Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Hello Greg...adieu to Paul

As one door opens, another one closes...

That's what it seems like at Derbyshire today, as two sons of well-known fathers go in opposite directions at the 3AAA County Ground.

For Greg, son of Dominic Cork, the next two years presents an opportunity for him to emulate a legend. A tough gig, however you look at it. Cork senior was abrasive, brash and confrontational, but above all else he was a terrific cricketer. With bat and ball, he never backed down and almost from the day that he made his senior debut he 'belonged'.

Greg is an obviously different player, not just because he bowls with a different hand, but his potential is considerable and the biggest pressure will be that of expectation. It would be unwise, perhaps unrealistic, to expect too much too soon but the signs are that junior Cork has the skills for first-class cricket. Time will tell if he has the strength of character that is so crucial to continued development.

I wish him well, as all fans of the county will do.

As one well-known name reappears on county team sheets, another departs. Tony Borrington gave admirable service to the county over a ten-year career that started when he was 23 years old. 'Gritty' was perhaps the apposite word for his batting style, though it should not be forgotten that he was the second Derbyshire player to make a forty-over century, after the similarly attritional Alan Hill. They had the shots, as Neville Cardus wrote of a Yorkshire player of earlier vintage, but didn't always choose to play them...

There are ironies in the release of Paul Borrington (pictured). Despite being only 26, he is on his ninth season in and around the Derbyshire staff, give or take a few when he rarely played because of university commitments. Having made his debut at seventeen, there was a long time when he barely seemed big enough for first-class cricket. Nottinghamshire's James Taylor would look like a basketball star alongside the younger Bozz and that lack of height, weight and muscle saw him exposed far too early at first-class level.

There was no one else, of course, so Paul opened the batting and worked the ball around, successes and failures shared as they are for any player. He usually did well at The Oval and shared some important stands with Martin Guptill in our championship summer of 2012. There were several occasions when he was going well, only to be stymied by a freak dismissal, while an extra fourteen runs to go with that unbeaten 86 at Leicester this summer could have been a catalyst. We'll never know, at least in Derbyshire colours.

I always felt he should have played more one-day cricket, as his ability to find the gaps and work the ball around were as acute as almost anyone in the side. Rotation of the strike has not always been a strong suit for Derbyshire batsmen but Bozz did it well. The perception of him as a one-paced opener was hard to kill though, at least in some quarters.

I've been a strong supporter of the lad, not just because of his impeccable attitude and unfailing pleasantness, but because his technique was as good as any of recent vintage. So too his mental toughness, something that those who haven't faced new ball bowlers spitting fire and pithy comments will know little about. The bottom line was that, for all of the above, he never quite cemented his place in the side with weight of runs. 

At 26, the writing was on the wall, as the club ceased to get ECB funding for him as a home-raised product. He may yet, but at another county, prove himself a late developer and realise the talent that has always been there at first-class level. He wouldn't be the first or last to do that, but wherever his future lies it will be successful, because his attitude is right. He's had his critics, most notably on another 'fan' site, but he always gave his best for the club and no one can expect any more.

My undying image of the lad will be flying through the air to hold a brilliant catch that heralded the Hampshire collapse on the last day at Derby in 2012. We'll gloss over the swirler he put down moments later, but Paul saved plenty of runs in the field and was a fast and safe member of the fielding unit.

I wish him well, as I am sure we all do. I don't blame Graeme Welch for his decision and the revolution is underway. Our need for at least one established opening batsman is patently obvious, the role of local junior partner looking set, at this stage, to be offered to Ben Slater, a good friend of Paul's who will doubtless miss him around the place.

Thanks Bozz - that wicket was always sold dearly and a lot of us valued that.

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