Sunday, 5 June 2016

Where do we go from here?

I have had, as expected, quite a few mails in the past couple of days, since the news of Graeme Welch's resignation broke. The theme of most of them has been 'where do we go from here, Peakfan?'

There are, as I see it, three paths that Derbyshire's Board could choose to take.

The first is simply to stick with what we have and let John Sadler do the job until the end of the summer. We are coming into a busy part of the season, the last thing we need is disruption and realistically, any recruitment process worth its salt would take a minimum two months anyway. People who may be interested could well be contracted and we would want to give ourselves the best chance of getting the right man.

As I wrote yesterday, there is much to appeal in Sadler, a highly-qualified coach who is young enough to relate to the players and to be aware of current coaching techniques. Anecdotal evidence suggests he has good people skills and he has the requirements for the role, if not necessarily the experience. You could turn that around and say that he doesn't carry the 'baggage' of others either.

Option two would be that they look for someone new and all that entails. A new man would have his own ideas, which may or may not blend with what has been before. There has been much good groundwork done in the last two or three seasons under Graeme Welch, though mistakes have been made (see later). What is for sure, with any coach, is that there will be those who respond to him and those that don't. One player can respond to a coach's ideas, while another just doesn't get there. It doesn't make either bad at what they do, simply highlights that we're all different.

Chris Adams will have plenty of supporters and he's a classic example of a coach who has done well in roles and had his bad times too. It happens with them all and the professional reality is that at some point, somewhere, you will get the sack. Supporters will turn you from messiah to pariah very quickly, even if some are more understanding.

Option three? The most intriguing and the hardest would be to find another Eddie Barlow. A professional cricketer of international standing and proven leadership skills who could come in, be given the reins and responsibility and be asked to take the players on the field, show them how it is done and galvanise the club.

There was a time when I thought Jacques Kallis would be perfect for that, and Michael Hussey. They are both too old now and the difficulty is that players in that category can make way more money than we could put their way in the IPL. Brendon McCullum is the only one that springs to mind immediately, but it is unrealistic for him to turn up at the end of May and say 'Hi lads, so how's the first two months gone?' Equally so, I would think, to expect him to turn down IPL riches for a county deal and all that it entails.

What I am ever more aware of, however, is that for next year we must identify a quality bowler as an overseas player. Clint McKay is doing for Leicestershire what Charl Langeveldt did for us a few years back and someone like that, or a quality spinner, would be an asset to the captains. Unless one or two of the youngsters shows accelerated development in the remainder of the season, I'd switch focus for another year.

Finally, speaking of young player development, one player who I think poorly served in the last administration was Tom Knight. Here we had a lad who was an England under-19 spinner, proven to have a good temperament in big game occasions and with the ability to bowl a tight spell with the ball and then smack the ball a long way with the bat.

I understand the need to 'tweak' a player's technique to improve it, but to effectively attempt to reconstruct an action that was never broken, leaving the lad barely bowling a ball over two summers, is plainly daft. I know enough about coaching (level 2, thanks for asking...) and muscle memory to know that it is tough to tell someone who has bowled a certain way for over ten years to put his feet, hips, shoulder and hand somewhere different. With all that to remember, I would struggle to let the ball go.

The lad could have been - still could be - our equivalent of Steven Parry, a player who only does the one-day stuff for Lancashire but does it very effectively. To have Knight AND Critchley to bowl spin on responsive tracks would be handy for any captain, but instead we see a lad who scored a barrow load of runs in 2016 batting nine in the second team and barely turning his arm.

There has been much good work done by the coaching team, but I don't think their work with Tom should be seen in any way other than a failure. Whoever takes over should put an arm round his shoulder, tell him to run in and bowl as he always did, if he still can, and then hopefully reap the benefits. At 22, time is very much on his side if he is managed properly.

Put it this way - in one of his last one day games for Derbyshire, Tom was good enough with that old technique to dismiss both Paul Collingwood and Ben Stokes.

'nuff said, really...


Adam said...

Very interesting piece, naturally we are only guessing at what the club will do. I think that whatever happens the choice should be made during this season and not to wait until the end of it. This is not ideal but if a new coach/director of cricket comes in then he will need to have a look at the squad for himself and at potential areas/targets for improvement. If this is held back until after the season then this will disrupt the pre-season preparation whilst he is undertaking his assessment.

