Friday, 8 August 2014
Departures continue as Turner departs
"You're here to bowl...we have other people to field" said his skipper, not wanting to see his strike bowler sustain an injury. Fast forward a few years and few people saw the likes of Les Jackson and Cliff Gladwin dive. They could catch and they had decent arms, but diving could potentially damage a shoulder and we could scarce afford to lose them for weeks when physiotherapy skills were more or less limited to a brisk rub down from firm hands.
I still recall Fred Rumsey, never an athlete, huffing round the boundary in vain pursuit of an edge at Chesterfield and tripping over, falling in a manner that owed less to grace and more to the undeniable force of gravity as he landed with an almighty thump on the boundary edge.
"Did the earth move for you, Fred" shouted one wag, as Rumsey picked himself up and, looking slightly embarrassed, retrieved the ball from the base of the advertising board.
This preamble being to assert that Mark Turner is perhaps the best outfielder of all the quick bowlers I have seen in Derbyshire colours. I'm not including all-rounders such as Graeme Welch, Dominic Cork and Phil De Freitas, of course. Mike Hendrick was an excellent slip, but as a catcher of a ball and a fully-committed outfielder, Mark Turner took a lot of beating.
Few will forget the stunning catch he took against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge in last year's T20, running in quickly and diving full length to grasp the ball just before it touched the turf, before leaping up and volleying the ball into the middle distance in excitement. He held two more catches on the boundary edge that night, easy as shelling peas, taken with the nonchalance of someone who knew what he was doing and had a great pair of hands.
He made some great stops too and although having no real pretensions as a batsman, could clump a few when his eye was in. On his day, he could also bowl pretty quickly, on occasion not too far behind Mark Footitt in pace, which is no mean feat.
His problem has always been the erratic nature of his bowling. When John Morris brought him to the county from Somerset, he was a wild tyro who, it was hoped, could improve, with a little coaching, to become a genuine county strike bowler.
To be fair, the lines did improve, but the length continued to be varied and a problem. While admittedly bowling at the death, he went for eleven runs an over in the T20, while championship cricket brought just one wicket this season for 230 runs. Nearing his thirtieth birthday, sixty first-class wickets at forty-six runs each wasn't a strong argument for retention as the end of his contract loomed.
The progress of Tom Taylor, Greg Cork and Ben Cotton effectively sealed the deal, younger models with considerable potential, all of them products of the club's academy. There is also an obvious need for a reliable, penetrative senior bowler or two to support the admirable Footitt and Palladino, something that, sadly, Mark never showed himself to be.
He will be remembered as an affable lad and one who gave total commitment, irrespective of the state of the game. The ball might not have always come out of the hand as he and we would have wanted, but the effort was there.
We will all be curious about the replacement(s) but if they come with Mark's enthusiasm and a greater sense of direction, we'll be alright.