Friday, 31 July 2015

Derbyshire v Northamptonshire RLODC

It was a day that kept on giving for Derbyshire fans today, after the frustrations of Bristol. Indeed, it ended in a win of some professionalism, as diametrically opposed to the other night as could be possible.

It was due to two performances, one a portent of things to come, the other indicative of the new-found confidence of a player who could easily have slipped from the county circuit a couple of year ago.

The first. of course, came from Matt Critchley, an all-rounder of great promises who took his first List A wicket today, then followed it with three more as the opposition went after him. He stood up to the test very well and, after the criticism of his captaincy the other night, Wes Durston deserves credit for having faith in a young bowler.

I have spoken to several very good judges in recent weeks and all have told me that we should treat anything positive that Matt does with the ball over the next five years as a bonus. Much as spinners, per se, take years to reach their peak, leg-spin is the most difficult of arts. By the same token, when it is bowled on a helpful wicket, it can be wonderfully effective and Matt will sleep well tonight, aware of the major role he played in restricting the total of our visitors.

Josh Cobb played the sort of innings that makes one wonder why he bats so low in other cricket and without him we would have had an easy task, but our batsmen set about the task well, with Billy Godleman leading the way with a fine, unbeaten century.

That's over 850 runs in all cricket this summer for Billy, who was well supported by Wayne Madsen after Wes Durston was adjudged leg before.  There was even time for the exchange of some choice words with Rory Kleinveldt after a ball change and a claimed catch behind, something that often makes Billy all the more focused. He has had a very good summer so far and there should be more runs to come.

It is rare to be able to write of a Derbyshire run chase that was accomplished without alarm and with complete professionalism. Tonight they did that, so just as I was critical of Wednesday night, I am happy to praise a very good response today.

Equally good news came off the field, with the news that Hamish Rutherford has signed up for the whole of next season, aside from any international commitments. At this stage, his country don't have any in our domestic season, although late additions and training camps can never, of course, be discounted.

What it does, of course, is give us consistency in our overseas role next season. Rutherford has shown himself already to be a player of some considerable talent, crucially a man with a reputation to build. A thousand championship runs next summer and another 500-plus in other cricket will be a strong argument towards inclusion in his national side, of course.

Perhaps equally important, however, is that it gives Graeme Welch the knowledge of how and where he can strengthen his squad.

He now has a confirmed opening batsman, or first-wicket down, of class and with a thirst for runs for the whole of next summer.

If he is looking for a Kolpak, or someone with an English passport, he can look to other areas of the side with a degree of confidence.

A good effort today. Fifth in the group at the halfway stage and everything to play for.

Derbyshire v Northamptonshire RLODC

Sorry about the lack of blog last night and its just a short note from me this morning.

We can win this game, with a squad that is rightly unchanged. There was little wrong with the performance or personnel at Bristol, aside from a manic last four overs that cost us the game. As I wrote then, credit the opposition for the courage of their convictions, but the wheels came off and we would have won that game 99 in a hundred times.

It was good to see Wayne Madsen admit team culpability over the last ball error, because it was. Someone should have been 'switched on' enough to notice that we had too many fielders on the leg side; if two umpires can spot it, eleven players should be able to.  'Commitment, attention to detail and professionalism' was, as several people pointed out yesterday, what I noted as crucial - and exactly where we fell down. A very good side can fall down in some areas and still win, but a developing one needs to get most things right, or will struggle. Just as we saw, really.

Our visitors have won the two T20 games between the sides so Derbyshire will be wanting to get onto the win column between the sides.

There's enough in the tank to win this one.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Gloucestershire v Derbyshire RLODC

Derbyshire 274-5 in 48 overs (Rutherford 110, Madsen 106 not)

Gloucestershire 205-4 in 35 overs

Gloucestershire won on D/L

It is hard to know what to say tonight.

We beat Somerset handsomely, lost to Yorkshire narrowly by Duckworth/Lewis and were then given tonight's game by the same calculation. Rain interruptions left Gloucestershire needing 68 from the last four overs, something I saw as I was on my last break at work. Easy-peasy from there, thought I, well aware of how well we had bowled at the end of games this year.

What I didn't know was who had to bowl those overs. No criticism of Matt Critchley, but Wes Durston, who has taken on the captaincy, will have expected to use Ben Cotton and Shiv Thakor at the death, not, because of D/L, have to use those who had not already bowled seven overs.

You have to give credit to the home side, because they got there. Jack Taylor played a highly impressive cameo of 41 from 14 balls, but one has to say that a team should be capable of defending seventeen an over. The batsmen chanced their arm and got away with it, but we should still have been capable of holding off their charge.

Indeed we would have done so, but for something that incurs my greatest criticism. We were unprofessional at the last.

The captain will bear the brunt of the flak, because them's the breaks when you take on the role. You make a good bowling change or set a clever field, you are the bees knees. You do something wrong, you're considerably less than that. To be fair, having too many men on the leg side is a pretty basic error, but I don't hold Wes solely responsible. There were eleven players on that pitch and surely one of them should have spotted it and said something?

It all rather ruined a fine batting effort, when Hamish 'Signhimup' Rutherford and Wayne Madsen scored sublime centuries and took us to a position of strength. We could and should have won from there, but for rain and, when it mattered, people simply not thinking about what was happening.

They will be disappointed tonight, but from such adversity things are learned. We have developed a nasty habit of losing close finishes and it is frustrating to be so close and yet so far. Having said that, we are playing decent cricket and if we cut out the errors, can still qualify from this group.

On Monday night I was happy to admit that we ran a good side close and were a little unlucky in the grand scheme of things.

Tonight, not to put too fine a point on it, we threw it away.

At the end, I found the only thing I can say.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Clive Rice

For me, the true judgement of an outstanding all-rounder is simple. Were you to take one of their skills from them, could that player still stand as a first-class player?

Think through a few supposed all round talents in the modern game and the answer is probably no. Yet Clive Rice, who died today, was a giant of a cricketer in an age when they were not in short supply. A fair indicator of his standing in the game, and certainly at Nottinghamshire, where he starred for many seasons, was that it was unlikely they would have swapped him for any of them.

Following Garfield Sobers as overseas player was a thankless task, but Rice, admittedly with a better standard of team mate, did more than the great West Indian at Trent Bridge, which was some achievement. While Ian Botham, Kapil Dev, Imran Khan and his Nottinghamshire team-mate, Richard Hadlee were regarded as the four great all rounders of the time, only Rice's lack of international cricket stopped him joining that quartet.

As a batsman he could graft or he could take the game away. 48 hundreds and 137 half centuries confirm his talent, together with another eleven tons in the one-day game. Those runs came at an average in excess of forty, while his 930 wickets came at a cost of just 22. There were a further 517 in the one-day game too, as Rice became a man for all occasions and cricket formats. He was county skippers from 1979 to 1987, leading them to trophies and being a skipper in the Eddie Barlow mode - setting the tone, getting on the front foot and keeping his team on top by personal deeds and force of personality.

By the time South Africa was readmitted to the international fold he was 42 and past his best. He only got three one-day games, but plenty of fine players before him got less. I read of his ill-health only recently and it came as a shock to hear of his passing today.

Nottinghamshire were and are our rivals, but they have perhaps never been better than when Rice and Hadlee took the new ball on helpful tracks. Watching them mark out their run ups made you fear the worst. Watching them walk to the wicket was exactly the same and they rarely let the side down. Both were scrappers, fierce competitors who got the best from helpful bowling conditions, then somehow scored runs when the opposition fancied them too.

Clive Rice was a giant of the game. I mourn his passing and will remember him as one of the best players I have seen.

Rest in peace, Clive.

Gloucestershire v Derbyshire RLODC preview

Derbyshire head to Bristol tomorrow for a game that could see them establish a place in the group's likely qualifiers. Defeat wouldn't end our hopes, but this is a game we can win with commitment, attention to detail and professionalism.

Gloucestershire have some good players, but this summer they have more impressed me as a team that is better than its constituent parts. Skipper Michael Klinger is the 'name' player, but the rest are largely players who fly below the media radar. Having said that, there are some good ones among them and we will need to be at our best tomorrow to beat a side chosen from this squad:

Michael Klinger (c), Chris Dent, Gareth Roderick (wk), Benny Howell, Geraint Jones, Kieran Noema-Barnett, Jack Taylor, James Fuller, Craig Miles, Tom Smith, David Payne, Will Tavare, Liam Norwell.

We keep the same squad as for the first two games, with the addition of Ben Slater. Graeme Welch will announce his final eleven when he has seen the wicket - and probably the weather - tomorrow, but there's enough in this Derbyshire side to secure another win.

I'll report on that tomorrow and keep my fingers crossed that we quickly return to winning ways.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Derbyshire v Yorkshire RLODC

Yorkshire 239-6 in 42 overs (Ballance 69)

Derbyshire 189-9 in 29 overs, chasing 197 to win (Rutherford 56, Godleman 45)

Yorkshire won by seven runs

I have to say I don't really understand Duckworth/Lewis.

How we came to be chasing only 42 less than Yorkshire made in 13 overs less, when they had an uninterrupted innings remains a mystery to me. I know it is all about acceleration and what they might have done, but my life's too short to try and fully understand its intricacies and nuances.

That said, Derbyshire made a very good fist of their run chase tonight and, against the best side in the country, made them fight to the end to hold on. That they did was down to experience and know-how, but our young side can be proud of how we grafted and took it to the wire.

