Wednesday, 23 August 2017

The T20 season review

Thank you to each and every one of you who has contributed to the blog comments over the past day or two, as well as those who made the four thousand visits to the blog yesterday. They have made for fascinating reading and we appear to be in general agreement over the season's T20 as a whole.

There is a saying, in sport and entertainment, that you are only as good as your last appearance. If that were genuinely true, it would overlook a summer in which, for the first time in over a decade, we looked like we could play the short game. To 'escape' from a strong northern group is no mean feat, and as much as 2017 will go down as the year in which we were hammered by 'Boom Boom' it will also, more importantly, be the one in which we reached the knockouts, beating the reigning champions en route, as well as doing the double over Yorkshire. They didn't like that...

There were games in which we batted well, games in which we bowled well. There were not that many where we managed both disciplines equally, which suggests that if we could string that together another year we might be quite special indeed.

Imran Tahir did pretty much all we could have expected from an overseas bowler, taking wickets and bowling tightly more often than not. You have to hide him in the field, but that has always been the case and he would be top of my list for retention another year. He remains box office and his wicket celebration is always an over the top thrill.

The jury is probably out on Matt Henry, a lovely bloke, useful batsman, excellent fielder but too expensive as a bowler to be considered a success. I think he would be worthy of consideration for early season, four-day cricket and the RLODC, but he hasn't yet got the control that we needed from that pivotal overseas seam bowling role. It is a tough gig and there is a limited market, but the second overseas role needs thought for another year.

Indeed, some would argue that a gun bat at the top of the order might have been better for the side's balance, although that was slightly skewed when Shiv Thakor was ruled out of the tournament. My preference would still have been a batsman who can bowl a few overs, in a similar way to Colin Ingram, who has done so well for Glamorgan.

Billy Godleman played a couple of excellent knocks, but struggled either side of them and is far from a natural at the format, while Matt Critchley came in late as a pinch-hitter and did an excellent job. His bowling was under-used, but I expect much in the years to come from a player of real talent. So too Luis Reece, who enjoyed an excellent T20 tournament and played some brilliant, free flowing knocks. His bowling could come more into it for the future, but he has proved a very shrewd and successful signing.

Wayne Madsen was simply magnificent. His batting was remarkably consistent and his bowling, until last night, showed the virtues of line and length. He didn't bowl badly last night, and perhaps should have been brought back, but Afridi was in mercurial form and the rest is history. Time and again Wayne came in, consolidated, accelerated and looked a million dollars. We are lucky to have him and should enjoy him while we can.

Gary Wilson did a good job as skipper, though the form of the top order meant he had little chance to play a big innings. He steered us home in several matches though, showing the merit of experience and a calm head. Meanwhile Alex Hughes played some nice cameos, turned his arm over to good effect here and there and fielded brilliantly in the key positions. He is becoming a very solid, valuable cricketer and is still some time from his peak.

Daryn Smit kept wicket splendidly throughout, quick-handed and sure, while playing a couple of key innings that helped to beat Yorkshire at Chesterfield and Lancashire at Derby. He also managed the captaincy well for three matches, demanding as covering those two roles is for any player.

Ben Cotton came into the side in mid-tournament and bowled as well as anyone, this format, perhaps more than any other, suiting his height and ability to find the wide yorker lengths that are so important.

Finally, there was Hardus Viljoen. Early in the tournament he wasn't fit and looked it. He struggled for pace and rhythm and throughout his line was often erratic. But by the closing stages of the competition he was bowling some seriously quick balls and showing what we could have done with from the start of the summer. For another year, fit and firing, he will be an asset, but we need to get better value from an obviously talented bowler than we have thus far.

Overall? Plenty of reasons to be cheerful. John Wright came in with fresh ideas and a load of ideas that the players responded to. If we could get him for one more season, in any capacity, it would be to our advantage. Perhaps he doesn't need another year, after a career in which he must have fulfilled most of his ambitions, but perhaps the lure of a finals day appearance might make another summer worthy of his attention.

Kim Barnett did a fine job in enticing John to the club and getting Dominic Cork involved. Together with Steve Stubbings and the fitness team they did a fine job in keeping a good team spirit going and the players fit.

The challenge now is to build on this. 2017 was a year of encouragement, but should not stand like an oasis in a desert of T20 under-fulfilment. It should be, as both Wayne Madsen and Gary Wilson said today, a building block for the future. Not the pinnacle of our T20 cricket, but the genesis of a Derbyshire side that plays the game as well as most.

With shrewd recruitment for another year, there's no reason why it can't be.

In short? Aside from last night, be proud of your efforts, lads. You have given long-suffering supporters something to cheer and reason to believe.

Where it goes from here is down to you.


Nic H said...

