Saturday, 7 July 2018

Derbyshire v Worcestershire preview

T20 matches come thick and fast at this early stage and we have an early chance to make amends for last night's defeat against Lancashire when we play Worcestershire at the 3aaa County Ground tomorrow afternoon.

There are things we can do to make a better fist of tomorrow's game, aside from hoping that we don't run into a batsman in prime form, as was the case with Liam Livingstone last night. As I wrote then, sometimes you have to credit the opposition for playing well and he played an innings of astonishing talent and power.

Yet the target was never sufficiently challenging to put pressure on Lancashire. Full credit to Wayne Madsen, who is a fine player in this format and produced a full range of shots in batting almost through the innings. Someone has to do that and it is an established way to success in T20, but we reverted to the bad old days by allowing far too many dot balls.

There were twenty-nine in the Derbyshire innings, twenty of them coming in the Powerplay, which is pretty poor. So over half of the balls when the field was in and aggressive shots can clear them brought nothing. Successful sides will generally look to make ten an over from the first six - we took ten overs to reach 60. From there it was always a case of playing catch up.

I was impressed by Calum MacLeod, who worked it around well and lent good support to Wayne Madsen and I wondered how much more effective we would be had we had Luis Reece in there too. Part of last year's success was in having alternate left/right batsmen in down the order, but the early departure of Slater and the absence of Reece and Godleman meant that the visiting attack could get their lines right from the start.

So two things there but the bowling is another area for tweaking.

I hope that all three convince me otherwise, but there was no suggestion of anything special from three senior members of the team - Gary Wilson, Ravi Rampaul and Hardus Viljoen. I don't get the 'wow' factor from Wilson's captaincy and the failure to give Alex Hughes, a proven bowler in the format, an over until the tenth of the innings suggested a degree of inflexibility. It was highlighted last year, when Wayne Madsen opened the bowling against Hampshire, as he had with success all season, rather than give the ball to someone to bowl short against the Pakistan veteran.

Wilson is not especially mobile in the field and has struggled with a knee injury for a while, while his batting was not explosive enough for the situation when he came in to bat. Maybe Hughes or Viljoen should have come ahead of him, but I hope we are not going to have to hide the skipper in the field for whatever reason. He took a very good catch, but needs to play a big role from here.

I thought Lockie Ferguson and Wahab Riaz did OK, considering that the former hasn't played a match for two months and the latter for four. The overs will have done them good and getting that rustiness away will be useful. Rampaul bowled a few decent balls but some that were very poor, while Viljoen doesn't give me the vibe of a man who will take a lot of wickets anytime soon.

I don't think we can play all four in the same side, so the choice may come down to one of the latter two. Viljoen may get the nod for his greater batting ability at the end of an innings, though Rampaul  has the far greater record of T20 success.

Whether John Wright decides on changes for tomorrow is a moot point, but he will at least consider bringing in Safyaan Sharif for one of those bowlers and  both Anuj Dal and Matt McKiernan would give us different bowling options, while lengthening the batting.

Things to consider, decisions to make. One defeat doesn't make qualification unlikely, but the damage to our net run rate sees us bottom of the group after one match.

It is down to professionalism to get us back to parity tomorrow, against a Worcestershire side that tops the group after two games and has a powerful batting line up.

I'm not being negative, but I am being realistic in saying that we start the game as distant second favourites.

I hope they prove me wrong.


Mark Neve said...

1 Slater
2 MacLeod
3 Madsen
4 Hughes
5 Wilson ©️& W/k
6 Critchley
7 Dal
8 McKiernan
9 Wahab Riaz
10 Lockie Ferguson
11 Rampaul / Sharif

That would be my team I would put Critch into a finishing role move MacLeod and Madders one higher. What’s the point in best bats missing deliveries especially with his ability to split the field with his drives especially. Viljoen is a waste of space judging by the figures last night one dot ball got smashed out of the ground a few times. I would bring in 2 more slow ball options in Dal and the leggie giving us some more depth in batting too. Rampaul maybe gets another chance but Sherif as a death bowling specialist should really come in soon to see what he can do. We have bowlers coming out of our ears. The batting is simply lacking. Very disappointing start but it’s early days. Just annoying we prepare a track and frankly didn’t look like taking a wicket and we got only one when the game was over and I had turned my stream off in sheer disappointment much earlier

Anonymous said...

What's the latest regarding Luis Reece? Is he likely to play in any of the T20 this season

Mark said...

Northants, Leicestershire and Durham are our only victories in the T20 this season, the rest forget them.

notoveryet said...

Hard to argue with any of these comments. I'm not a great fan of the experience of T20, so often don't go but I was interested to see the new boys. Both Riaz and Ferguson looked pretty rusty so although there was some genuine pace, it was too variable. This is such a common experience with fast bowlers brought in for this format (not just Derbyshire, look at Steyn's performances for Hampshire) that I wonder that we carry on doing it after so many failures, or at least if we're going to get fast bowlers, make sure there's time for a couple of runouts for them in the seconds before the competition starts.

I commented in advance of the game about the absence of Billy Godleman, and the lack of power in the Derbyshire batting. Like him or not, he's one of the most powerful hitters in the Derbyshire squad, and one of the few with the power to clear the very long boundaries we set. Having seen what Livingstone is capable of in the one day cup, I was amazed that we used boundaries that most Derbyshire batsmen aren't powerful enough to reach, but Livingstone hits over for fun. If the opposition have batsmen capable of hitting over long boundaries that ours can't, bring them in and level the playing field a little.

I was probably more concerned by our batting than bowling. We didn't see enough of Slater to judge anything, but Critchley has struggled this season every time he's batted above 6. last night, the problem wasn't that he was missing playing big shots, but that they were airy wafts with none of the conviction or confidence that Livingstone showed, or that Critchley shows batting down the order. Madsen and Macleod batted nicely but showed no real urgency until the 15th over, long past the point that a headlong collapse would have been likely if they'd got out, and Wilson was simply a waste of balls. His captaincy was poor, inflexible and sometimes invisible as Smit did a great deal more of field placements than he did. If he's just going to pick up singles, he can do that just as well after Hughes, Viljoen and Riaz.

All in all, it looked like a team limited in confidence, low in self-belief, bereft in leadership, and lacking any real sense of unity. As early as the 4th over, most of the team were in double teapots with every boundary, and the missed catches came as no surprise. I fear there will be more of the same on Sunday, as Worcestershire will play in much the same way as Lancashire, and you think that it will take a lot longer than 24 hours to pick this team up.

Finally, a brickbat for the off-field team as well. As others have pointed out, even without a full house, there were too few bars and too few staff at them. The implications of warm weather, a big crowd, and a Friday evening were obvious to everyone except the Derbyshire facilities management. We're well used to poor quality, limited choice and high prices at Derby, but it would be laughable if it wasn't so serious that opportunities for generating income are so readily spurned by incompetence and poor planning. Simon Storey may be able to blame Kim Barnett for the poor state of the cricket team, but there's no such excuse on the catering and facilities side. As one Lancs supporter said nearby, "this place is run by F*****g muppets". Reluctant as I am to give credit to any Lancs supporter, the evidence at the moment supports him.