A nice couple of days off for old Peakfan afford an opportunity for early morning bloggery.
Also time for an early warning, that unless there's anything major happens from this Friday, I am unlikely to blog for around a week or so, as I have scheduled surgery on my hand. If there's anything super-exciting, my lovely daughter has agreed to type it while I dictate, but I don't want to impose too much!
Sod's law is that it will be when players start getting released left, right and centre, of course and conjecture will commence on their likely destinations. For what it is worth, I think that Derbyshire will engage the services of two or three young players of talent from local ranks and will then focus on match-winning players of established reputation. I think that both Charlie McDonnell and Tom Wood have done enough this year to warrant a deal for next season, as has Callum Parkinson. The first two will challenge a likely established line-up in the batting, with Wood likely to prove a real asset in the one-day game especially.
While we don't know the situation regarding Chesney Hughes, a top six of Godleman, Slater, Hughes (A), Madsen, Broom and Thakor should offer runs. Slater has really come onto his game in the second half of the summer, while Neil Broom will surely come good with a season of experience under his belt and time for reflection over the winter.
I'd like to see the recent opportunity offered to Alex Hughes extended. Sometimes such opportunity is all that is required for players to flourish and while I had concerns about his elevation to a role at three, he rose to it against Gloucestershire and has a sound technique to make a very good fist of the role. Kim Barnett started in the middle order and became our greatest-ever batsman at the top, so perhaps Alex could benefit from such a chance. The team would do so, from his effervescent personality, fielding and handy bowling, while a top six of three older heads and three young players has a nice look to it.
Which brings me to that key role at seven.
As I have written before, I expect Harvey Hosein to be our wicket-keeper for years and quite possibly get to international level. His technique is exemplary in both required disciplines, but I think that it is unrealistic for him to be seen as automatic first choice in three formats at the tender age of twenty. A season average of 115 from limited opportunity is impressive, but a career one of 21 is more relevant at present and we urgently need a wicket-keeper who can nurse the tail through to innings recovery as required, or take a game away from the opposition.
Having seen South African Daryn Smit involved with our second team, I am very much of the opinion that he would be the perfect fit for us.
I don't share notoveryet's concern that he might experience the issues encountered by Neil Broom this year, because he has greater experience of our conditions. Indeed, for the last three summers, he has made a case for consideration as one of Ramsbottom's finest-ever professionals, these statistics on a large ground and usually slow wicket:
2014 - Average 61 with bat and 88 wickets at 7.22
2015 - Average 113 with bat and 74 wickets at 8.19
2016 - Average 94 with bat and 25 wickets at 10.92
With plenty of bowling in all forms of the game in South Africa, Smit would be an intriguing option for Derbyshire, as a batsman and wicket-keeper of high quality who could also play as the former, as well as offering handy spin variation if required, while Hosein took the gloves.
I have no idea if we are seriously interested in him, but his appearance in the second team would be otherwise unusual at his stage of career . Someone asked him that very question on Twitter yesterday, but he's not going to say anything ahead of a club statement, one way or another.
I hope there is interest though, because his quality is undeniable. Derbyshire could then play an overseas bowler (please!) and whatever combination of seam and spin they felt appropriate.
I agree with notoveryet that a potential attack of Palladino, Milnes and Davis offers a nice mixture of the talents, with challenge from Ben Cotton and Tom Taylor another summer, though a left-arm presence would be nice for variation. That seems to be recognised, with Greg Cork, Gurjit Sandhu (ex-Middlesex) and Luis Reece (ex-Lancashire), lefties to a man, in the attack for the recent second team game against Nottinghamshire.
Reece is a decent cricketer and looked a good batsman when he opened the innings against us in this year's T20 at Derby, though less so when his one over went to all corners of the ground. That can happen to anyone though, and there's a good cricketer in the lad, perhaps, as I said earlier about Alex Hughes, requiring greater opportunity somewhere than he has had so far. A batting average in the thirties suggests that someone might give him another chance in the first-class game.
An overseas bowler though, someone who could take fifty-plus wickets this season...now that would make a difference, eh?