Sunday, 31 July 2016

Northamptonshire v Derbyshire RLODC

Derbyshire 272-7 (Slater 148 not)

Northamptonshire 278-3 (Cobb 88, Duckett 70, Keogh 63 not)

Northamptonshire won by seven wickets

I feel sorry for Ben Slater tonight.

His third List A century of the summer should have been a springboard for a Derbyshire total in excess of 300 today, a masterful innings and new career-best. At 165-1 after 32 overs, that should have been a given, but the innings subsided and only 107 came from the last eighteen overs.

Despite Ben's heroics, it didn't look close to enough on a ground known for high scores and fast scoring. So it proved. Josh Cobb scored his regulation runs against us, Ben Duckett confirmed his talent and Rob Keogh finished things off nicely as the home side won with eight overs to spare.

It was disappointing and although tomorrow's game against Leicestershire is billed as a 'must win' we'd need a strange combination of circumstances, ones that I don't believe in, for us to sneak into fourth place. With rain forecast, it isn't really likely.

To be brutally honest, nor is it really deserved.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Northamptonshire v Derbyshire RLODC - Neesham in squad

Derbyshire travel to Wantage Road tomorrow for the first of two weekend fifty-over games that will decide their season. Win them both and we qualify for the quarter-finals that looked likely at the halfway stage. Win one and it will come down to net run rate.

Lose them both? Let's not consider that just now...

Having said that, John Sadler will have had to work to pick the side up after the last two defeats. As it happens, tomorrow's game is against a side that has had a very thin squad all summer and has patched up their players for the past few weeks. They have also heard today that highly-rated seamer Olly Stone is going to be playing at Warwickshire next summer, with several other players being keenly pursued by an array of suitors. Such is the lot of one of the game's poorer counties, but they have done astonishingly well this summer, especially in the one-day game.

No news on their side as yet, but it will be top heavy with powerful batsmen who, unless we bowl with discipline, will be setting us 300-plus. As for our team, the big news is that Hamish Rutherford has been replaced by Jimmy Neesham 'to provide additional bowling options'. It is a sensible move and means that if Wes Durston isn't fit to bowl, we have more than a straight five bowlers that limited us against Lancashire.

Our squad:

Wes Durston
Billy Godleman
Ben Slater
Chesney Hughes
Jimmy Neesham
Wayne Madsen
Neil Broom
Shiv Thakor
Alex Hughes
Alex Mellor
Matt Critchley
Tony Palladino
Ben Cotton
Will Davis

Neil Broom's return to form last night was welcome. A big game from him and Neesham would make such a difference.

I can't call this one, so won't.

Just go out and do us proud, lads.

T20 appraisal

There will be those who, after we failed to qualify from the T20 group again, say that it was the 'same old, same old'. Then there are the others, who take a closer look.

Our hopes went to the last over of the last game and we failed to qualify from a really tough group with plenty of Test-ground counties. We lost seven games, but three of them were by just one run and, for supporters used to seeing us hammered in these games, it was a refreshing change to see us compete - and compete well.

'We still lost' I hear one or two cry. Yes, but we are making progress, on the back of a lot of hard winter work on the key disciplines. We gave away few extras, held some blinding catches, dropped a few, but such is the game. The fielding stood up well to the pressure and only in a couple of matches did we let ourselves down.

A lot was pinned on the three New Zealanders, just as it was the previous year with Hashim Amla and Tillakaratne Dilshan. We were all excited about their involvement but the reality was that they didn't really deliver. Jimmy Neesham did best, producing a match-winning performance against Lancashire and being steady with bat and ball. Hamish Rutherford and Neil Broom disappointed, playing cameos, rather than the match-defining innings that we needed and, to be fair, expect from that key role.

That is it with T20. 'Steady' isn't enough and, whoever we recruit for next season, they will stand or fall on their ability to win us matches. Reputations count for little in this game, as we know and Somerset found out. With Gayle and Jayawardene in their side, success had to follow, but they came bottom of their group having shelled out thousands.

Continued improvement depends on prudent winter signings. There is a strong nucleus of young local talent, while Wayne Madsen and Chesney Hughes provide more experience, but the need for three or four new recruits is strong. One has to be a batting wicket-keeper, while a reliable overseas bowler is essential, likewise a top order batsman or all-rounder.

There is no quick fix. No one can wave a magic wand and make us top of the group with a hundred per cent record. There is no getting away from the fact that our playing resources are still slim next to many clubs, but we punch above our weight at times. The right new men would make all the difference in landing the knock out blow.

I remain confident that we are on the right track and hope that the hard winter work, led by Graeme Welch and John Sadler, can be repeated to greater success next year.

In closing, I feel duty-bound to answer a question that has been asked several times in recent correspondence. Will Wes Durston be captain in 2017?

My answer is simple. Like any other professional sportsman, Wes knows that another contract depends on the club looking for and finding someone better. It hasn't been a vintage season for him and with only one score over fifty, as well as an injury, it didn't go to plan. If there's a better option out there, I am sure the club will pursue it, if not, he will be back for, I'd guess, another year next year. He has been a wonderful servant to the club, but won't look back on this as one of his best summers.

For what it is worth, unless we can recruit a real talisman to the club, I'd be inclined to give the one-day captaincy to Alex Hughes. He strikes me as a lad who thrives on opportunity and challenge and was coming in too late to make an impact in the T20.

He skippered in some of the more magical moments of this summer's campaign and expect him to make a good fist of things if offered the role for another year.

Makes a lot of sense to old Peakfan.

In closing tonight, I'd just like to wish James Pipe all the very best for the new role he has secured at Nottinghamshire CCC later this year.

He has a lot of friends at Derbyshire and always will have, testimony to his friendly persona and ever-present smile. He is one of the highest-rated men in the game and is destined to go far.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Durham v Derbyshire T20

Durham 193-2  (MacLeod 83, Stoneman 82 not, Neesham 1-25)

Derbyshire 180-9 (Broom 68, Durston 44, Borthwick 3-33)

Durham won by 13 runs

Alas, at the end of it all, came disappointment.

There wasn't a point tonight at which I thought 'yeah, we can win this', despite a fine effort from Neil Broom, an innings that hinted of vintage Wes Durston and a brief flurry from Shiv Thakor that took us from 'no chance' to 'maybe'.

The side's weakness was well revealed tonight, as Mark Stoneman and Calum MacLeod put our young attack to the sword. Jimmy Neesham bowled an exemplary spell to finish a solid, if not spectacular spell as overseas specialist, but the rest went for ten an over and we're not that good a batting side that two hundred falls easily within our compass.

All a little frustrating really, as Warwickshire (or Birmingham) failed to chase 125 to win at Old Trafford, showing that it really is a tight group where any side can beat another on a given night and four points separated fourth place qualifying and bottom of the table. We went from verge of qualification to third bottom with one defeat, despite a T20 summer in which we played much better cricket than previous years.

'A game of extremely fine margins and we need to get on the right side of them, fast' tweeted chairman Chris Grant tonight. He's absolutely right and if we could have found an extra 5% this summer we would be in the quarter-finals, without doubt.

A young team has potential, though some may not get to the promised land alongside them. Winter recruitment will be key to that - but there's a piece for another day.

Attention now turns to the last rolls of the dice in the RLODC.

Can we win two from two? On recent evidence, I have my doubts.

So go prove me wrong.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Durham v Derbyshire T20

Can Derbyshire beat Durham tomorrow night in the final group game of the T20? Yes, most definitely.

Will they? That's a more complex question, but I think they will.

There's been a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth today and I get the reason why. We should have beaten Lancashire and probably would from that position seven times in ten. The other three is why supporting the club is such a roller coaster ride, because you can never call it with total confidence.

It's done now, the impact will be seen by Monday and we must accept that. All we can do is aim to win all the games from here and see if other results go our way. If we lose them, then we just need to go again another year. Life goes on and, disappointing as it is, there are more things in life to worry about.

This evening the club announced the signing of Warwickshire wicket-keeper Alex Mellor (pictured keeping wicket) on an initial month's loan. He's a Staffordshire lad who has played most of his cricket for Leek, so I have no doubt that Kim Barnett's counsel has been sought on his worth. The lad can obviously play, as he got a double century for Staffordshire last year, as well as taking eleven catches in the same match. He's got some good runs for them this year and another left-hander down the order is never a bad thing

He should not be confused with the target for next year, in my opinion, as I think the club will aim for am established county professional for a pivotal role in the side. If we can get a keeper who is capable of batting in the top five, especially in one-day games, it would balance the side and allow us to recruit a bowler that we badly need.

We will go through if we win and either Birmingham or Yorkshire lose, but our bit is the focus. I don't see many changes, as we are fast running out of players, but the batting will be worthy of consideration. Would Chesney Hughes or Neil Broom strengthen the line-up? I see them coming in for Ben Slater and Billy Godleman as the changes, as well as Mellor for Harvey Hosein, who was never going to be fit for three games in four days. There was perhaps discussion on Wayne Madsen getting the gloves, but for a man with little experience in the role, that's asking a lot at short notice.
Jimmy Neesham is a strong addition to the side, of course and a big performance from him would help us immensely.

My team:

Hughes (C)
Hughes (A)

Two final points tonight. Andy Carter signing for Hampshire to the end of the season...that surprised me. Will he take division one wickets? Based on what we saw, no, but cricket is a funny game and a change of environment can sometimes work for players.

Finally, thanks for the continued support of the blog. Last month set a new record for visits with almost thirty thousand. This month will go past forty thousand tomorrow, a figure that tells its own tale on the interest in the club, irrespective of results.

