Monday, 28 December 2015

Guptill and Broom in prime form

In (almost) the words of the old song, I hope you had yourself a merry little Christmas. Certainly, all went well chez Peakfan, in the usual seasonal excess of eating.

I was heartened to read of another century for Neil Broom in New Zealand, this time making 101 from 99 balls as his Otago side made 313 in 50 overs. Despite this, they were still beaten by Auckland, suggesting that their attack isn't especially strong, not for the first time this winter.

Meanwhile, Martin Guptill helped New Zealand to a ten-wicket win over Sri Lanka BEFORE LUNCH with an extraordinary unbeaten 93 from just 30 balls. The innings contained 8 sixes and 9 fours and was breathtaking in its savagery and remarkable even by Martin's standards. He really is a special player and if Neil Broom can take a similar place in our affections this summer he will have done well.

I caught a little of the Australia v West Indies match and the latter are shockingly poor now in this form of the game. I would actually rank them alongside Bangladesh and Zimbabwe now, which seems barely credible for someone who grew up watching the great sides from the 1960s to 1990s. They don't seem to have a batsman or bowler who promises consistency and whereas their best young talent used to come here as a 'finishing school', the reality is there is no one a county would seriously consider, in their Test squad. It is all very sad.

I also saw some of the South Africa/England Test and as I write England are on top. I am a long way from convinced that this is the best eleven the home side could put out and surely David Miller is a better player than Temba Bavuma? They would have been better balanced by the inclusion of someone like Chris Morris, who continues to score runs and take wickets in domestic cricket and again did both today.

Indeed, a player like Morris, or David Wiese would be my preference for our T20 specialist this year. In an ideal world, the return of Albie Morkel might be the perfect signing, the all-rounder still producing the goods and earning a return to his country's T20 side to good effect. He is likely to be in demand though, even if he was happy to play a game a week in the middle of the summer.

A 'finisher' with bat and ball would be my choice. A batting line up of Wes, Ches, Rutherford, Broom, Madsen and Alex Hughes should score runs and so someone with the experience to get us over the line when it got tight would be my preference.

More importantly, we need to wait and see if Graeme Welch agrees, as well as if one of his 'irons in the fire' for an extra seam bowler gets hot.

Finally today, the Christmas period brought more orders for the Edwin Smith book and I now have just one signed copy left. There are still a handful of unsigned copies left with the publishers, but then it is sold out for the second and final time.

Please get in touch quickly if you would like to buy it, or order through ebay by searching 'Edwin Smith cricket book'

Back soon!

Thursday, 24 December 2015

A Yule Blog

As we head into the Christmas season, here are a few random thoughts ahead of the festivities. There will be little time to blog over the next three days and I am sure you will all be in exactly the same boat.

Brendon McCullum retired from the international there is a man who will be in demand around the world! The genial Kiwi has been one of the standout players of recent years and will be sought after for every T20 competition. A devastating batsman, competent wicket-keeper and thoughtful captain, there is much to like in a player whose teams play cricket the way that it should always be played - and enjoyed. He is also a man of considerable integrity and charm, one I hope we will continue to see on the world stage for many years to come. Today he was announced as a Middlesex player, the clamour for his services begins...

At the other end of the professional spectrum, Dan Redfern has signed to play Minor Counties cricket for Shropshire in 2016. I hope that it is a springboard for a talented cricketer to get his career back on track, because the player of 2012 was a genuine talent. Somewhere and somehow in between it all went rather wrong, but he is still young enough to rediscover his cricketing mojo. He has only to look at the example of Wes Durston to see how it can be done with hard work and the desire to keep doing so.

The news that the RLODC game against Yorkshire in June has been switched to Queens Park in Chesterfield is terrific, for fans of both counties. Allowing for good weather, there is a near-guarantee of a capacity crowd and there are few better sights in cricket than that delightful ground.

Finally tonight, I would just like to thank all of you for your support over the past twelve months, which have seen the blog close in on the magic one million hits mark. It has been a pleasure to meet and correspond with many of you over the course of the year and I look forward to doing so all over again in 2016.

Special thanks to Office Care for their support of the blog over the year. This allows it to look professional and remain advert-free and sincere thanks go to David and Martin Booth for their sponsorship.

