Thursday, 9 April 2015
Durston role makes sense as Guptill arrives
They lost heavily to Leicestershire today and any side that our neighbours can beat by 344 runs doesn't suggest top quality. If we can get some batsmen 'doing a Madonna' and getting into the groove, it will do me fine. The bowlers are getting some overs into their legs and seem to be bowling with discipline and purpose at this early stage, which is good to see.
Today, the Kiwi has landed, as Martin Guptill and his delightful wife Laura arrived for a look around the new facilities, ahead of the weekend game (he's playing, she's not...) It is a huge boost for everyone to have the genial giant back in the ranks and I hope he has brought his World Cup form with him so we can get off to a flyer that can be so important to a season.
Equally interesting was today's news that Wes Durston (pictured) has been appointed skipper of the T20 side, as well as signing an extension to his contract that keeps him at the club till at least the end of next season.
It is a sensible move, following on from similar things at other counties. As captain in four-day cricket and fifty-over games, Wayne Madsen has plenty on his plate, especially as he is the man around who the batting revolves. Captaincy is hard work and needs an alert mind, but the T20 role is hugely demanding in the field. Every ball is a battle to be fought and won and may need a fielding change. The mental side of the job is demanding and even in club cricket, where I skippered a side for nine successive seasons, I found the short form of the game far more demanding than the longer one.
Wayne will benefit from being able to focus on his batting, while Wes will prove an admirable replacement. He is an intelligent man and, by extension, will be an intelligent captain. He is our highest-ever scorer in the format and one of our most canny bowlers. He is brilliant in the field and brings considerable experience to bear in the role. What's not to like?
Like pretty much everything at the club these days it makes sense. A sign of how far we have come is that no one has made a laughing stock of themselves and claimed it was indicative of a fallout behind the scenes. There were times - and not that long ago - that someone going out to their car brought stories of it being indicative of internecine strife.
Not now. This is as happy a bunch of players as one could wish to see and the footage of them in training or at media day suggests people who thoroughly enjoy each other's company. While it is not impossible to do well with people who don't get on (the Middlesex side of Mike Brearley's era tolerated, rather than enjoyed the company of some members), a good team spirit is a major asset.
As we build up to the Cambridge MCCU game, I'm not sure we should read too much into the side selected. I think that Graeme Welch knows his team, injuries permitting, for the opening championship game against Lancashire at this stage and that all the tricky decisions have been made. There will be people who are unlucky to be omitted, but that makes their league and second team displays all the more important. Making a case, in whatever match they play, will be crucial for everyone on the staff.
That's it for now. I will be back before the Cambridge game with further thoughts and would love to hear yours, as we get into the season.
And don't forget to enter that fantasy league. Scroll down for details and get your team registered!
Postscript - thirteen teams in there so far..two more and we will be eligible for medals....