Thursday, 4 September 2014

Higginbottom goes as Welch suggests his squad is 'almost there'

There's a very good article by Mark Eklid in the Derby Telegraph today in which Graeme Welch states that he's 'almost there' with his squad for next summer.

That could, of course, mean anything, but the piece suggests a new deal for Billy Godleman is imminent. I suggested that should be the case recently and think it is the right thing to do. Billy is a much improved bat of late and has a string of good scores in all forms of the game. He looks confident at the crease and can score around the wicket. He and Ben Slater looked a good pairing in the Worcestershire game and I'd be quite happy with them for next summer.

It crossed my mind that we must be fairly close, when I started to work out a notional championship team for next summer. We still have to assume that Pujara and White will sign, but for me they'd take a place in this side:



Godleman
Slater
Madsen
Pujara
Thakor
Hughes (A)
White
Poynton
Wainwright/Knight
Palladino
Footitt

Where do you fit in Wes Durston? Chesney? Tom Taylor? Scott Elstone? Ben Cotton? Jon Clare? Greg Cork? Most of the above have development to do or fitness to prove, but it is a squad of great potential, when you add in Harvey Hosein as back-up keeper and, presumably, a T20 specialist.

One player who won't be in the squad is Matt Higginbottom (pictured), who can deem himself unlucky to be nearly 24 at a time when a clutch of talented 19 and 20 year olds are coming through. Will Davis is another who will be pushing his claims another year, as, presumably, will Jony Marsden. From a situation where we had barely a seamer of note emerge for several years, a veritable convoy has suddenly emerged.

Higginbottom has a decent first-class record, with fourteen first-class wickets at 35, but while he had the ability to bowl a wicket-taking ball, there was a similar tendency to put down a four ball each over too. He could yet be one of those players who go elsewhere to prove a point and Leicestershire could do worse than offer him a trial, but the writing was on the wall for Matt and it is no real surprise to read of his release.

I wish him luck in his future career, as I am sure you all do.

11 comments:

Gareth said...

I would hope we could push the boat out and try to sign the Australian Michael Cranmer on a Kolpak, who you wrote an article about around July time.

I would replace Alex Hughes in your XI with him.

Unfortunately it looks like he was injured playing for his club side in Huddersfield so may not have had any further chances to play for the Seconds on trial.

Does anyone know if we could potentially still be interested?

Regards

Gareth

Anonymous said...

Hi Peakfan

Thanks for the reply on the previous post. Is Slater's contract up at the end of the year?

For me the 11 would be:

Slater
Goddleman
Pujara
Madsen
Durston
Thakor
Poynton
Wainwright
Palladino
Taylor
Footitt

For me Wayne White is more of a fourth seamer rather than a first change. Pujara I think will probably bat at 3 with Madsen at 4. I also see Alex Hughes being replaced by Thakor.

Do you see us getting 2 overseas players for the t20?

Harry

Anonymous said...

Durston surely ahead of Alex hughes ?

Paul.

creweblade said...

id agree - you cant leave wes out - like the above side from harry - that would be mine too - but nice to have competition

Marc said...

I would agree we are not too far away from a squad which has a solid look about it with healthy competition for places.

Until all the pieces of the jigsaw are in place it is hard to name a side just yet. Considering we have managed without several players who began the season,it would seem Welch has come to the conclusion we can operate successfully on a squad which is numerically smaller with a greater emphasis on quality. I would agree with this approach.

I feel White and hopefully a reborn Clare will be important to the balance of the attack. The youngsters are still immature,in a cricketing sense and have much to learn before we can consider them as bona fide members of the first team. The experience of White,Clare,Palladino and Footitt will give the younger bowlers an environment in which they can learn without being placed under too much pressure and without the weight of expectation.

We are reasonably well off for batsmen and have cover for both the top and middle order. In Slater and Godleman we have an opening pair who look as if they may provide the answer to a long standing problem. It,s taken some time for Godleman to find his feet (no pun intended) but things now appear to be slotting into place and Slater is maturing with every passing game. I think both deserve the chance to further prove they are the opening pairing we have been searching for.

With Pujara on board we have a strong looking middle order. I think Alex Hughes needs to double his run output next season if he is to retain his place on a regular basis. He battles hard and has produced some useful innings,but as a frontline batsman he now has to show more consistency and produce on a more regular basis. Elstone will obviously be in the mix,particularly in limited overs,but after a promising start his form rather deserted him as did his confidence. Although his contract has two years to run,I do feel next year will be an important one for him if he is to convince people he merits a first team place.

I wish Higginbottom all the best. It,s a case of a player not quite up to the required standard,like many who have gone before him. With a clutch of younger bowlers coming up behind him I had a feeling he may be deemed surplus to requirements. No shame in it and he can leave with his head held high.



Peakfan said...

Gareth - Cranmer would be an excellent signing, but the issue would be over his eligibility and how long he has lived here. He can't play as a kolpak, as only Windies and Saffer/Zimbabwe players can do that. I don't know the answer but I am sure that the club has looked into that.
Harry - Slater's deal is up but I am sure that it is only a matter of time before deals for him and for Knight are announced. Both are very talented young men who deserve new deals

Peakfan said...

Marc I think your comment on Hughes is unfair..the lad has just had his first season in the county game and averaged over thirty so far. He has bowled well and fielded brilliantly and I expect that bowling to come on over the winter.
There are dozens of examples of players who have second season blues, so to set expectations so high is unrealistic. He may indeed kick on, but county cricket is unforgiving and word will have gone around about his technique and things to try to get him out. This happens with all players.
Hughes and Durston will, for me, fight out a place in four day cricket - more on that in a future piece!

Gareth said...

Hi Peakfan,

Apologies for the confusion but from your Cranmer article in July, couldn't he play through his ancestral visa rather than as a Kolpak?

From his local league reports he could certainly add some power hitting to our XI.

Thanks

Gareth

Peakfan said...

Good spot Gareth! The issue is that the requisite qualifications to play as a league professional differ from those required to play as a county cricketer.

My understanding is that Cranmer would either need dual nationality from birth - as the Robson brothers have - or to have spent the required period of time in this country to qualify for a visa.

I don't know if Cranmer has either, but after his display for the seconds, I am sure that Derbyshire will have checked into this very carefully!

revkeith said...

I still think our batting looks a bit "thin", with too much reliance on inexperienced players. Is there any truth in rumours of our interest in Darren Stevens?

On another subject, there is an interesting post in another place about the lack of county cricket on Saturdays this season and of virtually any cricket at all in August. Do the "powers that be" think that nobody who works or is at school wants to watch the game if it isn't T20?

KEITH BAMFORD

Marc said...

Peakfan,my point about Alex Hughes was that he has to kick on if he is to hold down his place in the championship side. I rate his potential highly,as I have made clear on more than one occasion,but potential alone might not be good enough to keep him in the side.

Last season the 500 odd runs scored by Johnson was considered insufficient by most and that is the sort of total Hughes is likely to finish with. Allowances have to be made for his age and relative lack of experience but next season he will need to increase his output if he is to hold off the competition for his place. I don,t think it unreasonable to suggest this. Perhaps a thousand runs may be over optimistic.Around 700 would be more realistic target.

With 6 championship wickets to his name his bowling also has to improve. Those sort of figures are not likely to swing selection in his favour. I believe he will make a good cricketer but next season he will face greater competition for his place. How he responds following a winter of work remains to be seen.