In closing, there are now just three signed copies of the Edwin Smith book left and anyone wanting one of these should get in touch as soon as possible. Please search ebay under 'Edwin Smith book' or drop me an email to the usual address.

In between times, I wish you all a very happy Christmas.

I will catch up with you soon

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Only five signed copies of Edwin Smith book remain

As it says in the title, the last copies of the book are still available from me and you can get one, either by buying from ebay, or by contacting me by email - peakfan36atyahoodotcodotuk.

Search under 'Edwin Smith cricket book' on ebay and, subject to postal vagaries at this time of year, I will do my best to get the book to you in time for Christmas, if ordered today or tomorrow.

A few unsigned copies are still available from the publisher.

Please call  01323 460174

As always, a sincere thank you to everyone for your support!

How T20 can turn on one delivery

I was up early and tuned in to watch a bit of the T20 game from Australia, between the Sydney Thunder and the Melbourne Stars.

I ended up watching the whole of what was a superb game of cricket.

The first innings contained a batting masterclass by Usman Khawaja, who made a dazzling century that almost single-handed carried his side to a competitive total. He made an unbeaten 109 from 178-6 and played the kind of innings I didn't think he had in him for the format. There were all the shots, great timing, fine placement and even three sixes, as he looked a very fine player.

The only real support he got came from West Indian Andre Russell, who then bowled seriously quickly in the home side's reply. Yet a brilliant innings from Kevin Pietersen, in which he made 76 from 42 balls, turned the game on its head and the Melbourne side needed only 15 from the last two overs with Pietersen and James Faulkner going strong.

Yet one moment of over ambition from the former England man saw him play a shot no longer necessary, to hole out at fine leg. Jacques Kallis, still a fine cricketer at forty, was too canny in the last over and Sydney ended up winning by one run.

It was brilliant to watch and a fine example of how even the very best can panic when pressure is being applied towards the end of the game. It was the sort of position where we criticised our young players for losing last season, yet two experienced professionals couldn't carry their team home in a fine advert for the game.

All of which goes to show that it is much easier to call the tactics from the boundary edge and your armchair, than when you are facing two clever bowlers at the death. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but these situations call for clear heads and it turned out to be the veteran Kallis' day.

At forty Kallis still looks a class act and was capable of a near-ninety mph ball to keep batsmen guessing, as well as mixing up a full range of other balls. A player like Kallis (I can dream...) would be perfect as our overseas, though Russell, a fine athlete who contributes fully in this form, will be surely picked up by someone for the coming summer.

Over in New Zealand, Neil Broom made 85 in a losing cause for Otago, who were bowled out by the talented Jeetan Patel. Hamish Rutherford, skippering the side, is short of runs at present, but will doubtless be back in the runs in the near future.

Have a good Sunday!

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Christmas approaches and the work is underway

Sincere apologies for the lack of blogging this week, but this time of year in retail is somewhat manic and this year seems to have overtaken all the others in that nature. Suffice to say that there have simply not been enough hours in the day and for a few days the blog has perforce had to take a backseat.

Things have been moving down Derby way. Work has commenced on the new media centre, which will be complete during the coming season. The difference that it will make to the look of the ground will be considerable, with the Falcons Stand moving towards the Gateway to accommodate a building which will be the next step in the transformation of the place.

There will be those who grumble, doubtless having enjoyed an excellent view behind the bowlers arm at the Racecourse End, but it is all in the name of progress and there is no dissent from me. I usually wander around the ground anyway, enjoying the cricket from various angles as the day progresses and catching up with friends old and new.

I was also pleased to see the players getting involved in the club's hospitality work. It is important, as far as I am concerned, that players are grounded and fully appreciate the lifestyle that first-class cricket affords. There is a lot of work, without doubt, but you wouldn't get many cricket fans loathe to swap places with them, talent permitting, in a heartbeat. Getting those players involved in other work around the club is a sensible approach, one typical of the people at the top.

Around the circuit there have been a few things happening at last. Ross Taylor has signed for Sussex for the first half of the season, a very shrewd signing of a fine cricketer, while Gloucestershire have picked up Australian Andrew Tye for the T20 Blast. It is a signing reminiscent of the one we made last year of Nathan Rimmington, though Tye will hope for better luck than his fellow countryman. His early injury set him back and he rarely showed the form that has made him a star T20 performer in his own country.

