Friday, 7 October 2016

Farewell to Wes Durston

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.


Adam said...

Excellent piece Steve, you are quite right in your description of Wes being a throw back to the old gentleman type player. I think the time was right for both parties to go their separate ways but in what has not been a bright period for Derbyshire in the last few seasons, has certainly been lit up by Wes on occasions. I did not see it but his T20 innings at Trent Bridge in 2010 (111) which I believe is still the highest made against Notts by anyone will live long in the memory.

Luis Reece is a player who potentially has more to offer if he can stay clear of injury. He has flexibility with bat and ball, can open the innings or bat lower down and if he can as previously stated stay clear of injury, offer a left arm option with the ball, which is never a bad thing. The talent is there so lets hope that he can get back on track.

Paul Nixon in his column in The Cricket Paper today noted Derbyshire's new coaching structure and said that he will be following it's development closely. He thought that the first XI support coach role could have been combined with the T20 coach role, only time will tell whether that would have been the better option. He did reiterate that he is keen to coach in this country and I think if those two roles were combined then he would be very interested in the position!

Mark said...

I'll second those comments Peakfan, when Wes got in he got in. A very powerful hitter and someone you always looked forward stepping up to the crease. This last season proved one to many I feel, something was sadly missing, but thanks Wes for some fine seasons.

Roy of the Falcons said...

Sad to see Wes go but the right decision for both parties. I loved to watch Wes bat and fondly remember his 111 at Trent Bridge in 2010 which is our highest T20 score. Wes holds five of our top ten T20 scores along side Bosnan, Guptill, G Smith and Shiv. For the first couple of seasons he seemed to have a golden arm coming on and getting a wicket just when we needed one. As you say he was an entertainer and one of John Morris's canny little signings. Let's hope some of headmaster Kim's class of 2017 can take over some of those top ten spots and with the same flourish. Thanks Wes I can say I really enjoyed watching you play.

Steve H said...

A Cavalier amongst Roundheads at times! Thanks Wes, you entertained, and that's good enough for me.

cuthbert said...

Yes Wes certainly brightened up a few dull days with his batting and his bowling was better than average, at least Yorkshire thought so at Chesterfield in a one dayer. I can only wish him all the best for the future. I for one will miss him and I can't say that about all ex Derbyshire players!

Tim, Chesterfield said...

Sorry to see him go but the time is right. Thanks for your efforts Wes.