Long may that continue!

No news on either squad at present, but Phil Mustard is on loan at Gloucestershire and that can only help our cause. Having said that, they have some dangerous batsmen and could easily put the game out of our reach if we don't hit lines and lengths from the off.

I'll be back tomorrow night with my comments on the game and hope for an improved performance - and result...

The morning after...


Just when you think we are starting to get somewhere, a reversion to the 'old days' threatens to de-rail the hopes of qualification from the RLODC group stages.

I saw none of the Lancashire innings, due to that pesky little thing called work, but after dinner settled down to watch a Derbyshire reply that was progressing smoothly, after the loss of Ben Slater. Billy Godleman looked good, Hamish Rutherford was composed and we passed the hundred with few alarms and at five an over.

In these days of twenty-over obsession...sorry...dominance of world schedules, I find it useful to break down an innings in the longer format into bite-sized chunks. A hundred off twenty left 180 off thirty at a run-a-ball. Sixty off the next ten leaves you 120 from twenty overs. We were at that stage last night and should we be chasing such a total on Friday at Durham, might you not fancy the chances, with most of the batting in hand?

Of course you would. All it needs is a cool head. Knock it into space, take the twos where you can, put the bad ball away, job's a good 'un. Except it wasn't.

As he has done too many times this summer, Hamish Rutherford gave it away when set with a poor shot that hinted at a loss of concentration. Disappointing, but it brought in Wayne Madsen and when we passed 170 and needed seven an over to win, I was mentally composing a victory blog that referred to a 'professional run chase'.

Then those wheels came off. Wayne had struggled for timing but it was unusual to see him give it away so carelessly, then the dismissal of Billy Godleman, after a splendid innings, left the new men to rebuild.

It was still very possible, but Wes Durston didn't look fit to me last night and was out of sorts at the crease. Whether going in at five 'threw' him I don't know, but nine off seventeen balls was not part of the script and was pretty much diametrically opposed to the Wes we have grown to love. Shiv Thakor, who scores quickly most of the time, played a horrid shot that can only be part of the village green coaching manual.

It spiralled from there and we all know the result. The injury to Harvey Hosein highlighted the importance of a quality wicket-keeper batsman for next summer, in that we can't assume a young lad of talent will get through a summer unscathed. We were a bowler short too, making the decision of Wes not to turn his arm over puzzling. For Lancashire, Kyle Jarvis looked the 'go to' bowler of quality that I have previously suggested we need for another year and rendered our final power play effort as effective as a fly swatter for a swarm of bees.

Time to regroup, clear heads, focus. I accept it is easy from the boundary edge or armchair to criticise, but the players work on scenarios and situations all winter and in training. They should be prepared for and be better able to handle, those like last night, which too often happen in front of TV cameras.

It leaves a big job in restoring confidence for John Sadler over the next two days. Finding a wicket-keeper is number one, because I find it hard to believe, despite last night's piece in the Derby Telegraph, that a lad who can only hold a bat with one hand on Wednesday night will be fit for three big games on Friday, Sunday and Monday.

I don't suppose Quinton de Kock is visiting his granny in Crich, by any chance?

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Derbyshire v Lancashire RLODC

Lancashire 281-8 (Livingstone 98, Croft 68, Cotton 3-62)

Derbyshire 254-9 (Godleman 91, Rutherford 47)

Lancashire won by 27 runs

Irrespective of what happens in the last two games, Derbyshire's players will look at this as the one that got away. Or more to the point, was given away.

Putting not too fine a point on it, we should have breezed that. We needed 168 from 28 overs when Hamish Rutherford perished to a poor shot, then 105 in 15 when Wayne Madsen, most uncharacteristically, did the same after almost being out in the same place the ball before. When Billy Godleman effectively yorked himself, the writing was on the wall.

The normally classical Shiv Thakor played a village green shot and while Alex Hughes was a little unlucky, his hand was forced by that stage.

In any T20, if you needed 105 in fifteen overs with seven wickets in hand (I discount the injured Hosein) you would fancy your chances. We may pay the ultimate penalty for our profligacy when the qualifying places are being sorted.

I wasn't impressed by Wes Durston tonight. The slow bowlers were hard to get away, yet he didn't bowl, while he looked leaden-footed and awkward at the crease. If he wasn't fit enough to bowl, he shouldn't have played, as Chesney could have done the same job while Alex Hughes skippered the side. Not a good night for the skipper, I'm afraid.

It was all a shame for Harvey Hosein and his fractured thumb will rule him out for several weeks and require a quick search of available replacements. It was also hard luck on Billy Godleman, who played a fine hand and timed the ball as well as anyone on a surface where the ball never seemed to come on to the bat as they would have wished.

More to the point, it was a shame for the club, because they threw away a gilt-edged opportunity to get two points in a game they worked hard to win, but ultimately threw away like we did in some of the bad old days.

More from me tomorrow.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Derbyshire v Lancashire RLODC preview

Well, Leicestershire did it today, so let's hope that Derbyshire can emulate them, beat Lancashire tomorrow and put one foot in the Royal London One-Day Cup knock-out stages.

In fact, our East Midlands rivals trounced them and if we go into tomorrow's game with the level of commitment and focus that has characterised most of our one-day cricket this summer, we can get the points.

With Warwickshire handing out a good hiding to Northamptonshire, the game offers us a chance to put daylight between us and the chasing pack ahead of the games against Northamptonshire and Leicestershire. It goes without saying, in such a tough group, that qualification would be an impressive achievement.

There have been plenty of pictures from today's training, with Dominic Cork involved with the bowlers and turning his arm over himself. He still looks fit enough to be playing, though the fielding might catch him out a bit these days. I can relate to that...

Tomorrow he will back behind the microphone and maintaining impartiality as best he can for Sky. John Sadler has named a fourteen that shouldn't see much change, in the final eleven, from Sunday at Welbeck. From reports we did little wrong there but ran into a very good side on a good day. For us to realistically entertain hopes of beating such sides, someone has to produce something special and hope for an off-day from the opposition.

Our unchanged squad:

Wes Durston
Billy Godleman
Ben Slater
Chesney Hughes
Hamish Rutherford
Wayne Madsen
Neil Broom
Shiv Thakor
Alex Hughes
Harvey Hosein
Matt Critchley
Tony Palladino
Ben Cotton
Will Davis

The big decision, I would think, is who misses out among the batsmen. Chesney and Billy did at Welbeck, but Neil Broom needs to deliver sometime soon to keep gaining selection ahead of them. It is a dilemma to have to consider dropping a man who, although on a British passport, is essentially an overseas player with international experience and a good track record. Yet it hasn't really happened for Neil (or Hamish Rutherford) this year. Might this be 'the one' where it does?

I'm sure we all hope so.

Lancashire's side today, presumably similar to tomorrow, was:

Smith, Petersen,  Brown, Procter, Livingstone, Croft, Clark, Moores, Parry, Jarvis, Buck

Alviro Petersen is the key man, but there are some dangerous players in the side and we will need to be at our best to come out on top.

I think we will. There appears to be a good 'vibe' around the club at present and, even in front of TV cameras, I think we can deliver the type of performance that can maintain our place in the top four.

And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, winning the toss tomorrow will help our cause immensely.

Good luck lads. Do us proud.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Monday Musings

It was good to listen to Dominic Cork on Radio Derby tonight.

I will give him his due, he has remained a Derbyshire fan, even before he came back into the fold and has always spoken up for us on Sky, an oasis of sanity in the desert of 'Derbys' 'Madsdens' and at times patronising nonsense.

It was especially good to hear that the approach came from John Sadler and that puts my mind at ease a little. Both Kevin Dean and Kim Barnett are offering assistance, as and when required, but staying at arm's length, which is the way it should be. We are doing OK just now and the big danger is in the 'too many cooks spoiling the broth' malarkey.

John has done well and despite a few losses in his tenure, the side has shown fight and tenacity. I have seen enough Derbyshire sides go down with a whimper over the years and the current batch are, in their spirit, a throw back to better times. They are playing some very good cricket too, individually and collectively.

It was obvious again yesterday that a great need for next summer is a 'go to' bowler for whichever captain and format. Kim Barnett had it with Michael Holding, an experienced man  who could bowl a tight over or two, maybe nick a wicket. Charl Langeveldt fulfilled a similar role over a shorter period and it is so important for any skipper.

When a batsman is going well, as Rikki Wessels was yesterday, as a captain you look at your resources and wonder who can make a difference. Such players can do that and find the lines and lengths required as a matter of course. They command respect on reputation, but follow it through with their deeds.

I wouldn't be averse to Jimmy Neesham again in T20, though I suspect the bigger fish of IPL will command his attention next year, if he stays fit. He averages 28 with the bat and is top wicket-taker with 14, albeit at nearly ten runs an over. He's bowled the key top and tail spells though, something he hasn't often done in the past and has performed steadily, if not spectacularly. That 'go to' bowler would help him too.

Tomorrow night I will be looking at Wednesday's game against Lancashire, who we have already proved we can beat this season. If we can get back to winning ways in that one, it sets us up royally for our big weekend.

The key to the biggest week the club has had in recent times will be in keeping the players relaxed but maintaining focus. If we can go out and play with maximum intensity, we can give anyone a good game and can beat a lot of sides. When Mick Newell says that his side produced a '9.5 out of ten' performance yesterday, but we were far from disgraced, it speaks volumes for the potential in a young team.

