Thursday, 31 July 2014

Worcestershire v Derbyshire Royal London one-day cup

In the end, it was the rain that won the day at Worcester, but not before Derbyshire produced another strong performance that, with just over two more overs play, would have seen a third straight win in the competition.

Again, good bowling and fielding was a major factor, with Mark Footitt again neatly finishing off the innings after the increasingly impressive Tom Taylor undermined it with early wickets.

While there was middle order resistance again that set a fair target, we will have fancied the chase in our present mood. Tony Palladino again produced exemplary figures, underlining once more the mystery of why he didn't play more one-day cricket in previous seasons. Nor should the importance of good fielding be overlooked and Scott Elstone is picking up a name for himself as a fielder of some brilliance in the covers, effecting another run out today which fully justified his place in the side.

Durston and Godleman led off our reply with confidence and a win seemed a foregone conclusion had the rain come down fifteen minutes later.

One point each then, but confidence remains high and we are in good shape at present. Next up is Lancashire at the County Ground next Thursday, a big game for sure.

More over the weekend.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Worcestershire v Derbyshire preview

They may have beaten us in the last T20 of the campaign, but Worcestershire will be in no doubt that they have a game on their hands tomorrow.

Derbyshire's players must be brimming with confidence right now after two wins in the championship and two in this competition, both against sides where there was perhaps a greater likelihood of defeat on track records and reputation.

Our hosts tomorrow are a good side and have enjoyed a fine season, though the loss of Saeed Ajmal to the international game will test the depth of their squad. They were in trouble against us, before Ross Whiteley played his innings of the season and took the game out of reach, albeit against a second string attack.

Tomorrow should be different and I don't expect major changes in the Derbyshire side. Marcus North will replace Shivnarine Chanderpaul, so we have an extra bowler too, never a bad thing. North will also be looking for a strong finish to the summer, as a player who could theoretically be available all of 2015. His pedigree is beyond dispute, but he needs a weight of runs in the closing weeks of the campaign to make a compelling argument for consideration next year.

There's an argument for either Ben Slater or Tom Knight to replace Scott Elstone, but the latter is a quick-scoring player who may just get the nod and get his form back on track. There was no shame in being dismissed by the ball that got him at Leicester, that's for sure.

As for Worcestershire, their squad is:

 Mitchell, Oliver, Fell, Kervezee, Kohler-Cadmore, Whiteley, Cox, Leach, Choudhry, McClenaghan, Morris, Shantry, D'Oliveira

No Colin Munro in this competition, so Daryl Mitchell will lead the batting line up, something he has done very well all summer. He's a good cricketer, perhaps one of the most underrated batsmen in the country and will be a danger at the top of the innings. Alex Kervezee is so often a thorn in our side too, so the recent good form will be tested, for sure.

We can win this, no doubt about it. With Wayne 'Bradman' Madsen in top form and others firing nicely, there's enough in our batting and bowling to keep the run going. It will be a good game, that's for sure.

Go get 'em lads!

Monday, 28 July 2014

Monday musings

There's a convoluted nature to tonight's blog, written in the euphoric aftermath of a mighty fine weekend's cricket by the Derbyshire boys.

I still find it mildly amusing that my mail box and comments listing are much quieter after a win. Maybe it is that British mentality of being quicker to complain than to praise a job well done, but for those who got in touch to share the love after the weekend performances, I salute you.

But I digress. There are mixed messages tonight over the departure of Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who returns to the Caribbean after the club's golf day tomorrow. The club's statement on his departure confirms that a return for 2015 is a possibility, as there was an option for a third year in the original contract. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that he could return, though it would be unrealistic, perhaps, to expect the runs to be so prolific past his fortieth birthday. Plenty of players in the past scored heavily up to the age of fifty, but it is less common these days  that players are even playing up to Shiv's age, let alone at Test level.

I wonder. The club are 'considering various options' for 2015 and they will probably need them. I've no intention of starting hares around the park with suggestions, as all the Test-playing nations have engagements during the English season. Much will depend on who is in and out of favour with national selectors, but with Australia and New Zealand touring this country next summer, a few favoured options may be naturally excluded, while the IPL will, as always, take many of the best out of the equation for the first couple of months.

Chanderpaul needs 540 runs to go past Brian Lara's all-time West Indian record of 11,953 in Test matches. With winter series to come against Bangladesh, India and South Africa, he could quite easily do that and set a new benchmark that is likely to stand for years - especially in the light of current West Indies batting strength.

Having done that, would he perhaps consider retirement from Test cricket and turn Kolpak? Much will depend on the finance, of course, but that brings me to my final point and to the piece I wrote last week on potential close season signings.

We have considerable resources available for new players in the winter, more than ever before. There is an avowed intention to bring 'match-winning' players to the County Ground and I came up with a list of potential names last week that could be in the frame.

But were they match-winners? Any player can be a match winner on their day -  I've won a few in my time, but don't think I am what the club is looking for right now. All of those I named were good players and all would strengthen our side, but none would perhaps be the kind to make the world of cricket sit up and take notice.

If anyone can convince such names that their career lies at Derbyshire it will be Chris Grant, together with Graeme Welch. A fully committed and highly respected chairman and a coach who, after early travails, is slowly turning the corner and will, in the summers ahead, enhance his fine reputation in charge of our club.

Yet the challenge is obvious and here's a question for you. How many players, at the peak of their powers, have signed for Derbyshire from other counties since 1970?  I can only come up with one  - Rikki Clarke - and you'd find few fans who would deem his short stay a successful one, even if his move to Warwickshire was subsequently of considerable mutual benefit.

If that unfortunate trend changes over the winter, we should all be thankful, because a lot of work will have gone into any move and the competition for the services of the best players will be strong. If things don't go our way, it won't be for the want of trying, but there's a very good plan B available.

And one of the all-time great batsmen playing another summer as a Kolpak would meet with the approval of most.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Leicestershire v Derbyshire Royal London One-Day Cup

Leicestershire 248-8 (Boyce 64, Footitt 5-59)

Derbyshire 251-3 (Madsen 105 not, Chanderpaul 52 not)

Derbyshire won by seven wickets 

Well, my friends, it would appear that while we need to learn plenty over twenty, we're nifty over fifty...

Two stunningly impressive one-day efforts by Derbyshire in two days saw us get off to the best possible start in the Royal London One-Day Cup and in the process we're starting to look like a team - a proper team.

We're not perfect yet by a long chalk, but the quality of displays this weekend must have thrilled Graeme Welch as it has done any Derbyshire fan, near or far. In two days we've beaten the side I saw as the best in the group, closely followed by another that has been a one-day bogey side in recent summers.

The biggest surprise in this one was the margin of victory, because we won this with ease. Derbyshire and run chases have so often gone together like a dress suit and moccasins, but this was totally professional from start to finish. While the bowlers did well and sub-250 seemed below par on a decent track, we've all seen such chases subside with regularity in the past.

Not today.

The Leicestershire tally was less than seemed likely at one stage thanks to another five-wicket haul for Mark Footitt, who also put Josh Cobb out of the rest of the match with a fierce blow to the hand. We must accept that there may be a few wild ones in the Footitt repertoire, though less than in his earlier years, but he is a potent weapon that we are lucky to have. To use an old line from Dad's Army, they don't like it up 'em. Very few do, anyhow and Mark is as capable as anyone of making batting an awkward proposition.

A couple of nights ago, I suggested that his one-day form was the reason for his omission from the England Lions squad, but a few more displays like this will make him hard to ignore. There was good support from his colleagues and at the halfway point it seemed to be a game we could win.

It never looked in doubt. Wes and Billy got us off to a solid start with 62 off ten overs and although Scott Elstone went cheaply as he did yesterday, the skipper appeared to be in prime touch from the outset. When Godleman went at 123 we essentially had 27 overs to double the score and Madsen, with the support of Shivnarine Chanderpaul, got us across the line with five overs to spare and with sublime professionalism.

Centuries in successive days for Captain Fantastic. His T20 batting this summer went to a new level, displaying a range of shots, timing and placement that has been rare in Derbyshire colours, while also highlighting the basics of rotating the strike. He and Chanderpaul did that beautifully today, clearly illustrating with a succession of singles that you don't need to hit the cover off the ball to score quickly. It was an absolute delight to follow such a display.

That may have been Shivnarine Chanderpaul's last innings for Derbyshire, as he returns to the Caribbean to prepare for international duty None of us know if he will return another year, though the thinking money would be on a different overseas player, but if the winter marked his retirement from the international game - and we could afford him - there would be worse calls than him returning in a Kolpak role.

As we know more about that, a full appreciation will appear, but for now he can reflect on unbeaten hands of 29 and 51 in his two fifty over appearances, together with an average of fifty in the championship. Maybe not the force of his younger days, but then, few of us are.

Then again, he didn't really let us down, did he?

Top effort this weekend lads.

And thanks, Shiv. It has been a privilege.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Derbyshire v Hampshire - One Day Cup that was impressive!

Derbyshire produced a magnificent all-round display of cricket against Hampshire today to render my pre-match prediction completely wrong and suggest, at least for 24 hours, that we might make a decent fist of this competition.

