Saturday, 11 February 2017

Case for Hughes retention far from compelling

I don't know how many of you follow overseas cricket in the winter, but those who do may have noticed some continued poor form from Chesney Hughes, playing for the Leeward Islands in the West Indian domestic competition.

In twelve innings, the powerful left-hander has made only 289 runs at an average just over twenty and with a highest score of just 54.

Without doubt it is sad to see, as Chesney, at 26, should be at the stage where he has his game worked out right now. Instead, his form, from the last two months of last summer and into the winter back home, has been very poor. Instead of a player coming into his cricketing prime, Chesney appears to be in a premature decline.

It would, I think, be very brave of any county to take a punt on him right now. We all know that at his best he could be an imposing, compelling sight, hitting through the ball and watching it disappear with the power of the great West Indian batsmen of the past.

Yet his good days were becoming more sporadic and Ches-watching on the bad days was painful. The feet didn't move, he looked cumbersome at the crease and could be a liability to his partner with some poor calling and running.

There was considerable criticism of the decision to let him go and the all-encompassing 'couldn't agree terms' phrase was used once more. Was his desire to play back home, rather than stay here and work on his game an issue, or were the financial demands too great?

Who knows, outwith the club, but the reality is that recent suggestions that he could be worth chatting to again, about that Neil Broom position, are unrealistic.

It is also telling that, almost five months after the season ended, he still doesn't have a county for 2017. He may have wanted time to think, but there have been no suggestions of interest from anywhere, which is strange, at the very least.

We will all recall Chesney's good days, when boundaries didn't seem big enough, he held on to blinders in the field or he took someone's wicket with his slow left arm 'darts'.

Based on his winter form, however, I don't see a queue of county coaches building up any time soon for his signature and there is a strong possibility that a player of talent could be lost to the county game, at least for the time being.

Whether he has the appetite to work on the very obvious weaknesses in his game, only he can tell, but to remain a first-class cricketer of any merit, he simply has to. Every player enjoys peaks and suffers troughs of form over a career, but Chesney's trough has gone on a little too long for comfort.

I wish him well, as I am sure you all do.


Anonymous said...

I wasn't bothered about Chesney being released at all. However, good luck to the guy. In other news I see Daryn Smit scored 150* for his franchise team in what I read was his last match for the Dolphins

mh said...

I think you are being a bit unfair to Chesney " on the becoming more sporadic " part he did average in 50 in the county championship last year

Peakfan said...

He did, MH, but how many were scored on flat early season wickets when teams were racking up 5-600?
Batsmen should always cash in on those tracks but the ones who are really special get runs in less favourable conditions too.
For me, talent that he is, he didnt do that often enough and I'm not convinced that it was a breakthrough season for him...might check up on those stats to confirm my feelings!

Huw said...

You could describe Chesney as an enigma, or an unfulfilled talent but realistically he is a player who showed glimpses of being a phenominal player along with glimpses of being an awful player.

Sadly most of his play was somewhere in between and in a side that needs consistency in batting, he was not what Dr Barnett ordered. Yes he had some very impressive scores, but equally he also failed to score well on the same number of occasions.

While we'll never know what went on behind the closed doors of the contract negotiating room, clearly an agreement could not be reached and while it is always sad to see a player of such unbridled talent and such a nice guy to boot too leave, clearly the club felt that there were better value for money options out there or in the squad. I have to agree too, Chesney would not be in my team for the opening championship game and would only be on the fringes of the White ball teams too.

I wish him well and he leaves me with some great memories of him batting and batting big and I would love to see him back and scoring big runs in England, just not against Derbyshire.

Anonymous said...

I think the most important thing for DCCC is that they score big runs consistently.
Ches was never consistent as has been said. Big scores followed by some pretty poor innings.
My view is that, having lost the likes of Durston, Broom, Rutherford, Ches, Elstone and others, we have strengthened the bowling, but we are at least one bat short. Of the current squad, who is capable of coming in and giving the ball a good 'biff' in T20/50 over games?
What happens in the next few weeks could shape our season.

Knack said...

He exasperated Dave Houghton ," ches you can be whatever you want to be ". Unfortunately ches just wants to turn up and have the craic. Potentially a top class 1st class cricketer who prefers club cricket.

Ash said...

So are you thinking that there maybe a signing in the next few weeks Anonymous? Im not so sure, just had a quick jot down on the possible starting XI come April

Anonymous said...

Hi Ash, I'm not over worried, but I think another experienced bat would make us in to a decent side.
This season, Slater, Hughes, Harvey and a few others need to prove their worth to the team. Generally, they have done okay in a losing team. I see 2017 as a season where DCCC have the potential to take 20 wickets, but can they put big scores on the board, and become a winning team?
If we go with what we've got, so be it. If a good seasoned pro comes along and we take a punt, again, so be it.
Looking forward to the weather warming/drying up and getting started.

