Thursday, 5 April 2018

The Season Preview

Can Derbyshire build on last season's promise and make 2018 a memorable one for supporters?

Yes, they can.

Will they do so?

Now that's a subject for discussion.

On the face of it, we go into the summer with what appears to be our strongest-looking squad in years. Whether or not you agree with the winter cull on the playing staff, you would have to say that it has left us with a lean playing staff in which every player could pull his weight, if called upon to do so.

While there have been suggestions that we were an experienced batsman light, I disagree (except for the T20) and think there is considerable potential for runs. The experienced and reliable Billy Godleman and Wayne Madsen will, as always, anchor a batting line-up in which I expect to see Alex Hughes, Luis Reece and Matt Critchley build on impressive summers last year.

Indeed, they may thrive, with the attention firmly fixed on big-name signings and all are young players capable of going further in the game. Ben Slater has a big summer ahead of him and will need to show that he can turn classy starts into innings of substance, while Gary Wilson, the vice-captain, has a fight to get into the four-day side and faces a similar challenge. If one of these steps up and makes a top six place his own, we will do just dandy, thank you.

I expect the wicket-keeping role to go initially to Daryn Smit, for no other reason than he is a superb wicket-keeper, up with the best in my fifty-years and counting viewing experience. The robust challenge from the talented Harvey Hosein will do him good and the latter will doubtless have opportunities before September. Yet I expect Smit to be a key member of the side and nurse a lengthy-looking tail to important runs, as well as being a sage counsel to the respective skippers.

The bowling? As has historically been the case for Derbyshire, it should be our strength. We have signed the highly experienced Ravi Rampaul to work alongside the towering and fast Hardus Viljoen. Their experience should aid the development of the very talented but thus far equally fragile Will Davis, while the evergreen Tony Palladino will let no one down when opportunity knocks.

The signing of South African Duanne Olivier could turn out to be an inspired one, as a good first half of summer will enhance his international chances back home. No one will fancy batting against that attack on early season wickets and we should not struggle to bowl sides out. To be honest, it is probably going back to Barnett's own playing career since we fielded such a fine line up, at least on paper. Now, they all have to cut the mustard on the pitch.

Perhaps the key member of staff this year is Fran Clarkson. Her ability, with the strength and conditioning team, to keep the squad fit will be a major factor in our quest for success. If we can field some combination of that attack regularly at the start of the summer then we will win a good few matches. If we can't, and we are bringing academy lads in before they are ready, we won't.

Last year we didn't see Viljoen before the T20 and hardly saw Davis after it. Rampaul is a bowler who benefits from playing regularly, while Olivier has a good fitness record. We can only hope that all get through the summer relatively unscathed, the side can reap the benefits and supporters can enjoy a golden summer of entertainment.

The acquisition of Mitchell Santner for the T20 and second half of the summer was a fine bit of business. Sadly, a knee injury knocked that one squarely on the head and his adequate replacement is yet to be announced. Given that we do not yet know that, nor the overseas players for the T20, it is hard to give a considered opinion on prospects. A quality spinner in the second half of summer could make the difference that I expect from Olivier, but there aren't many available in the world game.

For what it is worth,  IF we get luck with the weather, IF we hold our catches, IF we get the other overseas roles filled well and IF we keep people fit, I think we can have a good season. I fancy us to fare well in the RLODC, to be top four in four-day cricket and to battle for the knock-out stage in the T20.

If we don't, with the squad that Kim Barnett has assembled over the winter and the processes put in place, I suspect we won't for some time.

It is a squad of very good cricketers. To use that word again, if they maintain focus and play to potential, they are eminently capable of getting results, so let's all get behind them.

Time to deliver, gentlemen.

And hope those 'ifs' turn out the right way.


Anonymous said...

I would bet good money with anyone that we won't be top 4 in the CC. With Waynos decline continuing we have no reliable banker batsmen for 1000 runs a season. all can play cameos and score in dead matches, step forward alex hughes, but there's very little solidity to the batting (bar billy but his solidity is more in crease occupation rather than run scoring). Bowling, despite my reservations of having over half a side of non UK players when we are at full strength, looks good on paper if they can all stay fit. Here's hoping.


Peakfan said...

Not sure you're being kind to Wayne there, Keith and one below par (for him) 4 day season was tempered by a stellar T20 one.