I was working today and was following the progress of the game sporadically. The early loss of two wickets gave cause for concern, but then Wayne Madsen and Wes Durston (pictured) shared a stunning partnership of 222 in 35 overs. Both made centuries and it was the skipper's first in List A cricket, though almost certainly not his last.

Durston appears to be back in the rich vein of 2012 and credit should go to batting coach John Sadler and the player himself for returning to former glories. That's an apposite word, as there are few better sights than Wes when he's 'on the go'. When he departed for a superb 134, the skipper took over as lead and ensured good use was made of the last ten overs, a period of the game where promising positions have so often gone awry for Derbyshire sides in the past.

Shiv did his bit and there was a characteristically lusty blow from Gaz Cross to take us to 340-5 and leave Hampshire a mountain to climb.

They went off like a train. Fifty in five overs, a hundred in ten but wickets fell regularly in an innings that perhaps redefined frenetic and suggested that they were still in T20 mode. Australian Glenn Maxwell has had a poor spell for them, well short of his IPL achievements earlier this year and his dismissal, quickly followed by that of skipper Jimmy Adams seemed to turn the game.

As so often has been the case, the advent of Tony Palladino slowed the scoring and those two dismissals were crucial, but the introduction of spin saw the innings slowly deteriorate and Derbyshire, with the aid of some steady catching, won by the impressive margin of 136 runs against a team that, on paper, is among the best in this section. Durston took two wickets to fully justify his man of the match award, while David Wainwright bowled most impressively for 4-34.

So are we about to see a one-day renaissance? I think we will know more tomorrow, after a game against a Leicestershire side that has become a bete noire for us in recent seasons over the shorter forms of the game. Anthony Ireland, a decent bowler, transforms into Richard Hadlee against us, while two or three of their batsmen rediscover their love for run-scoring against our attack.

Maybe tomorrow will be different. There's a definite improvement in the fortunes of the senior county eleven, not to be confused with the one that played at Worcester last night. While the championship batting has been of a mixed quality, that in one-day cricket has been fairly consistent. It would be hard to argue with one correspondent on Twitter today, who said it was the best one-day batting display he had seen from a Derbyshire side.

I wasn't there, obviously, but from the tempo of the innings, the way it was built and the way that it was concluded, I can't think of a better effort. It's a shame it didn't get our points tally moving, after the poor pitch deduction from last year, but any repeat should ensure that it won't be long before we're up and running.

Very impressive gentlemen. Well done.

Postscript - looking for an example of the levelling powers of cricket? Last night Ross Whiteley put Derbyshire to the sword with an unbeaten 84 from 38 balls for Worcestershire.

Today, playing for Chesterfield against Ticknall, he was out to Mark Turner for nought.

Wonderful game, this cricket.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Worcestershire v Derbyshire T20

I'm not going to go over old ground here.

What was effectively a second team and academy attack was put to the sword by old boy Ross Whiteley tonight. I hope that this doesn't bring forth comments of 'we shouldn't have let him go', because a first-class average of 17 and 136 T20 runs in ten knocks prior to tonight doesn't justify it.

Tonight was his night and an inexperienced attack felt it. The seniors were quite rightly being kept back for the Royal London Cup, but the big match atmosphere the young players have had this year, even in adversity, will stand them in good stead for the future. They now know what they have to do to succeed at this level and will redouble their efforts over the winter to be better prepared next time.

The batting let no one down, but if you're chasing over ten an over it's a tough ask from the start and the best efforts of the top order couldn't prevent a defeat. Someone had to replicate what Whiteley did and no one went on to the big score that would have changed the result.

Next up is the fifty-over cup, starting tomorrow and the late hour and work tomorrow prevents a full preview. A Derbyshire squad has been announced of :

Wayne Madsen (77)                                    Wes Durston (3)
Shivnarine Chanderpaul (11)                      Billy Godleman (1)
Scott Elstone (10)                                       Alex Hughes (18)
Gareth Cross (7)                                         David Wainwright (21)
Tony Palladino (28)                                    Tom Taylor (15)
Mark Footitt (4)                                         
Ben Cotton (36)
Tom Knight (27)

Hampshire's squad is:

Adams (c), Briggs, Carberry, Coles, Dawson, Ervine, Maxwell, Smith, Tomlinson, Vince, Wheater, Wood.

An improving Derbyshire side should give them a good game, but I think tomorrow's opponents will be too strong - although I hope I am proved wrong.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Midweek musings

There's a degree of irony in the fact that the eyes of the world over the next couple of weeks are on Glasgow, while mine are firmly fixed on Derbyshire.

Don't get me wrong, I love Glasgow and took great pride in the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony last night. It is a friendly city and, even though we live in a semi-rural location around nine miles north of it, we went into the back garden last night and on a beautiful, still evening could clearly hear the fireworks that heralded the end of proceedings.

On an enjoyable day off today, in between enjoying the sunshine, I watched the remarkable Brownlee brothers swimming, cycling and running around Strathclyde Park, the splendours of which are but ten minutes from our house. I pass it every day on my road to work and a lovely place it is.

It's not Derbyshire though and people round these parts excuse and understand my bias in such things.

The T20 draws to a close tomorrow and it has been a pretty depressing competition for us. Ironically, as has been pointed out, we've batted pretty well and posted totals that, with better bowling, should have resulted in positive results. Much work needs to be done on the skill sets required in the Power play and at the death before we can genuinely expect to compete in this competition. Perhaps another year some overseas input in this area will be available, courtesy of

There has been encouragement in the performances of youth, however and the likes of Taylor, Cotton and Cork could, given hard work and experienced assistance, improve our performances another year. I'm regarding this as the nadir and look forward to a future improvement in our fortunes. 

As Graeme Welch points out in the Derby Telegraph today, there is no reason to be despondent about fifty-over prospects in the Royal London One-Day Cup, because the games tend to ebb and flow more. Innings need to be built and teams can over-extend in the quest for an unassailable score, when they are unaware that they are already going above par on a particular wicket.

Top half of the league will do us fine and enable us to reach the quarter-finals and on paper we should beat some of the opposition in our group. Whether we can win enough to make it count is a moot point, but we should be full of confidence and ready to give a good account of ourselves.

It was interesting to read that Shiv Chanderpaul looks likely to have played his last championship match for us and even more so to see Graeme Welch suggest that there are options other than Marcus North to replace him. Presumably that will be a portion of the Groenewald salary and it remains to be seen if we do bring someone in and who that might be.

It's going to make interesting watching, though.

Finally tonight and harking back to the references to loom bands of a night or two back, I realised today that Derbyshire's fortunes have taken a turn for the better since our daughter made me one in club colours. I say realised - actually she pointed it out to me... very nice it is too and I wear it with pride.

Think I'll be keeping it on for the immediate future!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Australian Michael Cranmer impresses in seconds debut

If you were to look for a way to impress a county with a view to gaining a professional contract, then South Australian Michael Cranmer did just that for Derbyshire's second team against Lancashire second eleven today.

Cranmer, a professional for Hoylandswaine Cricket Club in the Drakes Huddersfield Cricket League, made a stunning 171 from 221 balls as his side replied to Lancashire's 252 all out with 391-9. Tom Knight made 46 and Harvey Hosein 56. but it was all-rounder Cranmer, who bowls fast-medium, who caught the eye with a stunning display.

25 years old, he qualifies to play in the UK through an ancestral visa and, according to his club side's website, is assessing his future options at present after stunning success over three summers for them.

In his first year he scored 667 runs at 33, as well as taking 70 wickets at 17 each. A shorter stint in 2012 saw him score 500 runs at 38, along with 26 wickets at 19, while 2013 saw 335 runs at 33 and 50 wickets at 13.

This year he returned as captain and has been in spectacular form, taking his side to the T20 final last week with an extraordinary 138 from just 52 balls, with ten fours and fourteen sixes. His season highest score for the club is 186...

Having played for South Australia and Australia Under-19s, the pedigree is there. Hat tricks, five-wicket hauls and centuries litter his career in A Grade and state second eleven cricket and he seems a player of genuine talent.

Certainly, I would suggest - and not just on the basis of today's century, but on an excellent track record in two countries so far - he would be a very shrewd addition to the Derbyshire staff. I have no doubt that the Yorkshire connections on our coaching staff have been instrumental in getting him to Derby on trial, John Sadler having played for the same club. The next step would appear to get in for him quickly, before someone else does.

A hard-hitting batsman and fast medium bowler.

What's not to like?

PS If anyone from Hoylandswaine Cricket Club comes across this piece, I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Derbyshire v Glamorgan day 3

Regular readers will hopefully be pleased to see that this isn't a description on how to make a dragon tail loom band...

For indeed, victory was ours this morning and we rise, at least for now, to the giddy heights of  fifth in the county championship, division two. With four games to go, it is unlikely that we will rise much further and possible that we could drop a place or two lower, but pride has been restored and funny things happen when teams get on a roll. With games to come against Glamorgan and Surrey away, plus Worcestershire and Leicestershire at home, there are plenty of games and points still to be won.

