With just eight days of first-class cricket to go, Yorkshire have won the first division, which they thoroughly deserved as a very strong unit, while Worcestershire are promoted but could yet be pipped for the title by Hampshire. Northamptonshire have had a dreadful summer and they, probably with Lancashire, will be back with us in 2015.
I do feel a little sorry for Worcestershire, as there have been a number of comments doing the rounds regarding their success being largely due to a bowler whose action has now been declared illegal, with way more than twice the permitted 'flex' in the elbow. That their season has stuttered since his departure was hardly surprising, so influential was he on early season results, but they still needed to get the runs for him to bowl at, while someone still needed to bowl at the other end.
In recent weeks I have had the pleasure of several chats with former county spin bowling legend Edwin Smith, from which an interview will appear during the winter months. Here is a man who took over 1200 wickets for the county and was close to an England call at a time when every county side had a decent spinner, often two.
He told me that when the Derbyshire batsmen wanted to practice against a ball that was really turning, he would throw them down and they would turn and spit spitefully. You would expect nothing less from a man who got plenty of turn from his orthodox and perfectly legitimate action, but it serves to show what advantage can be obtained from a bend, or flex of the elbow.
There is a degree of unfortunate irony that some players - and I will use Harold Rhodes and Peter Eyre as examples from our own patch - whose actions were unusual but not remotely questionable, had their career prospects harmed, while others have been allowed to take many wickets at international level with little consequence, until now. Irony is one word, but there are many others...
Going back to Yorkshire and I think it a disgrace that their excellent skipper, Andrew Gale, was banned from receiving the trophy and wary of speaking to the press after their triumph yesterday. Gale was suspended from playing for Yorkshire for falling foul of the 'code', a term that sounds Mafioso-like, perhaps by design.
Why should his suspension include off-field activities? I'm sorry, this is the latest in a long line of ridiculous, poorly handled issues by the ECB who should really be more accountable for such fiascos. That Gale had a tete a tete with Ashwell Prince during the recent Roses match is undeniable, but was his 'crime' so heinous that he should be denied participation in the moment that he had worked for all summer?
Of course it wasn't. It shows that Derbyshire aren't always the victims in such circumstances, but Gale, a good man and a cricketer I respect, didn't deserve such shoddy treatment.
Speaking of which, someone else who deserves better is Alex Hughes. I have seen a few comments regarding his role in the side and one, on another site, suggested he 'wasn't good enough if we really want to go places'.
Seriously? We have here a lad who is just completing his FIRST full season as a professional, with all the physical and psychological demands that this entails. He's averaged around thirty, has added as fair bit of speed to his bowling and was our second most economical bowler in the Royal London One-Day Cup. He fields brilliantly too and is not close to the finished article - at 22 why would you expect him to be - yet people still have a go.
It's neither fair nor remotely clever. He will be better known next year and there are hundreds of examples of players who 'dip' a little in their second summer, but I think he will be a bigger threat with the ball in 2015, as well as tighter in technique in the early part of his innings. Give him and other young players a break though, for there's a long and winding road between promising tyro and county stalwart.
Take Darren Stevens, an excellent and perhaps similar player recently linked with a move to us (which I don't see happening, for the record). In his first summer he scored 562 runs at 28 and in his second 457 runs at 20. He didn't take more than one first-class wicket in a season until his EIGHTH summer as a professional!
Likewise Paul Collingwood. 464 runs at 23 in his first summer, 316 at 26 in his second, while taking a combined nine wickets over the two summers. He didn't turn out too badly, did he?
Cut young lads some slack. It's not easy, as the cases of Richard Johnson and Peter Burgoyne highlighted this summer. Some will succeed, others will fall by the wayside, but it's not for the lack of trying.Think back to what you could, or more appositely couldn't do at that age for a comparator and think about that before you put things into print.
Slater, Hosein, Hughes, Cotton, Taylor, Cork, Knight. All young lads, finding their way in the game.
The onus on all of us, as supporters, is to do what the name suggests.