Friday, 16 October 2015

Cotton extension ends a lively week

Better news from the 3aaa County Ground today, as Ben Cotton signed a contract extension that will keep him at the club until the end of 2017.

The genial giant is a fine prospect. Some way removed from the finished product, but a lad whose potential is obvious. I still think he can gain a yard or two in pace and can get nastier with a ball in his hand, but his skills can only be enhanced by working with Graeme Welch and he showed in flashes this season that he has much to offer.

His T20 bowling, until a side strain truncated his campaign, was excellent. Bowling at the top and tail of the innings, he showed a remarkable ability to drop a yorker into the slot and conceded under seven an over. What he now needs to do is improve his wicket-taking skills in the longer format, something that will put him to the front of the queue for a place in a first-choice side.

That Cotts can bowl is undeniable and the raw talent is there. By the end of his two-year deal, we should have a good idea as to whether he can become a very good county bowler - or maybe even more.

I've had a few mails, tweets and messages about the departure of Mark Footitt and thankfully thay have all recognised the excellent service that Mark gave to us. We would all have liked the stay to be longer, but, as I said last night, he is entitled to do what he feels is best for him, his career and his family.

Below last night's piece, Mark suggests that Wayne Madsen will be next to leave the county. I don't see that, to be honest, because his circumstances are, for me, quite different.

Wayne is a focal point of Derbyshire cricket, the star batsman, the captain, the figurehead of the club. As such, I would assume he is as well paid as we can afford and is the most indispensable player in it. Yes, he could be approached by other counties, but would be unlikely to be captain and I wouldn't have thought would be as well treated as he has been at Derbyshire, where is both respected and valued.

The latter is important to any player - for that matter to an employee in any organisation. With his wife running a successful business locally, a career at Derbyshire remains a common sense option for the skipper, but there is a persuasive argument ahead at his next contract discussion.

Next year will be Wayne's eighth in Derbyshire colours and I would hope that the club offer him a tax-free benefit in 2018 or 2019. That would likely be more lucrative than any other deal offered to him and would set him up quite nicely for a future career, quite possibly in coaching.

He is a decent and honourable man and every interview suggests that he wants to lead a young group of players into a bright future. I hope so, because his calm persona and exemplary personal conduct are what an impressionable group of players needs.

His captaincy isn't yet perfect. I would love to see him try a few more things when wickets are elusive, such as introducing Wes Durston earlier, or bowling himself more, but he is a thoughtful man and an outstanding batsman. He exudes calm and confidence at the crease and, to quote Edwin Smith when I watched a session of play with him earlier this season, 'he looks a proper batsman'.

I hope that we see that immaculate defence, the stylish drives and the best reverse sweep in the game in our colours for many seasons to come.

And I think we will.

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