I had a look at the footage of yesterday's play on the ECB website and the bowling of Mark Footitt was top drawer stuff. I'm not sure how Jacques Rudolph - or indeed anyone - could have played the ball that removed him and it was no real surprise, in seeing such a ball, that we lost four wickets in reaching today's victory target. The value of yesterday's partnership between Tony Palladino and David Wainwright became quite clear and we'd not have wanted to be chasing over 150, that's for sure.

The batting is sure to be the main focus of winter recruitment, our current line-up functional rather than reliable. Eighteen batting bonus points in twelve matches, the least in the country, tells its own sorry tale and we need a couple more people in the batting order who can offer more than sporadic success. By the same token, players improve over the winter and there will be hope and expectation that this will happen with some current members of the batting order.

The main seam bowling looks excellent, but in such form Mark Footitt must surely attract higher recognition. It would also be extraordinary if he were to stay at this level of fitness and credit is due to the physiotherapy and strength/conditioning staff that have kept him that way in a golden summer. The player deserves the utmost praise, thoroughly rewarding the club's faith in him and running in hard to bowl fast all season.

It was interesting to see Notts Viewer's assessment of him below yesterday's piece, though the bowler's old frailties with fitness appear to run deep. Like a good few before him, I don't think Mark realised the work that is required to bowl quickly at first-class level in his younger days, but since back surgery sorted a bulging disc now has a core that finally supports his raw talent to bowl fast. The ability to do that is given to very few cricketers; that to sustain such pace for fifteen to twenty overs a day over six months is a precious commodity indeed.

Tom Taylor's emergence is gratifying, though fans should not expect too much too soon. My understanding is that the young player will be going to university next summer, important for his long-term career prospects but likely meaning that we would be short of his services in the early season. Graeme Welch will be aware that his work load needs monitored and more so that he needs greater back up than a group of promising tyros, especially if it means more work is to fall on that most willing and able of work horses, Tony Palladino.

All that is for the future, but for now let us enjoy the present. Focus switches to one-day cricket this weekend and whether, after a game against Worcestershire on Friday in the T20, we can make a better fist of fifty-over cricket.

I remain to be convinced, at this early stage of the squad's evolution, but I await their performances with interest.

In closing, a couple of weeks back I wrote that a change in Derbyshire's fortunes was going to need a special performance or two.

It is immensely gratifying to report that there has been a collective holding up of hands to do just that.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Derbyshire v Glamorgan day 2

Glamorgan 138 and 175 (Footitt 6-48, Taylor 3-27)
Derbyshire 241 and 13-1

Derbyshire need 60 runs to win

All of a sudden, Derbyshire have got quite good at this four-day cricket...

The "worst team in our history", as described by a fan on another site, who should really be ashamed, has now won, barring a collapse tomorrow that is surely beyond even our darkest days, two games on the trot and moved neatly up the table in the process.

We're not yet a great side and the discerning are well aware of the areas for improvement. But we weren't the worst one either, just a squad short of confidence. That should now be flowing through the side like water through a colander, today's cricket every bit as impressive as that of the first day.

One gets the distinct impression, to use a phrase that Graeme Welch is fond of, that we are now bowling as a unit and, crucially, playing as a team. The trio of Footitt, Palladino and Taylor complement each other nicely and, unlike last year and the early part of this season, the bowlers give little away and act as a mutual support unit in which one or another takes the lead.

If it doesn't always work, David Wainwright chips in and, with Wes Durston back in the team and form, we look a decent and balanced side again - at least in four-day cricket.

Today, the tail did remarkably well to steer us to a lead of over a hundred, despite losing the wickets of the two men most likely to take us to that position in the opening overs. David Wainwright, Tony Palladino and Mark Footitt (pictured) then batted with common sense and no little skill to take us to a position of strength, before Footitt unleashed himself.

On this season's form, there's not a better left-arm bowler in English cricket than Footitt and his new-found fitness, coupled with a vastly improved radar and no loss of pace, makes him one of the most potent weapons in the county game. Only Saeed Ajmal has more wickets than him this summer and opening batsmen must be thinking of career alternatives when it all clicks, as it so obviously did today.

Quite simply, he destroyed a not insignificant batting order, ably assisted by Tom Taylor, whose own form has been quite extraordinary since he made his debut. It is tribute to the young man's progress that no one is mentioning Tim Groenewald  - and few of us would have seen that coming.

No chicken counting tonight, but if we don't seal the win tomorrow, look out for Peakfan's loom band site from next week.

Different author and perhaps a different target audience...

Postscript - if Mark Footitt doesn't get a Lions tour this winter, people at Lords should be ashamed of themselves...

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Derbyshire v Glamorgan day one

Glamorgan 138 all out (Goodwin 44, Hughes 4-46, Palladino 3-14, Footitt 2-37)

Derbyshire 142-6 (Durston 50, Slater 40) 

No doubt about it, that was a very good day for Derbyshire today.

It could have been better, had we held all of our chances and Glamorgan might then not have made a hundred. Yet it is churlish to be overly critical on a day that we have ended four runs ahead with four wickets in hand.

A green track was always likely to make it a good toss to win and, in contrast to the early part of the summer when a few of these went against us, Wayne Madsen won this one and must have enjoyed watching his seam bowlers make excellent use of the conditions.

Irrespective of the help being offered by any wicket, you need to put the ball in the right areas to succeed and our seam quartet did that admirably. Tony Palladino once again returned remarkably parsimonious figures in the finest county tradition and appears not to have been flattered by 14-6-14-3. If Les and Cliff were keeping a wary eye on events today, they'd have nodded approvingly at such excellent bowling.

There was good support from Mark Footitt with two wickets, but the star turn with the ball, at least in so far as wickets are concerned, was Alex Hughes (pictured). 4-46 from twelve overs wasn't the most economical bowling of the day, but he came on, bowled a line and ended up with career-best figures that were well deserved.

With James Harris and Michael Hogan in the opposition, we were unlikely to find batting much easier, but Ben Slater reinforced his positive impression of recent weeks and Wes blazed a typically vibrant fifty. Though the ever-dangerous Hogan got Slater and Tom Taylor in consecutive balls before the close, we ended up four runs ahead with justifiable hopes of extending that tomorrow.

We really need that tail to wag and if we can get upwards of fifty of a lead it will be more than useful in a game that already seems sure to produce a positive result. There's enough batting to come to ensure that we forge on tomorrow, 200 being the first target.

In closing tonight, it is worth mentioning that in a season that has not been one of the better ones in living memory, we have seen plenty of young players make sizeable strides forward. Slater, Hughes, Taylor, Cork, Knight, Hosein, Cotton - that's quite an impressive list.

I'd also suggest that both Tony Palladino and Mark Footitt are improved, especially in their lines and length, both much more economical than has been the case in the past, without loss of potency in either case.

While there have been plenty of comments about the cricket played this year, credit has to be given where its due and, even in such a short time that they have been in post, the coaches are showing improvements in their charges.

Give them a winter to work on the younger ones, add in the new players we seek and...who knows?

Postscript - congratulations to Gareth Cross on his 200th first-class victim behind the stumps. A telling time to make a serious contribution with the bat, eh?

Book Review: Touched by Greatness - the story of Tom Graveney, England's much-loved cricketer by Andrew Murtagh

Those of a certain age will recall Andrew Murtagh as a bustling, whole-hearted seam bowler for Hampshire in their successful period of the 1970s. With this book on the legendary England batsman, Tom Graveney, he proves himself an even better writer.

My earliest televised memory of cricket was a Test match in which England were playing the West Indies in 1966. It was the final match of the series in which we has been soundly beaten by a Sobers-inspired team of fine players. Yet for that last Test, Brian Close was recalled as captain and England recovered from a parlous 166-7 to make 527, largely thanks to Graveney, who made a quite magnificent 165, sharing a huge partnership with John Murray, who made 112. We then went on to win the game, which didn't happen that often against the West Indies side of that era.

I still recall the easy, languid style of Graveney as I watched on my uncle Geoff's old black and white television. That high back lift and high grip on the bat, as well as a technique that looked comfortable and organised. He always seemed to have so much time, a sure sign of a good player and his record confirms that he was much more than that.

48,000 first-class runs and nearly 5,000 in Test matches, both at a mid-forties average. Yes, he could play, but it was not so much the runs that he made as the way that he made them - it ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it, as the old song goes. Tom Graveney had style, grace, elan and the ability to make a dull day's cricket that much better, simply by taking guard.

The surprise is that he didn't play more for England, but as we in Derbyshire know all too well, the selection of England sides for  many years after the Second World War was riddled with bias and snobbery. A man prepared to stand his ground, Graveney upset officialdom at times and their response was to omit him from teams, in favour of others who weren't in the same league.

It was England's loss, but very much his county's gain, as Graveney gave first Gloucestershire and then Worcestershire sterling service. While some international players coasted through their county commitments, Graveney was often the difference between his county winning and losing games, his form for Worcestershire a major reason for their championship successes of the 1960s.

He later became a respected commentator, very much in the Jim Laker vein of letting the pictures do much of the work and chipping in when it was worthwhile.  Then, and somewhat ironically in the light of much of what had gone on before, he was elected president of the MCC, where his genial nature and willingness to talk to everyone, irrespective of their background, won him many more friends.

