The denouement of today's game was swift and as expected, with Derbyshire's players back in the middle for practice after a lengthy debriefing.
It is disappointing to be so comprehensively beaten, but the team battled and we cannot ask for more at this stage in its development. As things stand, I think that we have around half a dozen players around who you can build a team, lots of potential among the younger brigade and much work for Graeme Welch and his staff in the next few months.
I can see both sides of the Groenewald issue. He's been a good servant and is a good player, but if Welch feels that long term he has better bowlers on the staff, then we as supporters must respect that. He and his team are better qualified than any of us to make that judgement and, ultimately, they will stand or fall on the decisions that they make. In three years time, the decision to release him will either be seen as a Nostradamus-like piece of foresight or a terrible mistake.
As I have pointed out before, however, a club with a finite budget cannot continue to apportion large chunks of it to two or three players when they need to carry a staff of, I'd guess, around eighteen as a minimum. As captain, star batsman, club figurehead and ambassador, Wayne Madsen is worth whatever we pay him. Mark Footitt has thoroughly justified his new deal and, with 34 wickets at just 19, is one of the most effective bowlers in the country. Both justify their deals, without question.
I have massive respect for Groenewald, as anyone who has read this blog over the past five years will realise. But there's a limit to what we can justify paying him, or any player, unless the statistics produced make an undeniable argument. Tim has sixteen wickets at 29 this summer and the reality is that there's a lot of seam bowlers around the country, many of them less well known, with better statistics.
What if, in and end of season restructure, Welch picked up one of them? I don't blame Groenewald, or more specifically his agent, for looking for the best deal possible, but they will be well aware that the greatest bargaining tools for any sportsman are statistics. It is the same for all of them. Name your salary if you can score twenty goals a season, take seventy-five wickets or score a hundred off fifty balls in T20. They need to be good, though and I'm not convinced that Groenewald's this summer are that special.
That he is among the best three seam bowlers on the current Derbyshire staff is undeniable. Yet the crux of the issue is whether, even right now, Graeme Welch has someone lined up for next summer who is better. Someone whose own salary would be similar to that of the departing player, but who offers better statistics, or potential.for them over a prolonged period. Someone who we could only afford if we make a tough call to release a fine player in favour of someone who could be even better.
I got an email yesterday from someone who 'despaired' at the lack of quality players in the Derbyshire squad, something I disagree with. I think Madsen, Moore, Elstone, Alex Hughes, Wainwright and Palladino are all players of quality. There are several others among the younger ranks who could join them as good county cricketers. Then there are more - too many, I'm afraid - who I fear are not quite up to the requisite standard or have declined in either form or fitness to such an extent that their professional cricket careers are in doubt - at least to me.
That's an honest appraisal. The role of overseas player thus becomes of paramount importance for our club and Paul asked me my opinion on the role yesterday, so here goes with another one.
Next year we need a player who will 'do a Guptill', as it's asking a lot for someone to 'do a Barlow' with the world game as it is. I am grateful for having had the opportunity to have seen Shivnarine Chanderpaul in Derbyshire colours, but think that the essentially attritional nature of his game is perhaps at odds with our needs. There's a middle ground, of course and nor do we need someone who approaches every innings like the last five overs of a T20, but I think we can learn from a few signings elsewhere this summer.
With 35 wickets at 16, Kyle Abbott has been a stand out for Hampshire. Mitch Hogan has 30 at 15 for Glamorgan. Steve Magoffin has 37 at 18 for Sussex. All are good bowlers, none of them in a bracket I would expect to be massively expensive.
The best pound for pound overseas player in county cricket in the past few summers has been Jeetan Patel at Warwickshire. No question about it. He scores runs and takes wickets, this summer averaging 28 with the bat to go with 28 wickets at 26. He'll not be costing them serious money and, I'd hazard a guess, much less than we are paying for Chanderpaul. Shiv has been a long way from a failure, but the colossal scores of his prime haven't been there and we have needed them. Given that players of his stature in the game don't come cheap, I'm unconvinced we have had true value for money, even factoring in the experience of batting and working with him.
For me, a steady, consistent, dependable and sometimes dynamic overseas player is a must, preferably one who can commit to a full season. There is an argument for retaining the services of Marcus North, a player who would be available all summer, but again, only if the stats and cost matched up to a convincing argument.
I've got a few ideas, but they're for further down the line.
More importantly, I think Graeme Welch has more than a few of his own.