Saturday, 17 May 2014

The morning after the night before

The sight of Wayne Madsen, a classy, graceful player and one of the best batsmen the county has had, coming in at number nine last night was ample illustration of my dislike of T20.

Aside from a very occasional reverse sweep that goes awry, the Derbyshire skipper is incapable of playing an ugly stroke and it is indicative of the 'merits' of the short form of the game that such a player feels inclined to go in after all the long handle merchants have had a go.

Yet it need not have been so. While we lost this game by bowling wrong lengths and lines to Leicestershire's batsmen, the first six overs of each innings amply illustrates where we have work to do.

When the field has, perforce of regulations to be in, the batsmen can take risks in those early overs. Our opponents last night made 60-1 from their first six; we made 37-3. In losing by 27 runs, it is easy to see where we need to do better and can hopefully take things much closer.

Full credit to the side, especially Marcus North, in blazing 110 from the last ten overs, which was spectacular but cannot be expected to be replicated too often. Nor should it have to be, if we show a little more nous when it matters.

In a side with such a lengthy batting order, we could afford to give two or three of the top five a licence to thrill. Ches 'n' Wes should be encouraged to go in and bat as they did against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge last year, rather than take eight balls for seven and 29 balls for 28 respectively. If you're chasing 140, that's fine, but someone, other than Stephen Moore, had to go for it last night and none of our top four managed to do so. If there's little urgency in chasing ten an over, you may as well get an early bus home.

It was Chanderpaul's only game before returning to the West Indies and playing on, second ball, was a cruel blow. Yet North was immediately into his stride and seemed wasted at number five. Mind you, not as wasted as Scott Elstone, who didn't bat at all, despite being a naturally brisk scorer. Nor was his off-spin used, which poses the question as to why he was picked, as he's a much better cricketer than an unused number ten.

It's such inconsistencies that trouble me about last night. Why did North not bowl either, when spin was the most effective bowling of the night? Why did we bowl six straight overs of seam in the Powerplay, before seeing how a spinner got on? Even an over in that period might have made the batsmen think and have to adjust a little.

I caught sight of statistics today that made unpleasant reading. Only one county in each category, either batting or bowling, has made worse use of Power plays than Derbyshire. Historically, we average under seven an over with the bat, while we concede a boundary every five balls. I'd suggest that until we can improve such statistics our fortunes won't change.

Such things will doubtless occupy the mind of Graeme Welch before next weekend. We now have time for people to work at their T20 disciplines and improve them. I'd like to see a tweak or two to the team, one of them enforced in the absence of Chanderpaul. Don't expect a last minute overseas replacement, because my gut feeling is that any surplus budget for such a move will have been used up by the enforced signing of Gareth Cross for the summer. We may otherwise have pulled someone from the leagues or from overseas, but a less than affluent county must be down to the contents of the 'swear box' in the playing budget.

I'd bring in Tom Knight and Alex Hughes for the next one, replacing Shiv and Jon Clare. I think the latter needs bowling and there's a few other seamers I would push ahead of him in the queue at this stage, especially Tony Palladino. Knight has proven ability in T20 and is improved in all disciplines, while Hughes is simply too talented a young player to leave out.

I'd also tweak the batting order and tell Chesney to really go for it in the first six. We bat low enough to regroup if it goes pear-shaped, but if he and the naturally quick-scoring Stephen Moore fire, we could put a game out of sight.

My side, in batting order:

Hughes (C)
Hughes (A)

With five spinners and three seamers, let's mix it up with the ball too. One and two over spells, before the batsmen line them up. So often in T20, a third over goes for plenty and it's breaking the familiarity of line, length and pace that helps the bowlers compete against bats that are now so chunky that mishits go for six.

I came across one of my old bats in the loft recently and the edge was less than half that of my current one. Modern bats really have sides. Back in the 1960's, the great Majid Khan of Glamorgan proved a point about handling spin on a turning wicket  by playing them in a net session with the edge of his bat. He could have done that in matches with a modern bat...

Let's not panic. Losing last night didn't end our season, any more than it did that of the other teams who came out losers on the evening. It was a wake-up call though and work needs to be done.


Marc said...

Iv,e just notice my post from last night seems to have been swallowed by the electrical gremlins,so I will try again.

I can,t disagree with most of your summing up Peakfan. Until I arrived at number 11 I was nodding in agreement with your next team. I felt Footitt should not have played yesterday,so I,m definately not going to change my mind now.

I hope yesterday was a case of getting every possible unforced error out of the way in one match. There were so many things wrong you could write an essay about it and then some. Indeed,it would be far quicker to reflect on what actually went right and that was a fine knock from North which deserved to be part of a winning score. At least he offers some hope for the future but he can,t be expected to do it all on his own.

One defeat is not catastrophic and we need to keep that in mind,but unless some stark lessons are learned very quickly,our interest in this format will be short and anything but sweet.

In short,if just about everyone had done the opposite of what they did last night,we might well have won. Most of those on view have played the game long enough to know what is required but experience seems to count for nothing.

We have a week to come up with some answers. I,m quite sure the team I picked would have won,had we been bold enough to bat and then put our spin options to good use. Madsen has to take a long,hard look at what he did,where it went wrong and ensure similar errors are not repeated. He,s the captain and he has to get it right.

Rob Enderby said...

This is rubbish Peakfan, barely a first class county at present. Key only put us in again as he knows we are rubbish and smelt another collapse. No local talent, force winning coaches to keep their dignity and resigning no England players in a generation and worse no heart. im sure Mr Grant meant well but this set up is just not working. Mark these words Madsen will go at the end of the season fed up of carrying it all on his own and we will finish bottom of all 3 leagues

Gary said...

Disappointing last night as it looked like no planning at all had gone into it. Looking at the team I thought we had variety in the bowling and a long batting line up which would let us go from the first over but none of it seemed to happen.
Two of our most out of form players were in the top 3 (Hughes and Durston) - obviously on past 20/20 form but it seemed strange our two hired guns were coming in at 4 and 5 based on the others form. As magnificent as North's innings was the match was over before he came in - he just made the score respectable.
Bowling wise we used two part time spinners and a bowler who hadn't been seen all season and they all bowled their full allocation.
Just seemed that for all the coaches we have at the club there wasn't a lot of thought/flexibility behind the tactics. Fair play to Styris but it wasnt a surpise he did this. He's played enough games to know he plays that role well and there have been enough games, even on Sky, to see his strengths. I know it's early doors but we need to get a couple of wins or at least performances soon or this season could be in real danger of disintegrating.

Peakfan said...

Over reaction Rob. Last night was poor but we had plenty of that last year. To claim no local talent is wrong, as is your assertion that Madsen will leave. It will turn around but Welch now knows the size of the task.

Peakfan said...
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