Saturday, 30 August 2014

Derbyshire v Worcestershire County Championship preview

After the largely positive experience that was the Royal London One Day Trophy, Derbyshire return to county championship action tomorrow against a side that has been runaway leaders of the division for much of the summer.

Worcestershire got off to the kind of flyer that we enjoyed in 2012 and it continued, largely because of the phenomenal returns of Pakistan spinner Saeed Ajmal. Win the toss, bat then win on the last day was the obvious route to success and Ajmal bowled with great stamina and no little skill for them until he had to return home for international action.

The irony of his action subsequently being called into question - not for the first time - is not lost and there is no doubt that they were a stronger side with him in it, as any would be, of course. Mitchell McClenaghan, the honest journeyman Kiwi who has replaced him, is a decent bowler but hardly of the same quality.

So Derbyshire have a chance over the next four days to show what might have been, had our season started sometime before the onset of June. The early season issues are well enough documented, but recent form in the different formats - OK, not T20 - have been more like supporter expectations.

The side has changed drastically in the intervening period and tomorrow sees us play without an overseas player. Marcus North, as expected, has played his last game for us and Cheteshwar Pujara has not yet arrived from India. That leaves a vacancy for our resident Anguillan to step in, at least to the squad, to see if he can make a decent fist of his first senior opportunity for some time.

He may not play, as my call on the side, obviously without seeing the wicket, would be:

Hughes A

I think Ben Cotton could miss out here, as the other bowlers pick themselves to some extent. It would be brave, or silly, to go into a game in late August without a specialist spinner and we're hardly going to omit the returning Wayne White, Palladino or Footitt. That's my call, anyway, so I'd be interested to see yours.

As for Worcestershire, they are captained by the prolific Daryl Mitchell and their squad lines up:

Mitchell, Oliver, Fell, Kervezee, Kohler-Cadmore, Cox, Leach, Choudhry, ShantryMcClenaghan, Morris, WhiteleyD'Oliveira

Ross Whiteley will hope for a return after a disappointing campaign, while Alex Kervezee will hope to continue an excellent record against us.

My prediction? I think we can win this. There's fresh optimism and with some justification in the Derbyshire camp and for me there's little between the two sides in ability.

It just goes to show what an impact a good overseas player can make to a county's fortunes. Something that will doubtless occupy the minds of Graeme Welch and his coaching team over the winter.

Pujara would do very nicely, as far as I am concerned.

I'm looking forward to seeing the first two days and catching up with friends, old and new. I'm especially looking forward to seeing Wayne White back in our colours. He would be a very sound signing, were we able to secure a permanent deal.

Postscript - the Guardian newspaper today said that Kent's Darren Stevens was believed to have received a very good offer from Derbyshire for next season. Newspaper talk? Buried as it was in a match report, it was unlikely to sell them many copies, but if there is any substance to him coming here I'd be very excited.

At 38 he is not in the first flush of youth, but probably has three or four good years left in him. He averages 40 with the bat this year and has over forty wickets at 23, so there is no sign of a diminution in what have been very impressive county standard powers.

Put it this way. If it helped to secure his signature, I'd drive down to Kent from Scotland to give him a lift...


Marc said...

Without Ajmal,Worcestershire are not the force they were earlier in the season.Without him and the runs from Mitchell,s bat they wouldn,t be much higher than we are in my opinion.

The choice for us is who bats at 5 and 6. I think it,s time to give Chesney Hughes another crack of the whip. He has only featured in 3 Championship matches back in April and in all fairness deserves a chance. Both Alex Hughes and Elstone have failed to cement their place,despite a lengthy run in the team. Alex Hughes is perhaps slight favourite because of his bowling,Batting wise there is little to separate them.

It,s hard to see how Cotton can be slotted in without omitting Wainwright.Something I can,t see happening.

Darren Stevens would be a handy player for a couple of years or so. I suppose the only question would be whether at 38 he would fancy moving up north. I,ve also heard talk we might be interested in Mike Reid from Glamorgan. He,s a decent bowler,the only slight concern is the fact he,s had two knee operations. We have to be careful not to add another crock to the seam bowling ranks.

A wedding forces me to miss today, though I might be able to sneak down for the last couple of hours. With a bit of luck we can win this game and get ourselves into mid table.

creweblade said...

good to meet you again today peakfan - thought we batted well today on a lively pitch - good knocks from alex hughes, mads, billy g, ben slater and wes - only really chesney and cross who didnt come off. members forum was interesting - nice to see ground changes and i like the players coming out through the crowd in future. would like to see chessie committed to more than 1 year as it is a fabulous place to watch cricket and seems likely next years overseas player will be a batsman (low odds on pujara id wager)

Peakfan said...

Yes, it was good to see you too Creweblade - I agree with your summation of the day and it would appear that Pujara is probably the number one target for next summer - which is very exciting news!