Meanwhile Rory Kleinveldt has re-signed for Northamptonshire, where he has proved a popular and hard-working professional. I still wonder whether the additional seam bowler that Graeme Welch has alluded to may come from there, or perhaps another Kiwi with a UK passport. I agree that it is one area where we are light on experience and one more player might make all the difference to our prospects and the supporters perception of them.

Mark Footitt took wickets in his first appearance in England colours, though the opposition barely seemed first-class standard for the most part. I do hope that Mark gets an opportunity, especially when Dale Steyn has been declared fit for the home side in the forthcoming Test series. Mark may not now be a Derbyshire player, but it was his feats in our colours that got him this opportunity.

Finally tonight, I have thoroughly enjoyed the DCCC Advent over on the club site.

For those who don't really know him, today's feature that shows all of Andy Carter's wickets from 2015 is very impressive. His whippy action gets bounce and movement and having seen this, I am even more convinced that he will be a major force for us in the 2016 season.

I like aggressive, in your face players, as they lift a team.

Andy Carter is all that.

See you soon

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Varying opportunities for Durston and Wainwright

There's a nice opportunity for Wes Durston, today, as he is announced as skipper of the MCC side to tour South Africa in the early new year.

It may not be an 'official' tour, but it is due recognition for a man whose career has turned around completely since joining Derbyshire, following his release by his native Somerset. At that stage, when he was playing for the Unicorns, such an accolade must have seemed a pipe dream, but the player has become a key member of the Derbyshire squad.

Especially in the one-day game, which makes up the majority of the short tour. Durston's ability in short form cricket is never in doubt and he has been head and shoulders our best one-day batsman over the past five years. He usually gives an innings early impetus, while his bowling is canny and more than useful.

He is, in short, a very good cricketer and perhaps our insurance policy at number seven this year in the four-day game, where his spin variation as the summer progresses will be invaluable.

Meanwhile, David Wainwright will join Karl Krikken at Shropshire in the Minor Counties, where he will undoubtedly do well. His best season in the first-class game was under Krikk and will doubtless hope that the resumption of the partnership will rejuvenate his career.

While it would appear unlikely that he will be seen in the first-class game again, he could enjoy several good summers in the Minor Counties. I wish him well, as I am sure you all do.

Finally tonight, good to see Martin Guptill back in the runs for New Zealand, with 156 against Sri Lanka in the first Test match. 

It would have been special to watch, like all of his innings are. 

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Quiet week as Christmas approaches

There's little to report on at present in the world of Derbyshire cricket.

The club site is doing its best with a jolly little advent calendar that revisits some of the best bits of 2015, but it is a tough old time of year for the domestic cricket fan.

There was great news this week that the Christmas party season has sold out. Great news because the money made from this ploughs back into the cricket side. Having sampled the in-house catering at the club since they changed things, I can heartily recommend it. When I attended a function of the Derby Cricket Society, the lunch was excellent, both in quantity and quality.

Other than that, there's little news. Around the circuit, Mickey Arthur is a strong tip to take over at the under-achieving club that is Essex. One would have thought a coach worth his salt, armed with their resources and players, should have them as a perennial top-flight side, but it has not turned out that way.

Paul Nixon and Stuart Law are believed to be in the frame too, as is Andy Moles. The former Warwickshire batsman is linked with just about every coaching vacancy on the county circuit and has recently completed an impressive job with the Afghanistan side.

That's it from me just now - I'll be back towards the weekend, with hopefully a little more to report.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Last ten countdown for Edwin Smith book

With just under three weeks to go until Christmas, there are just ten signed copies of the second and final print run of my Edwin Smith book to be sold and then it is gone forever.

If you had offered me selling out the first print run, prior to publication in August, I would have been a happy man. For both to do so would be fantastic. Not just for me, but specifically for Edwin, a man who thoroughly deserves his second spell in the public eye.

He was a very fine bowler and one like him today would walk into the England side.

I understand that a handful of unsigned copies are still available from the publishers, the Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians, by calling 01323 460174.

You can get a copy signed by both Edwin and I, or by him alone, by mailing me at

Alternatively, you can buy a signed copy from ebay by searching under 'Edwin Smith book'

The book costs £16.80, including post and packing.

