Thursday, 19 April 2018

Derbyshire v Middlesex preview - and so it begins

It's been a long cold, wet, dark winter. Come to think of it, a long cold, wet, dark Spring, but cricket is here again and to mark its arrival, Derby has once more been transformed into Derbados. I'm sure that Duanne Olivier and his new wife arrived in the city wondering what on earth they had done, but I am sure that both will enjoy their spell in God's own county now that the sun has remembered that it shines here from time to time.

If Duanne delivers, as part of a four-pronged pace and seam attack that promises much, we will all be very happy. Because despite what the doom-mongers of the media may say, in suggesting we will be lucky to finish tenth in the division, I still disagree.

IF Messrs Viljoen, Olivier, Rampaul and Davis, with assistance from Tony Palladino or anyone else, hit their straps early, no one will fancy batting against us. Especially if we have backed it up with pitches that offer assistance. If the batting can graft their way to totals that offer them something to work with, who knows?

The initial twelve effectively picked itself, the only question, for me, being whether Gary Wilson or Daryn Smit got the gloves. The vice-captain got the gig, which is hard luck on arguably the best keeper on the county circuit, who scored an unbeaten hundred the other day. You could say, of course, that Harvey Hosein can also feel unlucky, but therein is a measure of the strength of this Derbyshire squad.

There have been times, in the not too distant past, where you looked at a named twelve and had concerns in certain areas. I don't here, save for there being no top spin option, but that's not an issue at this time of year and Matt Critchley and Wayne Madsen can fill that gap if required. A spinner might have been the reason for preferring Smit behind the timbers, as a better all round glove man.

Here's the squad:

Godleman
Slater
Reece
Madsen
Hughes
Critchley
Wilson
Viljoen
Rampaul
Olivier
Davis
Palladino.

One assumes Palladino will miss out, but that depends on the expected wicket and he knows Derby tracks pretty well, besides lengthening the batting order.

As for the visitors, they are fresh off their first win last week, against Northamptonshire, but it is no bad time to be playing them. They have a few players missing, including Steven Finn and Nick Gubbins, as well as Dawid Malan and Eoin Morgan.

Their squad:

Robson
Cartwright
Franklin
Harris
Helm
Holden
Murtagh
Rayner
Roland-Jones
Scott
Simpson
Stirling
White

I see Middlesex as the most likely winners of the division, so this is a chance for us to make a statement and benchmark ourselves against the best. They have a very strong seam attack, but will be looking at ours and thinking 'this might be a test'.

All very exciting and I look forward to seeing how the game unfolds over the next four days - or less, if the wicket is anything like those of last week around the country.

I hope the club gets the support it deserves and that 2018 is a year we can all be proud of.

Let's get going gentleman.

Maybe it's the year of the Falcon...

11 comments:

DerbyshireForever said...

I don't normally open up with a negative comment but as much as I wish Gary Wilson well, I hope that we don't come to regret giving him the gloves in this one, and leaving, as you say, the best gloveman out. After all, what more could Smit have done, score a hundred not out, get a stumping and also take a number of catches?

Ah well, onwards and upwards, best wishes to all the lads.

Anonymous said...

Am I correct in thinking at some point this year Gary Wilson will become illegible because if he choses to carry on playing for Ireland? Gresley lad

jasper said...

The bowling looks strong but I suspect the Middlesex bowlers are licking their lips at the prospect of confronting our batting line up on an early season track. Not much from 8 to 11 I suspect. Let's just hope Wayne rediscovers his mojo this year..

Peakfan said...

My understanding is that at end of current deal, which has 2 years to run I think, he would be regarded as an overseas player.
Never seen that confirmed but will see if I can get clarification
Nice to have someone on from my Dad's old stomping ground!

Anonymous said...

Can't agree either with the omission of Smit. Great to have Derbyshire back though.

notoveryet said...

This is very much a glass half full or half empty situation. I can see promotion potential in this side, with a fully fit and firing pace attack, Godleman back to his best of a couple of years ago, Reece repeating or improving on his 2017 form, Slater fulfilling the potential he's shown, Madsen getting back to the basics that made him so formidable for so many years, and Critchley and Hughes kicking on from the intermittent excellence of the last couple of years. There's an awful lot of ifs in there, and very few alternatives if the ifs don't pay off. So I can as easily see 40-5 on a regular basis with the weakest tail we've had in years starting at 8 (the times when we could expect Tony Palladino to strengthen the tail are, I suspect, a couple of years behind us), injured, ageing and inexperienced pace bowlers.

I've only seen one preview that suggested us in bottom place, but I'm not surprised that most have put us in the bottom half, and I'm certainly not going to criticise pundits who, unhindered by faith or optimism, anticipate the latter scenario rather than the first. On balance and on paper, I think we're stronger than last year (if not necessarily any more reliable) in a division where Kent, Gloucestershire, Durham and Glamorgan are weaker, Leicestershire slightly stronger from a very low base, All of the rest have weaknesses that make any confident prediction perilous, and I think that all of the pundits have done is make some reasonable assumptions about whose glass is half full or half empty.

As for this game, as you suggest PF, there probably won't be a better time to play Middlesex. Their batting looks as fragile as their bowling is strong, and as we have the same features, I'm not confidently anticipating scores above 200 or much play from Sunday onward unless we've prepared one of the early season puddings that we've seen a few times at Derby.

Like others, though, I'm perplexed about the choice of Wilson as wicket-keeper. Whatever side we take in the Hosein v Smit argument, I think most will agree that Wilson is the third best wicket-keeper at Derbyshire (and the second best for Ireland as Niall O'Brien continues to hold on to his place). His record suggests that he is the best of them as a batsman, although he didn't really perform for us after the first few matches of last year, and has had a very poor winter for Ireland. If Smit and/or Hosein had failed to make runs in their only outing of the year, the argument for Wilson would have been clearer, but both did well in different situations. Given the weakness of any tail we pick, the role of the wicket-keeper at 7 is going to be crucial, and Wilson seems to me to have the weakest case for selection going into this match. Of course, you can't discount what he brings to the team in terms of his experience and nous, nor can you under-estimate the motivation he will have to make the runs that will ensure his selection for Ireland's first test match, but unless he finds better form than he has all winter, our tail might turn out to be even longer than we already know.

Mark Neve said...

Wilson was the vice captain so not really suprised. I expect Palladio to play over Davis. His experience will be vital.

Peakfan said...

I hope Gary, a good player, scores a big one here to prove us wrong. He can do that but hasnt scored many over the winter as Notoveryet says.
The first session will be well worth a watch...

jasper said...

Come on Derbyshire!..as i also follow Chesterfield i need something to cheer!!

Mark Neve said...

Really disappointed to see Billy assume at 4 as I type at 53/1. He should be opening imo. However, I have often preferred Wayne at 3 so swings and roundabouts. Decent start loving the stream. Shame no sound on it. BBC radio seemingly about 4 balls behind.

Mark Neve said...

Looks like Billy at #5 then. I don’t get it. He’s a great opening bat. A grafter. Someone who can see off the new ball and dig in. Surely he has enough on his plate without potentially batting with a long tail. Maybe they see him as someone who can see off the second new ball. I like the positivity of so