The bowling again held its own against a good side, one with most of its available big guns included. Maybe we could have made better use of the two spinners, whose eight overs went only for 33, Matt Critchley doing well on his List A debut. Yet no one let us down and as in the game at Taunton yesterday, a young attack did an admirable job.

The batting did likewise. Restored to his best place as an opener, Billy Godleman played a fine knock and Hamish Rutherford, with support from the lower order and especially Tom Poynton, almost took us to what would have been an unlikely win. When he was caught on the boundary, from the final ball of the penultimate over, the game was up, but it was a very good effort. Brooks, Patterson and Bresnan, experienced campaigners all, held their nerve and we just hadn't enough in the tank to cope. Again, an experienced finisher in that slot might have made a difference in a narrow finish, something that Graeme Welch will be more aware of than any of us.

Irresepective of the result, it was a game that augurs well for the remainder of the competition. Yes we were beaten, and the churlish will doubtless say that a loss is a loss, irrespective of the margin. I'm not one of them though, because that was an excellent effort.

If we replicate those skills and the intensity shown tonight, more wins will come in this competition.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Somerset v Derbyshire RLODC

Derbyshire 134-7 in 14 overs (Madsen 45, Durston 29)

Somerset 74 all out, set 104 to win in ten overs

Derbyshire won by 29 runs

When I awoke this morning and saw a video of Taunton in the rain on Twitter, the likelihood of play seemed remote. Especially when the regular updates suggested that the rain had, had got torrential again...

Nonetheless, the ground staff worked wonders and the game was eventually set for fourteen overs, ironically the shortest game we have played all season. Winning the toss in such games is often crucial - and we lost it.

Yet by the end of that innings, I felt confident. We had the equivalent of a near-200 score in T20, which will win you more games than you lose. Star turn was Wayne Madsen, with 45 from 27 balls, while Wes Durston enjoyed himself on his return to his earlier stomping ground, making 29 from 19 balls. There were late innings cameos from Shiv Thakor and Alex Hughes and the total looked competitive, at the very least.

The only surprise, indeed, was in such a short game going with Billy Godleman at four. I rate Billy as a cricketer, but this isn't his game and asking him to play the key role of pushing it on from there is akin to asking me to play the role of Johnny Depp in a biopic of the actor. He brings a lot to the side, but we have quick scorers who could and should have gone in earlier, leaving him as an insurance policy if it went pear-shaped.

Still, short boundaries plus big hitting batsmen (even without Trescothick) could have spelled trouble without disciplined bowling, but by crikey we bowled well. From Mark Footitt getting the dangerous Jim Allenby in the opening over, the grip was tightened and never subsequently loosened.

20, 21, 21, 23. That's the age of that attack, Footitt apart and they bowled so well. Compare that to Tim Groenewald's three overs for 35 for total vindication of Graeme Welch's decision to release the South African last summer. Good a bowler as he was, the coach quickly spotted the talent in his young charges and realised that they needed opportunity. With Tom Taylor and Will Davis outside this eleven, not to mention the older Tony Palladino, the potential is obvious. So too is the need to praise Welch for their development, which has been remarkable across the board in just twelve months.

It is one of the things in all sport. As young players come through, their potential needs to be encouraged and Tom Poynton will be well aware that Harvey Hosein will be pushing for top spot with the gloves. At 18, he may be a couple of years from that role outright, but with two players of even equal talent, the younger will always win out, just as Hosein would do himself in ten years time if another, younger challenger comes along. Competition is good for any team and we are getting this now throughout the side.

Thakor may not have made the runs that he or we might have expected this summer, but his bowling has come on a long way. Cotton has been a revelation in the matches he has played and Greg Cork is starting to make a strong case for inclusion. Indeed, a couple of very good judges have told me that they believe that Greg's stronger suit may yet turn out to be his batting, suggesting that he may not be living in his Dad's shadow for too long.

Meanwhile Alex Hughes again did his stuff, with quick runs at the end of the innings, plus two tight overs again, while the catches were held. In short, we were professional and polished, with the skipper doing his job with regular bowling changes that worked. Can you ask more from a performance?

Yorkshire tomorrow, who will doubtless be seeking a revenge for Chesterfield, but that doesn't take away from a good start in this competition.

Played one, won one. Top of the league. No, I'm not having a laugh...

Well done lads. It'll be a jolly old journey home tonight.

Somerset v Derbyshire RLODC

Forgive the use of the acronym, but do please get used to it, because the idea of typing 'Royal London One-Day Cup' on a regular basis in the next couple of weeks doesn't thrill me unduly...

Tomorrow, or rather today as I type this, Derbyshire play Somerset at Taunton in  the first match of a competition that will test their resilience and their Sat-Navs in equal measure. Whatever criteria were used to draw up the schedule, logic doesn't appear to have been one of them. Between tomorrow and next Sunday, the route seems somewhat akin to the old American rock 'n' roll tours, where bookers picked up gigs anywhere and everywhere with scant disregard for the distance in between.

Sunday in Taunton, Monday in Derby, Wednesday in Bristol, Friday in Derby and Sunday at The Oval is like the bad old days of the John Player League, when championship games were interrupted by cross-country hikes with little regard for the welfare of players. After throwing yourself around all day, you ideally don't want to be sitting in a car for several hours, perhaps explaining why we have taken another bowler on loan, just in case.

At least the competition sees us play largely different opposition to the T20, which is something. Despite their being a first division side, this Somerset side is beatable, with no Gayle and no Trescothick from the T20. Their squad, captained by the dangerous Jimmy Allenby:

Jim Allenby (capt), Tom Abell, Michael Bates, Tom Cooper, Lewis Gregory, Tim Groenewald, James Hildreth, Jack Leach, Johann Myburgh, Craig Overton, Jamie Overton, Peter Trego and Max Waller.

As for Graeme Welch, he has matched a youthful-looking opposition with an equally young Derbyshire squad of rich potential:

Wes Durston
Billy Godleman
Hamish Rutherford
Chesney Hughes
Wayne Madsen
Alex Hughes
Shiv Thakor
Tom Poynton
Matt Critchley
Greg Cork
Ben Cotton
Mark Footitt

One would assume that Matt Critchley will be twelfth man, but there is good depth to the batting that at some point will bear fruit. The duration of the innings and the less frenetic manner of the cricket should suit us. If we can bowl with similar professionalism and skill as we did in the shortest form of the game, there is no reason why we should not do well in this competition.

Derbyshire v Australia day 3

Australia 413-9 declared and 95-1 (Clarke 44 not)

Derbyshire 259 (Palladino 82, Marsh 4-41)

Match drawn

In the end, the match ended in the fashion that I predicted, although not with special prescience. The Australian back up bowlers got a work out, Mitchell Marsh showed himself to be every bit the dynamic all-rounder I have felt him to be for the past two years and it all ended somewhat limply after a rather lack lustre few days.

After losing two sessions to the weather it was always likely to be so and the fact that we selected close to a second team for the match rendered it a somewhat uneven game. That we got as close as we did to the Australian score was due to an innings of rare brilliance from Tony Palladino, who seems to harness the spirit of Gilbert Jessop whenever he hears Australian accents.

Tonking the ball merrily through and over the field, Tony's 82 came from just 68 balls and was as diametrically opposed to the attritional nature of what went before it as was possible. Four sixes and eight fours poured from the bat of a man who must be close to consideration as an all-rounder these days. He is a fine professional and a cricketer we should cherish, always giving of his best in every match.

He was well supported by David Wainwright, who made 38 and reminded everyone of the sort of rearguard action that was once commonplace. It is just such a shame that David seems to lack confidence in his bowling these days, some way short of the man who looked so impressive in that golden summer of 2012.

The same must be said for Jonathan Clare, who is feeling his way back into the first-class game after too long out with a major back problem. Will we see either in the county colours again? I don't know the answer to that one, but the reality is that both have younger competition for the jobs they do in the side. Ultimately, in any sport, that happens and it is tough to see a talented match-winner, which Jonathan was in his prime, struggling to re-establish himself.

The Australians seemed to be model guests and conducted themselves well, signing autographs as one would hope they would do of course. For the young people who attended and got those signatures, the three days and the result were largely incidental.

They rubbed shoulders with cricketing deities and will doubtless keep the evidence of that for years to come.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Fantasy Cricket update

Early congratulations are perhaps apposite for David Aust, who is a piffling 1600 points clear  in the Peakfan Blog Fantasy Cricket League.

David is 54th in the overall competition, while Matthew Entwistle is just 300 points (or a good innings from Prince or Petersen) ahead of Dean Doherty, with Dean shadowing himself in fourth place with his B team (well, I hope it is!)

As for old Peaky, I am nicely up to mid-table, a consequence of having used all my players, but also electing good old Ashwell Prince as skipper...all those runs and counting them twice  - I salute you, sir....

I can live with that, considering I haven't looked at the league for about three weeks!

Good luck to all, in the remainder of the season.

Derbyshire v Australia day 2

Derbyshire 81-2 v Australia

Anyone think that this game will result in an exciting last day run chase? Derbyshire declare overnight, Australia forfeit their second innings and we set off in pursuit of 333 to win?

I don't. While the inexperience of the Derbyshire side suggests that we wouldn't get close anyway, I can't see Australia giving us the option. Instead, I think that we will bat on tomorrow, weather permitting, until we are all out or declare, giving their attack a handy work out. Then they will go in again for another knock, allowing those most in need of time in the middle (Michael Clarke?) a chance to do so.

