Good news today that Derbyshire has secured a three-day friendly against the West Indies next summer, as well as a one-day game against South Africa A.
The West Indies game will be of interest, as the last game for the tourists before the first Test match. It is being held from 11 August, while the game against South Africa A is on Bank Holiday Monday, 29 May.
It is a good chance to see different players in action, though anyone's guess as to who will be involved. Certainly the longer format West Indies bears no resemblance to the very strong T20 side, most of their better players opting for the greater rewards on offer around the globe.
In other news, I've seen suggestions that Derbyshire should have been in for Nathan Buck, who was today announced as a Northamptonshire player and also for Jaik Mickleburgh, who has not been retained by Essex.
I don't see why on either count, to be honest. I'm not sure that Buck, with a dodgy record with injuries, would have been sufficiently better than what we already have. That he can bowl some good spells is undeniable, but he's not played much cricket at Lancashire and his first-class wickets have cost around forty runs each. Similarly, Mickleburgh has played some good innings, but his first-class average is only 28 and I don't think he would be a major improvement on what we already have.
Indeed, of the players I have seen released so far, only Luis Reece of Lancashire would make me consider a punt. A good enough batsman to open the innings, a left-arm seam bowler into the bargain, I think there's a good cricketer in there that a worthwhile coach might turn into something special. He looked a class act when I saw him this summer, outscoring Alviro Petersen, which is no mean feat.
Our greater need, however, is for proven players. We need a seamer and spinner of reputation who will deliver the goods and enable the young players in our squad to develop their games without the additional expectation of being match-winners.
Anything else on top of that will be a bonus, as far as I am concerned.