Saturday, 13 February 2016

Random thoughts as the snow falls

It was hard to believe that the county cricket season is just two months away this morning.

Out in the garden with the faithful Wallace, I kept my throwing arm in good fettle by lobbing snow balls in his general direction, where he made a decent fist of catching them, truth be told. One spectacular effort would have got a mention in Derbyshire's 'best catch' competition, held on Twitter this week - and neither Ben Slater nor Wayne Madsen grabbed theirs in their teeth...

Both were fine efforts and I hope will be replicated in the summer months. It's funny though, I once played cricket with a chap who held all sorts of stuff in pre-match sessions and in the nets, yet put him into a match situation and he wouldn't have held a catch in a bucket. The pressure of the match situation was too much, though I don't suggest for a minute that the same happens with the Derbyshire lads!

The one-day series in South Africa has been excellent with some fine performances on both sides. England looked set to wrap up the series yesterday, before the impressive Chris Morris took the game away from them with a series of lusty blows. He can play, for sure and started to show why he cost a cool million in the IPL. At a time when there are too many meaningless and one-sided series in the international game, this has made a pleasant change and has been hugely enjoyable.

Back home, the domestic T20 looks set to remain in its current, eighteen county format (hallelujah!) with a tweak to introduce two divisions with promotion and relegation. While a notional trip to Sussex or Kent for a T20 may not thrill the players and will see the number of away fans fairly limited, I can see some appeal. It would make for different opposition to that afforded by a north/south divide and is miles ahead of the city-based alternative, which has zero appeal for me.

There's still no news of our T20 specialist, though other counties continue to pick up players. Wahab Riaz, the Pakistan pace ace, will play some matches for Essex, sharing duties with Kiwi quick bowler Adam Milne. A few counties are still holding off though, doubtless waiting to see what happened in the IPL auction. I suspect a few who missed out there may now reconsider their summer plans and I remain confident that Derbyshire will shortly announce a name that will hold considerable appeal.

And finally, I was pleased to see Michael Clarke, a graceful player and good man, reconsidering first his retirement and then discussing a couple of months with Middlesex this summer. The former Aussie skipper's fragile back will be a concern, but if that holds he could be a very shrewd acquisition.

I'll be back soon, enjoy your weekend.

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