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...