A book on a player of such importance is long overdue and it is to the credit of both author and publisher that it has seen the light of day. Tom Graveney is 87 and not in the best of health but the easy conversational style of the author and the excellent collection of photographs transports the reader back to a time when the player was in his pomp and the game seemed far more innocent than it does today.

A worthy addition to any cricket library and perhaps my favourite book of this summer.

Touched by Greatness - the story of Tom Graveney, England's much-loved cricketer is written by Andrew Murtagh and published by Pitch Publishing. It is available from all good book shops and is currently on Amazon priced £18.99

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Signing targets - the game we love to play...

With over two months of the season still to go, the game that all sports fans love to play is alive and well.

Who are we going to sign? That Derbyshire have substantial resources available, according to a recent interview with the chairman, has sent message boards and my email account into overdrive.

I've seen lots of names suggested, some of them players whose best days are well behind them. I sincerely hope that the days of Derbyshire becoming one last pay day for the imminently retired are consigned to the past, so I see no merit in some of the names being suggested for county colours.

There's also a few being named who are under contract and therefore non-starters. Jim Allenby, a name mentioned by a few people, is under contract until 2017, Richard Pyrah at Yorkshire until 2015 and old boy Graham Wagg likewise. So too Wayne White and unless we are prepared to 'buy out' their contract (unlikely, I'd suggest) they are non-starters.Having said that, all are good players, worthy of consideration otherwise. Then there's Michael Carberry or Nick Compton as openers, but both are under contract for at least another two years.

There are others who are in the second elevens of fairly ordinary sides, something that speaks volumes for their worth in changing fortunes at Derbyshire. There is, to be fair, greater merit in signing a second team player from Yorkshire than from Leicestershire and there are a handful of decent players on the fringes of the county circuit who might possibly improve our side. The question to ask, in each case for me, is simple - will they simply help us to be more competitive, or will they genuinely make us a better side with aspirations of success?

I see no point in signing an average fringe player just because we can and nor do we want to block the paths of young bowlers with the signing of only moderate players from elsewhere. Having had a taste of first team action in recent weeks, it would appear counter-productive to see Tom Taylor, Greg Cork and Ben Cotton all back in regular second team duty next summer - at least unless we sign someone special.

I've seen comments to the effect that we will struggle to attract the right players, but much will depend on the attitude of those players and what they want from their careers. There is much to like in the future-planning at Derbyshire and unless there were counties out there prepared to offer silly money  - against which one can never legislate - we can probably match most of them this winter if the right player became available.

Like most of you, I am unaware of everyone who is out of contract this Autumn, but of those who are, there's a handful who I feel would benefit us:

Will Gidman - a very good county player and a classic late developer. Released by Durham aged 25, this summer he has nearly 700 runs at 57, as well as 38 wickets at 21. Coming to his peak as a player and a fine cricketer who Graeme Welch, a fellow Geordie, should know well.

Nathan Buck - with 39 wickets at 28, Buck carries the Leicestershire attack. So much so that he has had a few injuries, but he would be an asset to any side and, at 23, is only going to get better. Like Gidman, I suspect Welch could improve him still further. Doubtless there will be interest down at Trent Bridge too.

Josh Cobb - a mercurial player who has yet to translate his talent into weight of runs, Cobb still averages 35 in the championship this summer and is a very fine one-day player. I am concerned at a 'proper cricket' average of 25 but he would improve our one-day side considerably and has time on his side to improve. Fits the description of 'match-winner' very nicely.

Richard Jones - another seamer and no, I'm not advocating signing all of them! Jones is a fine talent but has had injury issues that now seem behind him, though he cannot force a way into Warwickshire's attack. Has been on loan at Leicestershire  and would be a good signing for a Derbyshire side that only has two senior seamers without question marks on their future.

Oliver Hannon-Dalby - in interviews has spoken  very highly of Graeme Welch and at 6' 8" the tall Yorkshire lad. like those named above, would improve the side. Crucially, he is another who, at 25, should only get better and needs first-class cricket.

Laurie Evans - the former Surrey man has done well at Edgbaston but has struggled a little this year. A mid-thirties career average highlights his ability but I have a feeling he may head back down south. Good in one and four-day cricket.

And one from left field...

Will Rhodes - young Yorkshire all-rounder of considerable potential who needs to be playing senior cricket sometime soon. At 19 he appears to be a fine talent, perhaps more advanced with the bat at this stage, but there is no obvious path into the Yorkshire side. I just wonder if the Yorkshire input to our coaching staff might have a role to play? A move would be cheeky, but why not?

I'm unaware of the overall contractual situation at Warwickshire, but Graeme Welch will know their players well. Likewise, we should have a good knowledge of available players in Yorkshire and I would be surprised if many of our winter targets were from the south of the country.

Well worth keeping an eye on - but then it will be a fascinating winter, as Graeme Welch gets a chance to mould his own team for the first time.

And as always, I'd welcome your thoughts.

Derbyshire v Glamorgan preview

There will doubtless have been a spring in the step of a few players after the result at Cheltenham this week and rightly so. It was a team effort to be proud of and one that gave them justifiable optimism for the remainder of the summer. From being down among the dead men, we can start to look - perhaps furtively at this stage - at a position of mid-table respectability.

Maybe the latter isn't the right word. because there's enough talent in this squad to be better than that, but the Gloucestershire game was perhaps the first one of the summer where we replicated the success of the 2012 summer. All the players did their bit and that's what happens in the best sides. There will be days when someone takes a starring role, but there are few games of cricket dominated by one man and most are won by an eleven that is greater than the sum of its constituent parts.

For all that this has been a largely miserable summer, I think that we will look back on it in time as the catalyst in our fortunes. A few players have been proven to be short of the level required for one reason or another, while others have made their first forays into what could well be successful careers.

Slater, Taylor, Cotton, Cork, Hosein, Knight - these are names that could form the nucleus of Derbyshire sides for the next five to ten years, alongside Alex Hughes and Tom Poynton, while more will emerge. All have much work to do, but Graeme Welch will be happy with the young talent at his disposal and now needs time to work with it and bring in others who can augment it over the next couple of winters.

For now, he will go with the eleven that did so well at Cheltenham and rightly so. The eleven thus lines up:

Slater, Godleman, Madsen, Chanderpaul, Durston, Hughes, Cross, Wainwright, Palladino, Taylor, Footitt.

For those who like their statistics, Mark Footitt needs six wickets to reach fifty for the first time in what has already been his most successful summer in the county game. Meanwhile, Shiv needs 18 to reach five hundred runs and has six fifties in his ten first-class innings so far. Hopefully this is the one in which he goes past three figures.

If we win this one, we can leapfrog both Gloucestershire and our visitors tomorrow, Glamorgan. They have some fine players, with South African Jacques Rudolph and Aussie Jim Allenby turning in consistent performances. William Bragg leads their batting, however and they bat long, with Mark Wallace a constant thorn in our side over the years.

Graeme Wagg returned from a side strain the other night but may be deemed not ready for a four-day game, so their former player James Harris, recently returned on loan from Middlesex, could open the bowling opposite the very impressive Aussie Michael Hogan, with spin in the hands of Dean Cosker, who seems to have been around since I was at school...

These are two well-matched sides and with a decent forecast over the next four days it should be a good game. Who will come out on top is hard to call, but if we can replicate the form and commitment of Cheltenham, we're good enough to win this one and continue a belated but important  move up the table.

As always, I await your thoughts with interest.

Postscript - for those who have suggested elsewhere that this is our worst-ever summer, I suggest that you look at the fortunes of our county in 1920. We used 38 players that summer and lost seventeen of our eighteen matches, the other being abandoned without a ball bowled.

Our highest run-scorer just topped five hundred, while Arthur Morton (700 overs) and Sam Cadman (500) carried the attack and bowled more than everyone else combined.

It was the nadir of our fortunes and Cadman subsequently became the county coach responsible for the successful side that came together in the late 1920's and were a force in the 1930's.

As I've said before, time, gentlemen, please...

Postscript 2 - Glamorgan squad:  J Rudolph, W Bragg, M Goodwin, C Cooke, B Wright, J Allenby, M Wallace (capt), J Harris, D Cosker, K Bull, W Owen, M Hogan.

Congratulations to Harvey Hosein

The progression of young cricketers at Derbyshire has again been emphasised by the two-year professional contract awarded to Harvey Hosein yesterday.

I first heard his name mentioned around three years ago, when a good judge of cricket talent told me that the young lad (at that time) had 'fantastic hands' and could handle a bat. The person concerned is not known for hyperbole and so the comment stuck with me. Three years down the line, having kept an eye on his progress in the leagues and lower elevens between times, I can say that the potential is considerable.

He's already been working with Bruce French at Loughborough and the specialist coaching that he will get from Simon Guy will hopefully help him make the step up to the senior squad an easier transition than might otherwise have been the case. Nor should the work done by Howard Dytham be overlooked in his progression.

