Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Canterbury Tales - An Inspector Calls

Good literary references in the heading there, as news breaks today of a pitch panel being convened at the end of this game, also known as mid-afternoon today.

For all the brave protestations of Wayne Madsen in today's Derby Telegraph, there was not a hope of two of our batsmen making a hundred to change the game on wicket which was referred to as being 'like a fourth day track on day two'.

Such hope disappeared when the two batsmen most likely to do it - the skipper himself and Marcus North - were both back in the hutch during the first hour. It is, to be honest, the sort of wicket where you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. Play your shots, get away with a few and then perish attempting something ambitious to be labelled irresponsible, or retreat into your shell, block it out for twenty overs, take no risk and eventually go, having made no substantial inroads to the deficit. Take your chances and play your own game would be my attitude, fortune sometimes favouring the brave.

If, again to use the skipper's words, there were chunks coming out of the wicket on the first day, then it is difficult to get away from the fact that the home side prepared a result track. Fair play, they're neither the first or last to do that and the end result was always going to be decided by a toss that they could have lost, but it's not doing the game any favours when good professionals, but unashamedly dibbly-dobbly bowlers, like Darren Stevens can just drop it on a length and wait for things to happen.

Cricket is about a fairly even battle between bat and ball and I am no more in favour of moribund Taunton-esque tracks as they once were, than of  wickets where games last not even three days when four are scheduled. It might add a few more points to the club's tally (at least until the pitch panel nick them again) but does little for the reputation of the club and the game.

Remember back in the days of Kim Barnett's captaincy? Teams used to turn up at Derby in the expectation of green wickets to start the game, but knew that they would settle down as the game progressed. The first morning saw the ball zip about, but those of a certain vintage, such as I, well recall Barnett leading from the front and blazing away in complete disregard to the conditions. The difference was also that runs could be made by those with the right technique and shots.

The games were great and well-balanced, the scores normally 200-275 per side and the results shared between home and away sides as the toss evened things up, but they produced cricket that was worth packing a picnic for. I'm not so sure a wicket that is bad on day one and then deteriorates badly by the second justifies the same statement, unless as a supporter you exist only to see your team win and would be happy seeing them smack a bowling machine around.

I'm not excusing Derbyshire's batting, which was insipid and distinctly average, but I won't go along with those who suggest that the side has no talent, because the records of most of those involved belies that. What I would say is that we're collectively lacking in confidence at present and there's no quick solution to that, unless Paul McKenna does cricket courses. The erudite comment of Martin Moseling, a Kent fan, below yesterday's piece is as always worth a read.

All the Derbyshire players can do is work and keep working. Sometimes a couple of good boundaries is all that's required to make you realise you can still bat; a brilliant catch lifts a team, as does a fine spell of bowling. I don't subscribe to the media obsession of building up and knocking down. The recent stupidity over Roy Hodgson being a case in point. After the first World Cup game he was a man to lead us from the dark ages into the promised land of adventurous football. After the second, most wanted him sacked, ignoring the fact that there wasn't a single worthwhile candidate to replace him.

It's the same with Derbyshire. Graeme Welch needs time, the players need an arm round their shoulder or a critical word, depending on what motivates them and we need to be patient, because, to quote the Hollies, the road is long, with many a winding turn...

We need one of those Eddie Barlow Inspirational Performances, that we give the award for each Autumn .

So, after this game is finished, one of those players has to step up to the mark and provide it, sometime soon.

But who?


Mark said...

Yet again Wainwright embarrassing our top order failures and I'm sure he leads the batting averages at present. That statistic should make Welch and co squirm. Also well done to Alex Hughes for having a good go. Major clear out needed after this shocking season has ended. Godleman, Borrington, C.Hughes, North, Turner, Durston all have to go even if it means paying their contracts up. All of these are not up to the challenge and putting it more simply are not good enough for county cricket.

Tim, Chesterfield said...

Hard to disagree with the names named. North's return in particular, given the faith and money invested in him is simply appalling. Whether paying them up would solve anything is another matter.

Paul said...

I agree with you Mark on all those names bar perhaps Hughes. Has been immensely disappointing of late but given his potential in one day cricket and relative youth compared with the others I would give him one last chance. Close call though .
As for North I wouldn't keep him for the T20 when Shiv returns and definitely don't want him when Shiv disappears again . For a senior pro his attitude his poor and even worse his stats are appalling .
BTW when is Shiv due back ?

Gary said...

Decided to pop down to Old Trafford yesterday Peakfan and it was interesting to see two sides I hadnt seen for a while. Watched Lancashire pour on 300 runs in 45 overs to reach 650 and then pretty much roll over Northants for nothing. Speaking to one of the few Northants fans it is something like the 6th game in a row they have conceded 500+ and they are down and out and on their way down back to the 2nd division. We were speaking about how once a team gets on a roll then it is pretty difficult to stop. Northants have lost their last 5 T20 games as well despite winning it last year so it's not just us.
Clearly we're in a similar trot and it's pretty obvious the areas we need to improve on without being a brain surgeon - unfortunately they seem the same areas which we've needed re-inforcements in for the last couple of years and our recruits haven't really helped our cause. The last think we need now is another coach change as we would be left in the same position next year with half a team the coach presumably doesn't rate. The worrying thing is that the team seems to be going backwards at a vast rate of knots - Never mind the one day cup is just around the corner soon to look forward to.....!

Peakfan said...

Good comments guys and especially Gary. To be honest, paying up contracts of anyone deemed surplus to requirements would be tricky unless they saved a little money in so doing. It would leave us with no players and no money to replace them...
Having said that, there comes a point where retention of players at a club becomes counter-productive, but only Welch will know when that point is reached.

Anonymous said...

Marcus North has been a gamble that hasn't paid off. I think it was the championship game against Hampshire when he was sitting in on the BBC radio commentary and was asked why he retired when he was top run scorer in the Sheffield Shield. His answer was that as a batsmen, when things are not going well it is really hard work to get yourself back on track and he didn't know if he wanted to go through that should his form lapse. It appears from the outside that this is exactly what is happening. A real shame because that innings against Leicestershire in the T20 showed was a great talent he has.