Wednesday, 10 August 2016
Madsen awarded richly deserved benefit
Looking back at some of the rewards in the old Derbyshire yearbooks, I used to be staggered at what seemed paltry, single figure amounts for club legends. Of course, in the naivety of youth I had not factored inflation into the equation. For each, a sum of in the single-figure thousands would have been the equivalent of around 40-50K today.
Steve Stubbings was the last man to get a benefit from Derbyshire, in 2008, since when our better players have flitted briefly across the cricketing landscape before opting for pastures new and the opportunity for greater reward. Some have gone for financial reasons, others to win trophies. Few, to be fair, have managed the latter and an uncomfortable number have had only a few years elsewhere before drifting from the first-class game.
The announcement today, of a benefit year for Wayne Madsen in 2017, is one with which few will argue. There will have been opportunities, since he made his Derbyshire bow in 2009, to move elsewhere for greater reward. There are not many players of his quality in the first-class game and his talents will have been coveted. I would struggle to name one who I would take over him in the batting line up and most counties would fancy him somewhere between three and five in the order. Yet throughout he has remained loyal to the club that gave him an opportunity, a commodity so rare in the modern game it should have a carat rating.
With 22 more runs required, he could be the first man in the country to the coveted thousand-run mark. Cynics say it is only against division two bowling, conveniently forgetting that he was one of the country's top run scorers in our ill-fated summer in division one in 2013.
As a captain he was steady, if not spectacular, commanding respect because he was the best batsman, an outstanding figurehead for the club and a man with a word for anyone who cares to say hello. In a team of friendly personalities, he still stands out like a beacon.
When considering someone to write a foreword for my recent book, Wayne was an obvious choice to do it. He accepted immediately, saying it was 'an honour' to do so. The honour was all mine, I can assure you and my gratitude remains.
This year, having relinquished the captaincy, he has had his best summer, averaging 65 and again proving to be the wicket the opposition want more than any other. He has bowled more too, turning in some handy spells in all forms of the game, as well as holding his share of catches around the field.
No doubt there is a busy winter ahead for Wayne Madsen, organising a wide range of events with the assistance of a good team of people. If there is any justice, he would be on an overseas tour too, because he is as technically equipped as any batsman in the country.
Time will tell on that, but for now I am sure you will all join me in congratulating a true Derbyshire great on today's news.
Next year, coincidentally, will be my fiftieth in following Derbyshire. Aside from overseas batsmen and Kim Barnett, I've seen no one better.
May 2017 be especially memorable for you.