All things being equal, we did not too badly today, albeit aided by twenty extras that boosted the score somewhat artificially. The attack they had out was a good one and we battled, which is what you want a side to do.

It would be good to see the rest of the batting line-up show equal willingness to graft and both Jonathan Clare and David Wainwright need some runs after failing to register with the ball yesterday. Both have endured difficult spells and deserve a good day.

Having said that, there will be neither quarter asked, nor given, against such opponents.

A nailed on draw this one, after the rain. Anything else would be a serious surprise.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Derbyshire v Australia day 1

Australia 413-9 (Marsh 101 retired, Warner 101 retired, Davis 3-63, White 2-85)

v Derbyshire

The visitors may have racked up 400 at Derby today, but against what was close to a second team attack, that was always likely.

Shaun Marsh, a batsman I have always liked, joined Test incumbent Dave Warner in a stand of 154 for the first wicket, but thereafter our young attack came back into it and gave a decent account of themselves.

Harry White, at 20, did a good job as another left-arm option to our seam bowling ranks, while star turn was Will Davis (pictured), who at 19 looks a bowler of some potential. I have heard many things about him, all of it positive and his spell in the afternoon, when he dismissed Michael Clarke and Adam Voges, looked most impressive. He bowls with lively pace and will almost certainly get quicker as he thickens out.I don't think we have too much to worry about in the seam bowling ranks for the next few years, because the talent is undoubtedly there and Graeme Welch is as good a man as there is to build on their talents.

Indeed, the ranks were bolstered in the short term by the loan signing of 22-year old Warwickshire seamer Tom Milnes today. He has come on board for a month, presumably covering for Tom Taylor, who was injured in a car crash the other day. With Ben Cotton just returned from a side strain, Graeme Welch will be loathe to overwork Greg Cork and Davis at a formative stage of their development and has rightly and sensibly moved for a bowler of talent who he knows well from his days at Edgbaston.

Whether this is with a view to a longer-term deal is anyone's guess, though the use of 'it gives him a chance to show us what he can do' in the club's write-up suggests it may be a possibility. The player's contract is up this summer, so he has an opportunity to impress in the next few weeks.

I wish him well, like the Derbyshire batsmen tomorrow.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Derbyshire v Australia

I'm feeling quite psychic tonight.

First I predicted that Mark Footitt wouldn't play against Australia tomorrow, which turned out to be bang on the money, then suggested that Derbyshire might look to the Kolpak market for recruitment, something that Graeme Welch confirmed in an interview with Mark Eklid in today's Derby Telegraph.

Much as I suggested, we might even be prepared to go 8/3, if the right players were available. It just makes sense, with Welch suggesting a Kolpak and an English passport player, plus an overseas. A cursory glance at white players in South Africa whose futures could be under threat from the changes threw up a few interesting names. None of them may be interested in giving up their international claims, but there are some good players in there.

I also said that Mark Footitt wouldn't play against Australia and he's not. It made no sense at any point for him to do so, given that we'd want his pace to come as a surprise for England, should he be required. He also has a lot of bowling to do for us this summer and a couple of wickets against Australia is really neither here nor there. We all know he can bowl and if he doesn't get a tour chance this winter the selectors clearly have no idea what they are doing.

The side tomorrow sees a number of regular players rested, but a welcome return for Ben Slater, fresh from scoring a hundred in each innings against Worcestershire Seconds. He skippered the side to a fine win and should be full of confidence for his return. The lad will have benefited from his break and will be a long-term talent for the club.

The side:

Ben Slater
Hamish Rutherford
Wayne Madsen
Scott Elstone
Harvey Hosein
Jonathan Clare
Tom Knight
David Wainwright
Tony Palladino
Harry White
Will Davis

Rob Hemmings is twelfth man.

There is a rare outing for David Wainwright and Jonathan Clare, while Harry White and Will Davis make up a youthful but talented seam attack with Tony Palladino. The youth of the side suggests they are unlikely to replicate the win that the 1996 side had over the tourists, but they will doubtless battle hard and gain great encouragement from any successes. Which is what it is all about, of course.

Australia will doubtless play their fringe players, though Shaun Marsh has a strong claim on a Test place should Chris Rogers not recover from his dizzy spells before the next one. Shane Watson will be desperate for runs, as will Brad Haddin, but there should be good entertainment for the crowd.

I'd hoped to get down there for this one, but have too many other commitments closer to home.

I will be following things closely from afar and hope we give a good account of ourselves. 

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Muchall departure will see interest around the shires

As we approach the end of July, the conversations around cricket grounds always turn to who will be available from other counties. At this stage much of it is likely to be conjecture, but last night the first 'definite' news broke from Durham.

The news that Gordon Muchall, at 32, is 'unlikely' to be offered a new deal is in some ways no surprise. I wrote only last week that the club are far from affluent and they will need to find a way of affording to retain their big names like everyone else. Muchall is not a household name and nor is he one of their talented young guns.

Yet he averages just under fifty in division one this summer and is a composed, talented cricketer, capable of scoring runs on awkward tracks and with a good habit of doing so when they are most needed. His availability, should it be confirmed, would alert a few counties, us among them, I would have thought.

That he is the sort of player who would have been invaluable in the T20 this year is undeniable, but he will be far from alone. I could see interest - and not just from Derbyshire - in players at Yorkshire. They appear to have a bottomless pit of talent in that huge county, with five players in England under-19s. Not all of these players can play, even when they have a few away playing for the national side and I wonder if one or two might prefer regular cricket to a game here and there.

If we're talking experience, then a player like Rich Pyrah might be of interest. Another 32-year old, who is just enjoying his benefit year, does he really want more years as a peripheral figure in the squad and playing matches in the second team in front of one man and a dog? Will they opt for Andrew Gale or the young, all-round talent of Will Rhodes? Maybe these guys are white rose through and through, or maybe there are a few who would welcome a move to a county with ambition that isn't too far away. Let's face it, they would bring a winning mentality with them...

There is a school of thought that it would be more beneficial in bringing in a good, experienced pro like that, rather than spending top dollar on a really big international name. Much would depend on the common sense of the players themselves and the 'demands' of their agents. Every player has a value, but only a handful of sides - and not necessarily the ones that are the 'best fit'  - can afford silly money. I know one thing for sure - we won't be held to ransom and I am confident that the people at the helm of our club will recruit wisely ahead of a further improvement for 2016.

We will learn in due course who we are releasing and, as always, there will be tough decisions to be made. I will comment in due course and won't 'play God' with people's careers, but with a finite budget to play with, Graeme Welch and the off-field team will need to come up with some creative accountancy to help us to get to where we want to be.

Let's be honest, with John Sadler and Simon Guy on the coaching staff, anyone interested in a move from those parts should be known to us, but the contacts of our coaches will be wide and varied. I'm very much of the opinion that anyone we bring in will either be from overseas or up north, simply because southern players generally struggle to translate talent to regular exposure on northern wickets. To his great credit, Billy Godleman has got to grips with it this year, but it has taken him a year or two.

Anyway, more of that in the weeks and months ahead, for sure. Tomorrow our attention turns to the squad to play the Aussies and I will look at that one tomorrow night.

There's still a lot of cricket to play this year..maybe the 50-over game is where our strengths lie?

Monday, 20 July 2015

Northamptonshire v Derbyshire day 3

Derbyshire 361 and 72-3

Northamptonshire 116 and 316 (Duckett 154, Durston 3-55, Palladino 3-62)

Derbyshire won by seven wickets

Rumours of the demise of Derbyshire's championship season were proved to be a load of old cobblers down in Northampton today (see what I did there?) The side did everything that could have been expected of them in concluding an emphatic seven-wicket win, well inside three days.

Wes Durston took  three of the last four wickets, the innings being wrapped up by Mark 'Fifty Wicket' Footitt. The tall left-armer deserves great credit both for the quality of his bowling over the last couple of seasons, as well as his level of fitness, which has been an object lesson to all.

We lost a few more wickets than we would have wanted in the final innings (I draw back from calling it a run chase, which 72 in five sessions really isn't). The biggest trauma was the blow on the head taken by Chesney, which resulted in his retiring hurt as a precaution.

Next up is our match against 'Orstrylia', that starts on Thursday. It is a chance for some of our young players to pit themselves against the world's finest and, much as it did when we played India last year, represents an opportunity for touring players to see our ground and maybe, just maybe, take a notion to playing for us at some point.

With Lancashire and Surrey easing away of the chasing pack, we have only pride to play for in the remainder of the championship season, but we can still ease through for third or fourth place, giving us something to build on next year.

Twelve months on some of these young lads and they will be starting to really show their worth.

Let's hear your comments then, my friends. A good win, I am sure you will agree?

Sunday, 19 July 2015

A likely look to the Cape as counties plan ahead

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote that Roelof van der Merwe had turned his back on South African cricket and moved to the Netherlands, where he was planning using his passport for that country to enter the county game.

Lo and behold, the player has now re-signed for Somerset, where he had a successful stint previously and will be on their staff for the next two summers.

He won't be the last, either.

The new quota system to be introduced to the South African domestic cricket will almost certainly mean that some of their players will see a career in the county game as the only way to advance their cricket prospects.

From September of this year, every South African side outside of the international arena will have to field six players of ethnic background, three of who must be of African origin. While done with the best of intentions, to further the cause of non-white cricket in the country, the repercussions for white players are obvious. Selection will not necessarily be made on the basis of talent alone, which can never be the right way forward in professional, or semi-professional sport.