Anonymous said...

Definitely short of a number 3 bat, who averages consistently well.
As that team stands, it looks and is very vulnerable- perhaps capable of winning some games but not of finishing in the top 3 of Division 2.

Ash said...

Im not 100% on Shiv batting at 3 but the comments coming out of the club seem to suggest he'll be given a run there, I'd of gone with Hughes at 3, after all he played there for a while last season. I think this line up has potential however thinking about it we'll lose Wilson to Ireland and when Tahir comes in for Mendis we are another bat short, added to that the comment above about a big hitter in the 50 over & T20 perhaps we could do with 1 more, would have to be a Kolpak in my eyes though.

Anonymous said...

My staring Xl based on some assumptions re fitness etc is:
Wilson (w/k & vc)

Peakfan said...

Not too far away there Mark, though both Reece and Hosein will be firmly in the mix too.
I don't know why but I still have a gut feeling we may see one more batsman, aside from any t20 recruits.
We could go with what we have but I think we want to make a statement this year and one more experienced bat will improve the chances of doing that

Anonymous said...

I hope so Peakfan. Yes I nearly put Hosein in but I think he will get game time when Wilson is with Ireland. Maybe both will play. However, for me the comments I heard from Godleman about Wilson being vice captain and in the perfect position behind the stumps make me think Wilson is guaranteed to have the gloves so Hosein would be a specialist batsmen only. So it could be Hosein but for me I think they might start with Hughes. Reece is a shout but I perhaps (wrongly or rightly) see him as Slater completion and another option at #3. I am hoping we announce t20 overseas soon. And another kolpak batsmen would suit me. Fingers crossed.

Mark Ford said...

Not posted for a while but I see the site is as busy as ever. Well done Peakfan!. I'm firmly in the ' need another batsman camp' as an early injury leaves us well short.

Gary said...

Do worry looking at that line up about our T20 batting. Barring Madsen and possibly Wilson (after his form with Ireland) I don't see the real power hitters that are potentially game changers.
I don't see any of Slater, Godleman, Thakor, Hughes, Hosein etc being the type of people to win games with the bat in that form based on previous experience

notoveryet said...

I think most of the comments here reflect an unduly harsh reading of Chesney Hughes’ performances for Derbyshire, and a degree of familiarity breeding impatience, simply because he’s been around so long.

It’s easy to forget that he and Ben Slater are close to the same age but comparing their 4 day records for the last two years, Hughes is far superior. From a similar number of innings, Hughes averaged 32 and 54 compared to Slater’s 28 and 28, and made 5 centuries and 13 scores of 50 plus compared to Slater’s 1 and 9. There’s general agreement that Slater is a talent worth persevering with, so it seems a bit perverse for so many to dismiss so easily a player of much the same age who has delivered far more in terms of performance.

It’s also worth reflecting that some of our key players of the last few years were either barely starting or struggling at the same age as Hughes is now. Madsen was just completing his first season at Derby and had a couple of ordinary years to come before he really kicked on in 2012. Godleman was at the end of a season in which many believed his career had hit the buffers. Footitt was languishing in our second XI, while Palladino and Durston were struggling at Essex and Somerset. This shows that patience is often rewarded with players whose early careers are inconsistent, and there’s some irony in welcoming the arrival of Reece while shrugging shoulders at Hughes’ going, despite the fact that Reece is older, less experienced, and with a much poorer recent record.

I think that most of the comments here and elsewhere underestimate Hughes’ performances, and are based on perception rather than statistics. He can look awful on a bad day when he’s in a patch of not moving his feet and getting caught on the crease. He doesn’t fail, though, as often as people think – for example, he was out in single figures the same number of times as Madsen in 2016, though from fewer innings - but his failures stand out more because they tend to come in a run. If you look at failure another way, let’s say scoring less than 30, Hughes (53% of his 4 day innings) failed less often than Godleman (58%) or Slater (67%) in 2016. On this basis, Hughes’ sin was in getting out too often in single figures rather than in the teens or twenties.

The other side of the equation is the conversion of starts into significant innings, and on this basis, Hughes was our most successful main batsmen in 4 day cricket in 2016. In terms of scores of 50 plus, Hughes had 47% of his completed innings, Madsen 42%, Godleman 21%, and Slater 14%. In terms of centuries, Madsen was 27%, Hughes 20%, Godleman 12%, and Slater 7%. Over the last two years, Hughes has been as effective as Godleman, averaging 40.55 to Godleman’s 41.73, with 5 centuries to Godleman’s 6, and both with about a third of their completed innings being 50 or over.