He has a good few summers in him yet, as does Billy, who I rate in the longer forms.

We'll see, but Middlesex will be a good benchmark of what will be possible. I rate them as the division's best, so...

Steve H said...

Leaving aside the wicketkeeping position, where you PF are as far away from my opinion as Anchorage is to Montevideo, the set up, especially after KB's ongoing commitment to strengthen the bowling, still seems to me a couple of injuries short of having the tail finding it's way up to number six.

If two bowlers arrive, let's say for this discussion, and for the ages, they are Andy Roberts and Bishen Bedi, we then have Roberts, Viljoen, Rampaul, Davies, Paladino and Olivier, supported by Hughes, Madsen, Bedi and Critchley. That unit could, I think, survive a couple of injuries.

Could the batting ? Obviously I'm not aware how far the budget stretches, but it seem numerically light?

To be fair to Kim, he has stuck to the structure he said he would at the Supporters Evening at Chesterfield. Let's just hope we don't get too many rapped fingers on our sure to be bowler friendly home wickets! 😊

Can't imagine many dusk finishes on Day Four!

Peakfan said...

Well Steve, if we assume that 5 of the top 6 are Godleman, Reece, Madsen, Hughes and Critchley, there's Slater and Wilson fighting for a place, plus Hosein and Kettleborough I guess. And there would always be the loan market to utilise for either dept.

Not awash with players, but not convinced we can afford 'contingency' players to play in the seconds.

Macdonell leaving was perhaps a surprise, but I think we're OK.

And let's face it, like most counties, if we lose 2 or 3 players long term to injury we are screwed...

Huw Lloyd said...

Steve, I would also have no problem with Smit or Hosein playing as a specialist batsman at 6 either.

Don’t get me wrong, with Middlesex saying Compton can leave if he wants, I would love to see him move to us, but I am happyish with our squad.

Peakfan said...

I agree Huw. Smit has batted as high as 3 with success in SA and Hosein has a fine technique. I would have few qualms had either to move up, though 7 is good for both, I think.

Ash said...

Let's look at what we've got on the bowling front, with HV, RR, Olivier, Davis, Dino, backed up by Reece and Hughes we have in my opinion enough options for rotation and picking 'horses for courses' during the 1st part of the season , with Critch, Qadri and Madsen as the spin options. This of course is injury permitting, with the greatest respect to Taylor and Gleadall if we see much of these before the T20 then injuries have severely hit yet again or the 'new' streamline model has had an early season kick in the you know what's. I notice today that Charlie Hartley is named in the squad for tomorrow's friendly (another seamer)
On the batting front I'm curious to see who bats where, this time last season we were told that Thakor will be given a run at 3, who will it be now? I'm a believer in letting your best couple of batsman pick where they want to line up. Billy will obviously open but what number will we see Mads bat at? With Slater, Reece, Hughes, Smit, Wilson, Hosein and Critch again we have options, I don't believe we'll see Kettleborough in the 1st team, even if the Cricketer has earmarked him as the one to watch. It just slaps as lazy journalism to me, after Critchleys exploits this winter he would be anyone's choice for 'one to watch' in my view.
I for one cannot wait to see the line up on day one and hopefully have a full days cricket at the 3aaa. Now then, do I pack my sun cream or my winter jacket???????

Peakfan said...

I omitted the very talented Calum Brodrick from the batting options, as you have.
Make no mistake, the lad is a good cricketer and I could see him forcing a way into the side in the next couple of seasons.
He's a fighter, for sure
As for that attire, I would go for the jacket..with a small bottle of suncream in the pocket as a sign of optimism!

jasper said...

..and maybe a snorkel in the other pocket!

Huw Lloyd said...

I would envisage the line up for the opening game being something along the lines of

1. Godleman
2. Slater
3. Reece
4. Madsen
5. Hughes
6. Critchley
7. Smit
8. Viljoen
9. Oliver
10. Rampaul
11. Davis

Peakfan said...

Can't argue there, Huw. I think the only question mark is the batting order of 9 to 11. And I wouldnt expect major runs from any of them.
Wickets though...

jasper said...

Let's hope the 6 seam bowlers in that side is enough!

Paul Fitzpatrick said...

Bowling looks ok but injury records and age profile cause some nervousness
Batting looks light based on career records
Top 6 perhaps
Best hope T20 subject to 2 signings and J Wright’s nous