Time to be objective and not personal. To improve we need an opener. Possible 2nd overseas to go with Tahir. Godelman is a good bat but in the end 3 notable innings from 15 is not enough. Also a seamer, whilst Henry's fielding has been outstanding and a couple of cameos with the bat we have plenty of seamer's who can go for under 12 an over. Genuine pace like viljeon, who can also bat is useful. I'm unsure of hughes peakfan. Whilst he is a spirited cricketer he does not stand out as a potentail match winner in any facet of the game. Economy rate and scores/strike rate make mediocre reading at best! Wilson has skippered well but with the bat a little off what we expected. Smit outstanding with the gloves and stand in skipper contributions. We are 2-3 players off repeating this year's 20/20 feat and must look to improve in key areas.

Paul Fitzpatrick said...

This campaign has been akin to Port Vale getting to the FA Cup Q/F's( sorry to any Vale fans)
We should move swiftly to secure John Wright on a rolling one year contract and allow him the time for critical reflection and future planning that a Coach of his calibre will deliver .
A broader role would be nice!!
Probably 3 players short of a fully competitive side but 2017 t20 will be remembered as a job well done, lets hope we can build on this with the appropriate swift action by the DCCC Management Committee to secure our Coaching and Planning base going forward
Off to Durham on Sunday and a number of players need to put a marker down over the remaining games to secure their own futures

Tim, Chesterfield said...

Almost every place up for grabs basically.

Anonymous said...

Hugely encouraged by our overall performance in this competition.Key deficiencies in our approach to these games seem to have been rectified.As something of an old timer I'm far from a devotee of T20 but recognise its importance in bringing new blood into the seats.I will not dwell on Tuesday's disappointment where we suffered a total collapse of tactics and belief but rather focus on how we use this year as a strong foundation for future achievement.The skipper is spot on -- this year needs to be a springboard.
Primarily 6 batters /4 bowlers and a stumper.Remember that old Ozzie philosophy PF ? I firmly believe it still works.Each player should be sufficiently accomplished in one or other specialism -- more than one itsy bitsy ''all rounder'' is a luxury.
Where does that leave us ?Well placed I think subject to sound overseas recruitment
Batting -- Overseas opener,Critchley,Reece,Madsen,Thakor[hopefully !! -- if not Hughes],Wilson
Stumper -- Smit [undoubtedly !]
Bowlers -- Viljoen,Cotton,Overseas paceman
ANO -- ??
Depending on form/ pitch conditions this leaves a slot for strengthening either batting or bowling.It would be good to see Wood,Brodrick and Qadri given further opportunities or not least Billy G perfecting his swipe to leg down the order.Davis for variety perhaps ??
With regard to the overseas I would change both. I am a huge admirer of Tahir and he has truly earned his wage this summer and clearly lifted the dressing room with his ebullience.However arguably his presence has stifled Critchley's opportunities with the ball and our future lies with the latter.Ideally it has to be a death bowler instead producing the line and lengths that have been a significant weakness.
Despite a couple of good knocks this isn't Billy's format at the top of the innings - his body language latterly tells all and astute opposition have found him out.A quality [ but not necessarily flashy ]
performer with decent S/R who enables others to play around him and with the experience to control an innings needs to be the target.
Overseas recruitment will be key to our cementing this years improvement and for me this has to be of the specialists I refer to.There are 8 decent overs in my top 6 batters without the overseas which gives us an immediate edge.
After 50 years following my county of birth my fellow supporters should not be despondent.Rarely for me I now feel there may indeed be some good times ahead.
Exiled Cestrefeldian
Aferthoughts -- Viljoen needs to bowl successive overs not singles ideally in the middle overs
-- Would welcome Henry back early season as you suggest PF

Ash said...

Agree with Paul, we need to tie up JW now, KJB said he was only here for a year, get John in as director of cricket and let him bring in a T20 coach to work with him, get Tahir in as overseas for 2nd half of season including T20, get a seamer in who can hold a bat for 1st half of season, I'd like the management team to come out with that they are going after the T20 again next year but also have the same focus on the 50 over game, leave the CC to Billy and coach (hopefully JW) in my eyes Billy is doing a top job and deserves the chance to carry it on. Get rid of the 3 or 4 players who in my eyes are dead wood.
It would be awful if a new coaching structure was brought in and we have to start again, progress has been made this season and, in my opinion continuity from this season to next is key

David Woolley said...

If John Wright comes back next year, it would be pretty much certain that at least one of our oversea's would be a Kiwi.
I wouldn't think twice Peakfan.......Tom Latham would be the man for me. The other player I would like to see is Imad Wasim from Pakistan. Good slow bowler, but also an aggressive bat.
I think the comment by Ash about 'dead wood' is also relevant. We have some players on the books, who have been around for two/three years and are not being selected, so one must draw the conclusion that they are not good enough in the managements eyes.
If we do remove a few existing players, it will be interesting to see if we go down the old pro, released by another club route, or indeed, sign more Kolpaks. I think Somerset have 5 !!!!

justmissin'leg said...

The reduced price for DCCC membership easily enticed me into upgrading my six-pack from the previous season(s).

The use of networking by KJB to bring in JGW was a great move, and one I hope we can benefit from next season. Although, given what unfashionable Derbyshire achieved this T20 blast season, I'll be surprised if a more affluent county doesn't lure him away. Also, good to see DGC back and working with our seamers.

