When reviewing the bowling for the season, at least in the four-day game, it is effectively a case of 'Footitt and the rest'.
Mark bowled almost two hundred overs more than anyone else and stayed remarkably fit once more. He was not quite as destructive as twelve months before, but that was largely down to being used as shock and stock bowler. On his day he remained a handful and while an occasional delivery left the wicket-keeper with nowhere to go, his presence in the attack usually offered wickets.
Tony Palladino remained economical and was the second leading wicket-taker, but was hampered by a knee injury from mid-season and had to be nursed thereafter. So too did Tom Taylor, who did well at the start of the summer but struggled as it went on. Second season syndrome hit a few players and Tom now knows what he needs to do to become an established county cricketer.
Ben Cotton bowled well in the one-day games and showed an ability to keep batsmen quiet, but the next step for a genial giant is to become more effective in the four-day game. Perhaps the addition of Andy Carter, an aggressive cricketer, will rub off on him, as I was left with the impression that Cotts has more pace and much more aggression to be unleashed before becoming the finished article.
Alex Hughes and Shiv Thakor were key members of the one-day attack and both bowled some excellent spells, though neither can be considered regular four-day options at this stage. They may get there, as both have time on their side, but hard work is needed to hone their skills still further.
Other young bowlers flitted in and out, displaying promise. Greg Cork did well in one-day games and may emerge next year, while Will Davis and Harry White showed promise in their game against the Australian tourists but are a little further back in their development.
Wayne White missed the start of the summer with injury and took wickets on his return, but was then released from his contract for whatever reason, to return to Leicestershire, where he enjoyed his best days. People will have their own thoughts on his departure, but it has happened and we must move on.
The spin department was effectively Wes Durston, another who missed a lot of cricket with a side strain. He continued to offer a viable spin option and perhaps next year may become a needed number seven, offering runs and an option other than seam. On the basis of this summer, Chesney's 'darts' are largely a thing of the past, although I still feel that Wayne Madsen should bowl himself more, if only for a little variety and for the surprise value.
With Tom Knight's bowling a work in progress, Matt Critchley emerged from nowhere to make a dazzling debut century and bowl some useful spells of leg spin. Yet it is silly to expect him to take on the mantle of lead spinner next year at eighteen. One of these young players will hopefully progress, but both are many years short of knowing their trade. I asked three former Derbyshire spinners during the summer when they felt they knew their trade and was told 'between 27 and 30'. Enough said, really...
Will Mark Footitt leave this winter? Only the player and his agent know the answer to that, although he will need to balance offers from elsewhere with cost of living (down south) and the support mechanisms in place that have kept him on the field. If he leaves, there is undoubtedly a gaping hole in our seam bowling and any prospects for next year will be dependent on Carter and Palladino being fit and younger options making considerable progress over the winter months.
No unbridled optimism from me at this stage, that's for sure, yet lesser expectations and flying in under the radar may be better than carrying the excess baggage of big names that fail to live up to expectations.