We should not be too hasty, however. At seventeen he still has schooling and could have university lined up thereafter. While Graeme Welch has suggested that he could make his senior debut before the end of the summer, we may have to wait before he is a genuine and regularly available contender for the gloves with Tom Poynton.

Of course, Derbyshire will know his future plans and they will largely dictate the contract situation of Gaz Cross at the end of the season. The latter is gradually getting into batting form, while his glove work, one poor game excepted, has generally been of a high quality. Unless Hosein eschews further education at this stage and is therefore available to us from April to June, I suspect we will see an offer made to Cross to stay on for at least another year.

Whatever else happens in the close season, it would appear that our wicket-keepers are not going to be a source of concern.

Well done Harvey!

Photograph courtesy of Derby Evening Telegraph.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Lancashire v Derbyshire T20

It was always unlikely that we would give a Lancashire side that was close to full strength a close game tonight, but all things considered a young Derbyshire side acquitted itself fairly well.

A young attack took some stick from a powerful batting line up that got off to the ideal start through Ashwell Prince, but they stuck to their task well and it was only the last couple of overs, when Lancashire scored 35 runs, that took the score outwith any realistic hopes we may have held by that stage.

Nonetheless it was good experience for young bowlers in front of a large partisan crowd and they will learn from it. If nothing else, Ben Cotton and Greg Cork now know things that they have to work on over the winter to be better at the requisite skills another year.

The batting could easily have collapsed after the home side's assault, but to their credit we gave a good account of ourselves and managed not far short of ten an over. We again made decent use of the Power play and, having been critical of this area of our game in early season, I will accept that improvements have been made. The effect of these on our final total, as in the last game, is patently obvious.

With the championship game against Glamorgan starting at Derby on Sunday, Graeme Welch rightly decided to rest his seamers from yesterday's success at Cheltenham and that decision will hopefully pay dividends in due course.

More on that game tomorrow. Tonight was another T20 defeat in a horrible season, even by our standards, for that competition. Yet in adversity there were glimpses of lessons being learned and improvements made.

That's all we can hope for at this stage.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Gloucestershire v Derbyshire day four

Gloucestershire 356 and 219
Derbyshire 372 and 208-4 (Godleman 54, Chanderpaul 52 not)

Derbyshire won by six wickets

A fully professional team performance, with the emphasis on 'team'.

Derbyshire emerged from the final day of what was a terrific advert for County Championship cricket with the win points, thanks to a display in which every member of the eleven made a contribution over four days. While it would have been nice for one or two of the batsmen to go on to a bigger, more match-defining score, they made as good a team approach to run scoring today as they did first time around. The result was satisfying and, after a solid start given by Ben Slater and Billy Godleman, never in real doubt.

Tonight is a good night to be a Derbyshire fan and it's a great one to be writing a blog. At the start of the day, Gloucestershire's overnight batsmen looked to be taking them to a challenging lead, but sharp fielding by Ben Slater at short leg ran out Tom Smith, before David Wainwright and Wes Durston summarily disposed of the tail.

I said last night that it would be important to get bowlers on at the right time and at the right end and so it proved. The wicket was never one where a batsmen felt he could book in for bed and breakfast, but it was important to play shots and despatch the bad balls to keep the upper hand.

When it was our turn to bat, we did just that. We scored at just under four an over, building from that steady opening stand with two players, in Madsen and Chanderpaul, that you really hope to have at the crease in such circumstances.

When the skipper went, Wes came in and again played with freedom, almost in one-day mode. To be honest, he's a much better player when he does that. If he plays 'proper' cricket he tends to be less effective and looks a little ponderous, but if he comes off, as he did in both innings here, he scores with such speed that the game can change in half an hour. Throw in the balance that he gives the side and Durston's return to form is as timely as it is welcome.

I'll not suggest our troubles are behind us, especially when we're in T20 action again soon, but there appears to be the nucleus of a side coming together. Ben Slater looks like he belongs at this level, Wes is back in form and Alex Hughes looks a good cricketer at six.

Mark Footitt is closing in on fifty wickets, Tony Palladino is bowling accurately and well, while Tom Taylor looks better with every game. David Wainwright is taking wickets again while Gareth Cross hints at a return to the batting success he enjoyed at Old Trafford.

I'm pleased for Wayne Madsen, as well as for Graeme Welch and his coaching staff tonight. If you've not already done so, Ant Botha's interview in the Derby Telegraph today is well worth a read and outlines the way forward for the club.

Perhaps most of all tonight I am happy for Shivnarine Chanderpaul. Fast closing in on his fortieth birthday, which comes next month, he's perhaps not quite the player he was and there has been criticism from some quarters about his form this summer.

Yet he's still averaging sixty, which really tells you how good he was at his best. He finished it today with a straight six and whatever else happens this summer, it has been a privilege to see an undoubted great of the game in the county colours.

If this is his county swansong, it looks like he intends to go out with a bang.

But if it's not...who knows?

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Gloucestershire v Derbyshire day 3

Gloucestershire 356 and 137-5 (Marshall 43 not)
Derbyshire  372 (Madsen 80, Chanderpaul 73, Slater 70, Durston 58)

Gloucestershire lead by 121 runs

With a day to go in an absorbing, probably perfect game of four-day cricket, all three results are possible.

Today was a very good day for Derbyshire, who did very well but perhaps could and should have done better. Of the home side's first innings of 356, 260 runs came from two players, leaving the rest to struggle, on the whole. Conversely, we had four batsmen who made fifty, but none of them went past eighty, something with which they will be disappointed. While the innings marked a far greater concerted effort than we have seen for much of the season, to go from 314-4 to an all out 372 was a little disappointing. More importantly, it let our hosts back into a match we were walking away with.

The final day is nicely set. Gloucestershire are 121 runs ahead with Hamish Marshall their main hope for setting us a tricky - i.e. 200-plus - total to win. The game reminds me of our run chase at Taunton last year and I suspect we're going to need a big effort from someone, as well as a collective effort, to get past the winning post.

Choice of bowlers will be key. There's something in it for seamers and spinners, but it will be important to get the right man at the right end, and quickly. Marshall and Howell could yet put the game beyond us and it will be interesting to see how we approach the target tomorrow.

The wicket isn't easy, but, as Ben Slater said last night, if you can get in it is possible to score runs on it. A fourth day track is likely to have your name on it at some point, so it is important that we don't take the attritional route and allow the bowlers to dominate and set attacking fields. Wes Durston played his natural game today and it was absolutely right for him to do so. He's a better player when he plays his shots anyway, always easier if the spadework had been done by the early order batsmen as it has been in this match so far.

We need to be batting by lunch. I'd suggest that we are currently in the box seat of this game, but need to be ready to battle from the first ball tomorrow, work through the tail and then be ready to chase around 175-180.

More than that and I'd be wary of our chances, but there's a lot to play for tomorrow.

And there is enough talent in this Derbyshire side to finish the job, if they show the requisite self-belief.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Gloucestershire v Derbyshire day two

Today was a day like few others this summer, what you might call a snowdrops in the Kalahari day.

It was, in short, one that we dominated from start to finish and that was rich with encouragement. Tom Taylor deserves all the plaudits for a five-wicket haul so early in his first-class career, one that has earned him a number of positive comments around the web. Tony Palladino completed a long and accurate spell, while Mark Footitt, though more expensive than of late, came back to finish the innings off as he so often does.

Taylor appears a real find and his form, together with that of Greg Cork and Ben Cotton on their early senior appearances, suggests Graeme Welch is absolutely correct to give them opportunity. After a fallow period, it would appear that the seam bowling conveyor belt is fully operational once more.

Then it was the batsmen's turn. Billy Godleman got one that kept low, but Ben Slater reinforced the positive impression he has made and was looking good for a first senior century when he was caught behind. Thereafter, Wayne Madsen and Shiv Chanderpaul steered us to the calm of 216-2 by the close, unbeaten on 79 and 50 respectively.

140 runs behind with eight wickets in hand, we might even be on for that rarity of a first innings lead, assuming the wicket doesn't misbehave in the early session tomorrow. Regular contributor Martin Moseling makes the point below yesterday's piece that the wicket is normally good for four days batting, although players from both sides have been quick to point out that it wasn't was easy as it might have appeared.

Indeed, Will Gidman suggested there were signs of turn, so we'll not presumably want to be chasing a large last innings total, even if this Gloucestershire attack is some way removed from the days of Mortimore, Allen, Wells and Goddard.

Good times then, my friends and it is a pleasure to write about today with a smile on my face.

In the words of Bruce Springsteen, it's been a long time comin'...

Monday, 14 July 2014

Gloucestershire v Derbyshire day one

Gloucestershire 304-6 (Tavare 135, W. Gidman 88 not, Taylor 3-43, Palladino 2-41) v Derbyshire

Having won the toss at Cheltenham today, Gloucestershire understandably chose to bat first and did a good job on the first day, despite a bowling display of considerable discipline by Derbyshire.

Tony Palladino again bowled with exemplary accuracy and conceded less than two an over in twenty-two overs, while Tom Taylor (pictured) continued his impressive transition towards county cricketer with 3-43 in sixteen overs. For once, in the championship this summer, Mark Footitt's radar was off kilter, but he still managed to remove the dangerous Michael Klinger early.