If we went back to counties only being able to field players born within the county boundaries, or who had qualified there by residence, it would be rightly deemed a retrograde step. What if we further limited selection by saying that Derbyshire HAD to play six players from within the city boundaries in every game?

It is counter-productive and the only way out will be for white players who want to further their careers to seek to do so outside the country. Of course, they cannot do so willy-nilly. They must either have played the requisite number of international games, or have a European passport or the necessary ancestry to do so and not all will have this option available to them. I don't see AB or Dale Steyn heading to these shores, but some good quality players - too good to miss out  on a career - may do so.

The current rand to pound rate will be a major enticement to players and we have already seen several counties take advantage by signing players of talent who see their futures stymied by government policies and/or their age.

I fully expect more to make the move in the months ahead and would be surprised if Derbyshire were not among the interested counties. This summer we have all seen the progress made by Lancashire and Glamorgan with their Kolpak-heavy squads and we cannot be seen to bury our heads in the sand, as Yorkshire did when overseas players first emerged in the county game.

'Only Yorkshire-born players will play for Yorkshire' they said, until they realised that they were being left a long way behind the others. They waited too long and it took them many years to catch up, a lesson learned by others along the way.

The people in charge of our club are ambitious and rightly so. They will be well aware of good South African cricketers who are considering their futures and will be keen to bolster our staff this winter, quite likely with, at the very least, a batsman of talent and experience at the head of a shopping list.

Such a player has been obviously missing from our resources this year and would have made all the difference in the close T20 matches. With the club's five-year plan allowing for a 9/2 split in British/foreign players, I would be quite happy to see us bring in a quality overseas recruit, possibly even a couple, IF - and that's a big if - the right players were available.

I wouldn't want us to bring in any old passport of convenience player, certainly not one who might block the progress of, say, our current conveyor belt of talented seam bowlers. Yet a batsman of similar quality to Ashwell Prince or Alviro Petersen, players of proven class, would make a world of difference to our young side.

Much as my heart would love to see a side of English-qualified players, the reality is that if you can't beat 'em, you join 'em.

We can't and in my humble opinion won't let others strengthen while we do nothing. if proof were needed, Lancashire made 425-2 against Glamorgan today. Petersen 205 not out, Prince 154 not out. A very basic reason why they are strolling this division...

Northamptonshire v Derbyshire day 2

Derbyshire 361

Northamptonshire 116 (Footitt  5-41, Cotton 3-26) and 245-6 (Duckett 132 not, Palladino 3-54 Cotton 2-52)

Scores level

After two days in which they have played terrific cricket, Derbyshire stand just a good session away from wrapping up a thoroughly convincing win tomorrow. It should, however, be added with a cautionary note that a bad one could leave us with a tricky little run chase...

Ben Duckett responded to a difficult week, in which he was banned from driving for twelve months, in the best possible way and he almost single-handedly kept his side in the game. This came after Derbyshire's seamers made hay with some very good bowling.

Mark Footitt blew away the first innings, perhaps playing himself into the next Test 12. As I said in a Twitter exchange this afternoon, I will be very surprised if Mark plays for us against the Aussies this week, as England will surely not want them to effectively have a net against him. For me, if Mark is allowed to play, his chances of an Ashes call are slim, because they should want to keep his pace as a very secret weapon.

Only Graeme Welch stands ahead of him on five-wicket hauls for Derbyshire in the 21st century and I am sure the coach would be more than happy should he go ahead of him in the coming weeks. His pace and the angles from which he bowls are a threat to any side and as long as he doesn't get over-excited and strive for too much speed, I am confident that he could get people out at top level.

Ben Cotton did little wrong on his return to action either. It is the potential of the likes of Ben, Tom Taylor, Greg Cork and Will Davis that makes me excited for our future. Throw in others like Alex Hughes, Shiv Thakor, Harvey Hosein and Ben Slater and we have plenty to look forward to in the years ahead.

Nor did Tony Palladino, who remains a fine professional, just the sort to help young players as they find their way in the county game. I am sure that the young seamers pick his brains, as they should do a man with over 300 first-class wickets. It was a day on which the skipper could be rightly proud of his young side.

Of course they will have bad days - don't you at your work? Yet each season will see them steadily improve and we will reap the rewards of the  recent, current and future Academy work.

We cannot afford to relax tomorrow. Duckett is still there and the dangerous Josh Cobb is at the crease with him, but questions will be asked if we fail to press ahead with a victory charge here, unless rain intervenes.

One final point on the day and it goes back to Cobb, a cricketer of some talent. Who is advising the lad? On what level has he improved his career prospects in moving from opening the batting and being skipper at Leicestershire, to batting at eight at Northampton? I know he is more of a one-day player, but if he was my lad I would be asking that question of his agent, sometime soon.

I will be back tomorrow, hopefully reporting on a fine Derbyshire win.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Northamptonshire v Derbyshire day 1

Derbyshire 361 (Alex Hughes 111 not, Rutherford 60)
Northamptonshire 6-1

Derbyshire lead by 355

Regular readers will know that I have for some time espoused the great talent and potential in Alex Hughes (pictured).

Like any young cricketer, there have been days when things haven't gone his way, when injury has slowed his progress and when team selection has deemed him requiring a break in the second eleven.

The latter saw him rested recently, to which his prompt and typical response was a double century of class against Durham (I saw a good part of it, he looked a league above them). Since his return he has both batted and bowled well in the T20 and today confirmed, for the first of what I think will be many times, that he is a genuine prospect for our long-term future.

His unbeaten 111 carried no Nelson-esque concerns, as he eased past his previous best of 82 and, with steady support from Ben Cotton through the nervous nineties, went to a maiden century with eighteen boundaries, made from just 146 balls.

I couldn't be more thrilled for him tonight and know it is reward for a lot of hard work. I have every confidence that he will kick on from this and become a key component of Derbyshire sides for years to come.

He is a hundred per cent, full on cricketer, something I recognised the first time I saw him. I can relate to and appreciate that sort of player and Alex offers good value with bat, ball and in the field. What more could you want from a young all-rounder?

Earlier, most of the batsmen got a start but only Hamish Rutherford went past fifty. The young Kiwi continues to impress and could not have done much more in his stint with us to convince Graeme Welch that he is worth an extended deal next summer.

361 was a decent tally for a first innings and was made even better when Mark Footitt struck in the first over to leave the home side precariously placed on 6-1.

Early breakthroughs tomorrow could help us take a grip on the game, although I can only hope we do not show the same generosity to Northamptonshire as they did to us. Fifty extras is taking profligacy to its limits...

Anyway, its all about Alex tonight. Well batted, lad!

Northamptonshire v Derbyshire preview

There is a recall of both Ben Cotton and Matt Critchley to the Derbyshire squad for today's four-day game against Northamptonshire at Wantage Road.

The former has been out for several weeks with a side strain, while Critchley has remained in good form with bat and ball in the second team. The youngster has made an impressive start to his first-class career, averaging 66 with the bat in his handful of appearances, although his legspin is largely his route into the side.

That is many years from its peak and there should not be undue expectation put onto the shoulders of a young player of high talent at this stage.

The Derbyshire squad:

Hamish Rutherford
Billy Godleman
Chesney Hughes
Wayne Madsen
Wes Durston
Alex Hughes
Shiv Thakor
Harvey Hosein
Matthew Critchley
Tony Palladino
Tom Taylor
Ben Cotton
Mark Footitt

The home side has yet to be announced, but David Willey remains sidelined. They may as well get used to his absence, as his departure in the winter has been announced, even though he has a year to go on his contract. Division one cricket is his almost certain destination, but would-be suitors are likely to have to pay £50K compensation, which effectively means he will ship up at Warwickshire, Middlesex or Yorkshire. Durham could be an option, but the north-east county are reportedly struggling financially, which would appear to rule them out. A promoted Lancashire could also be an option, especially if the player cultivates a South African accent...sorry, couldn't stop myself.

Northamptonshire bat long and will be a stern test for our lads, yet we have the talent in the side to win the game. As most of you will remember, we had them there for the taking at Derby, only failing to win through a somewhat lamentable fielding display on the last day.

For what it is worth, I will take us to win this one, building on improved performances since the Surrey game that will henceforth be known as the Debacle of Derby...

Recognition required for the heroes of 1965

Derbyshire don't drop many balls these days, their dealings on and off the field usually being both timely and professional.

That being the case, I hope that they don't allow this summer to end without formal recognition of an outstanding feat from fifty years ago that will, in all likelihood, never be replicated.

In that summer, Derbyshire finished exactly half way in the table, ninth out of, at that time, seventeen first-class counties. Seven games were won, the same number lost, with fourteen being drawn. Nothing spectacular in that, but the feats of our opening bowlers made it a summer to go down in the annals of the county's history.

Harold Rhodes was first in the national bowling averages, with 119 wickets at just eleven runs each, while his opening partner Brian Jackson was second, with 120 wickets at 12.42...

Yes, conditions favoured seam bowling for much of the year, as evidenced by the fact that below them in the averages were the likes of Fred Trueman, Tom Cartwright, Brian Statham, Derek Shackleton and Jack Flavell, seamers to a man. Yet that should not take away from the fact that the Derbyshire pair outbowled the lot of them.

Harold was then in his pomp. His form that year suggested - no, INSISTED - that he should have gone on the winter tour to Australia, but the ceremonial calling of his action by umpire Sid Buller, in the match against the South African touring side at Chesterfield, put paid to that. The many contemporary Derbyshire players I have spoken to are convinced that Buller was set up by the cricket authorities as the fall guy, to ensure that Rhodes bowling was not going to earn him an England tour place, despite repeated calls for his inclusion by the media and by other players.

