Mixed news for Derbyshire supporters this week, with the excellent news of yesterday, which announced the return of John Wright and Dominic Cork to T20 coaching duties, soured somewhat by today's news that Mitchell Santner won't now be coming.
Santner faces knee surgery and around nine months out of the game, which is a cruel blow for him and the club. It was quite a coup to sign the world-ranked number one T20 bowler and it was met with universal acclaim. Alas, it is not to be, at least for now. Shades of Dennis Lillee back in the day, for those old enough to remember.
I'll come back to Santner and where we go now shortly, but the John Wright news made for a fine Tuesday. He and Dominic Cork made a huge difference last year, when our T20 performances were more disciplined and packed with common sense than we had previously known.
We gave away fewer extras, which was a help, but also used the 120 balls in a more canny fashion, running hard, aiming to score off every ball and pacing run chases to perfection on enough occasions to suggest that we finally had the format sussed. We also had the controlling spin of Madsen, Critchley and Imran Tahir.
Tahir proved an excellent asset and one wonders whether we might have done still better with a fully fit Hardus Viljoen and a more effective second overseas than Matt Henry proved to be.
Santner looked set to be the first piece of a further improved T20 jigsaw for this year, but his injury means that we must go back to the drawing board. Do we sign another player for the joint T20/back end of season role, or do we split it? There's also the second overseas player to sort too, so midway through March we have work to do.
I am sure that as I write there are enquiries being made and agents being contacted, but the truth is that there aren't too many spinning all rounders of Santner's quality, especially if one discounts the summer's Pakistan and Indian tourists.
As I have mentioned before, Jeevan Mendis may be one option, as could be Keshav Maharaj, though the latter has played little one-day cricket for South Africa. He is a good player though, and can handle a bat pretty well too. After that, if we are looking at a like for like replacement, I am struggling, which is why splitting the role may be a preferred option. That approach might even see Tahir return for the short format, though at 39, and based on this winter's performances, time appears to be catching up on him.
As always your thoughts are appreciated on a disappointing but unforeseen situation. It is now down to the senior personnel at Derbyshire to come up with the goods with plan B.
I am sure they will.
Postscript: I would have brought the John Wright news to you last night, but am now working compressed shifts at work, which see me working 8am to 8pm on a Monday and Tuesday, then 8 till 6 on a Wednesday.
Long hours, but it gives me the rest of the week off to do family stuff, as well as freeing time for some cricket trips as the summer goes on...