Friday, 22 September 2017

Adieu to the home season - and Hughes' deserved award

The early morning photographs on Twitter today confirmed what I wrote a couple of days ago. There will be no play at Chesterfield and the game is abandoned without a ball being bowled.

It is all deeply frustrating, especially when we think back to the season and, at one point, a two-week period where there was no cricket. I am fairly confident that the county wouldn't have taken the offer of a concert had we started the season better, because that would have been short-sighted in the extreme. Yet the likelihood of four good days at an out ground in the second half of September were as likely as Lord Lucan riding Shergar into the 3aaa County Ground tomorrow. They would have hoped for 2-3 days though, but for the second year in three, Chesterfield has been rained off.

I think most supporters want to see cricket continue there. Indeed, as a cricket-watching location it takes some beating, while there's something for batsmen and bowlers alike in the wicket. What we need to consider, if we are getting Derby onto the concert venue trail, is perhaps hosting two gigs in mid-summer and have a cricket fortnight at Chesterfield.

Of course there are inherent risks, but we will need to await the winter team-building to see if the money earned has been well spent and worthwhile. Over the last four days there would probably have been three days cricket at Derby, which has been traded in for a heavy risk elsewhere and forty thousand pounds.

Whether that was a risk worth taking will always be an individual opinion.

The only good cricket news in recent days has been the award of a county cap to Alex Hughes.

Those who have followed the blog over recent years will know that I have always been a fan of the player. From my first sightings of him, I have liked his battling approach to the game and his total immersion in it. Whether bowling his bustling medium pace, more a one-day weapon now, or fielding brilliantly in any position, he has made a case for himself in the side.

He remains the only man I have ever seen bowl with cotton wool shoved up his nose, stemming a nose bleed. The sight of Alex running in, nostrils flared, was impressive, if slightly amusing, confirming a commendable devotion to the cause in the process.

His batting is his stronger suit and this season has seen a step forward. He had limited opportunity in the T20, but averaged 35 in the four-day game and 58 in the RLODC. His presence at the wicket is starting to offer the calming effect of the better player; his target now is to turn those regular forty-plus scores into match-winning and career-defining efforts.

He is 25 now and has served a long apprenticeship, seemingly around the staff forever. Yet his earlier career was sporadic, a university education eating into his available time and leaving him a bit-part player in some eyes.

He has still only had 73 first-class innings, but a regular place this season has given him greater confidence, just as being part-time T20 skipper last year did him no harm. I see him as our next county captain, unless there's another Eddie Barlow out there somewhere. We live in hope...

2017 could be the watershed for Alex Hughes. If he can kick on further in 2018, turning that 35 average into one nearer 40, he could be the fulcrum of the county batting for many years to come.

A well-deserved award Alex. Make sure you keep that ready smile on your face.

Well done.


David Woolley said...

I agree Peakfan. I've always been a big supporter of Alex Hughes. Plays the game with a smile on his face, but has a 'bit of an edge' to him. As you say, let's hope he, and some of the other youngsters really kick on in 2018.
On another subject, I see today that Leicestershire seem to be reverting back to their old ways of signing older players released by other clubs. I must admit that as much as we need another experienced top four bat, I would not have been happy if DCCC had been in the market for Michael Carberry. They have also released Clint McKay, a player I would have loved to have seen representing us. If only we could unearth a bowler like him to open up with Hardus !!!

notoveryet said...

I sincerely hope you're wrong that we wouldn't have switched the Kent match to Chesterfield if we'd had a chance of promotion. That's tantamount to saying that we wouldn't screw our own chances of promotion but we don't mind screwing someone else's, and would be the height of cynicism. Kent might well have been a part of the shake-up at the top of the division that we're just a bystander to, and if they had been eliminated as a result of this, the enormous damage that has been done to Derbyshire's reputation and credibility would have been multiplied. Just look around social media and you see that we've become a laughing stock to anyone who isn't embarrassed or angered by it.

So, in that context, talking about staging two matches at Chesterfield next year seems a pretty bizarre and contrary idea. Last year's wash out was in July and if we had had two games then, both would have been washed out. The reality is that Chesterfield is unfit for first class cricket when there's rain around, regardless of whether it's April, July or September. Imagine the uproar there would be if we schedule two matches and lose both? With Kent and Glamorgan both complaining, and Northants not likely to spring to our defence either, the ECB will legitimately ask why they gave us £2m to help create a high class cricket venue, and we now use it for concerts and farm the cricket out to inadequate out-grounds.

Quite simply, we've squandered the goodwill we've built up from a successful WCC and improved T20 performance for an amount of cash that (as someone commented elsewhere) isn't probably much more than Tahir has cost us while he's been sitting in the dressing room waiting for wet outfields to dry.

Peakfan said...

No arguments there David. Carberry has averaged 7 for Leics...Mckay has been a very fine bowler. The Leicestershire Langeveldt...

Peakfan said...

