On a day that we welcome a mid-twenties all-rounder in Luis Reece, we say farewell to one in his mid-thirties, as it has been announced that Wes Durston has been released.
Suffice to say that if Luis gives us similar service to Wes we will have few complaints. Until last season, when he cut a rather sorry figure at the crease and seemed less mobile and less able to pick the ball up, he was one of the finest sights in the game.
One of several astute 'spots' by John Morris, Wes was a near-immediate hit and scattered his magic liberally across the county batting. His golden summer was 2012, when he starred in our championship season and looked a million dollars at times. Once Wes got in, his feet started moving and when the wicket was true, there were few better sights in the game.
It wasn't just the runs that he made, it was the way that he made them. A combination of power and timing that has rarely been bettered, especially in front of the wicket, Wes could make a mockery of any run rate and while he was in, you felt we always had a chance.
Of course, playing as he did was always a percentage game. Wes was an eye player, not necessarily the one with the best technique, but when everything was in synch the ball would crash through the covers as if the fielders weren't there. His cover and straight driving will always be bench marks, though an average of just over thirty confirms his fallibility for when he was a little too gung ho for the match situation and the conditions.
I always saw him as a throwback, perhaps like one of the gentleman amateurs who enlivened the game between the wars. The average was not necessarily at the front of his mind, but entertaining the crowd seemed to be. He could be more circumspect at times, but his chafing at the bit to play those strokes was almost tangible on the boundary edge.
As a bowler he was useful, with an unusual way of imparting spin that was nonetheless effective. There were times he perhaps could have bowled more, especially for a county that often struggled for wickets on dry surfaces. He bowled us to a win or two and held some absolute blinders in the field. Whether at slip or in the deep, Wes had a fine pair of hands and although less fleet of foot in the past couple of summers, remained a man you could rely on.
As a skipper? I was less convinced and although he led from the front with the bat, he tended to veer too far into pinch hitter territory, rather than that of aggressive opening bat. Perhaps that was his way of setting the tone, but his output dropped as a result and tempering the aggression may have brought dividends for both him and the side. I also felt that he under bowled himself as skipper and some match situations may have benefited from even just the change of pace.
Still, seven years, seven and a half thousand runs and 170-plus wickets. There is nothing to be ashamed of in such statistics and at the end of the day Wes Durston entertained. I don't dispute the decision to release him, as we ultimately needed more from a senior player's cost than an aging body was able to offer.
It is the end of the Wes and Ches show, one that enlivened many a one-day match. Derbyshire will move on, hopefully forward and someone will step into the breach and take up the mantle. Yet years from now, when we all look back to these years, plenty will think back to Wes in his pomp and smile.
Thanks Wes. It was, at times, quite magnificent to watch.
Good luck in your future ventures and thanks for many golden memories.