Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Time to circle the wagons

Well, the dust is starting to settle after a fairly awful day yesterday and it is time for Derbyshire to circle the wagons, regroup and prepare for the remainder of the season.

Thanks to all of you for your comments, all of them well-made and pertinent. Without exception they display the passion and desire that we all have for our club and the wish for the side to become a force in the game once more. What we need is for the players to show similar passion in their performances to the end of the summer.

I am not going to go down the path of a retained list, nor would I wish anyone else to do so. We are all aware of those who are doing better than others, but such decisions will be made by Graeme Welch, based on performance and potential, neatly counter-balanced by an obvious need to strengthen the side in key areas and releasing the budget to do so.

I mentioned yesterday that I went to see the second team in action at Belper and it made interesting viewing. Two players - Shiv Thakor and Alex Hughes - looked way too good for that level and are likely to be back in the side for the next match. Thakor scored a century, while Hughes went onto a double century today and both looked fine players with big futures.

They may not yet be quite ready for sustained first team cricket, but they will be soon. I remain convinced that both will be an integral part of our team for a number of years to come. So too will Ben Slater, who is enduring a rocky patch at present but who will get back to form, simply because he is too good a player not to. Harvey Hosein has massive potential too, while I understand that Tom Knight is making good progress with his bowling and could yet be the answer to our spin bowling issue, as well as offering good runs.

Then there's Tom Taylor and Ben Cotton, both fine seamers with things to learn, but markedly improved from last year. Give them another couple, like Will Davis and the next generation attack is in place, all of it home-reared.

What we need, and right now, however, is experience in the batting order. The captain has had a stop/start summer with injury and has not yet discovered his best form, but Billy Godleman, Wes Durston and Chesney Hughes have all had their good days, without scoring the weight of runs we desperately need. To be honest, Wayne Madsen's absence through injury has highlighted all too clearly how often he has papered over cracks and carried us in recent summers.

Whatever happens in the close season, we need to inject greater experience into the side and somehow the nous to handle match situations. I know I have banged on about this, but we cannot fast track experience. Four years ago, at 26, Mark Footitt's career was going nowhere fast. Now he is on the threshold of the England team, having realised what he and his body could do. David Willey has been several seasons emerging as a quality all-rounder. He and Ben Stokes are mid-twenties, yet with two to three times the match experience of our lads. Which is why they are now winning them for their clubs and country.

The youngsters named above need games but they also need experience alongside them giving them support and setting examples. Willey has watched the likes of Andrew Hall, Stokes played with Paul Collingwood, and both will have learned from the experience. I watched Gareth Batty yesterday and we hadn't a player prepared to take on the role that he played.

We also need an overseas player who is prepared to graft but more importantly inspire. Eddie Barlow did that, Dean Jones did it too. We need someone on the pitch who is going to inspire with words and deeds. The teams that Eddie and Dean skippered lost games, but rarely, if ever, without a fight.

I have previously rejected the idea, but watching the last two days suggested to me that we could do worse than a time-served Kolpak, if only to get to parity with other teams. We would still be able to play the 9-2 formula mentioned in the blueprint, but the presence of an experienced batsman in there would be a godsend. A Petersen, Prince or Ingram, or maybe a Kiwi with a grannie from Bolsover...

It is obvious what we need and where, yet undeniable that the club has talent. We just need to give it an environment in which to flourish. The likes of Barnett, Morris and Adams became the players they were by being gradually eased into a strong batting side, that included the likes of Barry Wood, David Steele, Alan Hill and John Hampshire, besides John Wright and Peter Kirsten. Experienced players all, used to a range of match situations. The failures of youth were less obvious and their successes better appreciated than if they were all thrown in at the deep end, without the life jacket of experience to help as required.

I totally agree with Mr Grant and his comments yesterday, as well as his right to make them. He is a supporter, first and foremost, an unpaid volunteer who has put his considerable reputation and skills on the line for no other reason than a burning desire to make our club better. As the elected chairman of the club, he is entitled to say what he thinks. Players have been happy enough to accept his praise and generosity when things are going well. They must be equally prepared to accept criticism when it is deserved.

Which it was on this occasion. If anyone thinks it wasn't, then you have a different understanding of professionalism to me, because we were not professional yesterday, with bat, ball or in the field. What I am sure has been made patently clear by Graeme Welch is that the remainder of this season is where contracts will be won and lost. If people want to be a part of what I still think will be a bright future, they need to battle for places and work when they have one.

Shiv Thakor and Alex Hughes went to the seconds, scored big and argued their case for a place. I applaud them for doing so and the next step is to translate undoubted talent into sustained performance in the first team. Not just a nice fifty now and again, but regular scores and contributions with the ball, too. Both can go a long way in the game, but need to be prepared to work for it, like David Willey and Ben Stokes have done.

There will be further pain in the weeks ahead, but if people step up to the plate, we can minimise the frequency.

Then build the future that we all want to see.


Mutn said...

Plaigurising post 19 of previous topic a little aren't we Peaky? You'll hear from my lawyers ;-)

Peakfan said...

Haha..I think it more a case of great minds thinking alike mate! I had come up with the header on my way up to Scotland yesterday, summing up all we can do at this stage of the season. I skimmed through the posts for approval but didn't actually realise that you had used the same phrase - indeed expressed the same sentiments, which is good to see.

