Thursday, 28 April 2016

Slow start but potential for more

Played two, drawn two.

That is Derbyshire's record so far and fourth place after two matches is just about where most people  expected us to be. Top half, steady in batting and with question marks thus far against the bowling. We'd take that placing at season end, but hope for more exciting events between times.

In their defence - and that of most teams in the division, the new regulations on the toss, or lack of one, are leaving clubs running scared. There are unlikely to be first-day, old school green tops, because the away side will exercise their right to bowl and leave the home club playing catch up for the rest of the game.

To be fair, I think the majority of supporters would prefer seeing a game of 200 plays 200, even if the match finishes inside three days, to one where you see two big first innings and get no closer to a result than Julian Clary is to Tyson Fury. It effectively renders days three and four of most matches pointless. If the power that be are wanting to lessen still further the appeal of four-day 'proper' cricket, they are going the right way about it.

After those first few games, I am reassured by Derbyshire's batting. Even without Billy Godleman and with our Kiwi signings still to fire, we are scoring runs down the order. Wayne Madsen, Chesney Hughes and Ben Slater are in good form and there are good players outside the eleven awaiting an opportunity.

The bowling hasn't really had a chance. Andy Carter and Luke Fletcher look good bowlers and Tony Palladino is running in more freely than last year. When wickets are more conducive to their talents - and they will be around the circuit - they will get people out. That we lack a quality spinner is a given, though Wes Durston bowls steadily. Truth be told, there are few quality spin bowlers in the division, while identifying regular twirly match-winners around the country would not require the use of all digits on one hand.

Essex are off to a flier, as they should be with their squad, but you also need a combination of good fortune and players to take full advantage of result tracks. What I think is a clear way forward, after two games, is that any team with genuine aspirations of success will need to play brave cricket.

By 'brave', I mean that sides will need to be willing to risk defeat in order to win. If one were to use Warwickshire, Graeme Welch's old club, and Derbyshire as examples, the former had the players to produce basic, route one cricket - score heavily, then bowl sides out with quality seam and world-class spin. That's all well and good, but not every side is blessed with such talent.

While fully accepting that the weather took too much out of the game at Derby over the past four days, similar wickets in the months ahead should produce results, especially if we can get a little bounce and some sunshine on them. It does look, however, as if there will be last days where those brave decisions will have to be made.

Setting or chasing, say, 270 in sixty overs could see defeat, but could see a win if we bat, bowl and field with the intensity that I saw at Derby. Sure, a couple of chances went down, but on days that Jacques Rudolph claimed were the coldest on which he has played cricket, I can forgive that. Even on a dead afternoon yesterday, Derbyshire maintained focus, professionalism and discipline.

They will need all of that in the months ahead. I'm happy to see them risk defeat in order to win, as long as they have a fighting chance of doing so.

Far better as an option than a dull as dishwater final afternoon that ends in a draw of stupefying boredom.



Adam said...

I agree that in future it will be far better to 'arrange' a positive result both from a points and spectator perspective. In this case though the weather made any hope of setting up the game hopeless.

Although initially I was not in favour of the altering of the toss law, I am now firmly in favour. It will mean that bowlers will have to be true masters of their craft and not to be able to rely on helpful conditions for their wickets. Batsmen will have higher benchmarks to reach and will need to hone their concentration skills to bat big and long. The wickets are starting to mirror test match wickets and that can only be a positive.

We have started off as I think we all expected, solid if maybe lacking a bit of flair. We will be hard to beat and if as the season progresses we can blood one or two of our younger talents (Will Davis etc) then we will have achieved all that can be expected of us.

Tim, Chesterfield said...

Interesting to see who gets dropped for Godleman's return. You'd have to assume it'll be Slater rather than Chesney given his hundred even if my fellow Spireite has been solid and a little unlucky.