I thought I would take a few minutes midweek to give my thoughts, expressed quite clearly on Twitter, on the Australian shenanigans in South Africa, as well as reporting on a couple of local snippets.
First the Australians, a charmless outfit whose apparent disdain of authority meant that they thought they could get away with tampering with the ball in front of thirty Sky TV cameras. It was clearly pre-meditated and I am not remotely convinced that this was the first time they have done it.
Put it this way. If a world-class bowler like Jimmy Anderson cannot get reverse swing, how were bowlers who I would deem his inferior, in most cases, able to do so at will? How were they starting to get it to reverse at Cape Town, when Rabada, Morkel and Philander, world-class bowlers to a man, couldn't once the shine had gone off it?
Nor am I convinced that Darren Lehmann knew nothing, because otherwise his relationship with captain and vice-captain could not have been worth a bean. Bancroft was gullible at best, stupid at worst to get involved, as a junior player making his way in international cricket, while the suggestion that the 'senior group' was Smith and Warner alone defies belief. If the local police were called to move on a 'group' of young people, they would expect to be met by more than two, would they not?
The cricket world awaits the punishment, or sanction, which for me has to fit the crime. When I think of Mohammad Amir's five-year ban for bowling deliberate no balls, was it a crime more heinous than that of trying to fix a match by ball tampering?
For me, all three of the main protagonists should deem themselves very lucky if they get less than a two-year ban. Because they cheated, and it was a pre-meditated act. Bancroft's absurd attempt to hide the evidence, then deny any wrong-doing, was painful, car-crash television. So too Smith's assertion that he would not resign and it would not happen again under his captaincy. He seemed oblivious to the serious nature of the act.
Utterly stupid, astonishingly crass and dreadfully disappointing.
You will gather that I abhor cheating, be it athletes taking performance enhancing drugs, cricketers falsely claiming catches, footballers trying to get opponents sent off or someone nicking money at Monopoly. Play hard, play fair and lose, if you have to, with dignity and grace. That has always been my way and I could only have been more stunned had this happened with a Derbyshire eleven.
And I never expect that to happen.
Back home, there was news today that Charlie Macdonell was leaving the county to pursue a career outside the game.
I don't blame him. He's a good player, but with five of the top six pretty set and Messrs Wilson, Slater and Hosein ahead of him in the pecking order for the other place, it would have needed a major injury crisis to get him a senior game this year. He can now work on that other career and I wish him well.
Finally, Luke reported last night that Mohammad Azharullah was at the Derbyshire nets, according to his Instagram account.
That may be something or nothing of course. Having left Northamptonshire last year because he wanted to be closer to his home in Halifax, he remains a very good bowler and one without a club, with the season almost upon us. Maybe he merely wanted to keep fit for a league engagement and we were handy for him.
Would we, as Anon asked last night, want another 30-plus seamer? Yes, if he is good enough and we thought he would get enough cricket. On the face of it we have a strong seam attack this year, with Viljoen, Olivier, Rampaul, Davis and Palladino. Yet if two of them were to get early season injuries, we would be looking at seventeen-year olds to fill the breach.
Our T20 plans may be up in smoke if we have three fit seamers, all of them tired from playing a lot of cricket. If the deal was right, and a match contract might hold appeal, Azharullah, an accomplished one-day bowler, would be a canny signing. On the other hand, he might be an expensive one if they all stayed fit and he was playing second team on a permanent deal. He took 31 wickets at 21 for Northamptonshire last year, before a shoulder injury ended his season. Not the sign of a player over the hill, is it?
A signing would allow rotation of the seamers, something that Kim Barnett used to great effect in his playing days. It allowed them to run in as hard in September as in April.
Maybe. Just maybe...