For all the knee-jerk wishes that some supporters will wish for (not saying necessarily here, gents) the reality is that we need to make do with what we have for now. Changing around of the playing staff is a job for the winter and we know that change will be required.

Peakfan said...

Should anyone pick up on it..the list of young players was not complete..merely representative. Critchley and Cork, among others, have good futures if they listen and learn...

Marc said...

Only a fool would argue a case against promoting home players. The idea is sound but it falls flat on it,s face if most of those players are not up to the requisite standard. This is precisely where we find ourselves right now. None of those who have tasted senior cricket have been huge successes and it is becoming perfectly clear that a growing number of them are looking much more likely to fail.

I take little notice of second team performances. Most players who reach,or should I say almost reach county standard, regularly perform well at this level,but it often ends there. The bowling is slightly ahead of the batting with Taylor and to a lesser extent,Cotton, some way ahead of the pack. The batting youngsters are almost non existent as far as the academy is concerned and the likes of Slater,Elstone and Chesney Hughes are now in their mid twenties,with Alex Hughes not far behind them.

The point i,m trying to make is the vast majority of young players will ultimately fail and those few who make it are very much the exception to the rule. Most of the current crop have been afforded extended opportunities at senior level for the very reason we have nothing much coming up behind them. It,s not because we feel they are going to prove good enough,it,s because there is nobody to take their place.

I think the future has been very much overestimated and the happenings of this season far more a reflection of the overall standard of the squad. Even some of the more senior players are hardly the last word in reliability and are often found struggling themselves. We are not producing players in sufficient numbers and this was something I always felt was likely to happen when the plan was first announced. Making plans is great but carrying them to fruition is something else.

Anonymous said...

I think I agree with Marc, with the exception of Hosein. I think he is something special and if nurtured correctly could make a success of national level never mind county.
I know Peakfan is a big TP fan....many of his posts seem to give the subtle flavour that he's wanted to see TP back in the side for a while now, and for sentimental reasons I have agreed with him. However, having spoken to a number of other members at the ground this week, I don't think I'm alone in the opinion that Hosein far out classes Poynton already, and needs the 1st team exposure to improve. Poynton has not taken his chances in his 3 games - dropped/missed a few this week too which didn't go unnoticed - and I think T20 is the place for him this season, but give Harvey the gloves in the other formats.

Only every now and then do you stumble upon homegrown talent in quite the quantities young Hosein appears to possess, and it's very important that he is given the chances he deserves - both for his own personal development and more importantly for the club.


Peakfan said...

I think Poynton needs runs Mike. I have seen him keep better than against Surrey, I agree on that. He does keep the field going, but on the third afternoon his shouts smacked of desperation as the bowlers toiled.
I am a huge fan of Hosein, but he needed pulled from the side when Welch did, as he had got a little untidy. That was totally understandable in one of such youth and he needs managed carefully.
But what a talent the lad is! I suspect he will be number one for many years to come.

Peakfan said...

I don't think. Marc, that you could say all the young players have had extensive opportunity. If they were getting to sixty or seventy games without progress I can accept that.
Lads with up to thirty games at this level, maybe up to forty or fifty, are still novices. It is a huge step up in standard from anything they have played previously and they all need to be given time and prolonged exposure to the standard.

Peakfan said...

Mark - your last post was too direct mate and I am not going to allow this to go into a 'he's good, he's not' scenario, so have not posted it. The decision on a player's worth lies with the coach and that's only fair. Family members and friends of players read this blog so try to remember that when you are writing please.

Jon - I have no idea who your comment is directed at and it came over as unduly hostile. Happy to print your and anyone's comments, but not when they come over as rants.

Marc said...

What i,m getting at Peakfan is this feeling among certain people that a player will attain a certain age and then,as if by magic, become a thousand run a season batsman or a fifty wicket bowler. Young players as with older ones go through difficult periods but by the same token should be able to hold their place on a semi regular basis at the very least and also produce a degree of performance that suggest they have what it takes.

Of course they have to develop,that goes without saying,but the starting point for a good few of our players is too low. Put bluntly,they were probably never good enough to begin with. I,m not saying that applies to all of them,it doesn,t,but it applies to some and we must accept this otherwise we will never improve. I would support your idea of trying for a Kolpak batsman who can hopefully lend a worthwhile hand and remove some pressure from the youngsters. This 9-2 ratio is irrelevant and if we have to go 8-3 then we must do it.

By an extended run I will qualify it by saying most (not all) of our squad have now played enough cricket to be selected without having to be spoon fed. I can accept not being top of any league and even failing to gain promotion,providing we are progressing in the right direction. This we are not and the reasons have to be examined and solutions have to be found and I certainly don,t exempt management from this process. Welch is quick to remind everyone the players have everything they could possibly need at their fingertips but so have the management. They have been backed by the club finacially and allowed to set up their own system and they have to be held accountable when things go wrong.

Mutn said...

The trick is, regardless of whatever level you might have played at, is having an eye for a player. Secondly does he perform under pressure or only when the sun is out. It would appear that that "Expert Eye" has been half closed in both this and the past administration. The DCCL Premier was once regarded as the strongest league set up in the Country, winning if memory serves, back to back Representative competitions . One wonders why obvious league strength in depth never seems to transfer itself to the Derbyshire team ?