I thought I would use a lazy Sunday morning to catch up on correspondence over the past week. Some of the questions suggested that the answers may be of more general interest, so I will put the answers in here.
I remain happy to give my thoughts on a range of Derbyshire cricket-related topics. I don't expect you to agree with all (any?) of them, but they are out there for the world to see!
Do you think that the quarter-final will be a sell-out?
It should be. It deserves to be. It would be a reward for the efforts of the Derbyshire side, which has been quite special this summer in this competition. The side is a work in progress and will continue to be for some time, but it has 'clicked' in this competition. Most of the time...
How come we once had eighteen thousand at Derby as a capacity, but now have much less than that?
Because health and safety legislation has changed, as has the ground. When that number attended the first day of the game against the Australians of 1948, the ground was a large open space, a racecourse. I have no idea how many of the crowd saw much of the match, but it is now an enclosed stadium and the capacity is set at 4999, above which different health and safety criteria come into play.
It is the same at Chesterfield. I was there for the Gillette Cup semi-final of 1969, when the crowd was reportedly 11,000 and packed like sardines. You simply cannot do that today.
Isn't our qualification in the T20 devalued because of 'all the Kolpaks'?
My parentheses. Point of reference: we have ONE Kolpak, Hardus Viljoen. Daryn Smit plays here on an ancestral visa, Wayne Madsen is English-qualified. We have the two permitted overseas players and six English players, four of them coming up through our academy and/or second team.
Personally I think that a good mix.
Wouldn't you sooner have seen an eleven of local Derbyshire-reared players?
In an ideal world, yes, but that is some time off. The days when we could do that (1936) are long gone and we need to catch players early, teach them the right habits and support them as they develop.
I think it will be the 'Qadri generation' where we get closer to that. Their fruition is some time off and, in the mean time, we are doing the right thing in being competitive. While the less knowledgeable will come out with the 'Kolpaks' slur, there is an even greater danger, at a time when the county game is changing, in being the perceived, expendable, weakest link.
How would you strengthen next season?
Wherever we can find players who are better than we have! I think most will accept that we need one seamer of quality at the very least and number three in the batting order has never been filled to satisfaction. Maybe someone will make that their own before the season ends, but they haven't as yet.
As I said before the season, if Davis and Viljoen stayed fit, we'd have a serious attack. They haven't, Tony Palladino isn't getting any younger and none of the others have staked a claim for a regular berth in the side.
With more South Africans reportedly considering a Kolpak deal before the end of the year (when the window is likely to close), would you consider another one?
In a heartbeat. I am plucking names out of the air here, but if one from Morne Morkel, JP Duminy, Chris Morris, Hashim Amla and one or two other rumoured names were desperate to join up with guys they know from back home and live in God's Own County, why would you say no?
As I have said before, good young players will still come through and will thrive in a competitive environment IF THEY ARE GOOD ENOUGH. There are no free meal tickets in life and to get to the standards set by the likes of Madsen, Tahir, Viljoen and Smit you have to work very, very hard.
To eventually replace them, you need to watch them and work with them, listen to their advice and try the things that they advise. Eventually, if you are good enough, your time will come. Some won't make it and the county history is littered with good cricketers who dominated at club and second team level, but couldn't make that final step to first-class. It is the way of things, just as we are not all cut out to be managing director or chief executive of the company.
A question of my own to finish - do you think we would now be looking forward to a quarter-final without that quartet named above?
A little rhetorical, perhaps...
As always, your thoughts are most welcome.