Thursday, 14 April 2016

The waiting almost over

It seems like an eternity since I last looked over the 3aaa County Ground in September, the shadows lengthening over a ground that held so many personal memories and was set to be transformed through a winter's work.

A long winter lay ahead, one that turned out not as cold as some of recent past, but dark and dismal for all that. Now, as the daffodils brighten the roadsides and tubs and the days are growing longer, 'proper' cricket is back. County cricket. DERBYSHIRE cricket.

The tour matches and warm-up games are done and we get down to the nitty-gritty, the stuff that matters. The players have worked hard for this all winter and this is when we all see how much they have progressed with all the coaching and fitness work.

Hopefully a lot. There was encouragement to be found in patches last season, but something more sustained and obvious must be the goal for 2016. In the next 48 hours we should see Graeme Welch's squad for the first match and he will probably take 13 or 14 to Bristol and check the wicket before announcing a final eleven.

Our hosts were heavily beaten in their first match, Essex perhaps setting out their stall for an improved season with a ten-wicket win. Their Australian import, Cameron Bancroft, may need time to acclimatise to English wickets, while only Gareth Roderick and the talented Jack Taylor resisted for long.

Time will tell, as it will for Derbyshire. I don't expect a team too different to this one to be taking the field at Bristol:

Slater
Hughes (C)
Madsen
Rutherford
Broom
Thakor
Durston
Poynton
Palladino
Cotton
Carter

An option could be for Hamish Rutherford to open himself and bring in another seam bowling all-rounder, Alex Hughes, instead of Chesney. Not having seen them in the nets and being unaware of their respective fitness, I can call that no better than the rest of you.

It is a solid-looking side, with good depth in batting, four seamers and three spinners, if one considers Ches and Wayne as options, as I do. Hopefully we get off to a flyer and have no more injuries, from accidents or otherwise, to contend with between times.

Then I will be down for the Glamorgan game  the following week - and really cannot wait...

Now, where are my thermals again?

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