As it draws to a close, my fiftieth summer as a Derbyshire supporter has been one of mixed emotions.
We reached a quarter-final of the T20, played some good cricket, suffered too much poor cricket but saw the seeds of progress starting to sprout forth.
Yet despite my best intentions, I saw less of the team than in many years. As regular readers will know, I 'lost' May and June through my wife's ill-health, though she is thankfully now progressing really well. Subsequent family needs have ruled out further trips, until early this week we were able to travel south for the first time this summer.
Alas, the weather dictated there was no play on the first two days at Derby, which means that my cricket viewing 'in the flesh' was severely limited to early season this year. Next year, all being well, I will enjoy more and I hope to make Chesterfield festival, as well as a good few other games, depending on the fixture list when announced.
Yesterday we drove home and hit a series of flash, but torrential showers that we were through in less than five minutes but would have soaked anything that was unable to move.
Like a cricket ground.
I suspect that this is what happened at Derby yesterday. Early in the day it looked like cricket would go ahead and the early tweets from the club suggested as much. Yet it was later too wet and despite the efforts of a very good ground staff, play was abandoned for the day. Did someone make a mistake? I don't know, but it would be unusual.
It is not fair to compare Derby with Trent Bridge. The latter is a Test match ground with state of the art equipment and drainage, stuff that only an international ground, well subsidised, could afford. We aren't and so must make do with what we have. Of course, to answer another question asked yesterday, you could cover an entire ground, but the cost would be massive and the time to cover it and then take it all down would be prohibitive.
On to other things, and the recent discussion on the merits of Will Porterfield has been interesting. For what it is worth, he's not one for me, however. He has a decent record, but Ireland's increasing international commitments would make him a 'bit part' player and we are already going to see less of Gary Wilson. As notoveryet pointed out, his most recent statistics don't make the case for his signing a compelling one either. I accept that he can be a brilliant player on his day, but they haven't come often enough of late, I'm afraid.
Of the players so far released, the only one who made me think 'maybe' was Jim Allenby at Somerset. He has been an excellent all-rounder over the years, but again, I don't think recent form a strong indicator of his current worth. I've also seen him in the field on occasion with very poor body language, hinting at disinterest and I'm wary of the club getting a squad that is too old.
Anyone we bring in HAS to be better than we have, not just a similar alternative. If we assume that our top three next year will be some combination of Godleman/Reece/Slater/Thakor, then any new player has to have statistics that suggest an improvement on their figures. Much the same goes with the bowlers. We have plenty of 'promise' and have to find players who have the stats to improve things, while seeing off the interest of other counties to secure their services.
Michael Carberry may have been worthy of interest, but again, his recent figures aren't great and I understand he has offers elsewhere anyway.
Which brings me neatly to the Member's Forum. Thanks to Ash for his notes from this, which I hope are of interest to you all.
Simon Storey praised the success of the T20 campaign and felt (like we all do) that it was a freak innings from Shahid Afridi that 'did for us'. The club is in talks with John Wright regarding a return next year, but that will be down to Mumbai Indians allowing him to do so. Dominic Cork is also happy to return, but there is apparently interest from England in his services.
There was disappointment in the bowling and especially the returns of Matt Henry and Kim Barnett felt that we never really had an eleven playing at their best. He feels, apparently, that if we can pick up the right two or three players we can make finals day next year., but need a rethink on the last four overs, as neither Dominic Cork nor John Wright were happy with how we closed out the opposition innings.
Kim Barnett also said that we need a rethink on the county championship, especially at home, but again believes that with the right 2/3 additions we can win at least four games in that format next year.
He praised Billy Godleman, who he said had been 'brilliant', and said that it was the senior group of players who asked for a seamer to be brought in. Podmore has come in, with a view to signing, while we also apparently looked at James Harris at Middlesex. Barnett was disappointed that none of the second team seamers had produced the figures to push for the first team, but praised Harvey Hosein as the outstanding player in the second team.
It was, apparently, Daryn Smit who held his hands up and said he wasn't getting enough runs, so Harvey Hosein should get a run. Barnett also praised Smit as the first one out in the nets with Hosein to practice, illustrating a togetherness that some may not expect.
There was also praise for Mal Loye, who has three players on the verge of England under-19s, and confirmation that they want to get Will Davis 'right' over the winter so he can stay fit and bowl more than this year. Davis is on board with fitness and conditioning plans for the coming months, so he can play a major role next year.
Finally the club will make in excess of the £60K-plus profit that Leicestershire made from their Elton John concert, because we offered more hospitality packages. They also expect to make over £40K from the forthcoming Boyzone concert, the money being ploughed back into the cricket side.
That's it from me for now. I'll be back later, hopefully with some cricket to write about..