As you say I think that John Sadler is a serious option if he would like such a role at present and I think that he would relate very well with the younger members of the squad. A lot of people think that it needs a new face but I am not convinced by that argument.

Naturally Chris Adams is being mentioned by a fair few people and I do not know if he would be interested in such role but Peter Moores could be a possible candidate. He is currently doing his consultancy role at Notts and obviously has a proven record at county level. One of his strengths is working with younger players and this would suit him well to a position such as this. I would imagine that if the role is advertised then Paul Nixon may well apply as I know that he is very keen on such a position. Positions like this do not come available very often in the county game so no doubt there will be no shortage of candidates if we look to recruit from outside the club.

It shall be a interesting next few weeks!

Tim, Chesterfield said...

Two wins without anyone suggests we don't need to rush.

Adam said...

Fair point Tim and maybe sometimes too much emphasis is put on the coach but I would prefer it if a decision is made before the end of the season so that it is not hanging over everyone's heads until then and so decisions regarding next year's playing staff can be made in good time.

I felt sorry for Graeme today when listening to the commentary and Dave Fletcher said how Graeme had told him how he was looking forward to Derbyshire being much improved in white ball cricket this year and it is sad that he could not share in the celebrations on Friday and today. We missed Wes today as he could have taken a bit of pressure of Matt with his off-spin but there is not much else that we could have done better!

Doug said...

I haven't been reading your blog on a regular basis until recently, but your implied criticism about the remodelling of Knight's action is interesting as it is something I haven't seen before. It has been a source of bewiderment for months and has been (amongst other strange happenings) an obvious stick to beat Welch up with. Are we starting to see the start of some revisionism of his tenure in your blog? It is good to see acknowledge the deficiencies in our bowling department and although importing a class bowler would be tempting option due to our inability to bowl sides out, However our batting is still fragile with little cover and that carries it's own risks.

Martin Edwards said...

Excellent post, Peakfan. As regards spin bowling, I think one of the failures of the Welch regime was to fail to plan adequately for the demise of David Wainwright. His decline didn't come out of the blue, but he hasn't been replaced. As you've said before, good spin bowlers are hard to find, but surely there was a case for trying to find a suitable Kolpak. It will be difficult for either Critchley or Knight to develop satisfactorily without a senior specialist spin partner to bowl alongside and learn from over the next few years. No opponent currently is likely to be worried by a spin attack of Critchley/Knight, Chesney, and Wayne, and even Wes is primarily a batsman. Like Adam, I feel truly sorry for Graeme Welch, who has clearly done his best, but it's equally clear from results and performances, consistently dreadful since his arrival, that he struggled to adapt to the leadership role. Perhaps a case of over-promotion, a common problem in many walks of life.

Peakfan said...

Again good comments gentlemen. Doug, I won't revise my opinion of Graeme Welch, who I think undertook a much needed overhaul of the club, brought through youngsters, stripped out non-productive professionals and handled some difficult situations well. History will, I think, record him as having done a good job for most of the time.

So too did Karl Krikken and John Morris in different ways - as I wrote earlier in the year, Krikk's man management was excellent, but we fell down at times on attention to detail. John spotted players with potential elsewhere and brought some very good players to the club.

I went along with the re-modelling of Tom Knight's bowling because you trust people to be doing the right thing at that level. Yet when you see an erstwhile England under-19 after two years still not bowling, and batting number nine in second team cricket a year after he was scoring big hundreds, you question the handling of the player.

As with any coach, there will be players they improve, players they maintain at a standard and some that don't work out. At this stage I'd have to say that Knight has been ill-advised and poorly managed. He's better than that and worth better than that. Especially when decent spinners are in such short supply. When he can bat as he can too, we should be nurturing a real talent very carefully

Anonymous said...

Interesting read Peakfan. You mention Adams as a potential coach in point 2 but I think he also covers your requirements in point 3. It would be nice to have a Derbyshire coach at the helm again and I think Adams should be given his chance.

Peakfan said...

You think Adams could still play, Anon? That's a big ask after several years out of the game...

Wouldn't say no to Adams, but like all candidates (or most) he has successes and failures on his CV