Sunday, 6 November 2016

Hughes in the wickets

Great news overnight from Australia, where Alex Hughes took five wickets for his club side, including his first-ever hat-trick.

As those of you who have played cricket at any level will know, half the battle in settling into a new club is making contributions immediately and both Alex and his team mate Ben Slater have done that for their club, Kingston Hawthorn.

It augurs well for Derbyshire, as, on a different tack, does the success of the fireworks night at the club last night, which seems to have been a huge success and brought in ten thousand people to the 3aaa County Ground. A lot of these people won't have been before and you never know if seeing the facilities may be a catalyst for some to make return visits in the future. Ideally that would be on a cricket-watching front, but if it generates business for the marquee or other function space, it will all have a positive impact.

As the chairman tweeted last night, we have come a long way since the dark days of 2010, when the level of loss suggested we might struggle to be a sustainable entity in cricketing terms. Constant profits each year since then have shown the county game just how things can be done and have to be done.

All we need now is for that to translate into improved fortunes on the pitch and the signings so far have suggested that might happen. I remain convinced that the likeliest source of our strike bowler will be South Africa, where they appear to be on the verge of a golden period and have a lot of talented players emerging, especially from the ethnic groups.

They are hammering Australia in the first Test in Australia, with a side that is as fifty/fifty as you can get in a black/white eleven. Rabada, Philander and Maharaj are all fine bowlers, while Bavuma is fast-emerging as a batsman of talent.

Their success is encouraging but with Simon Harmer heading to Essex for next season and Colin Ackermann to Leicestershire, it is inevitable that more and more players with the requisite qualifications will look at opportunities elsewhere.

There's always the chance of a disenchanted West Indian, or a player from elsewhere on an English passport, of course, but the level of cricket in South Africa is high and no one could blame any player for seeking to pursue their dream elsewhere, when opportunities are limited.

We'll see.

For now, enjoy the remainder of your weekend.

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