Friday, 5 February 2016

Revolving door as players fly in and out

As an indicator of progress and the heightened standing of Derbyshire County Cricket Club, one has only to look at the players and staff who have gained recognition this winter.

Wes Durston has been to South Africa, Graeme Welch and Matt Critchley to Dubai and now Shiv Thakor to Oman and Bahrain. They may not be 'official' tours against top quality opposition but are a sign that the work being done at the club is being noticed.

Only a fool would say that there are no signs of progress, on and off the field. The media centre development is testimony to the off-field work, as is the Gateway building and splendidly refurbished pavilion. When I think back to the ground that I attended even five or six years ago it is a huge improvement, tribute to all who have been involved.

On it, progress is slower, as it was always going to be in weeding out under-performing seniors and giving youth its head, but there are good and encouraging signs and portents for the future.

The best Derbyshire sides over the years have been those where a sound group of seniors has given the stability to the younger element to express themselves. Barnett, Adams and Morris emerged through a batting line up where Hampshire, Wood, Steele, Wright and Kirsten flourished. Harold Rhodes had the benefit of Les Jackson and Cliff Gladwin as early mentors. Mike Hendrick and Alan Ward came through alongside Brian Jackson and Rhodes. All of them had people to look up to and emulate, which is what is coming together at Derbyshire.

Young seamers should learn from Tony Palladino and Andy Carter, just as they will from Graeme Welch. If Ben Slater, Shiv Thakor and Alex Hughes need help, then Billy Godleman, Wayne Madsen, Neil Broom and Hamish Rutherford will be on hand.

I won't go out on a limb and forecast promotion and T20 finals day for us this year, but I have a feeling that we will improve considerably on last season. Cynics might say that wouldn't be hard, but those with semi-respectable memory will remember plenty of matches where an extra ten per cent would have got us across the line. Had we come out on the right side of those matches, a more respectable four-day placing would have been a formality.

As for the T20, we'd have made the knock-out stage for only the second time, as we threw away a couple of games and were beaten only by Kiwi brilliance in another.

Ten per cent. Not too much to ask over a winter from young players. Part of it in team spirit, some in fielding and the balance in personal improvement.

We'd be worth keeping an eye on then...

Postscript: nice to see the club's new Wisden honours board. I'm a big believer in celebrating the past, enjoying the present and anticipating the future. 

We have enjoyed some wonderful cricketers over the years and will see plenty more in the years ahead.

I am glad to see their efforts acknowledged.

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