Friday, 26 May 2017

Random and passing thoughts

My first half an hour free for a couple of days so thought I would pitch in with a few comments.

First up, my wife had eight-hour surgery on Wednesday and is recovering slowly but steadily. The surgical team are happy with progress and she has moved from intensive care to high dependency. She is likely to be in hospital for at least another week, as things stand, but a life-threatening issue appears to have been rectified. Needless to say, my respect and admiration for a wonderful team of surgeons, doctors and nurses knows no bounds and my thanks to them are absolute.

Hopefully I can report on continued progress sometime during the week.

On to cricket and our limited attack took a bit of a pasting, as expected, from Leicestershire. I don't recall a weaker county attack since the early 1970's, when we opened the bowling with the very pedestrian Ian Buxton, in the absence of viable alternatives. Having said that, Ian would have strengthened the attack in this game and was a gutsy cricketer.

The wicket appeared to me a road and I can't think Hardus Viljoen would have got much from it either. When you encounter such tracks, all you can do is grin and bear it, take the punishment when it is dished out and make sure that you cash in yourselves.

That is what Derbyshire has done. While the visitors have, on paper, a stronger attack, there's nowt short of a howitzer will get joy on such a wicket. While cloud and rain will likely truncate the play tomorrow, we should have no fears in such a track and should simply bat ourselves to safety.

Finally from me, I totally agree with Ian's post on the last article. Take the best two bowlers from any attack in the country and it will struggle and my pre-season post saying that we needed luck for success was entirely correct. Hardus Viljoen has remained fit for the past few years in South Africa, but has picked up an injury that rules him out of half of the summer. Meanwhile, Will Davis is also out and our likely impressive opening attack has been ripped apart.You can't blame anyone at the club for this, but they will likely be working on personal fitness plans for the two, much as was developed for Mark Footitt when he encountered such problems.

As for the wicket-keeping role, you pick your best player and do so until he fails to deliver. Daryn Smit kept for 144 overs in this game and conceded not a single bye, despite standing up for a lot of that time. Anyone who has seen him will doubtless agree he is one of the best glove men we have had in many years, much as I expected from reviews of his technique from South Africa.

Against that, arguments for his exclusion in favour of Harvey Hosein can generally only be the result of friendship and family loyalty. No one is clamouring for Tom Wood to play in place of Wayne Madsen, another player at the peak of his game. In any sport you pick your best players and in my opinion Smit is our best keeper, just as Madsen is the focal point of the batting.

He has been steady, if not yet prolific with the bat and set high standards behind the stumps. Harvey has scored some, but in my opinion not enough runs in the second eleven to make a strong case for himself.

Until he does so, or until Smit's standards drop, there is no argument.

With that, I say farewell  for another few days, bar for comments when I have time.

Thanks to the guest contributors for their help and please get in touch if you would like to run a piece.


notoveryet said...

Good news about your wife and I hope she continues to progress well, and that you're all able to get back to normal quickly.

Briefly on today's play, Leics should be kicking themselves. At lunch, they were well set 700 plus in time to declare and put a demoralised team in for a few unpleasant overs before tea. Their impetuousness and frustration after lunch allowed Derbyshire to leave the field with a bit of a spring in their step and this was carried through into their batting. Godleman in particular, but Slater and Thakor too, played with much more discretion and selectiveness than of late, but still managed to score at 4 an over. If they can carry this on tomorrow, and others contribute, there could still be a game on for the last day.

What I really want to comment on, though, is your dismissive comment that arguments in favour of Harvey Hosein can only be the result of friendship and family loyalty. I assume that this is intended to be a personal jibe aimed at specific individuals, and it's for them to take offence on their own behalf if they think it applies to them. For my part, I am not a friend or family member, but believe that Hosein should have been in the team against Worcestershire. It isn't particularly about Hosein v Smit for me - the ability that Hosein showed at the end of last season should be a challenge to several under-performing batsmen.

To focus on Smit, though, he was explicitly brought in as a batsman, and an average of 16 and a top score of 33 is not steady, it's failure. I assume he was intended to replace Broom in the batting order, not in the batting averages. I'll be pleased to be proved wrong as it will benefit Derbyshire to have a successful Smit, but from what I've seen, he's a pedestrian batsman with a limited range of shots and a restricted technique. He is an outstanding slip catcher, and one of the ironies of his keeping wicket in this match is that he wasn't at first slip to catch Cosgrove on 8. As a wicketkeeper, he is outstanding standing up, with very quick hands, but rather stolid standing back, and too reliant on dives rather than feet movement. The question of byes in this match is academic, as the ball so rarely passed the bat, and in any case is less a measure of the wicket-keeper at this level than umpires' unwillingness to call wide. Each of the three wicket-keepers has different strengths to my mind. Hosein is the best all round wicket-keeper, and quite outstanding in using his feet to get into position and maintain a stable platform; Smit is way in front standing-up, and Wilson has greater presence and motivational character, though technically not as good as the other two.

The fact is, though, that we didn't need, don't need, and never intended to have three wicket keepers. Everyone agreed that Wilson and Hosein meant that we were very strong in this position, and it was an accident that we acquired a third, and Smit would have to be a vastly superior wicket-keeper to justify his place if he can't score runs. Wilson's proved he can score runs in English cricket, Hosein has proved that he can score runs in English cricket (and is doing so now in the second team), but Smit hasn't yet. If he does, I'll be delighted because it will be for the good of Derbyshire cricket, but being a great slip-catcher, an adequate wicket-keeper and a serviceable leg-spinner is not enough to keep him in the side if he doesn't.