These are heady times, as exemplified by the visitors to this blog. There have been five thousand views over the last two days, as the blog has hit a new high in readership with a week of the month still to go.

Please do keep checking in and making comments. As long as I can understand them and they're not filed under 'personal attacks' they will be live pretty quickly!

Thanks for your interest.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Nottinghamshire v Derbyshire RLODC

Nottinghamshire 340-7 (Wessels 114, Read 59 not, Thakor 3-78)

Derbyshire 275 (Slater 51, Critchley 43, Hosein 41, Gurney 3-47)

Nottinghamshire won by 65 runs

Local cricket fans had a good day at Welbeck today, with 600 runs scored and good entertainment enjoyed by all.

Realistically, the result was as one might expect, as a team full of international experience overcame a young Derbyshire side. For us to compete, one of our internationals had to deliver a big innings and sadly, both Hamish Rutherford and Neil Broom went for 20s, which has sadly become a season average.

The omission of Chesney Hughes was a pre-game talking point and whether he may have done better than the struggling Broom is a moot point, but the decision was made and there's no  point wondering at this juncture.

Derbyshire's main contributors were youngsters, who all showed a spirit that was impressive and bodes well for the future. Matt Critchley had a good game with bat and ball and has made major one-day strides this summer, while Harvey Hosein showed that he will, given time, be a very good all-round player for us. Meanwhile Ben Slater led off the innings with an array of shots that suggested a one-day role may become a regular occurrence in the near future. Ben can graft away in the four-day game, but with two centuries and a fifty in his last three List A games, he seems to have got his head around the one-day stuff quite nicely now.

Nottinghamshire's win was largely down to the late assault by Chris Read and Steve Mullaney. How they will eventually replace Read is a moot point, as he turned what looked like a sub-300 score into a very competitive one. A hundred runs from the last ten overs took it to nose bleed territory, this after Derbyshire had come back well in the middle overs. Rikki Wessels sizzling century helped them recover from the loss of two wickets to Shiv Thakor and such an innings had to be played at the top of our innings for us to get close.

Despite the best efforts of Slater, no one else in the top order got going and it was left to the two teenagers to give it their best shot.

Critchley had earlier been the most economical of the bowlers, even on a small ground. While four-day wickets will take him a while to get to grips with, he has done an astonishing one-day job this summer and can be proud of his progress.

So while we are off the top of the group, we control our own destiny. The Northamptonshire game, against a side just below us in the table, is a biggie, but we also play Lancashire and Leicestershire, the bottom two in the group.

A favourable finish, but most of us have seen Derbyshire stumble against sides that should be beaten.

Two wins from three will do it and a repeat of the recent win against Lancashire, on Wednesday, will send us into next weekend in fine fettle.

One final point...has there ever been a bigger weekend, finals excepted, in our history? Durham in the T20 on Friday, Northamptonshire on Sunday in the RLODC, then Leicestershire in the same competition on Monday.

Keep them calm and keep them focused John.

If they produce their best, they can do this.

Cork back in consultancy role

Interesting news breaking today in that club legend Dominic Cork is with the side at Welbeck for the game against Nottinghamshire.

Cork will be working under John Sadler on an occasional consultancy basis over the next few weeks and, of course, brings a lot of experience with him into the role. Not to mention his expertise and personality, which brought a never-say-die attitude into the Derbyshire dressing room of the time and makes him one of the most listenable commentators and experts on television.

No problem whatsoever on on this one, as long as Sadler gets to make the decisions and calls on Cork and anyone else required for advice, as and when required.

It is, in fact a sound move and having someone of such reputation, both on and off the pitch, involved in the club is good thinking.

We have got to an exciting position in both one-day competitions and any little extra that we can bring in to get a few per cent more from the players and team can only be seen as a positive and worthwhile move.

Thumbs up from me.

More match tickets available - Northamptonshire v Derbyshire

Adam has been winning a few competitions lately and this time has two tickets for the RLODC match at Northampton next Sunday available, that he cannot use.

First person to mail me with their address details can get them, free of charge.

Thanks again to Adam for getting in touch and next time you are doing the lottery, drop me a note of your numbers, mate!

Update - now gone...

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Knight and Elstone released by Derbyshire

The news of the release of young cricketers is always sad, because it is seen by many as the end of a potential career in the first-class game.

It isn't always so and there are plenty of players who were originally released by their counties, only to prove them wrong and go on to long careers. Colin Tunnicliffe and Tony Borrington were two such players at Derbyshire who spring immediately to mind, while Paul Taylor and Wayne White forged good county careers elsewhere.

Scott Elstone played a few good knocks for the county in both one and four-day cricket, the highlight being a last day century against Glamorgan last summer, albeit when the game was in its dying throes. He could score quickly but was vulnerable early at top level, which often proved his undoing. He will, however, be remembered as one of the best three outfielders I have seen in Derbyshire colours, which in almost fifty years is quite an accolade.

The case for Tom Knight is nowhere near so clear cut.

Let's keep in mind that at the age of 19 he was the best young spinner in England, taking wickets in the under-19 national side and looking to be on the verge of something special. He worked hard on his fielding, having come into the side as a schoolboy carrying puppy fat and became one of the best in the club. He worked impressively on his batting, to the extent that over the two summers prior to this one, he passed a thousand runs in the second team in all matches. He scored quickly too and translated that into the first team on occasion. Few will forget his assault on David Willey in 2014, striking the now-England man for three successive sixes on his way to 44 from 18 balls. He averaged mid-twenties with the bat, at a strike rate of 137, impressive for one who only got in during the closing overs.

Then there is his bowling.

Tom bowled at fair pace for a spinner and fizzed it in. He was hard to get away and in one-day cricket he took key scalps. Adam Voges of Nottinghamshire on his debut, Ian Blackwell in his second game, Solanki, Kervezee and Shakib in his fourth. Then there was Collingwood, Stokes and Smith of Durham in a forty-over game. Things were going well in the short formats, the bowler going for only seven an over on average. In short, he looked the business.

When Graeme Welch and Ant Botha came in, it was felt that he needed his action 'deconstructed' to help him to bowl sides out in the longer game. A laudable concept, if it worked, though many felt that, with limited over cricket being increasingly important, Knight could have become the Derbyshire Steven Parry, firing it in, keeping it tight, reaping the rewards. With his batting and fielding, he would have been a heck of a player.

He still might, but to watch him over the last two summers, as I did, was worrying. His smooth action, the result of a number of years of muscle memory, had gone and while the new look was, in fairness, more classical and aesthetically pleasing, everything was seemingly in a different place and there was no run up. As a result, Knight could no longer control line and length. He didn't even bowl in league cricket and this year in the seconds, strangely, batted at seven or eight, despite rarely being asked to bowl and being a leading batsman for the previous two summers. For me, the writing was on the wall.

Now, he finds himself released and I think he has been hard done by. The club coaches have done good work in many areas, but the previous regime made an unholy mess of Tom's fledgling career. According to good, experienced coaches that I have spoken to, small tweaks are required at times, things that then enable bowlers to work things out themselves. Yet to pretty much change EVERYTHING on a bowler runs a monumental risk of failure, especially when he is not doing badly to start with. If you are trying to remember where your feet, hips, head, shoulders and hand should be as you run in, letting go of the ball is something of an afterthought, with a nigh-inevitable consequence.

It is deeply disappointing, yet the key to it all is how the player reacts to it. I'd like to see him go back to basics, bowl as he always did and get back into league cricket next summer, maybe minor counties, and force a way back. He is young enough to do so at 23 and if it turns out that opportunity knocks elsewhere, so be it. If he recovers his old bowling style, there's a very fine young all-rounder waiting to be signed by someone. I have said over the past few seasons that Tom reminds me of Ian Blackwell and if he had 'only' got to that standard we wouldn't have complained. He still might, with the right attitude and the right coach.

One thing is for sure though. A county that, with justification, prides itself on its development and treatment of young players has badly let down one of its most talented. At a time when decent spinners are as rare as a steak on a broken cooker, we completely messed up one half of a young and exciting spin bowling duo.

Nothing to be proud of there, whatsoever.

Derbyshire video footage

I've had an enquiry from Jonathan, who is wanting to be put in contact with anyone who has video footage of Derbyshire cricket matches of the past that they would be happy to share/copy.

If you can help him with anything, please drop me an email and I will put you in touch.

Last copies of Edwin Smith book available

I have unexpectedly managed to acquire half a dozen copies of the Edwin Smith biography that I wrote last year, the very last copies of the book that will be available.

If you are interested in one, either mail me at the usual address that you will find on the left hand side of the blog as you scroll down, or go on to ebay, search under 'Edwin Smith cricket book' and order it from there.

The book is £14 plus £2.80 post and packing. Once these are gone, that's it!

In other news, I will be at the Leicestershire RLODC game a week on Monday, selling and signing copies of my latest post-war history of the club 'In Their Own Words: Derbyshire Cricketers in Conversation'.

There's a lovely review of the launch event at Chesterfield on the publisher's website and I am extremely grateful for a succession of favourable reviews for the new book, just as I was with last year's book on Edwin. With such a stellar cast of former and current heroes, it is hopefully both a funny and informative book that you will enjoy reading and will want to go back to.

I hope that you will take advantage of my flying visit a week on Monday to come and say hello, as well as to buy a copy of a book that should keep you warm and interested in the club over the winter months.

More in due course, but thanks for your continued interest!

Nottinghamshire v Derbyshire RLODC

My biggest wish, ahead of this game, is that the real Derbyshire turn up.

