Thursday, 6 April 2017

Weekly round up

Just a day to go until Derbyshire play their first 'proper' game of the summer, though still a pre-season friendly against Loughborough UCCE. Given that they took 500-plus off Leicestershire in their last game and three players scored centuries, I think it unlikely that Derbyshire will take them lightly.

That wicket at Northampton appears to have been the early season feather bed that sullied the start of last year. Such wickets do no one any favours other than batsmen, who build up a tasty season average that perhaps doesn't always reflect their true ability.

As a worthy old Yorkshire cricketer once said, 150 on a flat track will earn you another contract, but 50 when you really have to work for it earns you respect. A liberal scattering of such players, willing to graft when required, will turn any side into a better one.

It is rather what we hope for this season and, as my season preview said, I think we have got them. My only concern at this stage is that Hardus Viljoen, who threatens to be a genuine spearhead for us, has played no cricket back home since January. There has been an unspecified injury, but he will be over next week and we must hope that he is not too ring rusty and ready to roll. If he isn't, we have a little bit of a problem, though I would like to think that might have been mentioned by the club at some point were it a major one.

On to other things, Kim Barnett's assertion that he is ready to step back and hand things over to the players is the kind of thing one would hope for at this stage. We needed someone with Kim's contacts and standing in the game to bring players in and his is a role that should have its primary focus in the winter months, in targeting new recruits and ensuring that the best of current talent is retained.

I liked that John Hancock was rewarded for a good effort against us with a trial. Let's hope that similar process is followed with anyone unattached who does well for Loughborough in the coming days. They seem the strongest of the UCCEs on current showing and should give us a good work out.

Teams or squads will be out later, but ours should be close to that for the championship opener next week, ensuring that all those in the frame spend time in the middle. No Mendis or Viljoen, but opportunities for those who have impressed in the nets to cement a place in the starting eleven.

It can't come soon enough for me and, as Barnett has said, it is all up to the players now. They will stand or fall on their own efforts.

And there can be no excuses, no blame attached to a coach who is picking the wrong side, or not doing his job properly.

Make us proud, gentlemen.

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