Will Tavare continued the excellent impression that he has made this summer with a fine century, while Will Gidman ended the day a dozen runs short of a well-deserved century. I have to admit that Gidman is someone I would love to see in Derbyshire colours, very much the sort of player we are looking for to improve our side - a hostile and committed bowler, as well as an aggressive batsman.

So you could say that where there's two Wills there's no way, but Derbyshire stuck at it well and are still in this game, as long as they finish off the Gloucestershire innings quickly tomorrow and then bat much better in their first innings than they have done in recent matches.

If they lose this one, the likelihood of any progression in the County Championship is slim, but a win sees the pack in the middle of the table a little more accessible.

That's something to play for...

In closing tonight, congratulations to Tom Wood of Ticknall CC, whose century for the Academy in their match against the Army at Denby took his side close to a 305-run victory target.

They finished seven runs short, but that sounds like an excellent day's entertainment to me.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Derbyshire v Yorkshire T20

Yorkshire 183-4 (Lees 67 not, Williamson 41, North 2-27)
Derbyshire 124 (Cross 37, Knight 27)

Yorkshire won by 59 runs

The fact that we were playing one of the best sides in the country notwithstanding, Derbyshire produced another anaemic batting display against Yorkshire today.

It all began rather well, with Gareth Cross once again batting in what Derbyshire fans would describe as a Pipe-ian style. We had 46 on the board in the middle of the fifth over, before Cross departed for an invigorating 37, at which point the wheels fell off the innings pretty horridly. By the end of the thirteenth we had only 81 on the board and the reality is that 35 from eight overs was nowhere close to good enough. That we had lost seven wickets by that stage was shambolic.

Tom Knight again showed his rich potential as a clean striker of the ball, but we were well and truly beaten by that stage and when he perished on the boundary edge, the innings was all but over. That Marcus North batted until the tenth over for just twenty summed up a batting display, with a couple of honourable exceptions, of considerable ineptitude.

It was a shame because the bowling, until a last expensive over from Mark Turner, was fairly tidy. Greg Cork again did a good job and can be proud of his two 'death' bowling efforts over the weekend, while Marcus North's bowling was diametrically opposed to his batting effort and makes one wonder why he wasn't used in the earlier T20 games.

The reality is that we were playing against a team that is at present far too good for us and we really only had three or four people who put their hands up to battle when it mattered. It is hard to escape the fact that several members of the side, while obviously good cricketers to be playing at this level, are simply not good enough to take us to where we need to be and want to go.

Thankfully, there are only two games left in this competition and I'd like to see Graeme Welch use them for valuable match experience for young players. We know what some of the senior players can do in these matches - and more to the point cannot do - so let's see if we can gain any encouragement from the involvement of the likes of Ben Slater and Ben Cotton, to name but two.

The sad reality is that they're unlikely to do any worse than anyone else has done and might just emulate Messrs Cork and Knight in giving grounds for optimism another year.

There was another good crowd to end the successful Chesterfield cricket festival. It's just a shame that they didn't get a better effort from our batsmen to go home happy tonight.

Book Review: Lives in Cricket: Donald Carr - Derbyshire's Corinthian by John Shawcroft

Donald Carr was an all-rounder in the truest sense. An aggressive batsman who scored quickly and attractively; a slow left arm bowler who could remove the best of batsmen and a brilliant fielder anywhere. He was also Derbyshire's captain between 1955 and 1962, club secretary between 1959 and 1962 and secretary of the MCC from 1962 to 1974, besides managing England on three overseas tours.

He was a useful footballer too, playing in two Amateur Cup finals with Pegasus as a winger or inside forward and this excellent book, by local man John Shawcroft, pays appropriate tribute to a man who served both Derbyshire and English cricket well.

It is the latest in the worthy Lives in Cricket series, published by the Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians. Mr Shawcroft is an established writer on Derbyshire cricket and his interest in and knowledge of the subject shines through in an excellent book.

That Donald Carr chose the less than salubrious surrounds of the County Ground, when there was an opportunity to play for Gloucestershire or Kent in the 1950s, is remarkable. For the remainder of that decade he played for and captained a side that had as good an attack as any in the country, only being short of a batsman of genuine class and high average to enable it to do better than challenge for the County Championship.

That side felt that a score of 250 would enable them to win more games than it lost, though as one stalwart of that era told me, sometimes they struggled to do better when conditions warranted otherwise. Carr led the side with flair and panache for a number of years, even if his declarations erred on the side of the cavalier on occasions. He was well aware that in Les Jackson and Cliff Gladwin he had as good an opening attack as there was in the country, with Derek Morgan and Edwin Smith providing admirable support.

Carr played only twice for England, on the 1951-52 tour of India, when he captained the side, in the Madras Test, to their first defeat in that country. His aggressive approach at the crease perhaps cost him a few points on a batting average that might otherwise have warranted greater recognition, but those who saw him recall a batsman who generally entertained. In 1959 he scored 2,292 runs, a county season aggregate that is likely to remain as a record for all time. Meanwhile his fine hands in the legendary Derbyshire leg trap, with Alan Revill and Derek Morgan,  are still discussed in hushed tones.

His career as administrator included the poorly handled D'Oliveira affair in 1968, although it would be unfair to lay this at the door of Carr, very much a junior man at the table during discussions and decision-making that were, at best, messy. He did much good work during his tenure and worked long hours, also taking pride in the first-class career of his son, John, for Middlesex. He retains a keen interest in the fluctuating fortunes of his beloved Derbyshire, writing to congratulate the club on their 2012 second division title success.

This is a worthy addition to cricket's literature, well-researched and well-written. It deserves to be read and to be successful.

Lives in Cricket: Donald Carr - Derbyshire's Corinthian is written by John Shawcroft and published by the Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians, priced £14. It can be purchased from them at or by calling 01529 306272. Their website can be seen at

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Derbyshire v Yorkshire preview

I don't expect us to beat Yorkshire tomorrow.

There, I've said it. I'm not being defeatist, just sensible and realistic and we need to use the remaining fixtures in the T20 to give valuable match experience for another year. It is a little frustrating that it has taken us till near the end of the competition to come up with a side that can be competitive, if lacking the experience to do the right thing at the right time. That's something you cannot buy, so we need to give players the opportunity to play now in the hope and expectation of reaping future reward.

Putting Marcus North at the top of the order was something I advocated back at the start of the competition. He did his job to some extent last night and all the best sides in this format generally work to the principle that one of their best batsmen opens the innings and gets maximum time at the crease in the hope he will bat through, or come close to it. North didn't do that, but he gave us a launch pad and, as a player who takes a while to get everything working as it should do, the best place for him is at the top of the order.

Gaz Cross showed some of his Lancashire form last night and to be fair to the bloke, he is a much better bat than he has shown in our colours. As I have said before, a winter with little preparation for first-class cricket has cost him, but he will be keen to make an impression with regard to another summer. Much will depend on Tom Poynton's return to fitness and the plans of Harvey Hosein post-school, but Cross is a good player who will be desperate to show his true form is more akin to that shown last night.

There's no news on the Derbyshire side for tomorrow as I write, but I'd be inclined to go with the following:

Hughes (A)

Chesney is struggling so would miss out for me, while I hope that Durston is fit to return. Similarly, Mark Turner could be very expensive on a small ground and I'd be inclined to go with a couple of young lads to see what they can do. Cork has so far improved with every game, while Cotton impressed against India and would be worth a spell against a good side.

As for Yorkshire, they come with a squad strong enough to omit Andrew Gale last night, one that is packed with talent:

Bairstow, Bresnan, Brooks, Finch, Gale, Leaning, Lees, Lyth, Pyrah, Rafiq, Rashid, Robinson, Sidebottom, Williamson.

There should be plenty of runs and, with a good forecast, an excellent crowd.

I just wish I could see the result going another way than in favour of the visitors.

Postscript - same squad as for last night, so there's unlikely to be many changes.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Northamptonshire v Derbyshire T20

Derbyshire 191-6 (Cross 48, Knight 44 not, Godleman 39)
Northants 192-6 (Levi 69, Willey 40)

Northants won by 4 wickets with four balls to spare

In defeat there was much more to admire about Derbyshire tonight and encouragingly the young brigade, of which there were many, played a leading part.

At last we opened with Marcus North and after the early loss of Chesney, he and Gareth Cross took us to a healthy position by halfway. Both went within a couple of overs of each other, but Billy Godleman, who appears in the form of his Derbyshire career, batted well from the outset and scored at 162, healthy by any standards but, as it happened, an aperitif for what was to follow.

Tom Knight played his first major innings for the Derbyshire first team and bludgeoned an unbeaten 44 from just 18 deliveries, hitting five sixes in the process, one of them out of the ground. It was spectacular stuff and emphasised that Tom could be a massive all-round player for us in the future. It is to his great credit - and to be fair, that of the coaches - that his batting has come on so much this summer at a time when his bowling action is in the process of being tweaked, hence presumably the decision not to bowl him tonight.