There was nothing wrong with Harold's action, as was eventually, far too late, proven. He had a physiological abnormality called a hyperflexion of the elbow joint, which saw that joint go past a straight arm as it came through and become straight at the point of delivery. That it was well within the regulations is undeniable. In the defence of the small handful of umpires who called him over the years, it created an optical illusion and they were allowed, as the law stood at the time, to call someone whose action was felt to be different.

Yet he was filmed from so many angles, sometimes with his arm in a splint and it made no difference to his bowling. Besides which, his action was a classical, side-on thing of beauty and anyone with any knowledge of cricket should have known that you cannot throw from that position. He was also remorselessly accurate in the finest Derbyshire tradition, something that the average chucker could never be.

The bottom line is that Harold Rhodes became a victim of the MCC's desire to clean up a raft of quick bowlers in other countries who did throw, They didn't want to be seen to insist on others getting their house in order and do nothing themselves, so they used an outstanding, legitimate bowler as the pawn in their game.

How Harold maintained his dignity through several years of accusations is remarkable, yet the irony was that the accusations over his action only resurfaced, after a gap of several years, in 1965, when he bowled no differently, but with greater success, than he had done in previous, injury-hit seasons. That the umpire who called him had watched him bowl on numerous occasions in that period is both telling and galling, as is the fact that the calling came at the point when the press clamour became almost deafening.

The bottom line is that Harold Rhodes was a great bowler, using that word well within the constraints of its accepted meaning. Brian Jackson was a very good one, a time-served league professional who came late to the county game but took to it like the proverbial duck to water. He wasn't especially quick, but was lively enough to beat the hesitant defensive shot and to trouble those who decided to take him on. In the words of one of his team mates to me, he gave a good few batsmen sore thighs, as he jagged the ball in quickly off a length, as well as taking their wickets with the one that went the other way.

Edwin Smith told me that the speed at which Harold Rhodes went through, when he was fielding at short leg, 'made me whistle, as it did a few batsmen'. Brian wasn't that quick, but was an admirable foil whose six years in the first-class game brought him 457 wickets at just eighteen runs each. Harold took 993 wickets in our colours at the same average, retiring early and not bothered about the other seven wickets that would have got him into a very exclusive club with a membership of just seven men.

We will not see their like again, but it is a pleasure to record that both men are still with us, Brian now 81 and Harold 79. I hope that the club does the right thing and formally acknowledges and recognises their remarkable feats of that distant summer.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Derbyshire v Worcestershire T20

Derbyshire 149-8 (Godleman 33, Durston 32)
Worcestershire 150-6 (Hughes 2-21)

Worcestershire won by 4 wickets

Derbyshire made a decent fist of their last T20 game against Worcestershire tonight, but ultimately fell short as a decent (and perhaps over-achieving) Worcestershire side that bats a long way down and has a world-class spinner in its midst.

Indeed, they have a good overseas combo, with New Zealander Colin Munro giving good value over the past couple of years as a middle order batsman capable of introducing the 'oomph' as and when required.

We battled down the order and five players got going, though no one went on to the score that defines and wins a game. Another twenty runs would have made for a good finish, especially when Alex Hughes bowled yet another fine spell in this competition, neatly replicating the earlier figures of the considerably more experienced Saeed Ajmal.

Nor did Greg Cork nor Shiv Thakor let us down, or their more experienced team mates. We just didn't have enough runs to play with, not for the first time this year.

For what it is worth, I don't think there's much wrong with our bowlers for another year. With Ben Cotton to come back into the attack, and the addition of a couple of batsmen, one of who can contribute a few overs, we will improve still further. Another winter should aid the development and enhance the skills of each of them and we have shown that when we perform to maximum potential we can win games.

Tonight wasn't one of them, but we will have learned a lot from this year.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Derbyshire v Worcestershire T20

Just a short blog from me tonight as I prepare for the long journey home tomorrow.

It has been a week of interviews and my thanks go to everyone who gave up their time so willingly to me. Yesterday I spent several hours at the 3aaa County Ground and was taken by the tranquility of the place on a non-match day, but also by the amount of work going on. None of this work is seen, perhaps little of it genuinely appreciated, but the strimming of grass, cleaning of seats and weeding of walkways is important to ensure the match day experience is a positive one.

Tomorrow night sees our last T20 game against Worcestershire, who could qualify with a win, while we could avoid bottom spot if we claim the points - or the weather allows it. Ben Cotton returns to the squad after a lengthy absence and, as I wrote the other day, he has been missed. It is the only change to the squad that beat Yorkshire, and rightly so.

Our visitors are missing Moeen Ali, who is on England duty of course, but Ross Whiteley returns to the ground where he made his name after hitting eleven sixes against Yorkshire the other night.

A good finish would be a momentum builder ahead of the fifty over cup and we have enough talent to do so. If we can reproduce the intensity once more, we could just finish on a high.

I hope so, but family duty calls and I won't see it. I will be following from afar though, and naturally wish the lads well.

I'll be back tomorrow, with thoughts from north of the border.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Reg Carter

It is tribute to the talent of Reg Carter, who has died at the age of 81, that Edwin Smith, his friend and contemporary on the Derbyshire staff, deemed him a better bowler than those who subsequently replaced him.

That those bowlers were Mick Allen, once talked of in England terms, and Bob Berry, who played for his country, suggests that he had talent. The problem was that Derbyshire wickets rarely justified the selection of two spinners and Edwin, the younger by two months, was a better batsman and fielder.

Carter's other problem was that the club couldn't decide if he was a better option as a left-arm spinner or as a seamer, with the result that he fell somewhat between the two stools. The club hadn't the money to run a second team with an extensive fixture list and where Carter ultimately struggled was in a lack of exposure to cricket at a higher level.

Edwin had made his Derbyshire debut in 1951, at the age of 17, but in 1953 there was a genuine tussle for the role of senior spinner, if such a term is apposite for two players of just nineteen years. Edwin held the position for most of the summer, but the seaming wickets meant he seldom had opportunity as Cliff Gladwin and Les Jackson carried all before them.

Late in the summer, Carter was given an opportunity and did well, taking twelve wickets at just sixteen each in only 88 overs. This included the fine return of 7-46 against Somerset at Chesterfield, when he bowled the side to victory.

It is indicative of the demanded standards however, that his then captain, Guy Willatt, suggested he could be a good bowler if he bowled more accurately, this despite conceding less than three runs an over.

Thereafter the battle became more one-sided, as Edwin Smith 'kicked on ' and became the county's lead spinner for nearly twenty summers, while Carter, frustrated at a lack of opportunity, left the staff and drifted out of the game. He played his last match for the club in 1955.

The two men were good friends and worked together in the nets, trying out new grips and working on their skills. They shared a last wicket stand of 65 against the Pakistan tourists in 1954, helping Derbyshire avoid the follow on, although Carter had no real talent with the bat.

In a career of just seventeen matches, Carter took thirty wickets at 25 runs each.  He could be proud of that and let no one down.

Rest in Peace, Reg.

Photograph shows Reg inspecting the grip of Edwin Smith in a rare photograph taken from the latter's collection.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Goodbye T20, Hello One-Day Cup

And so, on Friday, we bid 'adieu' to another season's T20 campaign.

It was not as successful as we would have wished, but there were reasons for that. There was an expectation that one of our big-name overseas would score big, which is why we brought them in, of course. It didn't happen and in eight combined innings, Hashim Amla and Tillakaratne Dilshan made just 216 runs, with one fifty each.

Not disasters, by a long stretch, but for what we must have paid for their services, the club will rightly have expected more. With international status comes a pressure to perform and neither did so to the extent of their reputation. While watching them walk out to bat together against Lancashire will live long in the memory, the reality is that Hamish Rutherford, a New Zealander of high talent but lesser reputation has made eight runs less in two innings fewer.

The loss of Wayne Madsen for four games and Alex Hughes for five was also a blow, as was losing Ben Cotton after only four games, in which he went for under seven an over, despite bowling at the top and tail of the innings. On such things do fortunes turn, but Shiv Thakor bowled very well and the bowling was, overall, much better disciplined than in previous years. The game plan was obvious in the way they went about their task and largely it was accomplished well.

Nathan Rimmington came in as a 'death' bowler and sometimes showed his expertise, but too many of our 'local' players were ahead of him in the averages for it to have been deemed a success. An early finger injury didn't help him and perhaps he was playing catch up thereafter. It was a shame for a player who has been nothing but whole-hearted in his approach.

Things went awry at Old Trafford, but at Northampton we were taken apart by David Willey and at Birmingham by one of the format's greatest players. You can have all the plans you like, but when a player like Brendan McCullum gets the bit between his teeth, you really need at least two fielders ten rows back in the stand...

The batting was the issue, a perennial problem that I hope will be resolved this winter. We improved in our use of the Powerplay, beyond argument, often averaging ten an over. That was nosebleed territory compared to previous years and captain Wes Durston and Rutherford deserve credit for the daring way in which they launched our innings, the new captain leading by example with bat, as well as ball.

The loss of Madsen, the calm head in the middle order, was crucial, while Alex Hughes' ability to adapt his game to the game plan was also missed when he broke a thumb. The rest seemed too often to adopt a 'three swipes and hope' mentality to run chases that were far from demanding and the team cried out for an experienced 'finisher' in the middle order.

