Saturday, 21 June 2014

Kent v Derbyshire preview

An unchanged Derbyshire side heads to Canterbury from the defeat against Surrey at the County Ground, something that cannot come as a surprise.

The batting picks itself at present. With Billy Godleman and Wes Durston injured, neither Ben Slater nor Chesney Hughes have scored the weight of runs required at second team level to force a way in. Both have had a succession of starts, yet thirties and sixties don't convince many people that you're in the nick to contribute heavily at senior level.

So we go as we are and I'd love to see us bat as a unit for the first time in a while. I look at Yorkshire, as an example and their middle order are coming in at 170-2 or similar, which makes getting a start an awful lot easier against an old ball and bowlers starting to tire. Even when we've had a start, the middle order implodes and we need to see a concerted effort down the order. A first innings score of three hundred gives you something to bowl at. Under two hundred leaves you with nowhere to go...

Kent's side has yet to be announced and they come into the game off a mauling from Glamorgan. They have good players, but are beatable if we play to potential. Then again, so have most of our opposition this season and we've fallen down on most occasions.

Much as I love the cricket season, part of me would love to fast forward to September and allow the rebuilding to start. My ambitions for the remainder of this campaign have changed and are now to avoid the wooden spoon in the championship and see some of our young seam bowlers respond to their undoubted opportunities over the next three months. That's a long way to fall to what I predicted pre-season, but too many players have fallen below the standards required and one can only assume that they are not as good as we thought, or hoped, they were.

I have no doubt that we will get good value from Wayne Madsen and Stephen Moore. Likewise Mark Footitt and Tony Palladino will do their stuff with the ball, especially in the county championship. David Wainwright's resurgence in form is timely, while Gareth Cross' innings last night may give him the confidence to show his best batting form on a regular basis.

What we now need is the younger brigade - Elstone, Hughes and Borrington - to cement their undoubted talent with a big innings or two that confirms it. Batting positions in next year's team are very much up for grabs and each now has the opportunity to stake a claim.

Tom Taylor has another chance to experience senior cricket and has an idea now of what is required, both from a fitness and technique perspective. He's not been found wanting, but will know what is needed to become a professional now. Matt Higginbottom's second team performances last week must have seen him close to a recall and there are others knocking on the door.

I look forward to seeing which ones have the courage and skill to open it.

No news yet on the Kent side, but this has the potential for a good game of cricket - and is one that in our best form we can win.

Postscript - thanks to Sam in Perth (the Australian, not Scottish one) for sending me a link to a piece that you should enjoy, over on Cricinfo. Russell Jackson is an excellent writer and another of the many distant Derbyshire fans out there. Like Sam, of course...


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