Thanks to everyone who has bought it. I am very grateful to each and every one of you.

Academy intake key to the future

For anyone as passionate about the county of Derbyshire, and specifically its cricket club, as I am, the number of county-reared youngsters currently in the senior squad is gratifying.

Ben Slater, Alex Hughes, Tom Taylor, Tom Poynton, Matt Critchley, Harvey Hosein, Ben Cotton, Greg Cork and Tom Knight played with varying degrees of success in 2015, while Harry White and Will Davis both made debuts of promise against the touring Australians.

The key to all these players is in 'kicking on' this winter and next summer. All have shown, though not consistently enough at this stage, that they have what it takes at senior level. The secret now is in developing the mental toughness to do that on a regular basis.

It is one thing to score good and attractive fifties that can make a score respectable and help a team to compete. It is another altogether to turn that fifty into a century that will in turn become a match-winning score. For bowlers, it is one thing to be able to bowl tidily and keep first-class batsman quiet, but something extra is needed to get them out and become an established county player.

I have been lucky enough to talk to many former Derbyshire players over the last eighteen months, some of them going on to become stars in the international game. All said that the key moment in their careers was when they realised they could do it and were not just making up the numbers  on the team sheet.

It takes hard work, both in getting fit enough to play and in maintaining that standard throughout a six-month season. It takes the work in getting your technique to sufficient standard, then your powers of concentration such that you can bowl six good balls an over, not four and two gifts. It takes realising that you have to be switched on for the first and every consequent ball of a session, not switching off for a little while, which is when the ball comes that gets you out, or goes for four, or results in a dropped catch.

It is that mental toughness that is the hardest. Going in as an opening batsmen to face two lively opening bowlers with a new ball, the fielders 'chirping' away at you, looking for signs of a weakness that they can exploit. Some will fall by the wayside, unable to master one of the above requirements. Others will get there, but take time in which to do it.

The new intake is: Cameron Ball (17, seam bowler), Tom Ball (19, wicketkeeper/batsman), Ryan Bramwell (17, batsman), Archie Gleadall (16, batsman/off-spinner), Harry Killoran (18, off-spinner/batsman), Hamaiz Mahmood (17, batsman/off-spinner), Callum Parkinson (19, batsman/left-arm spinner), Robert Peat (18, seam bowler), George Sellers (18, batsman).

I have heard good things about some of these lads, while others are less well-known. There is a good cross-section of the cricket disciplines and each has an opportunity to force a way into the second team and ultimately the senior side. It would be unfair to single out any one of them, but each has known and earned success in local and age group cricket.

It must be tough for the ones who just missed out, too, as there are some good young players in the county age groups. They proved that in their sterling efforts last summer

For them the challenge is clear - work and be a part of next year and those to come.

I can smell that fresh-cut grass already...

Thursday, 3 December 2015

The fixtures are out!

Morning everyone and sincere apologies for the lack of blogging this week.

I have been working nine to eight each day and will be until Friday, as the Christmas rush is well and truly underway. Additional domestic commitments have meant my time has been somewhat limited and time to actually switch on the computer, let alone blog, has been curtailed.

My apologies to anyone who has mailed me and I have not yet had the chance to answer. I promise to do so at the weekend and your comments are, as always, much appreciated!

Anyway, like the rest of you I was delighted to see the announcement of the fixtures, with games at Welbeck Colliery and Colwyn Bay, against Nottinghamshire and Glamorgan respectively, catching my eye. While fully appreciating the rationale of concentrating playing matters on one developed ground, the thrill of the outground never goes away and I hope to get down for the Welbeck fixture.

When I have a little more time I will study dates and make plans for my trips in greater detail and the Derby opener of Glamorgan on 24 April holds considerable appeal. It is around a month later than that arctic opener of 2012, which remains and is likely to be the coldest I have ever felt on a cricket ground. The sight of polar bears clasping mugs of bovril is one I have never seen before, though it may just have been hallucinations through severe cold...

Still, only 129 sleeps until our lads step back on to the green sward once more, honed to perfection and hopefully improved in technique and mental toughness. It cannot come soon enough, though between times it will be nice if Derby County can pull off an impressive promotion campaign.

As for me, it is back to the busy world of retail and the lead up to Christmas.

See you at the weekend!