Thursday, 12 July 2018

Greetings from Berwick on Tweed

Good morning to all of you, no doubt a little down after England's World Cup exit last night in many cases. We watched the game in the local golf club in Berwick on Tweed, where we are on holiday, which hopefully explains my silence over the past day or two. It has been fairly quiet by recent standards at the cricket, so I have taken the time out to spend with my family.

Still there's cricket action to look forward to tomorrow, as we entertain Nottinghamshire at the 3aaa County Ground. We will need to be a lot more impressive with the bat than we have been to get anything from this game and while I believe we would be better chasing, rather than setting a target, we haven't yet taken anywhere near the requisite number of runs from the Powerplay to get far in this competition.

There is little can be done with the batting either, except maybe tweak the order. Perhaps it is time for Matt Critchley to drop down and let someone else open with Ben Slater, but he remains our best chance of getting off to a flyer. Perhaps the return of Hardus Viljoen would give us the fifth bowler we missed against Worcestershire, but only if he bowls like someone who can see where the stumps actually are. Then there's the wicket-keeping position, which is filled well by Daryn Smit but means that Gary Wilson, the captain, is in the field where he is some way from an asset.

Would John Wright be bold enough to drop his captain? I haven't been impressed by Wilson's batting so far and a bold move would be to give the role to Smit, who made a good fist of it last year when Wilson was on Ireland duty. They could alternatively look at Alex Hughes again, but either way there is plenty to occupy the minds of the coaches between times.

We'll find out soon enough but one man who will not be involved is Chesney Hughes, despite a second big century in successive matches for the second team. I feel for him and for Tom Wood, both playing and doing well for the second team after being released previously by Derbyshire, but it would be a big step for either to be re-engaged. Perhaps Ches is older and wiser now, more in touch with his game than he was and certainly lighter than before. Yet re-signing would be an admission of an earlier error in some eyes, even if both players have improved.

We will see what the winter brings, but the most important thing, for me, is to ensure that all of our current players are on deals that guarantees their staying at Derbyshire to the end of and hopefully beyond their current deals. Whether contracted or not, we all know that players move for greater opportunity or reward and that counties have previously bought out contracts of players they want to sign. It would be careless in the extreme if we were to lose any of the young players who offer promise for the future, as reports suggest is the case with Ben Slater.

On the likes of Ben, Matt Critchley and Luis Reece the club's future depends and we need to do the right thing by all of them to ward off the usual predators.


Lion said...

Hadn't appreciated the contractural situation re Chesney. So to play for the first team we would have to give him a formal contract (for how long?). Goes against the grain for me but I'd prefer Wilson to Smit and if he wants to play he would be wicketkeeper; as you say his mobility in the field isn't great. Bowlingwise, depends on the pitch. Whilst expensive, Critchley did threaten last Sunday and I think I'd stick with the same group of bowlers. Very quick changearound with a game on Saturday so Viljoen might come in then.
Enjoy Berwick - a lovely stretch of coast.

notoveryet said...

I'm not sure why admitting errors should be a problem, whether it's letting Chesney Hughes go, or the selection of the T20 squad. On the contrary, surely it's the sign of a learning environment that mistakes are admitted?

I'm not going to argue for Chesney Hughes return to the T20 side, which was never his strongest suit anyway, but 4day cricket is another matter. I was one of the few who thought releasing him was a mistake, even if his intransigence or over-valuation of his worth contributed to it. Many more would have agreed if they had known at the time that Neil Broom wasn't going to return, Gary Wilson would be such a huge disappointment, and Shiv Thakor was going to put a land-mine under his own career. Daryn Smit was brought in to replace Broom but hasn't managed even the latter's modest return. Godleman and Madsen are contributing less, and apart from Reece, none of the others has consistently scored enough runs to fill the hole that was left by Hughes.

Few will doubt Derbyshire desperately need to strengthen their batting for next season, all the more so if Slater is to go (and what does the utter silence about the state of contract talks with him say?). I don't see many proven batsmen out there waiting for a call from Derbyshire with a better record than Chesney Hughes. Yorkshire did the same with Tattersall and Rafiq after releasing them, and I don't see any reason for us not to do so with Hughes, unless there are such fragile egos around the club that that they can't admit they got it wrong. Even more so if, as you suggest might be the case, Hughes would come back a more humble and focused individual.