The nous to do this efficiently comes with experience and I am sure that winter recruitment will look to address this issue. There are very shrewd, intelligent people in charge of our cricket and those who suggest the contrary do them a grave disservice. Expect changes over the winter and accept that the club is not going to accept mediocrity.

Going into the last game, we could have had seven wins, have ended up with four but have improved on the one of last year. Importantly, a largely young squad has suggested, albeit too sporadically for some tastes, that they are mastering the techniques of the game, together with the mental and physical demands that it brings.

The many chats I have had with current and former players confirmed that they all, without exception, only felt they really knew their games as they approached their mid-to-late twenties. Some have had seasons of sporadic form by that stage, others haven't been lucky enough to get that far.

There are a few who hit their stride early, but they are exceptions, rather than the rule. With the right players recruited to play alongside them, we can and will build on the small steps of progress this summer, by an exciting collection of young players.

Those wins against Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire will get me through the winter for now...

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Derbyshire v Yorkshire T20

Yorkshire 146-9 (Maxwell 45, Durston 3-14, Thakor 3-34)

Derbyshire 150-6 (Madsen 41, Rutherford 40)

Derbyshire won by 4 wickets

In theory, there should have been no way for a young Derbyshire side to beat our Yorkshire rivals today, even allowing for the foot injury that ruled out Aaron Finch before the start.

They still fielded five internationals  and our recent record against them was a long way from auspicious. However, in less time than it took me to drive down from Scotland  (which was longer than it should have been after the A66 was closed) we beat them with something to spare in front of a capacity crowd. All this on a lovely summer's day at the loveliest of outgrounds...

I stopped for a while en route and felt both nostalgic and envious of those thronged around the boundary in David Griffin's excellent Twitter photograph. Many of my happiest cricket memories are on that ground and for such a win to come there was quite special.

For the record, that is Lancashire, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire beaten this year, big counties with massive budgets and big playing staffs. No, I didn't predict a win (as someone reminded me earlier...) because logically it should have been a mismatch. Don't forget, round about this time last year I watched us play the same side at Scarborough and be roundly thumped in the fifty-over competition. Sitting listening to patronising, smug supporters was not easy, even though they had every right (if anyone ever does) to be smug.

The perennial moaners will say that Yorkshire had men missing (true) and that it doesn't make up for losing some of those other tight finishes. Well, if that is all you have to say after such a win, save yourself time and don't bother. At least be big enough to acknowledge a fantastic performance in which everyone played a part.

Those who say we have not progressed this year are now confirmed as completely wrong. We have won four games, could have won more. Our bowling, except for a couple of occasions (I don't include Birmingham, as that was just a world-class player in prime form) has been with good discipline and command of the basic skills.

Our use of the Powerplay has been much better too, especially since the arrival of Hamish Rutherford (#signhimupPop). We still panic a little when there's no need, as evidenced by two needless run outs today, but we are contributing down the order and at least bat deep.

The fielding has also held up well and it should not be overlooked that in a very good bowling effort today we had lads of 20, 21 and 23. Full marks to Cap'n Wes for a sterling bowling effort that rightly earned him the Man of the Match award, but the efforts of his young charges, alongside Nathan Rimmington, should not be overlooked.

The Yorkshire total was well within our compass but we needed a good start while the field was in and ten an over came from the first seven. Rutherford again displayed his talents and after he was dismissed, Madsen came in and knocked it around, which was all we needed. Seeing the skipper back in form is great news, although the late panic required common sense from Alex Hughes to avoid any embarrassment. For me, the games missed this year by Wayne and Alex were crucial. Both offer much to the side and they were missed, without doubt.

Still bottom of the group, I accept that. Yet this team has shown that if bolstered by the right reinforcements in the winter, they are capable of beating anyone. Before the season began, I wrote that we would need to be fully focused and committed for every session , have our share of luck and play somewhere near our best on a regular basis to do well this year.

We've not managed those criteria often enough, but when they get it right, as they did against Nottinghamshire and again today, this side can play some very good cricket.

A good night to be a Derbyshire fan, my friends.

Well done lads - you did us proud today!

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Edwin Smith tickets now on sale

Tickets for the launch of my first book, a biography of Derbyshire cricket legend Edwin Smith, are now on sale

Chesterfield Public Library is hosting the launch, which will take place on the evening of Tuesday, August 25 at 7.30pm.

I will be interviewing Edwin on the stage of the library lecture theatre and we will then take questions from the audience before signing copies of the book, which will be available on the night.

Priced £14, Edwin Smith: a Life in Derbyshire Cricket is published by the Association of Cricket Historians and Statisticians and features Edwin's recollections of a career where he was the lead spin bowler in the Derbyshire side at the age of 18 and remained so for twenty summers.

It would be great to see as many people there as possible, to acknowledge Edwin as the living Derbyshire legend that he is. 1217 first-class wickets in the county colours confirms that.

Please call the library on  01629 533400 for tickets, priced £3 and £2 (concession).

Derbyshire v Yorkshire T20

Great news for Derbyshire today, as the T20 game against Yorkshire became a sell-out.

The match between the two counties at this loveliest of venues was always likely to be so, but it is nonetheless good news for the county. This match, together with the home T20 against Nottinghamshire, are the two big 'earners' for the club and the even better news is that the game looks set to be blessed with good weather.

It may well be the limit of the good news, because this Yorkshire side is the best in the country by a mile. Even with their best players on England duty, those getting the call to the colours just keep winning games. If the bowlers have a bad day, the batsmen get the required runs; if the batsmen fail, the attack just pulls out all the stops to secure the win.

For the fan who likes to see good cricket, rather than being fixated on a win, the game offers much. Australia may have been hammered in the Test match, but Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell, as well as the in-form Jonny Bairstow, should find the small ground and fast outfield to their liking. Any error in line and length is likely to go a long way against such players, so expectation of a win, on my part, are tempered by realism.

While their main seam bowlers, Jack Brookes and Ryan Sidebottom, are largely rested from  this competition, the visitors welcome back Liam Plunkett and will field a powerful side that will probably feature Adil Rashid. Rich Pyrah has been missing from their side of late, but may well return against us, given he normally channels the spirit of George Hirst and Wilfred Rhodes whenever he does so.

Graeme Welch has rightly named an unchanged squad for this one. Ben Cotton's side strain has been a shame for a talented bowler, because he was doing well in this competition, but there have been encouraging performances from some of our players.

I'll not pretend we have got everything right, because no team does that, not even Yorkshire. Yet the T20 has seen an improvement this year. We've won two more matches than last year and, with a little more savvy and composure would probably have won three more. By definition that is an improvement and similar progress next year would be welcome.

It is also necessary. Regular readers will know that T20 is a long way from my preferred format, but I cannot deny that it is a huge potential earner for us and we have never yet got close to tapping into its financial potential. I have no doubt that those behind the scenes are already looking at next year and what we can do to become more competitive.

A trip to God's own county awaits tomorrow, sadly with no cricket to see during my stay, but plenty of cricket chat and opportunity to see friends old and new. When I get there I expect to write up a Yorkshire win, but we are some way behind them in the overall quality and depth of playing staff, as is every other club in the country.

A battling display such as that at Trent Bridge will do me. I agree to some extent with a contributor earlier that a loss is a loss, but it is much easier to accept when the team has given its all and made a much stronger one battle to the end.

We did that to Nottinghamshire on Friday night, when the biggest crowd in their T20 history almost saw their megabucks side humbled.

If we can come close to doing the same tomorrow, I can take that.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Nottinghamshire v Derbyshire T20

Nottinghamshire 172-6 (Hales 54, Patel 52, Thakor 3-25)

Derbyshire 170-4 (Rutherford 62, Madsen 51 not)

Nottinghamshire won by two runs

Another close defeat for Derbyshire tonight, but against the self-billed team of all the talents, having beaten them at Derby, we ran them very close again tonight.

I can take defeat when we play well and run sides close - there can only be one winner and it cannot always be us. By all accounts, tonight we bowled and fielded well, held our catches and then batted with common sense before just coming up short as the home side held their nerve at the death.

Shiv Thakor once again bowled a good spell and has impressed with the ball in this competition, while the rest of the attack played their part. Fresh from a good performance in the second team, Greg Cork let no one down in front of a large crowd  and the target was always within reach if we got a start.

Once more, Hamish Rutherford did well and looks a genuine talent, switching from the anchor role at Chesterfield to the aggressor here. Had he stayed another over or so, we would have walked it, as he and Wayne Madsen were taking us home.

Fair play to Samit Patel and Steven Mullaney, whose tight spells proved the deciding factor in a game that must have been thoroughly enjoyed by the large crowd. Yet praise must go to a Derbyshire side who gave a good account of themselves.

No complaints tonight from me. We left Trent Bridge with our heads held high.

Now for Yorkshire on Sunday, where I hope we can do the same to end the Chesterfield festival.

Postscript - apologies for the lack of a preview last is quite hectic right now...

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Derbyshire v Glamorgan day 4

Glamorgan 410-9 declared

Derbyshire 252 and 281-3 (Rutherford 108, Madsen 79 not)

Match drawn

In the end, showing greater resilience than has been evident of late Derbyshire saved this game with relative ease. The quick loss of Billy Godleman and Chesney Hughes exposed the possibility of a loss, but Hamish Rutherford and Wayne Madsen got together to bat until after the tea interval to secure an honourable draw.

