Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Midweek musings

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.


notoveryet said...

I've been a sharp critic of Derbyshire coaches over the years, but I've seldom heard less logic and more disrespect from Morris and Krikken than I heard from Graeme Welch today.

The question of whether we paid more to keep Groenewald at the end of his contract is one argument. I disagree with Welch (and you, Peakfan) on this but can see the argument for letting Groenewald go. What I cannot see is the argument that because he's decided to leave at the end of his contract, we shouldn’t make the best use of him now, Despite the snide and unworthy comments from Welch about Groenewald's contribution since the Essex game and particularly the comment about winning the game against Leicestershire without him, not one of us believes that he wouldn't be playing in every game if he'd kept quiet about his intentions at the end of the season. We don’t expect to see Chanderpaul back after this year and the same logic would suggest that we should leave him out when he returns to give one of our young batsmen a chance to gain experience now that we’re writing this season off. It isn’t going to happen, and that suggests to me that there is another agenda as far as Groenewald is concerned.

But more than anything else, Welch’s logic collapses when he talks about bringing in possible loan players. We won’t play Groenewald despite him being one of the highest paid players in the club, because he hasn’t got a long-term commitment to us. Instead, if we need to, we’ll bring in a lesser loan player who isn’t good enough to get into his own team who has got even less of a long-term commitment.

It doesn’t make any sense to me unless more has gone on than anyone’s admitting to. I think the club is trying to force Groenewald out, and that is sad after the huge contribution he’s made over the years. I think it’s foolish and self-defeating, when the team is performing so badly, and Groenewald is one of the very few who can really hold their head up after the catastrophe that this season is turning into. And it’s creating a situation in which one or both of Footitt and Palladino will break down under the demands being placed on them in the absence of Groenewald, and the future of promising young bowlers will be jeopardised by asking more of them than can reasonably be asked.

Anonymous said...

I'm all for looking to the future. The issues though are much more immediate than that. What damage will be done to the Elstone's and Hughes' if this season continues to lurch along as it has?

Marcus North has been a major disappointment so far - so much was required of him and to average 19 from six innings is simply not good enough when he's been flown in at some expense to offer solidity to the middle order.

The wicket-keeping situation hasn't helped. Obviously we miss Poynton's energy behind the stumps and his attacking batting down the order. Of course some things are much more important than cricket. Johnson's loss and Cross's batting travails have simply exacerbated the problem.

We've only scored 3 centuries and have fielded 20 players in first class games already.

Mark Footit has been excellent but he's had very little to back him up. Two years ago we always seemed to be able to rely on wickets from occasional bowlers when in a tight spot, now we struggle to offer any sustained threat with the ball beyond him.

Then there's the Jon Clare issue. Too many questions, too few answers.

Welch has, as he well knows, some serious work to do. And not just starting with 2015.

Tim, Chesterfield

Peakfan said...

Good points well made gents. As I've said, we must trust Welch to mould things as he sees fit and to make decisions accordingly.
Some of those decisions may not make sense to some of us without full possession of the facts, but he is paid to make them and has those facts, the contacts and the plan. He doesn't do so because any of us think that they're the right thing to do.
We must all respect that - but nor should it stop us expressing an opinion...

Marc said...

This Groenewald issue has stirred up a real Hornet,s nest with opinion sharply divided. I can just about give Welch the benefit of the doubt on this,for two reasons.

Firstly,the fact the club has stated it does not require the standard 28 days notice inplies that should another club wish to sign him he will be allowed to leave immediately. This could happen today,next week or may not happen before the end of the season.Which ever way there is at least some degree of uncertainty.

Secondly,the Championship and 20/20 season are effectively over and therefore an opportunity to experiment a little has now presented itself. We have 3 or possibly 4 bowlers who are knocking on the door and to give them a couple of games each will help to establish where they currently stand and help Welch evaluate his requirements for next season. I understand where notoveryet is coming from and I do agree with some of the points he makes. I think there have been a number of illogical happenings at the club this season which I have found a little worrying.

I do not agree with bringing a loan player in,except in a dire injury crisis. I want to know exactly where Clare stands and why,after half a season, he is constantly ignored. It,s high time we WERE in full possession of the facts. We had this cloak and dagger nonsense last season and it isn,t good enough. If Welch doesn,t want him or rate him then let,s have it out in the open,otherwise get him in the team.

As for the overseas player,I suppose it,s a case of wait and see. I have long questioned the value of employing Chanderpaul. He was a great player,the key word there is WAS. His batting for us has only been average and i,ve said all along his value as a limited overs player leaves much to be desired. I will be very disappointed if we take up our option of a third year. We require an opener,one who is competent in all formats,rather than another middle order player. North has been a disaster and is perhaps another player who,s best years are now behind him. Time for a re-think.

Mark said...

Got to laugh at the club website describing today's game as ' the Trent Bridge showdown'. This could be the biggest whopping in the history of T 20. And even if we did win it would have absolutely no bearing on the table whatsoever. Bragging rights only I'm afraid.