Well, notoveryet, we are somewhat between the devil and the deep blue sea.
The need for extra income is obvious, but I think they will need to look closely at this over the winter.
As you say, the 40k from Boyzone is not likely to cover wages for a lost match.
And as for the goodwill...we're treading a very fine line, I can't argue that.

Opening Bat said...

Obviously things are changing within the first class game in that the requirements are becoming so demanding re the state of the grounds that the risk of using outside grounds is becoming too great. No county, not only Derbyshire, can afford to maintain two grounds to first class standard. It would be interesting to see how much cricket has been lost at out grounds this year, I can think of chesterfield and Uxbridge in the last couple of weeks. I think Derby is a great ground, large playing area, not too large a capacity to look empty when only a few hundred there, and we can still walk around at least half the boundary, (although this is reducing). I agree chesterfield is good picturesque ground but can the county afford the risk, and surely the club won't throw money at further ground development there.

Derby Exile said...

Just as well that Kent had only a mathematical chance of promotion or else there would have been ructions.

But, I am old enough to remember that great Hants side of Barry Richards, Greenidge, Andy Roberts etc. sitting in the pavilion for all three days without a single ball being bowled in the last game in 1974 against Yorkshire at Bournemouth, allowing Worcester to sneak the title by 2 points (all Hants would have needed to have done if they'd got out on the pitch was to have scored 250 runs or taken 7 wickets to have won the championship).

A key point I want to make is that that game was scheduled for August 31, 1 and 2 September 1974. The massive changes in the set-up of the season 43 years on mean that teams are playing 5 rounds of four day first class cricket after 28th August.

Yes, September can be nice (that's why my dear lady wife and I opted for a Sept wedding, and take most of our annual holidays then) BUT if you are going to move the denouement of the first class season so that you have so much stacked into September, because of money-making in the prime months, you must accept that episodes such as that at Chesterfield this week will happen, not least because the sun isn't so high in the sky, mean temperatures are lower, daylight hours are shorter, there is more dew which lasts longer, and grass doesn't grow as much.

And that is all without mentioning the rain....

So yes, lessons to be learnt, but let's just move on.

And look on the bright side- by which I mean look at the Div 2 table and the massive horlicks which our neighbours down the A52 are making of 'just turning up to win' the league.....

Onwards and upwards!

Peakfan said...

Good post Derby Exile!

Paul Fitzpatrick said...

Kent have formally complained to the ECB
DCCC better hurry up with their reflection on the inability to provide first class cricket and appropriate actions
Initial comment on BBC from SStorey "no cricket at Chesterfield in September in the future "

Well done Alex Hughes btw

Ash said...

Still unsure as to where Alex is best suited to in the CC batting line up, personally I would have put him at 3 at the start of the season but the club obviously wanted Thakor (remember him?) to have a go. I'm also still unsure of the 'make up' of our top 3. Looks like the club will now go with Billy, Ben and Luis but in what order i don't know, we need to look at the top 5 and nail down who bats where, even though he hasn't had his usually prolific season Mads should get to choose where he bats, I'm a believer in letting your best batsman choose and building around that.

Tim, Chesterfield said...

Kent make an official complaint to the ECB? I couldn't care less, unless they have some knowledge of incompetence beyond the initial decision to shift the game.

notoveryet said...

Tim, I'd be surprised if we wouldn't have raised the issue if the positions were reversed. I suspect that what they have asked the ECB to look at is whether Derbyshire should have identified an alternative venue. The ECB rules say that "if there is a material likelihood that 72 hours prior to a scheduled match that a venue will be unable to stage any play over the scheduled term of the match due to the prevailing condition of the venue 72 hours prior to the scheduled start of the match...then an alternative venue must be identified...and made available should playing conditions not improve." I find it hard to believe that enough rain fell in the two days before the match to make the ground unfit for 4 days - I know it also rained on Thursday but I don't think either team or the umpires had any doubt on Tuesday that there wouldn't be any play regardless of any further rain - and I also know that the previous week two and a half days of the second XI match at Chesterfield had been lost because of a wet outfield. It wouldn't be unreasonable for Kent to suggest that we knew (or at least should have known) that the ground was going to be unfit and should have made alternative arrangements, and chose not to because our only alternative was Derby, with the risk that if we had a poor pitch because of the lack of preparation, or an unfit outfield because of the concert, we could have been penalised. Much as we may want to move on, we might not have heard the last of this by the time the ECB look at all of the circumstances.

Interestingly, I've seen a suggestion on social media from someone who's usually quite well-informed that the Boyzone booking was accepted by the commercial side of the club on the assumption that two days would be sufficient to get the ground ready afterwards, and by the time the ground management said it wasn't, it was too late to cancel. I'm actually a bit more comfortable with this idea of it being a cock-up than I am about it being a deliberate choice of money over cricket. At least you can learn from the cock-up.

jasper said...

My parents live only a few miles from the ground. After speaking to them over the weekend they tell that on the preceding Sunday they had rain like they had never seen before... and they are both in their 80's! Kent may have some cause for complaint.

Knack said...

Neil Godrich favourite song by Del Amitri " Always the last to know ".