For both, they were welcome runs. The broken finger has disrupted the flow of the skipper's season and several weeks out takes some time from which to recover. He passed six thousand championship runs en route to his score and his return to form is both welcome and expected. Madsen is, quite simply, a batsman of the highest class. Even below par he is averaging just under forty, something that most batsmen would settle for in their prime.

As for Rutherford, it was proof that he can play the disciplined innings that was once the preserve of Chris Rogers or, to use a man from his own country, John Wright. He has got starts in almost all of his innings and his greater exposure to English tracks will only help him in this and aid his continued development.

After I watched him against Surrey, I suggested he would be a fine signing for next summer. Nothing I have seen since has changed my mind, as he has proven he can play the roles of anchor and dasher quite nicely. Averaging just north of fifty at this stage, he has let no one down and reinforced my view that New Zealanders rarely fail to be good value in the overseas stakes.

I hope we can build on this and gain confidence from it. As I wrote last night, there is individual talent in this side, but we need collective confidence that will come from a big score or two.

I hope it is the catalyst for improved form and confidence.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Derbyshire v Glamorgan day 3

Glamorgan 410
Derbyshire 252(Godleman 53, Thakor 41) and 37-0

Derbyshire trail by 121 runs

With a good day's weather forecast ahead, Glamorgan will fancy adding to their fine run of consecutive wins with another over us tomorrow. Once again the fragilities in our batting have shown and we will need to bat somewhat against recent form to get anything from this game.

I look at these two teams and don't see, man for man, the Welsh side as being appreciably better than us. Where they currently score is in confidence, which has, by all accounts, and on the evidence of recent displays, evaporated from our side. A swashbuckling innings from Tom Taylor got us close to avoiding the follow on, but we seem to lurch from disaster to disaster with the bat.

If there is a partnership it is fine, but it is often followed by two or three quick wickets that often undoes the hard work of the pair concerned. Individually we have some good players, but after early season success they are collectively struggling for the scores that are match-defining.

I am short of time tonight after another very long day, but will be back tomorrow with more detailed, considered thoughts. I hope that I am reporting on a spirited fightback on the final day, but I wouldn't put next month's pay cheque on it.

Oh, and for the record, I think England can win back the Ashes this summer. If we had a top quality spinner I would be even more confident, but we're not going to give the Aussies the lightning tracks they crave for Johnson and Starc.

I also think they have a few too many players at the end of their careers and if our opening bowlers are at their best, we could nick the series.

My main interest will, rightly or wrongly, continue to be Derbyshire.

If we could get back to winning ways I'd gladly lose the Test match.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Derbyshire v Glamorgan day 2

Glamorgan 410-9

Derbyshire 122-2 (Godleman 49 not)

Glamorgan lead by 288 runs

With two days to go and a dodgy weather forecast for tomorrow at least, it is hard to see where a positive result can come in this game.

The one reality would appear to be that the visitors can be the only winners, after batting on deep into the second day and taking maximum batting points. The Derbyshire bowling was too profligate for my taste, even allowing for it being a small ground. Five an over, together with conceding 40 extras is too many, especially for someone brought up on the Derbyshire tradition. Back in the day, three an over was costly, but times - and specifically bats and the attitude to batting - have changed.

Glamorgan batted well down the order, without anyone making the big score that was promised. Graham Wagg returned to the scene of past glories with a breezy knock and Derbyshire could easily have folded in reply.

Yet Hamish Rutherford and Billy Godleman gave us the start we needed, until the Kiwi was carelessly run out. With Chesney going quickly, we were rocking, until Wayne Madsen and his vice-captain saw the team, not without alarms, through to the close.

It is such a shame that the best festival on the cricket calendar (biased, moi?) has been tarnished by rain, but that is one thing that cannot be controlled. The thinking money is on a draw here, but we need to bat well to avoid an undignified scramble and struggle on the last afternoon.

More from me tomorrow.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Derbyshire v Glamorgan day 1

 Glamorgan 167-3 (Ingram 73 not) v Derbyshire

Early success for Derbyshire today was frustrated by the weather, before the visiting batsmen, led by Colin Ingram, saw their side to a decent and promising 167-3.

The rain doesn't appear to have slowed the outfield and the score zipped along at more than five an over. Mark Footitt was unfortunately costly with runs and no balls with James Whitaker in attendance and sixteen over steps by the Derbyshire bowlers in just 32 overs bowled was not what we needed.

Still, that is all the patient support got, as rain and bad light won the day and rather subdued the Festival vibe.

We will need to up our game tomorrow, that's for sure, as Ingram could take the game away from us before lunch.

Postscript - slightly surprised at reading the club Twitter feed, to see that the Lake End now appears to have been downgraded to the Pond End.

It is hardly a rival to Windermere, but I do hope, for history's sake, that normal service is resumed tomorrow...after all that rain, we may yet see the River End.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Derbyshire v Glamorgan preview

Shiv Thakor and Alex Hughes are rightly rewarded for their recent big scores in the second team with a recall to the first eleven at Chesterfield tomorrow.

Ben Slater misses out on a game on his home ground, while Scott Elstone also drops out of the side. Tom Poynton is also omitted, which sees a recall for Harvey Hosein. There is little to choose between the two wicket-keepers, but assuming the same standard behind the stumps, the deciding factor, as it is with every such role, will be the batting side of the incumbent's game. Tom hasn't made the runs that would have wanted, so Harvey gets another opportunity - it is the way that it has to be and the competition will eventually see a clear winner.

We play a Glamorgan side that are perhaps surprise packages in the promotion race, aided by a clutch of players of South African origin. Jacques Rudolph has done a fine job as captain, something always likely from an intelligent cricketer, but the eleven has responded well to him and four straight championship wins tells its own story. Colin Ingram, who played at Spondon a few years back, has also played some telling knocks and they are a tight unit, perhaps stronger than the sum of the constituent parts. Graham Wagg is back from injury and will look forward to a return to a ground where he often did well.

Their squad: Rudolph, Bragg, Wright, Ingram, Wallace, Meschede, Wagg, Lloyd, Salter, Smith, Cosker, Hogan and Donald.

The Derbyshire squad:

Billy Godleman
Hamish Rutherford
Chesney Hughes
Wayne Madsen (captain)
Alex Hughes
Wes Durston
Shiv Thakor
Wayne White
Harvey Hosein
Tony Palladino
Tom Taylor
Mark Footitt

A battle for the final place between Thakor and Taylor for me, but a winnable game. I always feel more confident of a good display in the four-day game and think this is one we can use as a catalyst to push for a top four placing.


Postscript - I read with interest today that Roelof van der Merwe has given up on South African cricket and is now planning his career in county cricket, using a Dutch passport. A good enough all-rounder to have scored a first-class double century, a canny spin bowler and a good fielder, at 30 I would think there will be a lot of interest...he certainly had an impressive spell at Somerset a year or two back.

Derbyshire v Northamptonshire T20

Northamptonshire 155-6 (Levi 42, Cobb 48, Hughes 2-23, White 2-25)
Derbyshire 140-5 in 18 chasing 144 to win (Durston 60)

Northamptonshire won by 3 runs on D/L

To be fair to Graeme Welch at the end of this one, he called it as it was. As we did the Durham game at Derby, we blew a game that was there for the taking. At 103-4 in 13 overs, we needed 41 from five overs, which most sides would deem a breeze in this format.

I won't take anything away from Northamptonshire, who bowled with common sense and skill in those last few overs, but we should have done better than that. With clean strikers like Thakor, Hughes, Knight and White unused, it seemed like such a waste. We either seem to panic in these situations and slog at everything, or fail to realise the gradual runs/balls equation is slipping away from us.

Azharullah is a canny, experienced bowler and we should have gone for it in the penultimate over, at the very least. We didn't - and a three-win season, that could quite easily have been a much-improved five-win one, looks like staying that way.

Alex Hughes and Wayne White again bowled well and both have made positive contributions to the side in this competition. Wes Durston has too and again led from the front with a captain's innings. Hamish Rutherford has made good starts in the matches he played, but will need to learn to go on from there and play the match-defining innings.

Disappointing then, sad to relate.

And much work to do to become genuine contenders in the format.


Ok Peakfan, I know you rarely disagree with decisions made by the club but give me one good reason why we should not have batted against the Bears. Forget about McCullum, he's not the issue, what is the issue is why change something that worked well in the previous match for no apparent reason?

I'm sorry, but I agree with many of your comments but this is agreeing with what happened at the toss for the sake of it. Don't forget, whatever reasons may have been at the forefront of Durston's mind, they did not work. Why agree with something that was so obviously wrong? 

I got the above comment from Marc, late last night and decided that it needed a response in greater detail than the comments box would allow.

First of all, I don't disagree unduly often because they are professional people who largely make the right decisions through that professionalism. Both on and off field affairs are run by men of exceptional talent, who work with the limited resources that they have in order to make us a competitive side. I think, with the benefit of that wonderful tool available to us all called hindsight, that we got most of the overseas decision wrong this year (or half of it) but there were few dissenting voices at the time. Why would there be, given the reputation of those involved?

Yet even there, if the awareness of names like Amla and Dilshan coming to our club convinced the agent of, say, Mitchell Marsh, that a stint in Derby was of career benefit for half of next summer, there may be unseen merit that is not being considered right now.

So, coming back to Marc's point, why change what worked in the last game? Well, you base decisions in life on that day and time, not on history. I enjoyed Mrs P's delightful poached salmon yesterday, but it will be nice to enjoy something different today. I had a good trip to work on Friday, but am going a different route on Monday because of roadworks, a factor, or unknown quantity thrown into the mix.