We didn't for the T20 game at Derby a few weeks back and produced one of our more limp efforts of an increasingly encouraging season. A good barometer of the side's form is the interest in this blog and yesterday saw 2,500 visits to it. So...

We did well last night against a good Worcestershire side that play excellent one-day cricket. With the right winter recruitment we can push on next year and if we can emerge from two tough groups to the knock out stages of either one-day trophy we will have done very well indeed.

Tomorrow's game is one I would have loved to attend but domestic needs dictate otherwise, so I must follow from afar. While Derby is more intimate than most, there is something cosy, fun and typically English about a game at an out ground and the Welbeck Colliery venue looks quite splendid, from what I have seen.

There will be some tough decisions in the selection, with Ben Slater's form, with centuries in the last two List A matches he has played, pushing him for a recall. Were he to come in to the side, it would have to be at the expense of Neil Broom on current form, but the Kiwi's record suggests that when he strikes top nick he could be a destructive asset. Do you pick a young lad in good touch or an experienced player who might only be an innings away from it?

For what its worth, I would reward Slater and go with:

Hughes (C)
Hughes (A)

Mind you, if Wes Durston is fit to play, the selection process gets ever more complicated! Another sign of a side playing good cricket...

Nottinghamshire have a strong side and will start favourites in a competition where they racked up 400 in the first half of the season. Dan Christian has proved a solid overseas player for them and their side needs no introduction, whichever eleven takes the field. Our best chance will still be in chasing a total, despite last night's excellent effort.

Two wins from our last four games should take us through to the knock out stage of the competition and there is talent enough in this squad to do that.

Tomorrow will be the toughest of those games, but we have shown we can match some very good sides this season.

I hope tomorrow is no exception.

Andy Carter leaves

The news of Andy Carter's departure from Derbyshire, announced today, doesn't come as a surprise.

The player signed a two-year deal at the 3aaa County Ground and I had high hopes that, despite a career blighted by injury, he would be a competent replacement for Mark Footitt. Nowhere near the pace, of course, but hostile enough to be awkward and, based on his efforts for Glamorgan and Nottinghamshire last year, felt he could be a leader of the attack.

The truth is that he wasn't. I just got the impression that he was bowling differently and the new regulations on the toss didn't help him. Nor did they help Luke Fletcher, an old sparring partner across the East Midlands, when they briefly teamed up at the start of the season. Neither took many wickets, nor, truth be told, did they really look like doing so on wickets that were far too much in the batsman's favour for any meaningful cricket to be played.

Six wickets in four matches at an average of 73 in the first-class game. There were too many 'four balls' and he seemed some way removed from his best. He clumped away merrily as a tail end batsman, but that was always a bonus and the core need of the team wasn't fulfilled as many of us had hoped. At 27, playing in the second team was no more use to Carter than it was for the club and merely replicated last year when we had Jon Clare and David Wainwright in the second team. Their salary dictated that they should - needed to be - in the first eleven, but performances required otherwise and so it was with Carter.

The Derby Telegraph reported that he wanted to play red ball cricket and that prompted a fall out with John Sadler. The truth is that selection for any senior team has to be performance-based and Carter's returns in neither first nor second team made a strong case for inclusion on merit.

He did better in the one-day competitions, but again not well enough to suggest him an automatic pick in the side. Supporters felt we would get as much, quite likely more, from Ben Cotton or Tony Palladino and the emergence of Will Davis in recent weeks suggested that Carter would struggle for a first-team place next year, even before the club embarked on winter strengthening that may include an overseas bowler.

In short, it was a good idea that didn't work out for player or county and the parting of ways, a year early, is best for both.

I wish Andy well in future pursuits, whether that is inside or outside the game.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Derbyshire v Worcestershire T20

Derbyshire 192-5 (Rutherford 64, Madsen 50 not)

Worcestershire 163 (D'Oliveira 44, Critchley 3-36, Cotton 2-24, Thakor 2-29)

Derbyshire won by 29 runs

Well done lads!

A stirring win tonight - batting first - saw us enter the last round of matches next week within touching distance of the knockout stage.

IF we beat Durham at the Riverside and Lancashire beat Warwickshire at Old Trafford, we will qualify. Alternatively, if we win and Northamptonshire beat Yorkshire at Wantage Road, it will come down to net run rate. The bottom line is we need to do our stuff and let the rest take care of itself.

They couldn't have done more tonight. It is important to take advantage of the Power play and we did, thanks to Hamish Rutherford's early assault. His innings was well-paced and quick enough to see us to 128 in the fourteenth over when he was out.

At that point we could have imploded and been rolled over for 160, but Wayne Madsen nursed the closing overs beautifully and reached fifty in the final over.  Jimmy Neesham played another brisk and important cameo, while Shiv Thakor hit one of the three balls he faced for six, to take us to an impressive 192.

It was good to see Ben Cotton back in the starting eleven in this competition and he led the attack to fulfil the other need of this format - taking early wickets. The first three were back in the pavilion before the end of the Powerplay, by which time Derbyshire were firm favourites and the visitors on the back foot.

There appeared a slight wobble when Ross Whiteley joined Brett D'Oliveira and they added 38 in three overs, but brave and inspired captaincy saw Wes Durston bring Matt Critchley on and he removed the former Derbyshire man. Two overs later, Matt took the scalps of D'Oliveira and Ben Cox in successive balls after taking a little stick and it was effectively all over. Three for 36 was another fine effort by the young leg spinner, as was the continued discipline by the side in the field, conceding only seven extras.

The whole attack did well. Neesham and Cotton did well at the top of the innings, Alex Hughes bowled his usual tight spell in the middle, while Wes nicked in with the wicket of his opposite number, Mitchell, one of three catches for Chesney Hughes.

It was a good effort and showed sound thought processes and execution. Too often we have over-reached and lost too many wickets up top, yet tonight the innings was well placed and the catches were held.

Whatever happens next week, supporters must realise there's been an improvement in our T20 disciplines this year. Graeme Welch and John Sadler did excellent work over the winter and the genial Sadler deserves every credit for inspiring some excellent cricket from his young side since he took over.

Nottinghamshire at Welbeck Colliery on Sunday, then Lancashire at Derby, both in the RLODC. Then that big game at the Riverside. It is a long time since we were in such a healthy position in the one-day game and I hope you all enjoy it, like I am.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and especially comments of those who were there tonight.

Come on you Falcons!

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Derbyshire v Worcestershire T20 preview

Just a short preview from me tonight, after another long and hectic day that started at 5am.

I'm not convinced that winning the last two games in this competition by a gazillion runs would see us qualify, but win them we must, if only to make it our best T20 summer in a long time. We would have perhaps made it through to the knock outs, if we'd finished on the right side of too many close finishes, but we are getting there. Slowly but surely.

The great thing is that pretty much any side COULD qualify except Lancashire, whose chances are slightly less than that of Lord Lucan riding into the ground on Shergar tomorrow night...

John Sadler has named the following squad for the game, which largely equates to anyone fit enough to play and will likely result in a largely unchanged side:

Wes Durston
Billy Godleman
Ben Slater
Chesney Hughes
Hamish Rutherford
Wayne Madsen
Neil Broom
Jimmy Neesham
Shiv Thakor
Alex Hughes
Harvey Hosein
Matt Critchley
Tony Palladino
Ben Cotton
Will Davis

I don't see much change from the usual side, except Ben Cotton, or perhaps Tony Palladino for the missing Andy Carter.

The visitors haven't named their side but have some real talent in there. They have missed Mitchell Santner this year after his broken finger but will be a stern test.

And yet we have beaten them twice recently and can do again.

If we win the toss and bowl, I will fancy our chances.

What do you think?

Keeper role crucial to continued county development

The retirement of Tom Poynton has left one very obvious area for Derbyshire to strengthen in the coming winter.

For me, recruiting a wicket-keeper who can bat high in the order is important, as it is no longer a case that high quality glove work alone is enough, In days gone by, the likes of Bob Taylor and Harry Elliott offered exemplary service behind the stumps, but rarely did more than chip in with the bat. The role has changed, along with the game itself.

When Derbyshire won the Sunday League in 1990 (Pro 40 was its name, I think, at the time), part of the success was down to Peter Bowler taking the wicket-keeping gloves, thus allowing the selection of an extra batsman or bowler, depending on conditions. Peter was no wicket-keeper in the finest sense, but did a competent job and it improved the balance of the side.

So will getting the right man now. As I have written previously, I think Harvey Hosein has every chance of being a first-choice wicket-keeper for a long time, but the mental and physical demands of modern first-class cricket mean that any expectation of a 19-year old doing it all season is unrealistic.

Around the current county game, there are, from admittedly very quick research, four wicket-keeper/batsmen of quality whose contracts are up at the summer's end. They are:

Steven Davies - no longer keeping wicket for Surrey, would he like the idea of doing so again and moving back up north? Davies is a fine batsman and kept well up to England level, but his salary will probably be the biggest stumbling block to a move.

Adam Rossington - a very good keeper/batsman from Middlesex, now plying his trade for Northamptonshire. Like Davies, he rarely gets the gloves as Ben Duckett is the preferred option. He could be persuaded, at 23, as there is international potential in a young man who is professional behind the stumps and devastating in front of them. A powerful hitter of the ball, there is much to like.

Phil Mustard - it has already been announced he is leaving Durham as part of a cost-cutting measure, suggesting that he is one of their biggest earners. Whether he is prepared to take a drop to what I assume is a different salary structure is a moot point, but he could be a big signing for Derbyshire, a dynamic batsman and very reliable wicket-keeper. According to the Northern Chronicle, Durham offered him the chance to take up another opportunity now, which would do our RLODC qualification chances no harm, though the player has opted, at this stage, to stay with his home county.

