Sunday, 30 April 2017

Closing thoughts on a record-breaking day

There have been times - and plenty of them over the years - when I would have laughed, or at least grinned sheepishly, at the suggestion that Derbyshire would chase down a winning total over 300 in a one-day game.

Let's not forget that my first forays of one-day watching with the county came in 1969, when the John Player League started. In those early years, if you got 160 in forty overs, you generally won more than you lost. We didn't often get to those giddy heights, so we lost a few.

Even later, when we had good batsmen, we were prone to collapses and snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. After a partnership, we often collapsed and sometimes limped across the line with seven or eight wickets down, after new batsmen panicked and went for unnecessary shots.

Today, at no point when Billy Godleman and Shiv Thakor got going, did I ever think we would lose. Ben Slater's dismissal was unfortunate, though brilliant fielding, while that of Shiv Thakor was careless. Yet four men down, we had Daryn Smit and Gary Wilson at the crease and they eased to victory with nary a backward glance. There was still Jeevan Mendis and Alex Hughes to come, too. 

We were professional today. Consummately so. Billy Godleman played a captain's knock and he is a gutsy, worthy cricketer. You don't watch him play and talk in such hushed tones as once earned by the likes of David Gower, but Billy has worked out his game, plays the percentage shots and is a proper, professional batsman. You want him on your side in the fight and I liked the way he skippered today. There was a brains trust out there with Smit, Madsen, Wilson and Mendis and the way they set fields and brought it back after the Northamptonshire start was impressive.

Shiv Thakor is special. Very special. I was unsure of him at three, but today he showed himself worthy of the role. His defence was secure, his attacking play brilliant. Once or twice I watched his wristy leg side shots and his off side flashes and was reminded of the great Mohammad Azharuddin. A bold comparison, but today a worthy one. His closing overs too were outstanding, bowling full and cleverly. He will play for England, I'm sure of that.

Ben Cotton also impressed again. Ben isn't an express bowler, but he has a quick ball and gets bounce from his height and a whippy action. He is leaner and fitter this year and bowled superbly throughout the innings on a very good batting wicket.

There was little spin for Jeevan Mendis but again, his variations of pace and flight caused problems. He took stick in one over, but name me a bowler who hasn't and I'll call you a liar...

Tom Taylor and Tom Milnes were the weak points, but their travails were put into context when Buck and Azharullah failed to impress later. Meanwhile, Alex Hughes galloped in manfully and remains a very handy and underrated player.

One final word. I was impressed with Gary Wilson. I liked how he kept wicket, read Mendis and kept the field on their toes. He also gives massive reassurance when he walks in with the bat and was a very shrewd winter signing.

Today was special and I enjoyed every minute. I also enjoyed the company of a lot of people and you all know who you are.

Tomorrow sees a return to the bosom of my family, much as I would love to see the big game on Tuesday. I will follow from afar and be reassured by a lot of what I saw today.

We wouldn't have done that last year, or many others that preceded it. There are weaknesses in the side, but a lot more strengths than we used to have.

Discount Derbyshire at your peril.


David Woolley said...

Hi Peakfan, Performances like yesterday make the cost of membership well worth while.
I thought our batting performance was excellent, just about every player looks comfortable a the moment, with young Slater, in my opinion, in the form of his life. Without the run out, I think he would have gone on to a big score.
Like you, I really rate Alex Hughes. As you say, he galloped in manfully, but as much as this, I feel his big value to the team is his exuberance. He is always talking, running around and generally 'geeing up' his team mates.
Now if only Hardus is fit for tomorrow !!!!

Tim, Chesterfield said...

When, if ever, has a Derbyshire player scored a century and taken three wickets in the same limited overs game?

Paul said...

Tim, I'm not sure but one of the current staff has a double ton and 3 wickets in a first class game.....

In true Derbyshire style, he was on the losing side !

v Leics. May'96.