Sunday, 27 May 2018

An enjoyable weekend

You can't help but be happy with Derbyshire's start, can you?

Given that we are supposedly focused on the T20, with John Wright and Dominic Cork soon to team up again, to be fourth in the county championship and top of the north group in the Royal London One Day Cup is immensely satisfying. As well as being one in the eye for the nay-sayers who suggested a summer of trial and struggle.

I didn't see it that way pre-season, perhaps one of the few to do so, and don't see it now. As long as we retain focus and especially get luck with injuries, we could be on for a memorable one. No, I won't predict a trophy, I'm not that daft, but the signs are there that whoever we play will know they have been in a game.

The days of Derbyshire rolling over and playing dead on a regular basis are over.

We have all seen that too many times over the years. Getting into the ascendancy in a game, then crumbling as soon as the opposition started to stand toe to toe and slug it out.

Not any more.

We have taken the monkey from our backs with a first championship win at Derby in a long time. Yes, it was against a weakened Middlesex, but so what? History will show the points went to Derbyshire, and how many times have we seen a weakened Derbyshire side rolled over by stronger opponents?

We also showed fight in the Durham game, getting a draw when mid-afternoon everything seemed lost. The last session heroics of the tail showed the fighting spirit that has been engendered in the squad and it was good to see.

Moving on to the fifty-over competition, there have been times in each game where the balance of control shifted, but on most occasions we were able to wrest it back. The time we didn't, at Worcester, there were poor decisions made and bowling that left a lot to be desired. Few sides can afford to give away so many extras and equally, few sides need quite so many bowlers as we fielded in that game.

The key to our form, I think, lies in two things: the team ethic and the presence of three all-rounders who offer greater balance to the side.

Look through the regular eleven and they have all made contributions. My biggest concern is the form of Ravi Rampaul, but he chips in and, whatever the concerns of the last over against Leicestershire, he came through, just, on the highly-pressurised final ball. We have seven batsmen averaging over thirty, with the skipper averaging 71 and leading every bit by example.

Then those all-rounders: left-arm and right-arm medium, plus leg-spin. The joy of such variety! Add in the usual control of Wayne Madsen and we have been able to not use our main seamers to their full complement of overs. I still maintain we should have gone back to Olivier at Worcester, but that's gone.

With Wahab Riaz coming in with his left-arm rockets and another overseas player still to be confirmed for that competition, we're looking in good shape.

There are good, sound, professional and sage men in that leadership group, with advice to hand from Kim Barnett when it is needed.

Tough games lie ahead, but let's enjoy it while it lasts!


  1. What do we think we need to qualify then? 2 wins and a NR will be enough I imagine. 2 wins and 2 defeats?

  2. Would be an even more enjoyable weekend if we had a game of cricket on a lovely BH Monday. Scheduling is an absolute joke.

  3. We can't be disappointed by our position at the half-way stage of the RLODC, though I think most people would have expected us to beat Durham and Leics, and possibly Warwickshire. On paper, we have the toughest half to come, though it might play to our advantage that Lancs and Notts have been faltering, and could well be out of contention by the time we play them. Northants too have been hit and miss. That means that a defeat tomorrow against Yorkshire won't necessarily be fatal, as it's likely that three wins out of four will put us into one of the play-off positions at least. Yorkshire look as if they are in good batting form, but two losses in 5 suggests that they are beatable.

    What's worrying for us is that we've been in comfortable control of all four of our games, but only against Warwicks have we turned that into comfortable wins, and consequently our run rate has suffered as much as our nerves. Worcs showed again on Sunday what a flexible and resourceful team they are, so I'm less concerned about the defeat against them than by the way we almost let both Leics and Durham back into games that we should have won by a very wide margin. Two issues particularly occur to me.

    Batting, we are often 20 or 30 runs short of what looks likely around the 30 overs mark, and again wonder if we'd get better value from Critchley coming in at 7 or 8 in the last 10 overs when he can play freely, rather than trying to nibble singles which has got him out in both of the last two matches. Wilson and Smit work the ball around well in the closing overs, but could be doing that equally well higher in the order, and leaving Hughes and Critchley with the final overs.

    The other, as you point out, is the bowling in the final overs. I've thought in the last couple of games is that Rampaul is getting back to what we expected from him, and it's actually Viljoen who is the weak link. Against Worcs and Leics he bowled a very poor over that opened the floodgates, and, as he's bowling at the moment, I don't think he can be trusted in the last 10 overs The under-use of Olivier is also a mystery, as he's consistently bowled good spells at the start of the innings, taking wickets and bowling with good economy. There may be good reasons for not having him bowl at the death (possibly that he doesn't have the variations that Viljoen and Rampaul, although variety is only of value if it's being done well) but when he's bowling as well as he is, we should be using his full 10 overs somewhere.

  4. A very fair appraisal mefinx..I'm sure any falcons supportor would have taken this at the start of the season for sure..were gonna have a decent season with this squad..imho

  5. I think two more wins and today's likely rain-off should do it Mark, but it depends on other results in a tough group and that can change.

    I agree with Notoveryet on Critchley. I feel that the better use of his talent would be in the last ten overs, much as it is in the first half dozen in T20.

    He is a real talent, but between overs 25-40 you need to keep things ticking over. If you have wickets in hand with ten to go, it's all systems go and you can aim for ten an over. If you get six/seven working the gaps earlier, a decent start should give you a good total.

    Both Wilson and Smit have shown they have the nous to do that and leave Critchley's greater boundary-clearing ability to the latter part of the innings.

  6. Agreed on the scheduling Mark.

    Surely someone could check holiday Mondays and think it might be worthwhile to have cricket on those days, when people were off work and able to watch it?

    Not difficult, is it? Should it rain, that's life, but they can at least arrange it.


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