Saturday, 27 June 2015

The morning after the night before...

There was no negativity, as it may have been perceived in some quarters, in my suggesting that Derbyshire would lose to Nottinghamshire last night.

It was a comment born out of realism. When we lost so badly and performed in such an ignominious fashion, as we did against Surrey, what real expectation was there of a win against our local rivals? The Surrey side we played was not far short of their second team, while Nottinghamshire have a team of galacticos, featuring seven players of international experience. It would have been easy to go gung-ho and say 'We can win this', perhaps shaking an inspirational fist for emphasis, but I like to think I base comments and forecast on more than crossing my fingers behind my back as I spout forth...

Yet win we did, in style. Indeed, after the dismissal of Rikki Wessels, the game always seemed to be there. Truth be told, it was there from the point when Hamish Rutherford injected the so-important 'oomph' into the first six overs. I said last week that I would gladly take him now for as much of next year as he can manage, so having shown his ability to play both the more restrained role and that of the dashing young blade I am even more convinced. Come to Derbyshire, build a reputation and get into your national side, lad. You know it makes sense.

Chesney's violent assault on the bowling will have entertained, but the greater common sense shown down the order was pleasing. Given a platform, there's no need for daft shots. Work it around, hit the bad balls for four and rotate the strike. When we got to 170, we had a shout, 200 was a terrific effort, made possible by everyone in the side. While the efforts of the top order in the Powerplay gave us the impetus, those of Messrs Hughes, Knight and Poynton in the last four overs took our score out of sight.

So which is the real Derbyshire? The timid, unprofessional outfit that lost to Surrey, or the slick, talented one that beat Nottinghamshire's finest? I guess we will need to wait and see. The words of Graeme Welch must have stung them last week, though they shouldn't need that to perform like they did last night. A reminder of professional obligations rarely does harm, though and perhaps it will serve as a catalyst for a strong end to the season. After all, there are three months of cricket to go...

I still maintain - and will continue to do so, be warned - that we need to factor in the youth of the side. Some of you scoff at the notion, but in your own place of work, how many of the key personnel are under 25 (unless you work in a creche...)? How many of the best footballers are under-25, rather than between that age and their early thirties?

Both Alex Hughes and Shiv Thakor bowled exceptionally well last night, Hughes also contributing key runs down the order. They have both come in for criticism, but both are learning their games and will have good and bad, perhaps not even in equal measure. They are 23 and 21 respectively. Tom Knight is 21 too and the staff is full of lads of similar age. They have not yet fully grown into their bodies, developed an awareness of what they can and can't do, mastered their game and realised what they need to do to compete regularly at top level.

Give them all another three years and we will see them fly. The ECB didn't select the age of 26 for making payments to counties fielding players under that age by accident. It was because by that stage there is every expectation that a player, if he is up to the requisite standard, will be pulling his weight on the staff. Not all of the current batch will get there, but we have a good chance of success.

It doesn't change the fact that we need players alongside them with the necessary combination of experience and talent. Rutherford and Rimmington did what you want your overseas players to do last night and we have not had that from those roles this year. By the same token, both have minimal experience of English conditions and each has had his own learning curve.

The frustration is that the perception of a season is based on narrow margins. We should have breezed a win against Northamptonshire in the championship and didn't. It was there for the taking against Durham in the T20 and we bottled it. We were awful against Surrey last week.

Yet we excelled against Gloucestershire, impressed against Lancashire at Derby and were something special last night. It is tapping into those wins for consistency, getting the right combination of youth and  experience on the field and pressing the button for maximum commitment, EVERY time, that will dictate how quickly we progress.

The talent is there. No question. They just need to prove it, prove it again, then keep proving it.

That's how you become a good side.


Mark said...

Can't argue with any of that Peakfan.

notoveryet said...

Optimism isn't always my strongest suit, but as I commented before the game, I was pretty optimistic about the Notts match given our home form and their relative disarray. The home thing is interesting. We've now won three out of four at Derby convincingly, and should have won the fourth - if we had beaten Durham, we'd now be just one point off fourth place, and well in the mix. As it is, it's perhaps a shame that we only have one game left at Derby, so I hope there's plenty of thinking going on in the team about why they are unbeatable there and how to apply it elsewhere. If they can, this may not be over yet given the way no side is really dominating the group.

It was a great performance on Friday, although if you were splitting hairs, 120 in 11 overs should have translated into 220 plus. Again we lost impetus after the first four had gone, and it needed an inexplicable helping hand from James Taylor not to give Luke Fletcher the last over to let us reach 200. You sensed that not all is well in the Notts camp, with a number of them head shaking or hands on hips at various points, and Fletcher looking like thunder when Christian got the last over. I'm hearing quite a lot of the "too good to go down" stuff about them, but of course that's what always used to be said about Nottingham Forest.

On the point about young teams, of course it's right that inconsistency tends to be a feature of them, and there are some games this season when you could legitimately say that Derbyshire was a young team. That wasn't the case in either the Essex or Surrey matches - in fact Surrey had five players under 25 where we had three, and their average age was lower even with Batty in the side. Neither injury absences or youth mitigate these two performances, and that's probably why there's been so much disillusionment.

In terms of our youth flying in three years time, this is pretty much what we were saying in 2012. Of that crop, Whiteley, Redfern and now Burgoyne have flown elsewhere, Higginbottom has gone completely, Poynton and Knight haven't progressed, Chesney Hughes went backwards until this year, and only Alex Hughes has progressed steadily. Having had one spell of pain for so little gain, it's not surprising that there's some disillusionment, or at least caution, about the current crop doing any better.

On Burgoyne, I'm very surprised to find him in the Sussex first team today. He seems to have been playing very successfully in their second team all season so has presumably overcome his problems from last season. Given the problems we currently have with spinners, is anyone aware of why he doesn't seem to have been looked at again by Derbyshire? As he isn't a contracted Sussex player, perhaps we should have a look now.

Peakfan said...

Points well made, as always, notoveryet.

I think the structure is better now to enable progression. The lessons of Redfern and Whiteley are worth remembering for the current batch, neither of who has kicked on elsewhere. I suspect Redfern may drift from the county game, a lost talent. If he cannot get in at Leicestershire, there is little hope.

I think the current batch WILL do better, the seamers especially. If they can build on their progress from last year, we will have few complaints.