Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Reasons to be cheerful?

It is funny how big a difference four days makes.

Before the match at Trent Bridge, Derbyshire supporters were resigned to a bit part in a match that seemed set to be the latest in Nottinghamshire's march to promotion glory.

The likelihood is that they will go up as champions, but the reality is that, shorn of their best bowlers, they aren't any better than us. Let's face it, a batting side strong enough to omit a former international captain should have put them out of sight, against a bowling unit led by a young lad of 22 and a nineteen-year old debutant.

Yet they didn't. Tom Taylor and Conor McKerr bowled splendidly and with hostility, backed up by the veteran Tony Palladino and Jeevan Mendis. Their performances enabled Shiv Thakor and Luis Reece to play only bit parts with the ball, crucial when they both bat in the top three.

The captain's innings enabled us to dictate the game and he has flourished in our northern setting. His second innings took him past five hundred runs in the championship, and he and vice-captain Gary Wilson are leading from the front with the bat. Both average over 60 and we can ask little more of either than they are giving.

It's funny, we signed Wilson as a wicket-keeper batsman and Daryn Smit as a batsman and in a roundabout way it has worked. The former has flourished with the bat and is playing as a batting specialist, while Smit's wicket-keeping has been of a world-class standard. Having watched him bat a few times, I remain convinced that the runs to cement his position are not too far away, but his glove work has set a high standard in the field, the number one requirement of anyone in the role.

We haven't yet seen vintage Wayne Madsen and a season average of 30 at this stage is less than normal, yet his batting at Trent Bridge suggested the big innings is not too far away and he remains a joy to watch. His second innings dismissal was to the crudest shot I have seen him play, but the sight of him walking in to bat remains as reassuring a sight as any county supporter could wish for. Distractions of a testimonial year aside, I would still back him to be around the thousand-run mark by the end of the summer.

It is also worth mentioning Jeevan Mendis as his stint with us nears its end. His career batting average suggests him a better batsman than his stint with us has shown, though his preference to 'bat like Afridi' and play his expansive leg side shots with only one hand on the bat haven't helped.

Yet it is some time since a Derbyshire spinner had 24 wickets before the end of the first week in June and the charm of watching a quality leg-spinner remains intact. He isn't as good as Imran Tahir, but few are and he has let no one down on wickets not generally favourable to his kind. And has done it all with a smile that has barely left his face since he got here.

We have the Northamptonshire game this weekend, then have a break of two weeks before the Glamorgan fixture, when the players will doubtless be honing their T20 skills. A two-week break as we approach the longest day of the year is something that still baffles me, but is sadly the way that the game is going.

By the time we head to Cardiff, our bowling ranks should be enhanced by Tahir, Viljoen and Davis. If they stay fit, the second half of the summer should be more rewarding than the first.

Reasons to be cheerful?

Plenty, I reckon.


Anonymous said...

Any reason you keep removing my comments?


Peakfan said...

Hi Neil

Sorry I havent had any from you. Are you sending through the comment box? I get an email for all comments received and havent had yours. Checked the spam folder too and nothing.
Very rarely remove any comments. Please try again and drop a direct email from which I can copy/paste

Ash said...

Plenty of reasons to be positive, however we MUST perform against Northants or the performance wont stand for much, out of curiosity when was the last time we took 20 wickets?

notoveryet said...

Answer to Ash's question. September 2015, Footitt's last match, when we bowled out Leicestershire twice before cravenly bailing out of a run chase with only a handful of runs needed. Before that it was July 2015, when we bowled out Northants twice at Northampton, the last match we won. Maybe an omen?

Interesting that the closest we got to it last year was 19 wickets and 18 wickets, both against Leicestershire. Add Notts, and we're deadly against our neighbours!

Jeff said...

We took 20 against Kent in April


Ash said...

Thanks Jeff! Here was me looking through the archives....... in my defence I got caught up in a comment made on the radio and totally forgot to check the stats from this season, notoveryet - Im still hoping you're right and its some sort of omen for the Norrhants game