Monday, 6 March 2017

A nice outground, a classy spinner and a T20 biffer...

Which sounds like the start of a joke akin to the one I was told earlier this week. A lion, a witch and a wardrobe go into a bar and the barman says 'I'm serving Narnia'...

Anyway, it was nice to see last week that Lancashire are hosting us in the delightful setting of Stanley Park in Blackpool, venue for many fine encounters in the past and hopefully a few more to come. I would have been up for a trip there, except May is perhaps a little bracing and I have already committed most of my holiday allocation.

Blackpool was the setting of one of my favourite Walter Goodyear stories. Tommy Mitchell, a very fine pre-war leg-spinner for the club, was engaged as professional there one September as the season drew to a close. There were a couple of club games to play and the county season had finished, so Tommy went up to do his stuff, which he did famously.

A few weeks later, his wife bumped in to secretary Will Taylor and asked when Tommy might be finished his stint. Mr Taylor didn't have the heart to tell her that it had finished a couple of weeks previously...

That and many more stories from the club's post-war era are in my book 'In Their Own Words: Derbyshire Cricketers in Conversation'. You can get it from all good book stores, or from me. If you want to find out how the county game was for its participants from the 1950s to the present day, and whet your appetite for the forthcoming season, then look no further.

Besides, it will keep yours truly from a state of penury...

Speaking of leg spinners, Imran Tahir's ten overs for just fourteen runs against a pretty good New Zealand batting side were rather special. It shows just how important a good spinner is in the one-day game and how dangerous the leg spin variety can be. Imran is the business and the fact that others are seeing this is evidenced by Nottinghamshire's signing of Ish Sodhi of New Zealand for this year's T20 competition. The local derby could well be a tasty affair!

Thanks for your continued emails and comments. There seems unanimity about a need for a T20 'biffer' in an overseas role, something I am inclined to agree with, though we shouldn't discount the claims of two of our own at the top of the order.

I have seen Luis Reece bat and the lad can really play and score quickly. It isn't all about clearing the ropes, handy as that is, but a player who can time a ball, run hard and find the gaps in that crucial Powerplay is worth his weight in gold. Reece is such a player and although he has somewhat slipped under the radar alongside the bigger signings of the winter, he could prove a very important acquisition.

So too could Tom Wood. I haven't yet had the pleasure of seeing him bat, but his feats for the Unicorns last season suggest a player who can open and give the requisite impetus to the start of the innings. In past seasons we have had Wes and Ches to open in the format, which came off famously on occasion and on others did less well.

They weren't especially good at running between the wickets, as neither was built for speed, but a young pairing with good eyes and a high level of fitness could perhaps surprise a few people, especially when neither is that well known.

Nonetheless, an overseas batsman, ideally one who could bowl an over or two, would be a huge asset.

Let's see if John Wright agrees!

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