As for the argument that Hughes’ runs were worth less because they were scored on flat pitches where the opposition had already filled their boots, it sets aside the fact that in the same five matches where Hughes scored most of his runs, he averaged 114, compared to Madsen with 53, Godleman 48, Slater 37, Rutherford 35, and Broom 17. If the pitches were so easy as to devalue Hughes’ runs, why did so many other good batsmen fail to cash in on them?

The context of the runs is also significant. He played at least five innings which were decisive or significant in securing draws against Gloucs, Northants, Sussex and Essex when we could easily have folded on the last day as we began to do regularly later in the season, and created the opportunity for a win against Glamorgan when we had fallen so far behind on first innings.

The signs seem clear that the door has closed for him at Derby for whatever reasons, and I’m astonished that no-one else has signed him up yet, but let’s not allow frustration that he hasn’t yet fully fulfilled his talent deny the contribution and value he’s given to Derbyshire.

notoveryet said...

A further quick comment on Mark N's suggested team. I don't really expect or want Matt Critchley to be playing much 4 day cricket. If he's going to develop as a bowler, he needs to bowl plenty of overs, and he isn't going to do that in the first team, especially with Mendis and Tahir here. It's far better for him to be playing second team cricket than fielding or carrying drinks for the first team as he spent so much of last season doing. I'm sure that Kim Barnett is acutely aware of this risk, as he himself might have become a genuine leg-spin talent if he hadn't got into the first team so quickly as a batsman. I assumed that this was why Critchley was given such a long contract, to give him security about his future even if he wasn't in the first team. Ironically, one of the biggest risks to him being given time to develop his bowling is the growing maturity of his batting, and a couple of innings in the second half of the season suggested that he could also compete for a batting place in his own right.

Ash said...

I was definitely in the 'go with what we've got camp' up until I actually wrote names down and permutations (slow day that day at work) Would love an experienced bat who could clear the rooftops, but I suppose every county is looking for the same, we've got another to come in for the T20 but what about the 50 over game? Anybody got any names they want to throw into to hat because I'm at a loss

Peakfan said...

Excellent research and post, Notoveryet. I was not denying his talent but I don't think he had developed.
The stats are fine, but for whatever reasons the people in key roles at the club felt there was a better way to spend his likely salary.
We arent privy to those reasons but I can only say that the frustrations were outweighing the positives. Or he would still be there.

Peakfan said...

Meant to say that you cant compare his average with Slater. Age is irrelevant but he has had twice the innings and you would expect a player to kick on after over 200 knocks in List A and first class cricket

Peakfan said...

I can give you four names. Daryn Smit, who would be available, Darren Bravo, the only West Indian aside from Marlon Samuels you would consider, David Miller and Farhaan Behardien. No idea if last three are in the market for a Kolpak deal, but the type of proven player you would wish for

jasper said...

I don't think slater has the same agent as Chesney..

jasper said...

I think that's a bit harsh on thakor and possibly hughes too..

notoveryet said...

Sorry, Jasper, I didn't include Thakor, Alex Hughes, or Hosein in the comparisons because they didn't play that many innings, not because I don't regard them as main batsmen. Certainly Hosein and possibly Thakor would have beaten Chesney on percentage of scores over 50, but it isn't comparing like with like. Also I said Hughes and Slater were the same age, not the same agents.

jasper said...

Sorry notover just trying to make the point that Chesneys contract was up i think he and his agent had a value of his worth which Derbyshire didnt agree with. The fact that other counties are not exactly clamouring for his services suggests the club may have been right. Overall i have been a fan of ches but the club must evaluate his worth. Personally i think the back problem which has hindered his bowling and possibly his batting too made him less of an attractive option come contract negotiation time.

Peakfan said...

I actually laughed out loud at your comment Jasper, as I got where you were coming from.

I agree with your clarification too, as it happens and you may be close to the mark on that

notoveryet said...

I missed the irony, Jasper, and just thought you'd misread the sentence. Agree with your comments, but you'd think by now there might have been some reappraisal if he does want to stay in county cricket. I know he impressed Glamorgan last year, and they have to replace Mark Wallace's runs, so it might be that his value might go up if it matches their need. Mind you, they also need a wicket-keeper given Cook's injury problems, so Smit might fit their bill even better.

jasper said...

The eyes have not quite gone.. yet! Like you and peak say ches was at times either very good or very bad and it' a shame he may be lost to the game as he was a joy to watch when on song. Maybe Glamorgan will give him another chance let's hope so. Personally i dont think he is now in a strong position to negotiate terms not being with a county so someone might take a punt if the price is right...and ches and his agent are willing!