I've spoken to many people about this situation over the last few days around the County Ground, none of whom as far as I know has any family or personal connection to Harvey Hosein, and most, if not all, share my view that his performances at the end of last year justify first-team opportunities now, particularly in view of Smit's lack of runs. You clearly don't agree on this or my assessment of Smit as a wicket-keeper, but I wouldn't dream of suggesting that you have some personal agenda in doing so. Perhaps you'd give the same credit to those of us who disagree with you.

Peakfan said...

Thanks for the good wishes on my wife, notoveryet.

I have had emails from three people who admit to being friends of or erstwhile team mates of Harvey Hosein. I have met Harvey, who is a lovely lad and is also a very good cricketer. Unlucky too, that his club has two players in front of him for one role. One is the vice-captain, an international player, the other an overseas 'import' with a very good track record over more than a decade.

I have no agenda in my comments and never do, but they were based on the fact that personal friendships do sway judgement. Only a couple of weeks ago, one correspondent suggested a young lad not even on the staff should be in the first team. It happens.

The bottom line is that senior professional cricketers have, according to another contributor's summation of Kim Barnett's comments, agreed that Daryn Smit is the best all round keeper in the club. I will trust their judgement on that (which reinforced that of my own eyes, having seen them all) as people who know the requirements of that role at senior level. For me, going back to my early days of cricket watching, you ALWAYS pick the best keeper for such a key role. A bloke who averages 40 might seem a better option than one averaging 20, but if he misses chances on a fairly regular basis then things are not so clear cut. And that's a general comment, not aimed at HH, DS or GW.

Crucially, looking ahead to the arrival of Imran Tahir, Smit has kept to him many times. I'm not convinced by your argument that he is too reliant on dives standing back, because sometimes wayward bowling leaves no alternative. Nor will I accept that the ball not going past the bat was the reason for no byes. That is when a lesser keeper can 'switch off' and miss the very occasional nick, or stumping chance.

I would love to see Harvey in the first team, but it has to be on merit, not, as I have said before, because he is a local lad who might leave if he isn't picked. If Smit doesn't start scoring runs, the question will be asked if there is a better option and that will be more of an issue if the batting fails as it did against Worcestershire. Yet Harvey HAS to score heavily at second team level, because fifty or sixty isn't making a case. I accept that is hard to do with less frequent games, but that has always been the problem.

Harvey did well at the end of last summer and I hope will do so again, but you don't base selection on previous form. Just ask Tom Taylor and Tom Milnes, who have both had their moments but are struggling at present.

Bottom line - I just want to see eleven players selected who will win us a few games of cricket.

Tim, Chesterfield said...

re HH; given Derbyshire prove repeatedly incapable of playing for the present we might as well plan for the future. Which Smit isn't. And I don't know him or his family.

Delighted to hear your wife is recuperating. My best wishes for that to continue.

Peakfan said...

Thanks Tim. Thing is, lets say HH came in and was brilliant for the next 2 years. What guarantee is there that we could keep him when his contract was up and the big counties came with wads of money? Playing devil's advocate, you could lose him in 2 years yet retain Smit for 5. Or lose them both in 2 years. We just don't know and such is the frustration of professional sport.

Mark said...

No one is really mentioning the credit that the team deserve for yesterdays performance. On the back of a very poor day 1 we took their last 7 wickets for 200 & then scored 150-1. Ok I would not say that we are yet at parity in the game but that was as good an outcome as we could have wished for on day 2. well done boys. You need to do the same again today.

On Smit I agree with notover yet. We invested a reasonable part of our budget on recruiting Reece & Smit to strengthen our batting. If they have red ball averages of below 35 at the end of the season then their recruitment & performances must be judged as failures. At present Reece is on course to justify his recruitment & Smit is not. still early days & things can change.

One other question is whether Snits batting would improve if he was not keeping?

Steve H said...

I've generally left well alone , as you know, Steve, but I think " Notoveryet" 's comments regarding the wicketkeepers ( I wonder if there is a collective noun for them..) is spot on.

Whether someone is a former team mate, friend, relative , lover or spouse, it does not mean they can't be objective and give a measured view.

You mention other players who might not quite have plundered enough second team runs to make a real case for themselves, and I'd agree with you in the main, but one guy in there proved in the last third of last year that he could perform a step higher.

Thus our opinion, our case is not made through loyalty or friendship et al, it is and was made through what we saw.

I haven't any inside line on what might happen down the line, but Derbyshire aren't showing, in my opinion, much foresight, nor indeed much class in their dealings here to date.

Ash said...

Been away for a few days without mobile signal (bliss) my view is that at the back end of last season we didn't have much to shout about, however in Harvey we had a little bit of a shining light, a local lad who came through our academy who looked like he could make a decent career for himself. When we signed Gary Wilson I thought it was very good foresight from the club, Gary could help him along and Harvey would get game time when he was away, but that idea looks to have been put on the back burner, only Derbyshire could go from having no WKs at 1 point to having 3 inside less than a year