Friday, 16 February 2018

Tony Palladino - a testimonial appreciation

For the past seven summers, since his release from Essex at the end of 2010, Tony Palladino has run in for Derbyshire with the same level of purpose and commitment in every game. I am sure that someone could work out how many new ball partners he has had in that time, but as they came and went with an unfortunate frequency he has remained the constant in the Derbyshire seam attack.

He will be 35 this summer, so his playing career must naturally be considered to have fewer days ahead than behind him, yet it is tribute to his professionalism that you look at the side still and think that it would benefit from his being in it.

While Hardus Viljoen and Ravi Rampaul will be the 'names' in the bowling attack this summer, and supporters await the announcement of an overseas player who will also, presumably, bowl seam, it is not hard to see how Palladino could easily rotate with Will Davis for the fourth seamer role.

Davis a a young tyro, with a strong action and raw pace that catches the eye. Perhaps his body has not been ready for that and I am sure, as Tony has settled into his other role as bowling coach, that the two have chatted this winter over what is needed to succeed at this level of the game.

Because Tony has done just that. This season will likely see him pass four hundred first-class wickets and the wickets of April to June will still see him as likely as any of the others to dismiss batsmen as the ball moves around off the seam. Why? Because he rarely wastes a ball. It has been a frustration over recent summers to watch opposition batsmen given a chance to settle and watch balls through to the wicket-keeper, or clip early half-volleys and long hops to the ropes.

You rarely get that with Tony Palladino, and unless it is a feather bed wicket, his figures can normally be seen in the best Derbyshire tradition. Around two an over, give 'em nowt, the way we like it. It is not hard to see the importance of such a bowler to the rest of the attack, even if his variations don't necessarily reap personal reward.

One of the Derbyshire players once told me that Tony is so meticulous in his preparations that he has notes of the wickets he has taken, and from which end, on each track of the Derby square. Such attention to detail is worthy of a true professional, which he is. He showed that at Essex, when he was man enough to 'blow the whistle' on the spot fixing that saw two players exposed as cheats. It took personal courage and a sense of what is right that speaks volumes for the man. It would have been easy to turn a blind eye and say nothing.

He has also emerged as a more than useful batsman, enlivening many a day with clean hitting that has been some way removed from hit and hope, while his out fielding has always been tidy.

I hope that this testimonial year is a good one for him and that the Derbyshire public respond in an appropriate manner to recognise a good and honourable man. To say he has been one of the all-time greats would be an improperly bold suggestion, given the many genuine greats, at local and international level that have preceded him. Yet he has let no one down and throughout has been engaging company and a player of one hundred per cent commitment, every time he has crossed the boundary rope. He has been, in short, a consummate professional.

I think he would take that as an accolade.

Perhaps his best work is yet to come. My understanding is that there are some very exciting seamers in the current academy, with James Taylor and Alfie Gleadall already earning senior opportunity. I have also heard only good things about Nils Priestly, a left-handed all-rounder who bowls at decent pace and gives the ball a good tap with the bat.

All of them need only to listen and learn from a man who has done what they aspire to do.

His testimonial kicks off with a lunch at Anoki Restaurant, London Road, Derby at 3pm on 25 February. Tickets have been going well, but can still be booked, priced £35, here

There are sure to be plenty of familiar faces along, and with places limited to 100, plenty of opportunities to chat, ahead of the new season.

Future events include:

Friday 9 March - A breakfast launch at the 3aaa County Ground

Saturday 7 April - Opening dinner at the 3aaa County Ground, with guest speaker Darren Gough

Wednesday 8 May - Golf day at Mickleover Golf Club

More events will be announced and I will help to bring them to wider attention on the blog, as and when I can.

In closing, I wish Tony the very best for his special year. He has some good people involved and with our support it will do as well as it deserves to.

Good luck, TP!

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