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.