Thursday, 3 July 2014
Derbyshire v India day three
Perhaps I should say I'm not a huge fan of friendlies. I don't watch them in international football, because they tend to be interminably dull affairs where the eleven that starts is largely replaced at half time, leaving that second period a little like a box of chocolates, after all your favourites have disappeared in the first trawl.
A game where the Indian side effectively became a tag team, with eighteen players rotating on and off was unlikely to have major appeal for me and any suggestion that it was as competitive a battle as possible is perhaps inaccurate. It was, perhaps more appositely, a pre-season friendly - which for the visitors it was, of course.
Yet at the same time I appreciate the rationale and certainly the vast amount of work that went into the game from the club's perspective.
How many chances does the Derbyshire cricketing public get to see players of this stature? By allowing all eighteen members of the squad to be involved, those in attendance saw all of the Indian squad, even if for only a short time in some cases. And this game, like the Leicestershire one before it, was all about the visitors and offering them an opportunity to find form and gain match practice ahead of the forthcoming Test series.
It is quite a change from the old days, when the plan was to get county sides to target the stars of touring sides and keep them from their finest fettle before the 'proper' stuff began. Back in the day when counties did their damnedest to beat visiting touring sides, the games were highly competitive and a number of players took the opportunity to state their case for inclusion in the England side with a positive performance.
Derbyshire's side here was largely of a novitiate first-class standard, containing youngsters alongside players who had struggled for first team form this year. Yet Graeme Welch will be pleased with their performances and ends the game with a few more options than he had on Tuesday morning.
Ben Slater produced a typically compact innings; Billy Godleman (pictured) had two solid, unbeaten knocks and Wes Durston turned the clock back to his best days. Similarly, Ben Cotton looked a talent with the ball, while Matt Higginbottom and Greg Cork let no one down. Nor did Harvey Hosein, a precocious talent with bat and gloves at just 17.
Was it a competitive game in the keenest sense of the word? No, but that's not to undermine the efforts of the players who have done well. We shouldn't worry unduly about the defeat, but we should be quite satisfied with the workout and the increased levels of confidence that the performances will bring.
Next up is the Chesterfield Cricket Festival, starting on Sunday against Leicestershire in a T20.
We can all get excited about that, can't we?