefore has to take it,s share of the blame. Until such time as the majority can be satisfied everything is being done,if not entirely correctly,then at least without the risk of people pointing their fingers in the same direction,questions will rightly be asked,a new regime or not.

I accept that Welch is in an season where some experimentation may be inevitable and he is faced with the moral dilemma of giving people a chance to shine and at the same time a fair crack of the whip. Not an easy situation to be placed in,but we can do without shooting ourselves in the foot. If we lose fair and square,then so be it. That happens and you have to accept it,but I remain unconvinced our poor start has not been somewhat self inflicted.

So far the damage is reversable,but so are some of the reasons we find ourselves in the position we are in. I dare gamble here and now we won,t face Northants with the same team as Leicestershire and neither will we adopt similar tactics. I think that says everything really. If we choose to ignore the flasing red lights from Grace road,we will still be looking for our first win and we will know the reasons why.

Peakfan said...

Good comments gents..

Martin Edwards said...

I'm very sympathetic to Graeme Welch, and anyone appointed to such a role needs a couple of years to show what they can do. Panic changes, in either the leader or the troops, rarely work. Having said that, there was a consensus before the season started that we had a decent squad, and arguably it's stronger than the squad that Karl Krikken guided to promotion. So supporters are entitled to expect much better, quite soon.