Interestingly, another local newspaper suggests that Yorkshire could pursue him, with Jonny Bairstow seemingly established in the England side. That might open the door for a move for Andy Hodd, who started out at Sussex and has performed very steadily for Yorkshire. Perhaps not as dynamic a batsman as those named above, but probably doesn't need another two years in a second team at the start of his thirties.

There may be others, but they are the obvious ones.  For me, Rossington and Mustard would be the first choice and I would be happy if we ended up with either, another piece in a slowly evolving jigsaw.

What do you think?

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Glamorgan v Derbyshire day 4

Glamorgan 518 and 200-6 (Madsen 2-24)

Derbyshire 177 and 536 (Godleman 106, Critchley 70 not)

Glamorgan won by four wickets

To be fair, which is something I try to be, Derbyshire put up a terrific fight on the last two days of this game.

Another sixty runs would have been a challenge but Jacques Rudolph played the decisive innings for the Welsh side and Derbyshire's fight lasted into the final session. That seemed unlikely after a first innings of some ineptitude and full credit is due to those who battled on.

Today, Billy Godleman recorded another century and set a captain's example, while Matt Critchley confirmed his potential with an unbeaten seventy. The under-use of his leg spin in the game has raised some comment, though the other side of things is why you might expose him to stick when Donald was hitting the ball into the nearest town on the first day.

The beauty of the game was fully exposed today, when Aneurin Donald was out fifth ball after his first innings double century, but Rudolph did what you want your overseas hired hands to do and won them the game with a composed fifty.

Such a player is gold dust to any side, especially from that precious overseas role.

Yet what guarantee is there? I raised a Roger Moore-style quizzical eyebrow today when I saw Imran Tahir had bowled four overs for forty against Somerset for Nottinghamshire. There are few better spinners in the world game, but it is proof, as we found last year with Hashim Amla and Tillakaratne Dilshan, that there are no guarantees in this game. Everyone will have their good days and their bad, the only hope being that in that crucial role you see a lot more of the former.

Next up for Derbyshire is the final home T20 game against Worcestershire. Looking at the table tonight, it would need an unlikely sequence of events for us to qualify, even if we won the last two, but win them we must.

It keeps momentum going ahead of the RLODC game against Nottinghamshire, which is of massive importance to our season. Two wins out of four should see us qualify for the knock out stage.

As far as four-day cricket is concerned, we have a long way to go, but the efforts of the past two days confirmed that we can get there.

IF we cut out the careless efforts of day two, there is something to work on.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

FREE Tickets available for Nottinghamshire v Derbyshire

Adam has kindly got in touch to say that he has two tickets for the Nottinghamshire v  Derbyshire game at Welbeck Colliery going free to a good home.

He is unable to attend himself and so the first person to drop me an email to the usual address, giving your name and address details can get them.

I will pass those details to Adam who will post them out to you.

Ready, steady, GO!

And thanks Adam.

Glamorgan v Derbyshire day 3

Glamorgan 518

Derbyshire 177 and 413-6 (Hughes 122, Madsen 90, Godleman 66 not)

Derbyshire lead by 72 runs

There was a much better effort by Derbyshire in the second innings today, but one that will almost certainly, barring a miracle of biblical proportions tomorrow, result in another four-day defeat.

While there's Billy there is hope, but we have a long way to get to a total that would worry the home side too much on a wicket that has been largely blameless throughout. That, of course, makes our first innings collapse all the more lamentable.

There was another fine century from Chesney Hughes that took him within 200 runs of a thousand in the season for the first time, while Wayne Madsen moved to within 140 of that target before being dismissed on 90. While they were together, hopes of a draw were briefly entertained, but after the partnership ended the procession began.

Billy Godleman had recovered from yesterday's indisposition to bat solidly through to the close, but the departure of Shiv Thakor before the close left Derbyshire with a mountain to climb on the last day.

Disappointingly, both Hamish Rutherford and Neil Broom failed to put on a score of any size and their continued poor returns must be a concern to both. It certainly is for supporters, as we have two players in who the club invested faith and no little money averaging only 27 runs each with the bat.It isn't enough, something that they will be aware of and they need to take us through to to RLODC knock outs now to be deemed anything approximating a success.

Were a four-day side being picked tomorrow night, one of them would almost certainly miss out in favour of Ben Slater. As it stands, the Chesterfield batsman should be given serious consideration for the fifty-over competition, simply based on his stunning form in that format of late.

More from me tomorrow, but I could quite possibly write the report tonight...

Monday, 18 July 2016

Poynton retirement a sad day

The news that broke today confirmed a few whispers that had been dotting around in the past week or so, but still came as a surprise.

Tom Poynton has announced his retirement from first-class cricket after a recurrence of the ankle problem he sustained in the car crash that killed his father, Keith, back in  2014. It will require further surgery and Tom has called time on his cricket career to pursue other interests.

That he returned to the first-class game at all was a major triumph. Doing so to little detriment of his wicket-keeping was most definitely so and Tom, a product of the club's Academy, maintained a consistently high standard behind the stumps, missing little enough to make it newsworthy when one did go down.

He was a wicket-keeper in the best of county traditions and, while consistently steady, was occasionally brilliant, especially standing up. He was my kind of 'keeper, undemonstrative and going about his work with the minimum of fuss. He was also loud and if he sees 'town crier' as a potential future career, there is little doubt that he has the pipes to make a good fist of the job. He was a good pupil to Karl Krikken's teacher and they were similar in vocal prowess, keeping the field on its toes and the bowler's going.

As a batsman he could be a doughty fighter, but was also capable of hitting a long ball and played some good cameos for his club. These were perhaps not frequent enough to confirm him as untouchable in the side, but he played for the team and has always been appreciated by his team mates throughout a ten-year association with the club.

Few will forget that wonderful century he made in partnership with Wayne Madsen at Northampton, when he recorded what was his only career century. Had it not been for the injury, which inevitably set him back and caused him to miss a season, who knows how his batting might have developed?

Most assuredly he will be remembered as one of the game's nice guys. There was always a ready smile, a firm, offered handshake and the steady gaze of a man as interested in you as you were in him. He was as fit as the proverbial butcher's dog and looked that way from first ball to last each day.

That he will make a success of whatever career path he chooses is assured. He will be as meticulous in his preparation for that career as he was about his cricket and I am sure that there will be plenty of options available to him.

What Derbyshire do to replace him is open to conjecture, but is a piece for another day.

For now, all that remains is to wish Tom Poynton the very best for that future career, where I am sure he will continue to pay great attention to the fortunes of his beloved county.

Without doubt, he will make his family proud, just as he always has done.

I wish him the very best in those new ventures, as I am sure you all do.

Thanks for everything, TP.

Glamorgan v Derbyshire day 2

Glamorgan 518 (Davis 7-146)

Derbyshire 177 (Hosein 27 not) and 78-1 (Rutherford 32 not)

Derbyshire trail by 263 runs

Following events as they unfolded at Colwyn Bay today, this was, I think, the lowest point of the season for me. There's one every year - Surrey at home last year was 'it' for 2015 - but this was worse than Leicestershire in the T20, or Nottinghamshire in the same competition.

I can just about handle our getting smacked around at five an over, especially on a small ground with a largely inexperienced attack. What is harder to take is seeing a batting line up that really should have matched that, against an attack no better than ordinary, being dismantled in less than two sessions.

There was more fight in the evening session but by then the damage was done. To have an entire side bowled out for much less than a teenage lad managed for them was a very poor effort indeed.

There are no excuses for such batting, as the line up has the requisite experience. There was at least one dodgy decision, but, with the exception of Harvey Hosein, no one lasted for more than 40 balls. In the absence of Billy Godleman through illness, he went out to open having got his eye in and did a steady job in the second innings, before being caught behind down the leg side.

At this stage, only three men come out of the game with any credit. Hosein does, both for his batting and for only allowing five byes in a total of over 500. It was a good effort by the keeper, who did his long-term credentials no harm.

Tony Palladino bowled steadily, while Will Davis, if a little expensively, showed that we may have discovered a strike bowler with seven wickets in the innings in only his fourth first-class match. Better control will come, but he is quick and gets wickets, a handy combination.

As for the rest?  Very disappointing.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Glamorgan v Derbyshire day 1

Glamorgan 481-8 (Donald 234, Davis 5-123)

v Derbyshire

It was a busy day for me today so I only ducked in and out of the action from Colwyn Bay.

That was pretty much what spectators were doing, as the home side amassed almost 500 runs in the day and the highly talented Aneurin Donald amassed fifteen sixes on his way to a career-best 234.

Warm congratulations go to Will Davis, in completing a first five-wicket haul in the county game, while Tony Palladino bowled with great accuracy in taking 3-65.

The rest won't remember the day with great fondness, but the two young players  - and the supporters - will certainly do so.

More from me tomorrow.

Tea with Walter Goodyear

I took advantage of the home T20 against Lancashire last week to drop in and say hello again to the legend that is Walter Goodyear. For the uninitiated, he was groundsman at Chesterfield between 1932 and 1938, before taking over at Derby, where he remained until 1982.

We speak regularly and have done since the first chat we had that produced a lot of the interview with him in my new book. Walter is now half way down the track for the quick single that will take him to a well-crafted hundred, though I hope he gets there without the need to dive for his crease at the end.

