Friday, 15 September 2017

Names in the frame?

A comment from the always readable notoveryet caught my attention the other day.

He is a knowledgeable man and his opinions, like those of everyone who contributes on a regular basis, are respected and valued.

In the post in question, he suggested four players that may be worthy of Derbyshire's attention come the end of the season: Graham Onions, James Tredwell, Rolof Van der Merwe and Max Waller.

On the face of it, they are all players with things to like. Onions is one of the finest seamers in the county game, Tredwell an experienced spinner who can bat, Van der Merwe likewise, while Waller is a leg spinner who has found a niche in the 20-over game.

But would they really enhance our squad and would they really be available?

Onions is a very good bowler, another who has been unlucky with the timing of his county career, but at 35 I would be surprised if he left his home county. Another contract, primarily for the red ball game, is on the table and after an injury-hit summer I suspect that potential suitors will be wary. He has played little one-day cricket over recent summers and I think is too old for a contract elsewhere now. We may think otherwise, but our target market has surely to be among younger bowlers with more to offer? Something between what we have and Onions would be my preference and surely not someone older than Tony Palladino?

Tredwell? Not for me. 22 wickets at 42 in 2016, 3 at 76 this year. They aren't the figures of a bowler enjoying a golden Autumn to his career and I see little merit in any interest. Hamidullah Qadri needs cricket and will only kick on if he gets it. Whether Matt Critchley's leg spin falls by the wayside as his batting develops is anyone's guess, but both will have learned from Imran Tahir this year, a player I would be happy to have engaged next season in any capacity, for the record.

Geoff Miller's early career was blocked a little by the signing of Venkat years ago, just as one might argue that Tahir has done the same for today's tyros. Yet both overseas players were/are of world-class stature, something you couldn't really say about Tredwell, I'm afraid.

Max Waller? Again, no from me. With two young spinners on the staff and Matt Sonczak looking worthy of investigation in the seconds, I don't see enough in a player who would realistically play only T20 and who has today signed another deal with the county anyway.

Finally, Rolof Van der Merwe. On the face of it, I would rate him worthy of further enquiry, but he has played little four-day cricket in the past two seasons and only two games this year. He is, as notoveryet pointed out, a good hitter of a ball and a tidy spinner, certainly a handy number seven or eight and especially useful in the one-day formats, where he has produced his best.

Yet he signed a contract extension that keeps him at Taunton until the end of next season. We all know that these can be broken and frequently are, but I suspect that Somerset pay him more than we might be prepared to, based on his track record, so he would see things out there.

Daniel Bell-Drummond was also mentioned, a young player who is mentioned often in despatches as a future England player. Yet the figures again make interesting reading.

Bell-Drummond is currently averaging 25 for the four-day season. Probably not a true indicator of his talent, but how many cricketers would claim to be 'better than their average'? For what it is worth, that would leave him twelfth in our averages this year. As a comparator, Ben Slater, a 'rival' if you like, averages 31, Billy Godleman 40, Luis Reece 35.

As I have written before, our targets have to be better than what we have. Of course you would have a chat with an agent if the season was written off as one of those things for a player, but I remain convinced that we only need two or three players to improve next year.

If we're talking figures, look at these:

2017                                2016

Critchley 41                     24
Hughes 35                        33
Slater 31                          28
Godleman 40                   37

Each has improved on last season, Matt Critchley dramatically so. The biggest issue with our batting has been the decline of Wayne Madsen, from 59 to 26 and the absence of Shiv Thakor, who had gone from 67 to 33, before his enforced omission.

Both are such fine players that their decline can only be temporary and Wayne had such a fine one-day summer that something had to 'give' somewhere, in a season where he has also had to handle the commitments of his benefit, as well as being a father for the first time.

So for me, let's bring in the men we need, but be aware that existing personnel, in the batting ranks, are moving in the right direction.

As always, I welcome your comments. And suggestions of potential targets as future talking points!


Opening Bat said...

A very good post pf, I agree wholeheartedly with your comments, I have always said that if we invest in an academy we should either back the management to bring through young players (my preference), or cut it out. As you pointed out a number of the youngsters have improved, whilst we have to admit Slater, Hughes, and critchley are unlikely to be the backbone of the England team, how many counties have players of that calibre?, but with experience, the above players, plus hosein, qadri, cotton, thakor?, and others coming through, can form the nucleus of a good team and with the addition of a quality batsman and bowler these players will do well for Derbyshire over future years. Hopefully we back these players and only sign people who are significantly better. We seem to have a good team spirit amongst all the players, no doubt achieved via many of them spending time together coming through the academy, and being introduced to 1stXI squads from an early age.

Martin Edwards said...

Given our current position in the table, and long-term lack of success, we'll find it very hard to recruit players who are having a great season with another county. Our best recruits in recent years (Godleman, Reece, Thakor, Footit, Palladino, Groenewald, Durston etc) have had decent first class records elsewhere prior to, in some cases, having a dip. On that basis, players like Bell-Drummond (who is only 24 and still has a career average of 35, with more centuries than Ben and Alex combined) would seem to be well worth recruiting - if they could be persuaded and afforded.

Ash said...

I would snap your hand off for Bell-Drummond quality player, but 1, he signed a new a contract with Kent during the summer and 2 we couldn't afford him. As said above we need to look at players who have 'done it' elsewhere and have got lost a little, give them the opportunity and a bit of love. Also need to look at youngsters who have obvious quality who just aren't getting a chance like Mckeer, Dominic Sibley is another example of this, burst onto the scene in 2013, dipped and not really give a chance in 2014 and 2015 come back in 2016 and 17 and got a move to Warwickshire. We need to be clever and really on the ball, there are plenty of players out there......after all there are only 11 places up for grabs at 18 counties. In Slater, HH, Davis and now Qadri we have 4 homegrown players that should be the backbone of the team, add to that Critch, Hughes, Taylor, Cotton and things don't look too bad..........onwards and upwards Derbyshire lets get another tick in the win column before the end of the season !