Thursday, 15 October 2015
Farewell to Footitt...
I wish him well, as I hope you all do. There will doubtless be dissenting voices who scream a lack of loyalty, but Mark has gone for top level county cricket where the journalists are, in the hope that he can capitalise on the form and fitness of his life with an England call up. It would be the icing on the cake that should, assuming his agent has done his sums properly, ensure Mark is comfortable for the rest of his cricket career.
He is now at his peak and Surrey should, if their fitness and conditioning team are as good as ours, enjoy the four years of his contract with plenty of lively displays. Like Derbyshire supporters, Oval fans (the ground, not their shape) will enjoy the days when he gets it right and bowls with a pace and hostility matched by few in the modern county game. They must also tolerate those when the radar has gone and he occasionally endangers the well-being of the wicket-keeper, with dives and leaps to the limit of their sinews.
He is a lovely lad who has been a credit to his family and his profession in his attitude. Any one of us would swap doing a job we enjoy in one place for the same job, but greater reward elsewhere. Mark deserves a crack at the top level and should an England call come, we can still enjoy the thought of Derbyshire's role in that achievement.
Will he be missed? Of course, but I have seen a number of comments around social media asking who we can sign to take sixty, seventy, eighty wickets in his stead. The simple answer is 'no one'.
I think we will see a new bowler come in, whether from this country or on a Kolpak deal. The money has to be there, as Surrey have paid up the last year of his current deal and we have that money in the wage bill anyway. Yet bowlers who can take wickets in that quantity are as rare as snowdrops on the Kalahari and I would be astonished if someone came in to do that.
More crucially, for me, is that two players step up to take 30 wickets each, or three emerge to take twenty more than this year. Mark was over-bowled at times this season, usually because he was the one fit, experienced bowler and offered the best, at times only chance of a breakthrough.
If Graeme Welch can accelerate a couple of his young proteges to that level, he will have done extremely well. It is not too great a leap of faith to see Tom Taylor doing that, as he took 28 wickets this year at a decent average. He wasn't quite the same bowler when he returned after his car accident and a knee injury reduced his effectiveness too, but he has shown in a fledgling career that he can get good players out. A winter of hard work - some of it in understanding the importance of over rates - could easily see him make the next step, as the talent is there.
Ben Cotton has more to give too, while Greg Cork and Harry White could easily emerge as our next left-armer. It is not hard to see Will Davis kicking on over the winter either, while Tom Milnes is a player that Welch obviously rates. There is an obvious incentive for all of these players, but they must listen and learn, then deliver.
Having said all that, it is unrealistic for these lads to bowl all summer, just as it is to expect Andy Carter and Tony Palladino to remain fit and firing for six months in three competitions. Another seam bowler of experience, for me, is a must and I am sure Graeme Welch will have several irons in the fire, even as I write.
One suggestion from me - how about Chris Wright, at Warwickshire? He has a year on his current deal there, but so did Mark Footitt and we know how that ended. He followed Graeme Welch to Birmingham from Essex and there is obvious, mutual respect.
More than anything, he is a very good bowler. Again one with injuries over the course of his career, but also with a proven record of taking wickets, as well as contributing useful lower order runs.
Wouldn't say no, that's for sure, yet that is something for the future.
For now it is thanks for all you have done at Derbyshire to Mark Footitt. Watching you race in from the City End will remain a vivid memory, as will stumps flying behind batsmen who were simply not quick enough to handle you.
It has been a pleasure.