Saturday, 30 July 2016

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.


Knack said...

Wise words Steve, we have been better this year in the one day game, results show that. Are we there , no, are we heading in the right direction, yes. I agree about Alex Hughes, he has always struck me as a man with a lot of character. Good luck to Jamie Pipe, good at his job but, more importantly, a good man.

Daniel Smith said...

I have to admit to being very disappointed this season. The team has competed but when it comes down to the crunch they always fail. The glimmers of hope are the same we talked about last season, and the season before that. I don't like being so pessimistic but this season has been pretty damn sobering. Not once have I had a feeling of 'Yes, we can do this'.

I do admire you for your optimism and you've been following Derbyshire for a lot longer so I've no idea where it comes from.

On the subject of overseas signings. Do we really need them? Are they value for money? Wouldn't we better off concentrating on building a really good team spirit rather than disrupt it by parachuting in expensive imports who flatter to deceive? It feels that way, probably more so in Somerset I feel.