It was, as always, a captivating hour or so. We chatted the weather, his health (not too bad for a man of 99 and counting) and the fact that he had outlived all of his contemporaries. The latter, he admitted is the worst thing about getting old and I fully understood that. The conversation moved easily around his favourite players and best friends in the game, all of them gone now - Stan Worthington, Les Jackson, Denis Smith; Walter has outlived them all, including his only son, David.

It was during our chat that he told me a story that was new to me. One that, despite many conversations over the past two years, he'd never brought up.

We had started to talking about Chesterfield, and the water issue that wrecked the festival week this year.

'It were never like that you know', said Walter. 'When I was there the ground drained well. It always used to run away to the right of the pavilion as you stand in front of it. They need to look at the drainage there, get it sorted.'

He still retains a soft spot for Chesterfield and Queens Park, having been born at nearby Hasland.

'I played for Derbyshire once there, you know?'

I sat up. Presumably in a charity or friendly match?

'No, it were against Yorkshire in 1933 or 1934, I forget which. Len Hutton was twelfth man for them and spent most of the game with me as I was nearest to him in age. He were only sixteen or seventeen at the time.'  [A subsequent check by me showed that to be the case. His memory remains astonishing]

I asked for more. This was new. Nor was it something I could see Neil Godrich being asked to do any time soon.

It turned out that one of the Derbyshire players pulled a muscle and was unable to field for a sizeable part of the game. They were not sufficiently organised to have a twelfth man on the ground, so Walter was quickly found some whites by the other players and fielded at mid on and mid off for a lengthy period. No catches came his way, but he fielded gamely.

'Ah could allus throw' he said. 'I kidded them on that I wasn't paying attention, but if the ball came to me, I was quick to it and got it in flat to Harry Elliott behind the stumps.'

He sat back on his sofa and looked into the middle distance, perhaps seeing again that Chesterfield turf of eighty years before and the legends that played upon it. Then he sat up once more and looked at me.

'Mind you, I still had to do the ground. When the players went off for tea, I had to stay out there, brush and mark it. Aye, they were busy times. They all were.'

I left for the evening game after time that passed far too quickly. Visits with Walter always do, a sure indication of enjoyment and we shook hands and said goodbye for now.

I look forward to my next. When I think back to the many impressive people I have met in my life, Walter Goodyear, legendary groundsman and decorated war hero, is up there near the the top. I don't get fazed nor intimidated by celebrity status, but by any standards he is a very special man.

Long may he remain among us.

Worthy of interest

Browsing idly across t'internet last night, I came across a news article that, for the first time, made me sit up and think 'He'd do us a good job'.

Phil Mustard is being released by Durham.

At 33, Mustard isn't young, but he is still a very good player and the first victim of a very necessary cost-cutting by that county. He has only been playing one-day cricket for his county, but averages in the mid-thirties in List A and T20, scoring his runs at an impressive 137 per hundred balls.

You will all know him, a player capable of giving an innings a lightning-fast start and keeping wicket very well over a number of seasons. Good enough to gain national selection a few times and with two or three good years left in him at least.

If we are perhaps looking at an overseas bowler for another year, strengthening that role with someone who offers runs would more easily enable us to do so. I remain convinced that Harvey Hosein will be a medium to long-term first choice for Derbyshire, but am equally so that at nineteen he is not yet ready for the mental demands of playing all cricket as first choice. Tom Poynton is a good keeper - there is little to choose between them - but perhaps without the scope for developing his batting that Hosein has, once he fills out a little more.

Mustard might just be perfect. Giving us an established, proven player of quality for a few seasons and affording Hosein the opportunity to develop at his own rate. It will all come down to finance and the article suggested that he was not short of offers, but it would work.

Another that I spotted was an excellent player at Northamptonshire, Adam Rossington.

He is out of contract at the end of the season and doesn't always get to keep wicket because of the excellent form of  Ben Duckett. At 23, Rossington, who started out at Middlesex, is very good at both disciplines and would be a wonderful addition to our squad; a powerful, hard-hitting batsman who already has four centuries to his name.

By the same token, the vultures of the county circuit are circling around the talented Duckett and were he to leave, his county would doubtless do all they can to keep Rossington. Their parlous financial situation may make competing with better offers elsewhere problematic though. 

Of the two, my preference would be Rossington, but the interest in both would be high. I have no doubt, however, that we could sell the club to either and relocation wouldn't be the major issue that it might be elsewhere.

Any thoughts?

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Glamorgan v Derbyshire preview

The next game for Derbyshire is one of those that occasionally make me pine for the county of my birth and the greater flexibility it affords to travel to away games were I still down there.

Don't get me wrong, I love Scotland and the fact that I live in a quiet village, surrounded by fields yet within five minutes of a motorway network to most places you would care to go. Having said that, Wales isn't on the doorstep...

So we head to the splendours of Colwyn Bay, for the first time since 1966. It was in that game that Edwin Smith took his 800th county wicket for Derbyshire and Derek Morgan scored reached one thousand runs for the season. He also took seven wickets in the first innings, but we still lost...

Thankfully both Derek and Edwin are still with us and their talents wouldn't have gone amiss in this game. A squad of thirteen has been announced, which is:

Godleman, Rutherford, C Hughes, Madsen, Broom, Slater, Thakor, Hemmings, Critchley, Hosein, Palladino, Davis, Cotton

I couldn't call a final eleven, if I am honest, though Rob Hemmings would appear the most likely to miss out. After his excellent century yesterday, Ben Slater would be most unlucky to do so, with the other person dependent on what the wicket looks like tomorrow.

They face a Glamorgan side who have had a similar season to us - disappointing in four-day cricket but good in the one-day competitions. They have the injured Chris Cooke and Dean Cosker missing, while Tim van der Gugten and Colin Ingram are rested after one-day heroics in recent weeks. Graham Wagg has been in sparkling form for them and will again enjoy playing against his former county.

Their squad:

Mark Wallace, Nick Selman, Will Bragg, Jacques Rudolph (capt.), Aneurin Donald, David Lloyd, Graham Wagg, Craig Meschede, Andrew Salter, Owen Morgan, Michael Hogan, Jack Murphy.

It should make for an enjoyable festival week and would appear to be blessed with a good weather forecast, which wasn't Chesterfield's lot this year.

I think Derbyshire have the firepower to win this one and hope that they mark the change in format with an encouraging performance.

 What do you reckon?

Friday, 15 July 2016

Derbyshire v Sri Lanka A

Derbyshire 281 (Slater 124, Wood 44)

Sri Lanka A 284-3 (de Silva 119)

Sri Lanka A won by 7 wickets with 10 overs to spare.

I can't say too much about this one, as I missed most of it with other commitments.

There was another good century from Ben Slater, who is making as strong a case as he can for inclusion in the one-day game another year. It isn't all about hitting sixes and Ben's beautifully-paced innings gave us a competitive total in a 43-over match.

Tom Wood also gave a good account of himself on his senior debut, before holing out on the boundary in the quest for late runs, while Rob Hemmings late cameo, in which he hit boundaries from the last four balls of the innings, showed that his all round credentials will come to need consideration down the line.

That was as good as it got, though, as the free-scoring Sri Lankan side, several of them with international experience, scored at almost ten an over to win at a canter. The young bowlers all took stick, Milnes, Cork and Critchley going for ten an over and realising, no doubt, in the process, that they have a long way to go to become the finished article.

A good run out for all concerned, though and far better to have such an overseas fixture than some of the anodyne draws of recent vintage.

More from me over the weekend.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Derbyshire v Sri Lanka A

It was a good night last night for Derbyshire.

A professional chase of a target, some good bowling, impressive fielding (Matt Critchley took a good catch, Andy Carter a sharp one, Jimmy Neesham almost a stunning one) and a good vibe around the team and the ground.

There was plenty to see and do in a format which has seen us, broadly speaking, show plenty of improvements this year, in both the overall level of performance and that of key individuals. Credit to all, including the coaching staff, for that.

Yet I have to say, for all that I enjoyed the performance, I drove away from the ground feeling there was something missing, for me. I know it's the future, we need to embrace it, need to be good at it. I watch it on the TV and enjoy it sometimes. That last word is key.

Whether it is the music, the sideshows, the distractions - maybe a combination of them all. I am a traditionalist, but on the ground it is just too 'in your face'. I don't need all the distractions, because the game itself is enough. I don't need batsmen standing like Babe Ruth when the bowler approaches, legs spread wide at the crease, as if awaiting a giant wave on a surf board. Nor do I need to sit behind someone who shouts, though no one listened 'You're bloody rubbish' every time a Derbyshire bowler got hit for four. It's obviously not allowed in his little world.

Truth be told, I don't see myself back. My last T20 was with my Dad, several years ago. It was us against Yorkshire and the hackles were going up on his back as 'gobby' (his words) Yorkshire supporters started mouthing off around us. As soon as the music started he was done, though he might have handled a bit of Tommy Dorsey coming from the speakers. There was none of the raucous stuff last night, but after a break of several seasons, I realised that the format was not for me.

Part of it is down to economics. Why would I drive five hours each way for three hours of cricket? It makes no sense on that level and even less so when the 'vibe' isn't my bag, baby. Sorry for the Austin Powers moment there...

I'll follow from afar, as one perforce has to do when 300 miles from the ground - but wish them well, as always.

