Friday, 4 May 2018

Reflections

The Derbyshire second team, largely made up of academy players and trialists, were beaten yesterday by Worcestershire, for who Ross Whiteley made a big hundred.

Ross is 30 this summer and it crossed my mind that a player of his ability really shouldn't be playing regular second team cricket at that age. His county will doubtless bring him out of cold storage for the RLODC and the T20, but the rest of the summer can't be that much fun, playing in front of a small crowd on an out ground.

His boundary-clearing exploits could, perhaps should have made him a star in the IPL, but a closer look at his record shows only three fifties in the T20 format. Maybe batting higher might have helped, but he has been the late innings impetus man, a role that sees a player's performance suffer through the lack of time to get 'in'.

I think back to the player who played a fine hand in the closing session of our 2012 trophy summer and can't help but think that he hasn't, for one reason or another, gone as far as I expected him to do. Having said that, were he in our side for this year's T20, I think he would be the missing link. He gave both Charlie Hartley and Azharullah some stick yesterday and remains as clean a striker of a ball as you could wish to see, just as he looked when I first saw him in our second team ten years or so back.

Returning to the present, it was a privilege to watch that innings of Wayne Madsen yesterday, which was astonishing in its technical mastery. I haven't seen anyone play the sweep better, and he really is a club legend. He looks in prime form and it bodes well for a fine summer, for him and the club.

Boding equally well was the sight of Matt Critchley (21) and Hamidullah Qadri (17) bowling in tandem at the end of the day. To put it in perspective, their combined age is that of Jeetan Patel, who again bowled beautifully. He has been, pound for pound, the best overseas player in the county game for the last few summers, but the two young tyros looked wonderful prospects.

There are plenty of spinners can fire it in flat and get by in one-day cricket with six men out on the fence. It is a different kind of pressure to keep control of line and length with slips and short legs in place. Critchley looks a different bowler after a winter working with Stuart McGill in Australia and it does pose the question, if he can sustain it, as to whether we need another spinner for T20 or just go with him. With a composed innings, two canny overs and a superb catch at slip, he displayed his talents to the world yesterday.

Qadri? He will play for England. He looks to have it all, together with the composure to be unfazed by what is going on. The only thing he won't get is bounce, because of his height, but his control of line and length and his ability, already, to bowl a wide range of deliveries is extraordinary.

He looks an organised batsman who will, as he grows, potentially become an all-rounder, but his bowling is special and that looks a really good county attack in this game.

Fast right arm, fast left arm, Fast medium right arm, leg spin, off spin, with three other bowlers available if needed. There's little wonder that a few people are rapidly re-assessing their pre-season harbingers of doom role.

Somehow, if not always in the conventional manner, we are cobbling together enough runs for the bowlers to work with. 250-plus keeps you in a game, 300 puts you on the front foot. Our long tail is wagging well and there are contributions down to number ten.

Last night I read reports that said the first day was even. I'd say, judging by the body language of Warwickshire as the score passed 300, that they felt we had got away on a wicket that will turn more over the next three days.

For that we can thank the genius of Madsen.

It's up to the others to do their stuff now.

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