Chesterfield Cricket Festival...
I have had this pencilled into my diary since the fixtures came out and had the holidays booked accordingly. However, several medical appointments for my wife, who is recovering well but cannot yet drive again, mean that my services are needed here. She takes priority, of course and my Chesterfield festival visit must wait another year.
I will be there in spirit, be assured of that.
It should be a jolly old affair, with Derbyshire coming off the back of a stirring win in Wales and likely to feature Imran Tahir for the first time, one assumes alongside Hamidullah Qadri.
Time was, back in 1951, that Edwin Smith, at seventeen, was added to the Derbyshire side for the visit of Worcestershire to put a few 'bums on seats'. A local lad, from Grassmoor, he had played only one match for the senior side and there was little expectation of anything special . Like Qadri, he was fortunate enough to play on a turning track and, in the second innings of the visitors, he took eight wickets for just 21 runs.
Unlike, I hope, our new young star, he was promptly dropped for the next game as injured players returned to the side...
I don't see that happening here, as Hamidullah knows Chesterfield and has already said he has two five-wicket hauls on the ground in club cricket. We all know that cricket is a leveler and the lad, who seems very well adjusted, will be aware that the game is not always like that. He was, however, quick to acknowledge the support of Jeevan Mendis and I am sure that Imran Tahir will be equally helpful, as he will to Matt Critchley, who seems to have temporarily slipped back in the pecking order.
Hamidullah is a bowler in form and full of confidence and we don't have many of them. Tony Palladino and Tahir pick themselves but after that there is no automatic pick. Add Viljoen and Davis to the side, if they were fit and there is a fine attack, but one in which Palladino would be seven in the order.
I firmly believe that the strongest Derbyshire batting side includes Ben Slater, another who knows this wicket well from many years at Chesterfield Cricket Club, but I am unsure where you fit him into the side. Godleman has had a good season, Reece's second innings in Wales was a match-winner, Madsen is indispensable, Wilson the vice-captain and second in the averages.
Perhaps Alex Hughes is most vulnerable, with Slater coming in and perhaps batting three, but that depends on Shiv Thakor's fitness, in which case both may struggle for a place. We have missed the balance that Shiv affords the team and would enable Tony Palladino to have a breather, but I think they will work on having him fit for the T20.
Not easy, this selection lark, is it?
One word before I close. I have been critical of Tom Milnes this summer and his tendency to bowl a boundary ball each over, along with the turning wicket, was a reason for his exclusion from the attack yesterday, along with Tom Taylor, who has a similar, if less severe problem.
Yet the value of Milnes first innings half century cannot be overstated in the analysis of the Derbyshire win. He is the best batsman of the young seam bowlers in the first team squad at the club and there is a decent all-round cricketer in there if someone can help him sort that issue.
Hopefully that is a work in progress.