Can any supporter, from his armchair or even the boundary edge, judge conditions better than a professional, experienced captain who is looking at the wicket, knows the conditions, the opposition and the feelings of his own team? I won't flatter myself that I do, so anyone who makes an assertion to the contrary is kidding themselves on.

Yes, we beat Nottinghamshire the previous week by batting first after winning the toss, but we beat Lancashire doing the opposite and should have beaten Durham by the same tactic. We beat Leicestershire after they won the toss and put us in, so you can't read too much into previous games.

I think our bowling is our stronger suit and as such it made sense to try and limit a team perhaps striving for too many runs and falling down in doing so. While improved, our batting is patchy and not entirely trustworthy, so for me, the decision was the correct one. Had we opted to bat first on the first day of a four-day game under cloudy skies with a green wicket, I would say the opposite, but it is rarely so clearcut.

A former Derbyshire coach once told me that supporters don't know half of what goes on in the dressing room and nor should they. Your star batsman may have a bad headache and you bowl to give him a chance to recover. Your best bowler has a painful wisdom tooth and could do with time to recover, or seek treatment. Your star all-rounder has had a row with his wife and is in a bit of a state. All these things (and none relate to the current side, for the record) can have an impact on a captain's decision.

Finally, Mark says 'Ignore McCullum, he's not the issue'. Really? We are up against one of the top three T20 batsmen in the world and we don't consider the best way to combat him? Do you think football teams facing Lionel Messi ignore him in pre-match chat, or cricket teams due to bowl at Chris Gayle or AB de Villiers ignore their presence? Did captains playing Worcestershire last summer ignore the fact that the opposition had Saeed Ajmal in the side and say 'You know what, we'll put them in and opt to bat last against a bloke who will turn it sideways'? Of course not.

If we had nicked McCullum early, we had a decent chance of winning on Friday, but Birmingham are a good side and may well have beaten us anyway. They have not won eight out of ten by accident, after all.

Maybe, had we opted to bat, we would have scored 200 again, got McCullum early in their reply and won the game. Maybe, our fragile batting would have imploded and we would have been bowled out for 130, leaving them to win in a canter.

We opted to bat at Northampton and didn't bat to potential, then lost the game. We did the same at Worcester and made a mess of our innings, leaving them winning with seven overs to spare. For whatever reason, Wes Durston opted to bowl, it might have worked, it didn't. End of story. There were no guarantees either way. Cricket is no exact science and things don't always go to plan.

Today he may opt to bat and we win, or opt to bowl and do so. He's a hero then, good old Wes. If we lose, it is a different matter, because we are all Mike Brearley, with the benefit of hindsight

But the skipper was still better placed than any of us armchair or deckchair enthusiasts to make that call...sorry Marc.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Derbyshire v Northamptonshire T20

First up tonight, I would like to send a get well message to Bob Taylor, the greatest of all Derbyshire wicket-keepers, as he awaits heart bypass surgery following a heart attack.

Bob was a hero of all of us in our youth and he remains one of the nicest men in the game. Anyone who has met him will tell you the same and I am sure that you will join me in wishing him well in the coming days and weeks.

Moving on, Derbyshire have a chance to get back to winning ways tomorrow, albeit against a side that beat us easily in the corresponding fixture a few weeks back. It is an unchanged side, although Graeme Welch has announced opportunity for younger players in the remaining games.

I don't agree with those who felt we should have batted last night. It is always easy to be wise after the event and McCullum could have gone early, just as Alex Hales did the week before. If you don't get players of his quality early, the chances are that he will punish you. Leicestershire got him today, but that is cricket. Great players can be dismissed, but when it is their day they will take you apart. We, I assume, thought he might over-reach in the Powerplay, but he didn't and, like a Duracell battery, he kept going on and on.

The visitors side has yet to be announced, but the man who won them that game, David Willey, is out for four weeks with an ankle injury and Shahid Afridi's stint has ended. The local newspaper is suggesting the same team that lost narrowly to Nottinghamshire last week, so one assumes:


With short boundaries, a fast outfield and aggressive batsmen on both sides, this should be a high-scoring match, more likely than not decided by the crucial first six overs. We have done better in this period than in previous summers, but, as we know, T20 wins are about stringing together a consistent 40 overs.

We can win this tomorrow, but will need to do exactly that to do so.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Birmingham v Derbyshire T20

Birmingham 242-2 (McCullum 158 not)
Derbyshire 182 (Durston 43, Rutherford 39)

Birmingham won by 60 runs

Years ago, when I was just a nipper, my old Dad used to take me to the Baseball Ground. He always taught me to appreciate sport as featuring two teams and to appreciate when the other team, or someone in it, did something special.

I remember an especially fine goal by Peter Knowles of Wolverhampton Wanderers, the result of a sweeping move and a clinical finish, which my Dad applauded warmly, while others nearby were disputing his parentage and shouting at Derby for no other reason than being powerless to stop brilliance.

A man in front of us in the old Osmaston Stand took exception to Dad's applause and told him he shouldn't be doing it. Big mistake. He got 'the look' and a very slow but to the point comment that suggested the bloke should get on with watching one team while he watched both. Might not have been that polite, come to think of it, but it was mighty effective...

It was such tonight at Birmingham. No complaints from me, when you are beaten by a giant of the modern game in Brendan McCullum. He's done that times many to international attacks around the globe and to the very best bowlers. When he gets the bit between his teeth, is in form and finds a wicket to his taste, there's no bowling to him. How do you set a field to someone who hits it over the boundary with such regularity? How do you reply to 158 runs from just 64 balls faced?

Truth be told, despite the bowlers, without exception, taking some stick, we battled well. Hamish Rutherford and Wes Durston batted with equal panache, but didn't last so long. We were only ten runs behind at the end of the Powerplay, but the admirable Jeetan Patel bowled his four overs for just eighteen runs, astonishing in the circumstances. I have seen Derbyshire sides in recent years would have collapsed like a pack of cards, but we battled down the order and ran up a total that, on another day, might have won the game.

Like I say though, one has to accept brilliance in sport, whatever the hue of the shirt. If you can't, you really shouldn't follow competitive sport.

Well played Brendan McCullum. A captain and man for who I have the utmost respect, for leading as popular a touring side as has toured this island in many a year.

As well as being a fantastic cricketer who pretty much beat us on his own tonight.

Fantasy League update and a player to watch...

Take a bow David Aust, who is not only winning the Peakfan trophy Fantasy League in a canter (1800 points clear) but is also ranked 45 in the competition overall.

Matthew Entwistle is in second place, with Dean Doherty's two sides in third and fourth place.

My side has finally started to find some form and I have made my last transfers of the season in a push for a top ten placing. This is, of course, when those in my eleven incur major injury..

I am, of course, far too nice a bloke to mention who is currently in bottom place...

On a different tack - a player to watch would appear to be Jurie Snyman, currently plying his trade with great success for Denby in the Premier League. At 20, the young South African has broken batting records through his school days and is making a name for himself with punishing displays back home for Easterns.

The talented Mr Snyman had a school average of over 80, with a highest score of...wait for it.. 395 in a fifty-over game. With four double centuries and no less than 38 centuries in school colours, the opposition must have looked at the fixture against his school with fear in their hearts, together with a vivid imagination as to a feigned injury in their heads.

He showed his talents against Derbyshire for the Kevin Dean XI on Wednesday, registering a fine half century. The left-hander also bowls off spin and looks to be a cricketer to watch.

All he needs to be REALLY special is a granny from Heanor...

Birmingham v Derbyshire T20

Birmingham...seriously, Birmingham? Were I a Warwickshire fan outside of the city, I wouldn't be best pleased about the name, that's for sure, but such is the gimmickry of T20 that a name change is deemed important...(sighs loudly...)

Anyway, tonight's game, against a side that has won six from eight in the competition, will be a tough test for Derbyshire, after last week's heroics against our near and dear neighbours.

We have beaten Warwickshire before (enough of this monicker malarky) and to do so again would be quite something. Reinforced by Kiwi powerhouse Brendan McCullum, a man who led one of the most popular touring sides in recent memory, they will be a tough test. If the New Zealand skipper gets going, he can put any total  out of sight and ambitions to win this game must first revolve around minimising his impact on it.

Derbyshire have named a similar squad to last week, Ben Slater coming in for Will Davis who has a minor injury. The opener returned to form with a sparkling innings for the seconds this week, but I don't see to much tinkering with a winning formula. The side, at peak form, bats long and has plenty of bowling options.

Our squad:

Wes Durston (capt)
Hamish Rutherford
Chesney Hughes
Ben Slater
Shiv Thakor
Wayne Madsen
Alex Hughes
Scott Elstone
Tom Poynton
Tom Knight
Wayne White
Nathan Rimmington

The opposition, led by Varun Chopra, has announced the following squad:

Varun Chopra (Captain)
Tim Ambrose (Wicket Keeper)
Rikki Clarke
Laurie Evans
Recordo Gordon
Oliver Hannon-Dalby
Ateeq Javid
Tom Lewis
Brendon McCullum
Jeetan Patel
William Porterfield
Josh Poysden
Boyd Rankin

They have batsmen in form, after this week's game against Sussex, while in Jeetan Patel they have the man I regard as the best value overseas player in the county game.

I would love to predict a win here, but we need to be at our very best to do so. Anything less than that will see a defeat, so the onus is on the boys to replicate the form, commitment and quality of last week.

We will see if they can later tonight.