The news that broke this afternoon, regarding the departure of Wayne White, comes as no real surprise to Derbyshire cricket followers.
Wayne was signed on a one-year deal after good performances at the end of last season, when he was taken on loan from Lancashire. He did enough to suggest that he might be in direct competition for a place in the side with Jonathan Clare, who was likely to be fit from May, according to reports.
As it has transpired, neither has seen much first team action. A side strain hampered White's early season, although he returned to the side and produced some good displays in both the county championship and the T20. Indeed, his departure comes as he sits top of the bowling averages in the four-day game, with 17 wickets at under seventeen runs each from three appearances.
There have been suggestions of a fall-out and I can neither substantiate nor disprove that. The bottom line is, however, that White is the latest to find that cricket is increasingly becoming a young man's game and that regular appearances and contributions are needed to maintain a place on a county staff with limited resources. While he was second in the wicket-taking table in the T20, he was well down the list in economy rates.
Crucially, that was behind an array of young seam bowling talent such as Derbyshire has not had in years. Ben Cotton, Tom Taylor, Greg Cork and Will Davis all suggest massive potential which needs to be given opportunity, while his role in the team was effectively duplicated by Alex Hughes and Shiv Thakor. Both are considerably younger and have the potential to go farther in the game, something that White, at his age, was unlikely to do. With Mark Footitt and Tony Palladino key seam bowlers of the four-day side, White's role became increasingly marginalised.
In some ways, the release mirrors that of Tim Groenewald last year. The latter was seen as a key member of the attack but his release has enabled Graeme Welch to accelerate the development of young bowlers, something that has proved successful. With the club openly looking to restructure the playing staff for next year, the role of senior players on higher salaries nearing the end of their contract was always going to be looked at. Bringing in one, perhaps two Kolpak players will strengthen the side and the club also has to look after the developing players to ward off interest from elsewhere.
It is always sad when a player leaves and one remembers the good and the bad days they have had that have played a part in that decision. If Wayne, as is suggested in the Derby Telegraph, was wanting to approach other counties, then he has now got the freedom to do that.
For me, it is a sign of our ambition and potential that we can afford to let him go yet remain confident in the alternatives, for 'twas not always so. There are talented players on the staff and we may have options lined up elsewhere, for all I know.
I wish him well. At his age he needs regular first team cricket and may well interest Leicestershire, where he produced the best form of his career. Neither of his spells at the club that gave him his start really worked out and that is a shame, but life goes on.
For Derbyshire, it is the first part of the building towards next season and I look forward to your comments tonight.