191-6 was a good effort, but even though the home side were short of several regulars our attack looked a little short of penetration on paper, especially against as good a short form opening pair as Richard Levi and David Willey. To win, we needed to part them early but Levi, a powerful leg side player, gave them a sound foundation by the halfway stage.

There were plus points. Greg Cork produced his best bowling so far in Derbyshire colours, while Alex Hughes made up for a rare batting failure with a decent bowling spell. David Wainwright's 3-26 raised questions of what might have been had Knight been able to bowl, but Mark Turner's penultimate over went for more than we could afford. While Cork's final one was shaping up for brilliance after two wickets in the first four balls, the last two went for six apiece, leaving only two from the last.

Turner's disappointing night ended with a wide and the lad's not had the best of T20 campaigns. If commitment won matches he'd do it every time, but there's been too many loose balls in his bowling and a rate of over ten runs per over bowled tells its own story.

So it's back to Chesterfield and Yorkshire on Sunday. A win may well be beyond us, but more spirited cricket like this from an improving young side will do quite a few people.

Anything to declare?

"I'm sorry but you are wrong, the declaration should've come a whole lot earlier and before lunch. If it was the other way round you would be lamenting the opposition. Pure and simple it lacks ambition, we've got nothing to play for and we decide to take the draw. It just shows we don't want to finish bottom and rather take the draw.

Take your Derbyshire CCC glasses off because whatever the decision they make you seem to agree and never seem to criticise.

Thus wrote Harry to me, this evening, disagreeing somewhat with my comment in the earlier piece and prompting this one before bed tonight.

I can only assume that Harry's not been reading the blog for too long, as there's plenty of decisions, team selections and performances that have received criticism from this direction in even the recent past. Yes, it would have been nice to have ended that game with the win points, but there was a strong possibility of a loss on a small ground with a fast outfield and against a long and powerful batting line-up.

Let's be honest, this isn't the strongest attack that we have ever had and outwith the opening bowlers there's little to worry quality batsmen on a good batting track. Had Mark Footitt not taken three in an over, I  reckon that Bopara and Ryder would have given them the foundation for an assault that could have taken them very close.

What would people have said then? I have a pretty good idea and for a side low on confidence to emerge on the credit side of a draw on such a wicket is, at this stage, all that we can hope for. To be in the ascendancy for much of this game and then end up losing it would have been a contender for a crime most heinous. We need that like I need a course in cross stitch...

A draw doesn't redefine our season but a loss could have put another nail in its coffin. As for Harry's suggestion that we should have declared at lunch, had we done so, we'd have lost, plain and simple. I would have led the castigation tonight if we'd had them eight or nine down, but that was a good batting track and we had only taken four wickets by the close. Without the post-lunch runs/overs equation, they'd have needed around ninety from thirteen overs with two not out centurions and good batsmen to follow. If anyone fancies our chances in that scenario, you're a better man than I, Gunga Din. Surely you've seen us bowl in the T20 this summer?

As for that assertion that we don't want to finish bottom, Harry, why would we? If five points takes us a little more clear of a local rival, I'll gladly take that right now. There will come a time in this team's development when that's not the best course of action - perhaps if we're pushing for promotion another year - but right now I'm grateful for small mercies. 

I will criticise Derbyshire, players, coaching staff and administrators alike, if I feel it is deserved, but not just for the hell of it.

And certainly not tonight.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Derbyshire v Essex day four

What looked set for a good finish eventually petered out into a draw this afternoon, though not before Derbyshire's batting had done well to set a challenging total against Essex.

'Peeved Paul' below the last piece is unhappy with the declaration and the fact that we didn't get it right to ensure a close finish, but I disagree. The only result in a tight finish would have been a win for the visitors, as their closing tally, with two unbeaten centurions, suggested that there were few last day alarms in the wicket, something that seemed likely to be the case yesterday, when our innings progressed at a merry old rate.

The main reason that the game petered out was, ironically, the three early wickets that Mark Footitt took in one over that removed Westley, Bopara and Ryder. Any intention that the visitors had in making a genuine challenge disappeared at that point and although David Wainwright took an early wicket in his spell, the wicket was simply too moribund by the end for the home side to force a win. Indeed, it looked like Essex were gearing up for a final assault and with Smith and Napier still to come could have gone close, but the skippers shook hands and a draw was perhaps, in the end, a fair result.

It was a good game of cricket, but really needed the wicket to deteriorate on the final day to become the perfect cricket track. When a young number ten such as Tom Taylor can bat without concern, the batsmen on both sides should be cashing in, especially after the initial bounce of the new ball has gone.

Most of them did. Derbyshire can be pleased with a much improved level of performance throughout the side in which pretty much everyone made a contribution of some kind. Essex are a decent side and have a number of big name players, but we matched them throughout and can be proud of that, after failing to do so on too many occasions this summer.

The sun shone on Chesterfield too and there are few finer sights in cricket on a sunny day. I hope that the game realised the income that the club will have hoped for, something that should be a certainty for Sunday's game against our old rivals Yorkshire.

More on that as we approach the weekend.

For now, enjoy the rest of your evening.

Postscript - congratulations to Nick Browne for a terrific effort that resulted in an unbeaten century in each innings. Great stuff for a young player to be on the pitch for the entire game and something to be very proud of.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Derbyshire v Essex day three

There's a fascinating day lined up at Chesterfield tomorrow, with any of three results possible, exactly what you want going into the final day of a four-day match.

Derbyshire did well today, both in the field and with the bat. I said after the first day that there would be little between the two sides after the first innings, and my assertion was bang on the money, with the visitors getting a slender two-run advantage.

Tony Palladino (pictured) bowled superbly throughout the innings and 4-65 from 33 overs is outstanding by any standards. He was well supported by Tom Taylor, with the first three-wicket haul of his professional career and the bowlers did all that we had hoped in the first session of the day.

Losing Paul Borrington early wasn't part of the script, but Wayne Madsen played his second important innings of the game and Ben Slater lent excellent support in compiling the latest fifty of his professional career, before the partnership ended when the skipper slipped in going for a second run.

When Slater perished, quickly followed by Alex Hughes and the struggling - at least with the bat - Gareth Cross, we were in a bit of a pickle, especially with Wes Durston still hors de combat. But Shivnarine Chanderpaul played a key role with an unbeaten 62, ably supported by David Wainwright, as we finished the day 235 ahead. Wainwright has been our most consistent batsman in recent weeks and dug in well as Derbyshire got to a position where we control the game.

Tomorrow will be fascinating and there's a tight calculation to be made by Wayne Madsen and Graeme Welch. It is a 250-300 wicket but we will be wary of the potential of the Essex batting to make quick inroads into a target. My guess is that we will aim to set them  around 320 in perhaps 70-75 overs - gettable, but with an element of risk if we bowl in the right areas and with the right discipline.

I hope we follow an encouraging day with another one tomorrow, as there have been positive signs from this match.

Hopefully it ends in a similar manner.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Derbyshire v Essex day two

Today saw a good bowling effort by Derbyshire at Chesterfield, the side bowling with impressive discipline to restrict Essex to 202-5 before rain ensured that there was no play after tea.

Mark Footitt started things off in his customary fashion with the early wicket of Ravi Bopara, before Tom Taylor reinforced his growing reputation as someone who takes good wickets by removing both Jesse Ryder and James Foster, international cricketers both. Alex Hughes chipped in with a very economical spell and the wicket of Ryan ten Doeschate, while Tony Palladino fulfilled his stock bowler role admirably, conceding only two an over in twenty-three overs of bowling.

I wrote last night that there would not be much between the respective first innings and at this stage that looks likely to be the case, even though it would appear that Essex are likely to have a lead of some description. Young opener Nick Browne has done well for them with a personal best score and we will hope to make early inroads tomorrow as soon as the weather allows the game to resume.

The game so far has clearly illustrated why I like the Chesterfield wickets, as there's a reward for bowlers who are prepared to bend their backs, while short boundaries and a generally quick outfield reward those batsmen who are able to get in and are prepared to play strokes. 250-350 is par for modern Queens Park wickets, but we will hope to get Essex out for some way short of that top figure tomorrow.

The game is very open at this stage and it would be nice to see Derbyshire battle to the ascendancy. What is certain is that we need more contributions than we had in the first innings and a lengthy batting line-up needs to assert itself much better than has been the case of late.

Essex will not fancy chasing over 250 in the last innings, but we will need to see if the Derbyshire batting has the skill and gumption to set them anywhere near that total. It's time for the real Shivnarine Chanderpaul to stand up and while the passing years have reduced his ability to play huge innings on a regular basis, I hope that there are a few more in the tank over the remainder of the summer.

Second innings here would do very nicely...

Monday, 7 July 2014

Derbyshire v Essex day one

It was a funny old innings by Derbyshire today, one that was shipping water at lunch, sailing on the seven seas by tea and then sinking like a stone before the close.

At 220-3 we were in a position to control the game, but the rap taken by Wes Durston on the helmet from a sharp ball by Graham Napier did more than take the Derbyshire batsman out of the equation. The rest of the batting came and went with barely a whimper and 275 was a disappointment, especially after the hard work by the skipper and Wes.