Tomorrow sees a largely second team play Sri Lanka A, who must be fairly average if their national side is much to go by. The squad is:

Wes Durston
Ben Slater
Alex Hughes
Charlie MacDonnell
Tom Wood
Matt Critchley
Rob Hemmings
Harvey Hosein
Greg Cork
Tom Milnes
Ben Cotton
Andy Carter

For me, the main interest in the game is the performance of young batsmen Charlie MacDonnell and Tom Wood. Both have been scoring heavily in the second team and indeed all summer, for Durham MCCU and the Unicorns respectively.

I suspect that one, perhaps both of them may have a chance of a contract for next year, though much will depend on how we use our limited resources for squad strengthening. Both seem talented enough to make it at top level and have the crucial ability to play the long innings in four-day cricket, as well as the ability to hit it hard and often in the T20 format.

Which takes me neatly back to where I started.

Good luck to all of them. I hope they do well

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Derbyshire v Lancashire T20

Lancashire 167-9 (Neesham 4-35, Petersen 79)

Derbyshire 170-4 (Rutherford 47, Durston 51)

Derbyshire won by six wickets

Tonight saw a good all round performance by Derbyshire in front of a good crowd and on a pleasant evening when the beer sales and those for fish and chips must have made for many smiling faces.

There was plenty going on and Derbyshire looked up for completing the double over the reigning champions as they went on the field. The early overs suggested a tough night, the cause not being helped by one horrendous fielding mix up between Harvey Hosein and Andy Carter, which let of Alviro Petersen before he really got going. The ball was skied towards Carter who barely had to move, but Harvey called, Carter moved and the keeper didn't get there. It was an easier catch for the fielder and could have been costly.

The flying start was slowed by a fine spell, yet again, from Matt Critchley. Again he didn't bowl a full allocation, yet only one soaring six from Petersen suggested confidence and two of his colleagues perished on the sweep, misjudging the turn. He is quite a talent, Mr Critchley...

Alex Hughes bowled a tidy spell too, but the visitors came unstuck in the last two overs, the first beautifully bowled by Andy Carter, the second by Jimmy Neesham.

Ten an over would have taken them to 180. They got seven from the two and Neesham kept getting them out in the sort of display one hopes for from an overseas import. I think him the best of the three Kiwis and expect him to be a real player for his country in the years ahead.

Rutherford hit the first ball of the reply for four and then he and Durston outpaced Lancashire on the powerplay. When Hamish sliced a drive, Chesney kept up the pace and there were regular boundaries to keep Derbyshire on track.

Though Wes and Ches departed from successive balls, and Neil Broom failed, Neesham completed a fine all-round game with a composed knock, aided by Wayne Madsen, a very good number six...

After that win, which came with eight balls to spare, we are fifth in the section, with Worcestershire and Durham still to play.

The group is wide open, the dream very much alive, if dependent  on other results.

Good effort lads.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Derbyshire v Lancashire T20

There was a cracking night at Chesterfield Library last night for the launch of my book on Derbyshire 'In Their Own Words'. My sincere thanks to everyone who came along and I hope you enjoyed the cricket chat. The impromptu panel of Edwin Smith, Harold Rhodes, Alan Hill and Keith Mohan raised a lot of laughs with their reminiscences and also made some pointed and worthy comments on the modern game and that of their times. I am grateful to them all.

Golden memories and a terrific evening for the Peakfan mental scrapbook.

The recent rain has put paid to seeing the second team at Denby, though I hope for a little one-day action tomorrow. Tomorrow evening I will be down at Derby for the T20 against Lancashire, the first of three games that John Sadler has admitted we have to win. Without doubt that is the case and even that may not be enough now.

Lack of nous cost us on Sunday. Irrespective of who is bowling, most batting sides would fancy 16 off two overs and naivety cost us. Experienced men will go for an early over boundary to ease the pressure, then take singles to coast it. That we lost four wickets in those two overs and only finished one short with a last ball six was disappointing and on such small margins are success and failure judged.

Tomorrow's side is unlikely to show too many changes, as it is the best that we have available. Greater experience will aid that and we have run good teams closer this summer than before. The next step, with the addition of the right personnel over the winter, is to start to edge these last ball and last over finishes. Five per cent more, perhaps not even that, is what is required and where we need to work over the winter.

The game is unlikely to go like the one at Old Trafford, where we annhilated them pre-Guptill. Although he has come and gone, in Jos Buttler and Alviro Petersen they have had a dynamic and dangerous opening pair who can put them out of sight in the opening overs. Buttler misses out with a broken thumb, however and they name the following squad:

Steven Croft (Captain), Karl Brown, Nathan Buck, Jordan Clark, George Edwards, Arron Lilley, Liam Livingstone, Saqib Mahmood, Tom Moores (W), Stephen Parry, Alviro Petersen, Luke Procter, Luis Reece.

We need to dig deep on those winter disciplines, use a bit more common sense at times and hope for our share of luck. Then we might, just might, beat Lancashire.

Oh...and we need to win the toss and bowl. Improves our chances considerably, but you know that...

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Derbyshire v Yorkshire T20

Yorkshire 166-6  (Williamson 65, Durston 2-17)

Derbyshire 165-8 (Rutherford 44, Broom 37, Hughes 35)

Yorkshire won by one run

I can't say too much about today's game, as I was following the game on Twitter as I stopped en route down here. When I saw the result of the toss, I thought we had a chance and after Yorkshire got off to a flier I was pleased to see we had kept them to 166 - one we had a chance with.

The early loss of Wes seems to knock us back and  although the Kiwis did OK again, we never seemed to be ahead of the game and we needed someone to play the match-winning innings that didn't materialise.

Two sixes for Chesney that took us past 150 with two overs to go should have seen us win. Seventeen off two overs with six wickets in hand really should see a batting side win, but Willey and Rafiq bowled tight overs and we ended one short, despite Matt Critchley's last-ball six.

One small criticism from a distant supporter perspective - the end of the game wasn't well covered on Twitter. We knew it was 13 off the over, and that we lost a wicket to the third and fifth balls from the tweets, but the score wasn't given until the end of the innings and Critchley's six wasn't mentioned.

Room for improvement there. Same as with the team, really. We ran a very good side as close as you can get - but at the end of it all, it counted for nothing, points-wise.

Lancashire on Wednesday is last-chance saloon now - and there is no margin for error now.

I look forward to your observations on the game and hope to see a few people on Wednesday.

Postscript - please do try and come along to Chesterfield Library tomorrow night for the launch of my book 'In Their Own Words.' Tickets are still available and can be reserved by calling 01629 533400.

Some fine names are in attendance and a good night should be had by all.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Derbyshire v Yorkshire T20 preview and...

Once again, it is telling that a poor display brings forth more comments and mails than any encouraging one ever can.

We have had two bad displays in the T20 now, sadly both against local rivals. We have to expect that, with a young side, but on each display it was the greater experience of the batting that let us down. If you lose three or four wickets in the Powerplay it is always tough to catch up later in the innings, as rebuilding is necessary. Batting second we have paced some good innings, but if I was skippering any side against us at present I would ask us to bat, stand back and await results.

We shouldn't ignore that it is such a tough group though. The irony of having our stronger suit in the one day game is that the section hosts big, successful clubs like Lancashire, Yorkshire, Warwickshire, Nottinghamshire and Durham, an exciting young side in Worcestershire, a proven one-day side in Northamptonshire and a very experienced one in Leicestershire.

Clint McKay at Leicestershire is exactly the sort of bowler we need for next year. An experienced man you can toss the ball to and know he will deliver, like Charl Langeveldt and Michael Holding once did for us. Where we find such a bowler I don't know, but Paul's comments, below last night's piece, are in tune with my thoughts.

For another year we need an overseas who wins matches, as only at Old Trafford so far has one of our Kiwis really delivered. They have done OK, but with respect, you don't need to go to New Zealand for 'OK'.

I still maintain that the season has seen progress in a young squad, but it will, perforce, be slow, as young players rarely burst like meteors. Or if they do, they get signed by Nottinghamshire...

I was amused by Doug's last post, which reminded me a little of Monty Python's Life of Brian and the 'What have the Romans done for us' scene.

'The only improvements I can see is more consistent scoring at the top of the order. How much has the placid wickets got to do with that? Improvement in Thakor's performance, Cotton showing a little bit of improvement and early promise from Davis . Just about everything else is going backwards.'

 I don't think that's too bad! Nor have Palladino or Madsen gone backwards, Chesney has improved, Billy has been solid, Critchley and Alex Hughes have offered some fine one-day efforts. We'll agree to disagree, but that's not a bad season's work and we are still top of the RLODC section and two more wins, as Paul says, would see us qualify.

I agree with Paul that we need a good batsman (for T20) a spinner and an experienced seamer for next year. I'd add in a good wicket-keeper batsman, as I personally think asking Harvey Hosein to be first choice keeper at 19 is too big a question. Tom Poynton is a good cricketer, but we need more runs from the position.

I have ideas for some of them, but that's for another piece....

Yorkshire tomorrow will be tough. My short prediction is that we can give them a game if we win the toss and chase, but will otherwise be beaten unless someone produces something special.

Their squad:

Tim Bresnan, Ben Coad, Andrew Hodd (wicketkeeper), Jack Leaning, Alex Lees (Captain), Adam Lyth, Steven Patterson, Liam Plunkett, Azeem Rafiq, Adil Rashid, Will Rhodes, David Willey, Kane Williamson.

No Ballance, Root and Bairstow, so things are looking up!

Ours? Much the same, I would reckon, unless Ben Cotton or Andy Carter are fit to play. IF Nottinghamshire do us a favour this afternoon and beat Worcestershire, it makes our next four games against Yorkshire, Lancashire, Worcestershire and Durham huge. Our destiny still lies in our own hands and fourth place in the group is still a possibility against teams around us in the table and jostling for position.

