Can Derbyshire have a better T20 campaign than last year?
Well, I hope so. We won one out of fourteen last year and struggled to master the basics of the game. Namely, score quickly in the Powerplay, bat sensibly thereafter, minimise the number of dot balls when you are batting and treat each one when you bowl as the victory that it is.
Most of all, don't give away easy runs with wides and no balls - and make sure you have your best fielders in the key positions of long on and long off.
There, that's it sorted...
Despite an injury list that seems to increase with every sighting of a cricket ball, we still have a strong side for the competition. There are a number of clean-striking batsmen, and while the absence of specialist death bowler Nathan Rimmington, with a finger fracture, is a blow there are some talented bowlers too.
It is good to see Wes Durston returned to the side as skipper and I am thrilled to see Tom Poynton back in the side as vice-captain. It is a well-deserved honour for a consummate professional whose glove work is always exemplary. There is little between Tom and Harvey Hosein, but where he shades it is in the greater experience, especially of maintaining a level of concentration for long periods. This must be so hard for a young cricketer, as is Poynton's other strength, as vocal focal point.
It is unrealistic to expect a lad of eighteen to be 'on the case' of players his senior, whereas Poynton's extra years help him. This will be crucial in the T20 and I hope that Harvey, a wonderful talent, watches how Tom keeps everyone on their toes.
In a strong group, it will be a surprise to see us qualify, especially when the side lacks at least three, possibly more of what many would see were first choice players. Steady improvement would do nicely, with a couple of really special nights that entertain the fans.
The squad for tomorrow is thirteen strong and bats deep. I would be inclined to rest Mark Footitt, although he has a week after this one before he needs to turn his arm again. The squad in full:
Amla, Durston, C Hughes, Thakor, Godleman, A
Hughes, Elstone, Poynton, Knight, Wainwright, Cotton, Cork, Footitt.
If one reads anything into the listing and the last two are omitted, Wes still has eight bowlers to choose from and a team that bats attractively all the way down. That should enable him to rotate the bowlers and give them short, sharp spells before the batsmen line them up. A young team should field well, while you should expect Shiv Thakor to be one of the death bowlers, a role he fulfilled admirably at Leicestershire. I'd like to see one of the left-armers play, if only to give a different angle for them to think about.
No two ways about it, we are playing the best side in the country, yet one with several big names missing. Root, Lyth, Ballance, Sidebottom, Maxwell and Finch are elsewhere and if we are going to beat them, this is probably the time to do so.
Their thirteen still contains fine players, however:
Gale, Bairstow, Bresnan, Brooks, Fisher, Hodd, Leaning, Lees, Patterson, Plunkett, Pyrah, Rashid, Rhodes.