Hopefully the rejuvenated Mr Durston will return to the fray tomorrow and be able to contribute further runs (and wickets) to the cause as the game progresses. The efforts of the two have at least ensured that we are very much in this game, something that will hopefully be reinforced by our efforts in the field tomorrow.

Napier is a worthy cricketer, a hundred per cent player who contributes runs and wickets in equal measure. He dragged his side back into the game single-handed and deserves the plaudits for doing so. We needed someone in the lower order to show similar resolve and on this occasion were found wanting.

It sets up the game well, however and if we bowl with common sense tomorrow, I suspect there will be little between the sides at the end of the respective first innings.

There's some fine batsmen in that Essex side, however and we need to get among them pretty quickly.

More from me tomorrow.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Derbyshire v Leicestershire T20

There's not too much to say about today's Derbyshire display, which at best could be most appositely described as 'anaemic'. With the honourable exception of Wes Durston, whose return to form is welcome and nicely timed, there was little to celebrate in the batting.

After decent use of the Powerplay, the middle of the innings was neatly 'strangled' by the Leicestershire attack, before the end became something akin to one of the more manic scenes from the Keystone Cops. It wasn't especially good and was not very professional, only reinforcing the opinion of most supporters that our T20 cricket is a long way from redemption at this stage.

I'm not taking anything away from Anthony Ireland, an experienced bowler who seems to reserve his best efforts for Derbyshire, but he produced excellent figures of the kind that we can only dream of in this form of the game. Maybe next season...

In fact the bowling was fairly tidy and the spin bowlers all exerted a degree of control that was encouraging in a display that saw only three extras conceded in the innings. Yet it was too little, too late and anything under 150 on a ground like Chesterfield is always going to take some defending.

And so to tomorrow's game against Essex, that sees us welcome back Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who with Wayne Madsen, provides the experience in a young batting line up, which reads:

Borrington, Slater, Madsen, Chanderpaul, Elstone, Hughes, Cross, Wainwright, Palladino, Taylor, Footitt, Turner.

The thinking money would be on Mark Turner becoming twelfth man and it would be nice to report on a good batting effort in the next few days.

As for the visitors, their squad is:

Tom Westley
Nick Brown
Ravi Bopara
Jesse Ryder
James Foster
Ryan ten Doeschate
Greg Smith
Graham Napier
Tim Phillips
Reece Topley
Tom Moore
Matt Salisbury

No David Masters, thankfully, but there's a lot of talent in that squad and Derbyshire will need to be at their best to get anything from the game. Given that prediction of our form at present is a tough call, I am not going down that route. It didn't work today, that's for sure...

At our best, we will compete. Anything less, we will lose.

Can't say any more than that, at this stage.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Blog passes a million worldwide hits!

Thanks to all of you, wherever you are, for helping to take the blog past a million hits today. With over 640,000 on here and a further 360,000-plus through Sportskeeda, it is further evidence of the interest in Derbyshire cricket from many places, not just within the county borders.

Thanks to all of you who check in on a regular basis - or irregular basis for that matter - for your interest, your comments and your frequent emails, all of which makes doing the blog a pleasure, even if at times we disagree.

The past two months have been the two biggest in the blog's history, so I hope to sustain that momentum in the months ahead and have some exciting things lined up for the winter months. Not just news of new players, either...

Think I will keep you waiting on that one, though!

Derbyshire v Leicestershire preview

Graeme Welch has named a thirteen-man squad for tomorrow's game against Leicestershire that starts the Chesterfield cricket festival. The ground that Sachin Tendulkar called his favourite in the world, not just because he scored his first century for India there, plays host to six days of cricket in the next week and I hope that the week is as well supported as usual.

I'll be there in spirit this week, but having lined up visits down south at the the start and end of September, as well as another to Scarborough in August, I won't manage this one. In ticking the delightful Yorkshire coastal ground from my 'to do' list, however, I just have the Chesterfield cricket festival left on it. One of these years, hopefully soon, I will be there for the duration...

Derbyshire;s squad for tomorrow, looking for its second win of the T20 summer, is as follows:

Wes Durston, Chesney Hughes, Gareth Cross, Wayne Madsen,  Marcus North, Scott Elstone, Alex Hughes, Tony Palladino,  David Wainwright, Greg Cork, Mark Turner, Matt Higginbottom,                   Tom Knight

There's a strong argument for Tom Knight returning to the side after his heroics with the second team this week, but I would hope that the Derbyshire bowling is better than in the season-opener for this competition at Grace Road, where it bordered on shambolic. With a greater emphasis on spin bowling, the attack seems more in keeping with accepted practice now, while having a few younger sets of legs in the field is never a bad thing.

We always seem to reserve our worst for Leicestershire in this competition, so it would be nice to see us go about tomorrow's game more professionally. Their squad is packed full of aggressive batsmen who are well suited to the format, while the return of Naik, Buick and Shreck gives the attack a more menacing look than in the recent four-day game at Leicester.

Their squad:

Cobb, O'Brien, Smith, Eckersley, Boyce, Styris, Wells, Taylor, Raine, Naik, Buck, Shreck, Ireland.

If Derbyshire show that they have learned the harsh lessons of this year's competition and use greater common sense with bat and ball, we can win this. If not, then it could be another tough afternoon.

I'm going to go for a win. We're due another one and there are gradual, albeit slow signs of improvement.

More from me tomorrow.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Another top innings from Tom Knight

I don't know how many of you caught it, but there was another special innings from Tom Knight yesterday as Derbyshire's second team beat Yorkshire at Swarkestone.

Knight made 125 at a run-a-ball, only being run out by a direct hit from the boundary edge on the last ball of the innings, as Derbyshire posted 235-7 in fifty overs. The next highest score was Tony Palladino's 22, which indicates the importance of Tom's knock.

Yorkshire's innings got off to a strong start, with Hodd, Hodgson and Leaning all batting well, but when erstwhile county loanee Dan Hodgson was leg before to Palladino for 83, the wheels came off in spectacular fashion. The last six wickets fell for 33 runs as Tom Taylor completed an excellent spell that saw him return figures of 4-33.

It's quite amusing that the Yorkshire club site reports on their side being young, yet given that most of our second team was playing at Derby against India, the local lads were hardly in the veteran stage. Yet a win by 29 runs ensued as Yorkshire finished their innings on 205-9, an excellent result in the circumstances.

There's quite a sea change going on at this level, where traditionally we haven't beaten the white rose county all that often. Yet at both academy and second team level we are starting to be the dominant side, something that can only augur well for the years ahead.

Well done to Tom Knight, though, who is rapidly developing into a genuine all-rounder after a stellar summer with the bat.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Derbyshire v India day three

If I'm honest, I'd say that from a supporter's perspective this game didn't really work. Those who hoped for, or perhaps expected a gripping encounter where the game ebbed and flowed were always likely to be unhappy bunnies by the end of a game where both sides batted for a day, then spent the last one in a 45-over game that was a part of, but distinct from the main event. Or was the 45-over game the main event? I'm a little confused...

Perhaps I should say I'm not a huge fan of friendlies. I don't watch them in international football, because they tend to be interminably dull affairs where the eleven that starts is largely replaced at half time, leaving that second period a little like a box of chocolates, after all your favourites have disappeared in the first trawl.

A game where the Indian side effectively became a tag team, with eighteen players rotating on and off was unlikely to have major appeal for me and any suggestion that it was as competitive a battle  as possible is perhaps inaccurate. It was, perhaps more appositely, a pre-season friendly - which for the visitors it was, of course.

Yet at the same time I appreciate the rationale and certainly the vast amount of work that went into the game from the club's perspective.

How many chances does the Derbyshire cricketing public get to see players of this stature? By allowing all eighteen members of the squad to be involved, those in attendance saw all of the Indian squad, even if for only a short time in some cases. And this game, like the Leicestershire one before it, was all about the visitors and offering them an opportunity to find form and gain match practice ahead of the forthcoming Test series.

It is quite a change from the old days, when the plan was to get county sides to target the stars of touring sides  and keep them from their finest fettle before the 'proper' stuff began. Back in the day when counties did their damnedest to beat visiting touring sides, the games were highly competitive and a number of players took the opportunity to state their case for inclusion in the England side with a positive performance.

Derbyshire's side here was largely of a novitiate first-class standard, containing youngsters alongside players who had struggled for first team form this year. Yet Graeme Welch will be pleased with their performances and ends the game with a few more options than he had on Tuesday morning.

Ben Slater produced a typically compact innings; Billy Godleman (pictured) had two solid, unbeaten knocks and Wes Durston turned the clock back to his best days. Similarly, Ben Cotton looked a talent with the ball, while Matt Higginbottom and Greg Cork let no one down. Nor did Harvey Hosein, a precocious talent with bat and gloves at just 17.

Was it a competitive game in the keenest sense of the word? No, but that's not to undermine the efforts of the players who have done well. We shouldn't worry unduly about the defeat, but we should be quite satisfied with the workout and the increased levels of confidence that the performances will bring.

Next up is the Chesterfield Cricket Festival, starting on Sunday against Leicestershire in a T20.

We can all get excited about that, can't we?