There seems to be the same kind of stubborn determination about the T20 selection. The squad announced today looks as if it's in batting order, with not even the slightest sign of tweaking. The continued absence of Godleman, even from the squad, suggests that there is more to it than purely cricketing reasons, and the lack of him and Reece means that there is no option but to continue with Critchley, despite the clear evidence that he is wasted there in his current form. At his best, he is indeed the only option for a flyaway start, but at the moment all it offers is a limpalong start. It also keeps in place the middle order triumvirate of Hughes, Wilson and Smit which for most of the one day summer has meant only sagging scoring rates and quick wickets. You may be right that Smit might be a better bet as captain than Wilson, but his poor batting and the effect it had in the last few overs on Sunday makes it very difficult for him to lead with any credibility.

It was interesting this afternoon to hear a conversation between Jonathan Agnew and Graeme Swann about the dropping of Alex Hales from the England one day side. As the most vulnerable to his inclusion in terms of form are Root and Morgan, they were talking about the impact on team morale of leaving out form players to protect the captain's position, and agreed that this could have a really detrimental effect, both on the team, and on the captain's authority. Whilst we don't exactly have players in great form lining up, it's hard to imagine anyone doing worse than Smit as things stand. Hughes hasn't been in great form either, and I'm not sure anyone thinks he did a great job a couple of years ago, so I think we're stuck with Wilson.

But as I said the other day, if he captains, he has to keep wicket as well, since we can't afford to have him and Smit bogging things down in the late middle order. This would allow us the extra bowler, and any of Viljoen, Sharif or Mckiernan offers the possibility of some quick runs. I suspect it will need something a great deal more substantial against Notts, but it could have made a difference on Sunday.

David Woolley said...

It takes two in a partnership to accept responsibility for previous errors.
Sounds to me like the club and Chez are partially there, as he is playing for us (because he wants to have another go), and the club are obviously allowing him to play ( presumably because they want to have another look at him).
Do we take another 'punt' on Chez, and indeed is it fair to perhaps agree a deal to the end of the season?? This is dependant on funds of course.
Personally, if we've got the money, i'd give him a go. As much as anything as cover if Slater advises that he will be moving on, If that were the case I wouldn't pick Slater for the remainder of the season, and we'd need another bat.

Clay Cross Mark said...

Morning Peakfan

I have been reading your blog for some years and what a great service you provide and brilliant writing.

I have supported Derbyshire for over 40 years ( my favourite era, Barlow, Hendrick, Kirsten, Miller and Wright etc) but have lived in London for over 30 of those. I am also a Middlesex v Surrey member but my heart is always with Derbyshire.

Two comments I would make. One, if Chesney is good enough, sign him and don't worry about the past. There are many examples of players successfully returning to their former clubs. This season both Ricky Clarke back to Surrey and Joe Denley to Kent have been huge successes.

On selection and perhaps coaching, what a shame we didn't get the best out of Matt Henry or Podmore and sign them when we had the chance. Both have played very well for Kent and helped them get to the One Day Final.

Peakfan, keep up the great work.


notoveryet said...

Meant to comment on Lion's question about contracts as well. No, players don't need to have long term contracts to play as long as they are a) qualified and b) registered by the club prior to playing, which can be done in a couple of days. Derbyshire have fallen foul of the latter a couple of times and been fined for fielding an unqualified player. Like Peakfan, I wouldn't expect it to happen for the T20, whatever longer-term plan there might be, partly because it would be a poor show of faith in contracted players who are presumably able to step in - Godleman, Brodick - and partly because it's never really been a format that Hughes excels in.

Peakfan said...

Good comments, gentlemen, and thank you for the kind comments Mark. Hopefully we hear plenty more from you!

Peakfan said...

On Chesney - I see no issue with Chesney coming back, but I am not sure that the current administration would make the admission of a mistake being made. Such a decision will be the responsibility of the new Head of Cricket and nothing will be sorted until then.