Thursday, 26 May 2016

Time for a reality check

After all these years of doing the blog, I'm still mildly amused that there's way more comments and mails in adversity than when we do well.

492 runs in the first innings against Kent and there's barely recognition of a job well done; tumble for under a ton in the second dig and there's pops at Pop a-plenty.

I think it is time for a reality check. You may have noticed that I made no pre-season predictions of glory this year. Just, hopefully, signs of progress. Sometimes signs of the latter take time to appear, while at others they can be almost overnight.

Look at Chesney Hughes. I've lost count of how many mails there have been in recent seasons questioning whether he would make it. All of a sudden, it clicks and he's scoring runs for fun. The same goes for Shiv Thakor. Last year people were asking why we'd signed him, ignoring the fact that he'd missed a year of cricket and was playing catch up. There are no such questions this year, that's for sure, when he is sitting with a batting average of 68 and a bowling one of 23. I've used the analogy before and will do again - would you expect your average under-25 to be a key contributor at your place of work, or assume that he or she still had much to learn? I think I know the answer.

You can't fast track development. To answer one recurring theme in my mail, yes, Graeme Welch did say that he now has the staff that he wants at Derbyshire, but this should not be liberally translated as 'and it is one that will challenge for honours'. For me he now has a staff of players where everyone is fit and able to play, even if they are some way back in their development from where he wants them to be. Last year we had senior players on commensurate salaries in the second team or constantly injured, something that was patently unsustainable.

I know how Graeme rates the young  clutch of seamers at the club, but sometimes that 'click' takes a lot longer than coaches wish and supporters are prepared to tolerate. I have spoken to a lot of coaches over the years and each has told me that the greatest requirement for the job is patience. Indeed John Wright, a pretty good coach at county and international level, told me that is the biggest difference between the two - with the latter, you are dealing with the creme de la creme. If someone fails, you bring in someone else, and there are plenty of options. At county level, with a finite budget, you HAVE to be patient, as there aren't the alternatives nor the money to sign them.

Coaching is all about making players the best they can be. In making modifications, you are aiming to improve their game by ten per cent, but some players take things on board - or are willing to do so - more easily than others. It can take months for a penny to drop, or seasons in some cases, as you will see by looking around the county circuit.

It is the only way with a club like Derbyshire. If Graham Onions came on the market, he would improve our attack considerably, but then every county would be chasing him, including those who, Godfather-style, can make an offer that it is hard to refuse. It isn't as easy as that, and this summer's wickets haven't helped to encourage young bowlers learning their trade.

One or two have also suggested it is time we looked for another coach. Really? Who?

We have a coach who is highly regarded in cricket circles by insiders, people who really know the game. Jimmy Neesham cited Welch as as reason for joining the club, as did Andy Carter and Luke Fletcher. Now the returns of the last two have been a disappointment, but sometimes it takes time to settle. It is frustrating to see the success of Fletcher since his return to Nottinghamshire, while Carter hasn't looked to have his usual rhythm yet, for whatever reason.

I still think he will come good and will win us matches in time. As for Graeme Welch, he recently signed a contract extension and rightly so. He will oversee the continued development of the young players he has sensibly signed up for the next couple of seasons and at that time a decision will be made on his future. An informed one, taking on board his track record in his time at the club. both in results and player development.

By the age of 24 or 25, players are usually showing what they can do and, in the case of many of Derbyshire's younger players, they will have worked with Welch for four or five years by then. They will have developed as players, or fallen by the wayside and that will be the time to judge him fairly.

Besides, if anyone thinks that our club can afford to change coach and pay off one, recruit a supposedly 'better' one and bring in bigger name players, you're a better man, or woman, than I.

Patience is a virtue - and we all need to show a lot more of it while young players hone their skills. As with any team in any sport there will be ups and downs and we should make sure to celebrate the former all the more.

It makes the latter more tolerable, if nothing else.

And if we pick one up at Northampton tomorrow, we will all be smiling again.


Adam said...

Good points, I didn't comment yesterday as it is always important not to let your emotions cloud your thoughts. Any call to change the coach is ridiculous at this stage into a season and there is no justification for doing so. As was said at the members forum on Sunday the emphasis on this season is an improvement in white ball cricket and we cannot judge the season on 6 games of championship cricket and 1 T20. This is still only Graeme's third season at the club and on the mandate that he had of developing young local talent and in time hopefully an England player, that to me is a 5-6 year job at least. Graeme has made errors in his judgement since being here but he is still new to being a head coach so this is to be expected, as you said there is a wide range of players on the circuit who speak highly of him so there is no doubt as to his abilities.

Peakfan said...

Totally agree Adam, as you know from my piece. Good comment!

Doug said...

Maybe the lack of positive comments after we've had success on day 1 has someting to do with the expectation that we'll have a disaster on day 2 or 3. Night follows day don't you know?

As far as predictions go I clearly remember the Carter/Fletcher partnership being lauded, presumably without ever seeing them (very often). Must admit I'm all for perservering with the young brood of fast bowlers, one of them will develop, surely.

And as far as an individual praising the bloke who has just hired you, que sorpresa.

Anyway looking forward to an exciting game tomorrow and more momentum in a competition I may just have to come to love

Peakfan said...

Night follows day, Doug, but bad doesnt always have to follow good. Not even in Derbyshire cricket circles.

Yes, i was one who thought Carter/Fletcher would be a potent combo, but we could have signed Holding and Roberts for some of those early wickets to little avail. Flletch is taking div 1 wickets and we will have to see with Carter.

Neesham doesnt strike me as a bloke to make flip comments and there are plenty at Essex and Warwicks who credit Welch for making them the bowlers they are. That England Lions asked him to get involved tells a story, too...

As for T20 I am growing to like it more as it evolves from a mere slogfest. If we did better at it...who knows? Might even see me holding up a 'six' sign...