As I mentioned the other day, I attended the club member forum at lunchtime on Sunday.
After an excellent presentation, only slightly ruined by one or two individuals with personal agendas, I made my way back to my seat in the stand to rejoin my friend. I'd not been sitting for five minutes when someone else came over and sat behind us.
"I've just been at the member meeting" he said to his two neighbours.
"They're knocking down the Gateway building..."
Eh? Had I missed something? An exchange of looks with my friend suggested not and I felt my head start to shake. Seriously, how could anyone have come out of that meeting with that impression? They're not, for the record, but it will be substantially different when next season comes around and rightly so. It is a functional building, but would only win an architectural prize against some of the inner city monstrosities of the 1970s. Perhaps not even then...
Still the work being done is laudable and the men at the helm of our club deserve great credit for their visionary efforts. I said so to them at the end of the meeting, as people are quick to criticise and slow to praise round these parts and it is important that this imbalance is addressed.
Clarity of thought and future-proofing has never been strong at our county but it is hard to fault recent events. One supporter suggested we should never have let Tim Groenewald go, something I disagree with. My understanding is that the player wanted a new challenge and that nothing we could offer would change his mind. We're hardly going to offer silly money, so he went. The advent of Tommy Taylor, Ben Cotton and Greg Cork, together with the introduction of Wayne White, suggests that it was a good move. The supporter's assertion that Timmy G, a worthy cricketer, would have got us to Lords, was, I suspect, more than a tad fanciful...
As for complaints about the standard of cricket in the tour match - counties cannot dictate to touring sides and what is so wrong with seeing all of the Indian party, rather than just eleven? Personally, I don't like watching friendly games in any sport as they're always like that, but we got senior action for some of our young talent, something that was worth its weight in gold.
We also got on good terms with the Indian cricket hierarchy and perhaps worked, thanks to Tom Poynton, with the local community more than ever before. The signing of Cheteshwar Pujara was a consequence of this and I foresee great interest in him, especially if we can clinch a longer-term deal. Appearances at local businesses and restaurants could make it a real winner for the county, perhaps even more so than it already seems.
So too the signing of Shiv Thakor. That marks a real sea change for me, the first time that a young, hot property in the county game has opted for Derbyshire. That there was substantial opposition is to be expected, but the player decided to come to us, having been impressed by Graeme Welch and Ant Botha.
Thakor is the real deal, as is the older, but street-savvy Wayne White. Add in the undoubted talents of Pujara and the side for next year starts to take an impressive-looking shape.Signing them all on full-time should excite even the most negative of fans.
I'm impressed and everyone should be. A five-minute chat with Graeme Welch at the end of that meeting convinced me of his passion to do well in this job and his enthusiasm is infectious. One has only to look at recent results to see that. Early season results were tough, but there was a lot going on that legislated against Welch and his team's attempts at building team spirit.
I'll certainly not be betting against him next year. A winter working on fitness and techniques should see this squad, given a modicum of luck, do much, much better.
In the words of an old TV show - the sky's the limit.