As we approach the end of July, the conversations around cricket grounds always turn to who will be available from other counties. At this stage much of it is likely to be conjecture, but last night the first 'definite' news broke from Durham.
The news that Gordon Muchall, at 32, is 'unlikely' to be offered a new deal is in some ways no surprise. I wrote only last week that the club are far from affluent and they will need to find a way of affording to retain their big names like everyone else. Muchall is not a household name and nor is he one of their talented young guns.
Yet he averages just under fifty in division one this summer and is a composed, talented cricketer, capable of scoring runs on awkward tracks and with a good habit of doing so when they are most needed. His availability, should it be confirmed, would alert a few counties, us among them, I would have thought.
That he is the sort of player who would have been invaluable in the T20 this year is undeniable, but he will be far from alone. I could see interest - and not just from Derbyshire - in players at Yorkshire. They appear to have a bottomless pit of talent in that huge county, with five players in England under-19s. Not all of these players can play, even when they have a few away playing for the national side and I wonder if one or two might prefer regular cricket to a game here and there.
If we're talking experience, then a player like Rich Pyrah might be of interest. Another 32-year old, who is just enjoying his benefit year, does he really want more years as a peripheral figure in the squad and playing matches in the second team in front of one man and a dog? Will they opt for Andrew Gale or the young, all-round talent of Will Rhodes? Maybe these guys are white rose through and through, or maybe there are a few who would welcome a move to a county with ambition that isn't too far away. Let's face it, they would bring a winning mentality with them...
There is a school of thought that it would be more beneficial in bringing in a good, experienced pro like that, rather than spending top dollar on a really big international name. Much would depend on the common sense of the players themselves and the 'demands' of their agents. Every player has a value, but only a handful of sides - and not necessarily the ones that are the 'best fit' - can afford silly money. I know one thing for sure - we won't be held to ransom and I am confident that the people at the helm of our club will recruit wisely ahead of a further improvement for 2016.
We will learn in due course who we are releasing and, as always, there will be tough decisions to be made. I will comment in due course and won't 'play God' with people's careers, but with a finite budget to play with, Graeme Welch and the off-field team will need to come up with some creative accountancy to help us to get to where we want to be.
Let's be honest, with John Sadler and Simon Guy on the coaching staff, anyone interested in a move from those parts should be known to us, but the contacts of our coaches will be wide and varied. I'm very much of the opinion that anyone we bring in will either be from overseas or up north, simply because southern players generally struggle to translate talent to regular exposure on northern wickets. To his great credit, Billy Godleman has got to grips with it this year, but it has taken him a year or two.
Anyway, more of that in the weeks and months ahead, for sure. Tomorrow our attention turns to the squad to play the Aussies and I will look at that one tomorrow night.
There's still a lot of cricket to play this year..maybe the 50-over game is where our strengths lie?