Wayne Madsen has been tremendous and there's no way we'd have been in the top four without his performances with both bat and ball. Top marks.

Biggest knock I saw during the home fixtures was Luis Reece, 97 not out, which shows that we have at least a cannon, if not quite the artillery firepower needed to fetch, or set, sizeable totals.

Powerplay batting is an area that we need to improve on. A score of ten an over for the first six overseas is a minimum requirement on a good track. At the opposite end of things, death-bowling is a challenge that we need to resolve, too.

Personally, I'd consider an alternative to Matt Henry. Though, without knowing anything of the club's finances and/or the going rate of overseas 'guns for hire', I have no idea who is obtainable. Imran Tahir was a good signing.

Had we beaten Hampshire, then Afridi's stock would have fallen, and, (bear with me on this) if this were a game of Cricket Manager on the PC, I'd be keen to know if a deal could've been done in bringing him back for next season's blast as our opening bat.
There's a lot to learn from losing, though, and our downfall needs a thorough examination from the cricketing brains at the club.

I thought the home matches were family friendly and the use of the play area for kids made good use of the bank. I drive to games and so don't queue for beer but I sensed folk weren't having to queue so much this season as in previous.

A recovery has to start somewhere and a season that charts a quarterfinal has to be seen as a step in the right direction, and as a success. We have to build on this and not let it live in isolation, like the last QF appearance back in 2005.
We should rightly feel proud of our performances in the group.

notoveryet said...

I thought I'd hold fire on comment until I'd looked at the recording of the game against Hants to see if it confirmed my views on the night. Everything I asked for in my last (overly-optimistic) comment before the game was delivered - grass on the wicket, win toss, and put them in - so we can't argue that conditions were against us. I also said that all we had to fear was fear itself, and I think that's what we saw. Not the timid, anxiety-ridden cricket we've played in the last few games, but the confusion and blind panic that set in once Afridi got going. A number of people commented that there was no Plan B, but I'm sure there was, and a Plan C, D, E and F as well. One of those would have been "dealing with Afridi" and I'd like to bet the options didn't include "bring Madsen on". I think it was poor decision-making not to have followed that through even though it would have upset our usual way of doing things. The other point about plans is that it's one thing to have them, and another to carry them out, and I don't think any of our bowlers until Critchley came on implemented their plans. Fielders were stuck in odd positions (I can't recall Madsen fielding at long on where he dropped the catch, for example) and often seemed to be uncertain where they should be, and Wilson seemed to have very little control over what was happening.

It's interesting though that almost all of the comment following the match has concentrated on it as a uniquely Derbyshire failure. Glamorgan strolled imperiously through their quarter final, looking every inch as though they belonged at finals day despite not having been there for 13 years. You can look through their team and not see many players who are better than we have (although on the evidence so far we might have picked the wrong Kolpak fast bowler) but they still looked as if they deserved to be there where we just looked like imposters. What makes the difference is that it was broadly the same group of players third quarter final in four years, and they've learned from two previous ignominious efforts. Everyone says that T20 success is about a group of players who understand their roles, and can't just be cobbled together with a basket-full of money and a magpie's instinct, otherwise Northants and Leics wouldn't have won it and Surrey, Notts, Lancs etc would win it every year.

So the last thing we need now is any sort of radical or dramatic change. Arguably, the terrible state of Derbyshire cricket over the last couple of years has been the result of precisely this kind of thinking. We have a structure that has delivered better results and should look to maintain it. On the playing side, even if we suspect that a couple of players may just not be good enough, there's nothing to be gained by jettisoning them until we're sure we have someone better, and a number of others who are good enough will be better next year than this.

I'm not convinced by either of our overseas players, however. Tahir has bowled well at times, but hasn't really looked like the best T20 bowler in the world (or even the country or the division), and was outbowled by both Crane and Critchley on Tuesday. The pattern for our T20 season has been that the strength has been in the batting to offset the weaknesses in the bowling, despite the latter being where the largest part of the investment had gone, and I think this needs to be re-thought for next year - not just in terms of should we change them, but in terms of do we need them? We've had very poor value from our overseas players for years now, and we're not alone in this, with large numbers of overseas players failing to perform for their counties. Of course you can point to some successes, but particularly when you look at the itinerant soldiers of fortune who now populate to the 20 over industry around the world, there are some very ordinary cricketers indeed who take an enormous amount of money out of our game.

Steve H said...

Easy to criticise when there's no wheels left on the wagon, and equally easy to praise when things all click.

We all can shout loudly for our favourites, but twenty20 and cricket in general is judged upon facts, beit strike rate or conservative bowling etc.

So if it's a bowler who takes wickets, or batsmen who clear the fence, identify the type, identify the budget, and work down that list.

Gut feelings instead? I think they're usually called the cheaper options.

Who would I like to sign?

Most fast bowlers go around most parks, so prepare a Chennai dust bowl, put the boundaries half way up the stand, and see if Imran and Rangana fancy it..with a liberal use of substitute fielders !