Well, that got people restless!
The omission of Ben Slater from the Derbyshire eleven for the game at Northampton resulted in my biggest mail bag for some time. One thing I will say, straight away is that you should remember to append a name to posts, especially if being critical. I am big enough to have my face and name on here and so are other people. Please ensure that you do the same, thank you!
One point of reference for one of the more caustic comments - I am not 'in Derbyshire's pocket' by a long stretch. That I agree with most (not all) of what happens at the club these days reassures me that all is largely well, but no one at Derbyshire ever can or will tell me what to write, as the thoughts on here have always and will always be mine alone.
With regard to the Ben Slater omission, there was always going to be a battle between him and Chesney Hughes to open with Billy Godleman and the chance that he could miss out was always 50/50, unless Hamish Rutherford opted to open and Alex Hughes or another all rounder came in. Omitting the new skipper, a man who was one of only two truly convincing four-day players last year, was never an option once he was fit.
Yes, Ben has done pretty well this year and I count myself among his biggest fans. He has come through the ranks, scored steadily and let no one down. As I said last week, however, to cement a place in the side he needs to convert good fifties into hundreds. Chesney did that at Bristol and, as the heaviest scorer of the two in the games so far, deserves his opportunity.
So should Neil Broom have been the man omitted? Not for me, because for one thing you are then swapping an opener and middle order batsman. He has just come off a winter back home where he averaged over fifty in the first-class game and over eighty in one-day cricket. Yes, he has played league cricket here, but to cite that as relevant experience for facing first-class bowling here suggests I could replace Lewis Hamilton, because I can drive.
Broom needs time in the middle and will deliver, as his record suggests. He has had just three innings in this country and needs more. He hadn't played for a month, prior to arriving here, because of an operation and omitting him at this stage would, in MY opinion, be both silly and patently unfair. By the same token, should he not discover form, as he showed last year with Tillakaratne Dilshan, Graeme Welch would be man enough to make the call to omit him, but that is some way down the line.
Moving to a new place, let alone new country and uprooting family is a big thing for anyone and Neil needs a little time, as anyone else would. That we have players of the quality of Ben Slater, Matt Critchley, Harvey Hosein, Tom Knight, Alex Hughes and a raft of talented seamers outside the squad is testimony to what is developing at Derbyshire. Only eleven can ever play and all those on the staff will know that sustained levels of performance are the one way to guarantee a place in the side.
I have no doubt that Ben will take this on the chin, score heavily in the second team and be back in the side before too long. The only way he won't is if he doesn't do that, or if those in possession are simply doing too well to drop.
If that is the case, then I wouldn't anticipate too many complaints.