Slowly but surely we are getting through the torturous winter months and in a couple of days time the last month with no Derbyshire cricket to enjoy will be upon us.
Truth be told, the winter hasn't been too bad as yet, though yesterday's gales and heavy rain suggested it may have yet have things to throw our way. That was given even greater credence as I stood in my back garden ar 5.30am today, trying to spot the dog in the midst of a blizzard of substantial proportions.
Still, we're getting there and I have to doff my cap to the marketing guys at Derbyshire CCC for keeping a flow of videos and information going at a time when there's not a lot happening. The training videos and interviews on the club site are enjoyable and suggest we should lack little in preparation in the season ahead.
Congratulations to Matt Critchley on having his debut century voted the best of this millennium. I didn't vote, as I found it hard to split some of them and, as so often happens, the award goes to the most recent and best remembered. For the same reason you see One Direction and Take That win 'Best Band Ever' awards, which always amuses someone brought up on The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and Led Zeppelin. I suspect that history may, in the fullness of time, side with me on the greater importance to music of the last three...
Around the country, clubs are finalising their plans for the summer. Chris Gayle will be going to Somerset for a few games once more, where, as one wag pointed out on Twitter this week, he will doubtless see post-match interviews conducted by Julian Clary. I do think that there has been an undue media storm over his Australian interview, but he has been rightly reprimanded for a flip comment that was clumsy, attempted humour but came over as patronising.
It was nice to hear from Mark again and he asked the question as to how I saw our red and white ball teams shaping up. It isn't a question I can answer for white ball, as we don't yet know our T20 specialist(s). We may need to fill the role on a job share basis if the efforts of other counties are anything to go by, but if we can land a batsman like Martin Guptill or an all-rounder like Albie Morkel or Chris Morris I'd have no complaints. Mind you, if 'The Gup' returns we should re-brand as the Derbyshire Kiwis...
I think we will see another seamer join too, as one of Pop's irons in the fire must surely get hot. As to who it is and where he is from, we will need to wait and see. Don't take the lack of news as being lack of action, as I am sure that there's a lot of work going on behind the scenes.
To answer Mark's question, however, allowing for perhaps another man coming in, I don't see the team being too far from this, for the start of the summer on seaming tracks:
Like you, though I haven't seen them in the nets and have no knowledge of progress, form and fitness. As the summer progresses, Durston might come in for one of the seam bowling all-rounders to offer variation, but so too could Tom Knight or Matt Critchley, if their games have progressed. All three have an all-round game and could slot in nicely.
I remain excited at the potential of Tom Knight and if his bowling has 'grooved' over the winter he has the ability to be a terrific all-rounder in the Ian Blackwell mode. So too could Critchley, though I am wary of placing unfair expectation on a lad still in his teens.
There is good and healthy competition for places and that can only be to our benefit.