It will come down to net run rate in the end.

Right Wes...dig out that two-headed coin and hope the opposition call tails...

Friday, 8 July 2016

Leicestershire v Derbyshire T20

Derbyshire 158 all out (Broom 59, Neesham 45)

Leicestershire 164-1 (Pettini 71 not, Cosgrove 52, Delport 38 not)

Leicestershire won by nine wickets

A somewhat limp effort from Derbyshire tonight threw their hopes of T20 qualification into the bin marked 'unlikely', with tough games against Yorkshire (aka England B) and a much-improved Lancashire in the next five days.

While we have played a better quality of cricket this year in the competition, it is beyond doubt that we chase a total a heck of a lot better than we set one. We don't handle the Powerplay well batting first and the mentality, with a long batting order, seems to be 'if I get out, someone will get the runs'.

Except it hasn't worked that way. While Neil Broom and Jimmy Neesham played good knocks tonight, neither was sufficient to suggest that we were anywhere close to a total that we could defend. Partnerships win these games and there simply wasn't one of sufficient longevity.

Fair play to the home side. They bowled cannily and their batsmen simply destroyed our young attack on the night, in a total reversal of the game at the 3aaa County Ground.

It makes Sunday against Yorkshire a huge game and one where we need to do much better to win.

The frustrating thing is that we can - but most likely only if we bat second...

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Leicestershire v Derbyshire T20 preview

Fingers crossed, tomorrow will see a return to cricket and an end to as odd a week as I have had to write on in my time doing the blog. We should call it Watergate...nah, that's been used before...

There is a strong thirteen for the Falcons tomorrow at Leicester, where I expect a tougher level of opposition than we had at Derby for the first game between the two sides. I don't see a change to the team from Worcester, because we have really only had one bad display in this competition, sadly against you-know-who.

The squad:

Hamish Rutherford
Wes Durston
Chesney Hughes
Neil Broom
Wayne Madsen
Ben Slater
Shiv Thakor
Jimmy Neesham
Alex Hughes
Matt Critchley
Harvey Hosein
Tom Milnes
Andy Carter

Leicestershire welcome Farhaan Behardien to their squad, the South African a player of proven ability and experience.

Their side is the opposite of ours - packed with players of experience, though less mobile in the fied because of that. Nonetheless, it is a game we need to win, especially as Sunday sees an international-laden Yorkshire side visit the 3aaa County Ground.

Their squad:

Mark Pettini, Mark Cosgrove, Cameron Delport, Farhaan Behardien, Kevin O’Brien, Paul Horton, Lewis Hill, Michael Burgess, Luke Wells, Neil Dexter, Ben Raine, Clint McKay, Rob Taylor, Jigar Naik

If we produce the intensity of the majority of our performances, we will win. It will be tough and McKay is always a dangerous bowler, but I feel that this Derbyshire side is more than the sum of its parts, thanks to an excellent team spirit that ensures the players roll up their sleeves and battle.

Let's see if I am right tomorrow - meantime, what are your thoughts?

Postscript - a draw for the seconds in a good game against Worcestershire today, with Wes taking five wickets in the second innings.

Warm congratulations to Tom Wood, who recorded a double century and must have made a few people sit up and think. A 22-year old local lad who can play aggressively or with more restraint.

There's a lot to like about that sort of player...

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Match abandoned and time to move on

I think we have now exhausted the comments on the rain-ruined week at Chesterfield, folks.

At the end of the day, this wasn't an error by anyone. No one decided to water the outfield on Saturday, then went away home and left a hose pipe running overnight. No one drove a tractor across a good length and left big ruts in the wicket. No one wanted a day of serious, torrential rain on Saturday.

That's what happened.

This isn't the first game of cricket to be washed out, nor will it be the last. Frustrating? Of course it is. Dozens, hundreds of people look forward to Chesterfield Festival, just as they have over the years, just as they have done around the country, at places like Cheltenham, Arundel, Guildford, Scarborough and Horsham.

Watching cricket at these grounds is one of life's great pleasures, with the players close, the facilities quaint and charming, the surroundings a visual treat. An international ground, or developed ground, can never capture that, but offers a greater guarantee if things go wrong and of things not going wrong.

Food preparation is easier, toilet facilities are better, parking is more readily available, congestion is less of a problem, the ground is better protected - the list goes on. The last one, of course, is key here.

Cricket, as we all know, is wholly dependent on the weather. There is little more depressing than a wet cricket ground, nothing more uplifting than a pretty one, with the action unfolding in front of you. Yet there is nothing can be done when the elements conspire against you. Nothing at all.

That it has been sunny at Chesterfield is largely irrelevant. The damage was done on Saturday, when the rain came down in torrents, leaving the outfield with no tolerance to further rain. It happens and I know as well as anyone. The club where I played for the last twenty years had a high water table near the River Forth. So high, that we didn't - more to the point couldn't - arrange a home game before June and sometimes didn't get on until July...

From Creweblade's report from the member meeting, there are an agreed further four years on the festival anyway and I am pleased about that. There is always a risk with such  a venture, but in my opinion, one that is worth taking. It was also confirmed that the game last Sunday and the first two days of this game were insured, common sense and good management. That is also evident in switching the Yorkshire game on Sunday to Derby. You still can't guarantee the weather, but you give yourself a fighting chance.

What we need now is for people to allow it to pass. The spleen has been vented, but neither the cricket club nor council control the climate. Another year may well be blessed, like many in the past, by glorious sunshine and the whole week pass in a blaze of glory.

I hope so, because Derbyshire cricket needs the Chesterfield Festival.

So does the wider game of cricket.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Busy old week next week...

I'll be heading down to God's own county next week, for five days of promotion and cricket. I do hope that you pick up a copy of my new book in the days, weeks and months ahead and next week is a good opportunity to do so.

On Monday I will be heading to Denby to watch the second team for a while, before the launch event at Chesterfield Library in the evening. It starts at 7.30pm and the evening comprises a short talk from me, a chance to ask questions of me and special guests who will be appearing, then a chance to buy the book and get it signed if you wish. No clues on the guests at this stage, as it is not yet finalised, but there will be some club legends involved...

Tickets are £3 and are available from Chesterfield Library by calling 01629 533400. Alternatively, you can pop in and pick one up from the library if you live locally.

Tuesday sees me back at Denby on a quieter day, then looking forward to a game of snooker against the legend (cricket and snooker) that is Edwin Smith in the evening. Perhaps I should rephrase that - looking forward to losing a game of snooker! I am also doing a radio interview in the morning, with High Peak Radio.

Wednesday might see a final mosey down to Denby, but I will be at the 3aaa County Ground later for the T20 against Lancashire. Should be a good night, a big crowd and let's pray for sunshine!

Thursday is another busy day, pretty much from morning till night, with a range of things that I look forward to and a chance to relax for a while too.

Friday? I'm down at Elvaston Cricket Club for an evening with the wonderful Edwin Smith.

I will be talking about the new book, then Edwin and I will chat about his career and answer questions from the audience. It will also be the last chance to pick up a copy of Edwin's biography, with final copies on sale on the night.

It is hoped that the evening will see the only two living men to take a thousand wickets for Derbyshire together again, which will be really special if it happens.

Elvaston Cricket Club is on Stable Drive, Elvaston,  DE72 3EP and tickets for the event are £3, with proceeds going to the club's Defibrillator Appeal Fund. There will be a bar and food available, with the evening starting at 7.30pm.
Tickets are available from the club, or by calling Andy on 07722 485213.
It would be great to see you at some point during the week and if you see me down at one of the grounds, please come and say hello! It's always nice to meet folk and if you can support one of the book launches, so much the better...

Derbyshire v Northamptonshire day 2

No play

No need to go over old ground here, but it looks increasingly likely that the festival will be a wash out, which is such a shame for all concerned.

The club is looking at switching the Sunday T20 against Yorkshire to Derby, which would be a shame but hardly setting a precedent. It makes sense on most levels, unless it rains, of course..

One point on the ground staff and Saturday - there is only so much that they can do on a day when it is raining. Once the ground is as covered as it can be, they have to wait until it relents  to get to work. On the Sunday, as Creweblade points out, when you see the water table so high experienced personnel know that it is a limitation exercise only - and when you have sodden turf, the last thing it needs is people tramping all over it and turning it to mud.

They are experienced, talented people and to suggest that we know better than them is disrespectful. No matter how talented the surgeon, sometimes the patient dies; no matter how good the ground personnel, there's times the show can't go on.

Later tonight I will tell you about my week next week, but for now, a cricket, as opposed to weather observation for you.

At Derby today, Derbyshire seconds started a three-day game against Worcestershire, who have a decent side out with several bowlers of first team experience.

At the close, we are 418-3, Alex Hughes making 118 and Tom Wood, who regulars will know I have been suggesting for a trial, 186 not out.

Jon Tattersall, Charles MacDonell and TomWood. Three very good young batsmen trialing with us and all doing well. MacDonell has had a century and two not outs so far and appears to be a young player of serious potential.

Yet Wood, who has already shown for the Unicorns this summer that he can biff it around against good bowlers, has now proven that he's not just a slogger and might be the best of them all.

I look forward to seeing all of them, hopefully, next Monday and Tuesday at Denby. My book launch week hasn't much first team cricket, but there's much to enjoy in the cricket of the younger lads and I will pop along for a while on at least a part of the first two days.

I'm looking forward to it!

Please let the sun shine...