Friday, 22 October 2021

Scottish success offers Derbyshire interest

I have taken a great deal of pride in watching the Scottish cricket team at this World Cup. If you like cricket and live in the country, you have to. 

I know one or two of the squad - indeed Calum MacLeod played hockey for the same club as me - but the Derbyshire connection is strong and may yet get stronger.

Their success as a cricket nation started with the appointment of Grant Bradburn, and Shane Burger has taken things on well. Bradburn gave them a strong team ethic, a never say die attitude and an understanding that all eleven need to be at the top of their game to compete. 

Safyaan Sharif, Ali Evans, Calum MacLeod and Mark Watt all played for Derbyshire, albeit with varying degrees of success. Watt was dispensed with too soon, but seems to have worked hard on his weight, which was likely an issue. That he is a canny spinner is beyond doubt and he is a thinker. Balls from 23/24 yards, from two or three paces, from wider on the crease.. I like his combative edge and if Derbyshire were to lose Matt Critchley this winter  (I remain convinced we will) then he would be a decent pick for T20.

Wicket keeper Matthew Cross might be a decent option too. I liked the way he handled the chase yesterday, assaying nothing stupid, just knocking it around, which is all that was required. His glove work is undemonstrative and he strikes me as a thinker. He had some time at Essex and Nottinghamshire, but may well be a classic late developer. 

With Brooke Guest the only wicket keeper on our staff, the new HOC will look for someone to push him, I suspect. 

Meanwhile counties will doubtless look at Richie Berrington and George Munsey and fancy them in their T20 sides. Both are good batsmen, fine fielders, solid assets. I am not necessarily advocating our need for them - we don't lack explosive batsmen - but the departure of Critchley would leave a gap in the order.

It will be worth watching them as the tournament progresses, but so too leg-spinning all rounder Chris Greaves and off spin counterpart Michael Leask. As players for an associate status cricket nation with British passports, they may well find their talents in demand as summer approaches.

I look forward to seeing how they handle the top level teams they will now face, just as I eagerly await news of our new Head of Cricket. 

Anyway, unless that news breaks in the next few days, I will be quiet for that period. Into hospital at 11am, surgery on my hand at noon and back, with a cast, in the late afternoon. 

I will see you on the other side, when I will get to grips with the voice recognition software again.

Later...

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Hosein retires from cricket

Sad news from Derbyshire this morning, with the announcement of the enforced retirement of Harvey Hosein.

Four recent concussions have seen the only logical consequence for the wicket-keeper/batsman. There are far more important things in life than cricket and Harvey will doubtless get support from the club and the Professional Cricketers Association as he forges a new career.

It is a desperate shame for the player and also for the club. He has always been an organised, technically correct batsman, one capable of accumulating steadily, if not usually quickly. Last season he started the year in fine form, his technique solid and his bat seemingly impenetrable. Sadly, the blows on the head that he received have had major consequences and his career has ended prematurely.

As a wicket keeper he was solid, occasionally spectacular. His record haul on debut at The Oval, when he looked slight enough to be collecting autographs, rather than catches, perhaps hindered him subsequently, as high expectations were set for a lad who had been promoted ahead of his time.

Like Tom Poynton before him, he has the time and opportunity to make a new career and, as a bright lad, he will undoubtedly do so.

Like all county supporters I wish him well.

It leaves Derbyshire, a county that at times has had three or four keepers on the books, with only Brooke Guest to call upon. The new Head of Cricket will look at that and decide whether a second keeper is needed, or the money could be better utilised elsewhere in the squad.

With loans fairly easily accessible, both options are very feasible and there will be good options out there if a permanent option is deemed the better one. 

Saturday, 16 October 2021

Nice question on the HOC role

I would like to thank a regular contributor to this blog for an interesting question that I received by email today.

'You said you had looked at a lot of coaches, Peakfan and that Grant Bradburn was your pick in a fantasy shortlist.

What if that shortlist included, obviously hypothetically, an international coach or two? For example, wouldn't someone like Justin Langer, Ravi Shastri, Mark Boucher or Mickey Arthur be a better fantasy bet'? 

And I thought I was getting into fantasy land! 

The big appeal for me in Bradburn would be that he has coached, broadly speaking, at Derbyshire level and under budgetary constraints. He has had great success with them in New Zealand and in Scotland, which is a major consideration in appointing to such a role. 

When coaching at an elite level, it is different. In fact, I asked that very question of John Wright in my book, In Their Own Words: Derbyshire Cricketers in Conversation. His reply was:

'The pressures at international level are the hardest, but the main difference is that at county level you are working with players who have a wider spectrum of ability and attitude. That creates challenges and you cannot be ruthless at county level. In international cricket you bring in someone else. At county level you need to be patient and wait for players to realise what they are capable of.

There is also much less technical emphasis in the international arena. The players are the best of the best and so you are more 'hands off' '

John Wright had a spell at Kent before taking over as first New Zealand, then India coach, so he knows his stuff. 

 Of those named, Langer coached Western Australia for several years before taking the Australian job, while Boucher did very well for the Titans in South Africa, winning several trophies. Multi-millionaire Ravi Shastri would never come to England from the role he has, while Arthur had surprisingly little coaching outside the elite level, only a couple of years at Griqualand West before moving to coach South Africa, then Australia and now Sri Lanka. 

Would such people bring an 'elite mentality' to Derbyshire if, theoretically, they opted for a 'quieter' life? Yes, probably, but my concern would be exactly as John Wright said, plus we would likely only be a short-term stepping stone to the next elite role. 

Besides, IF Bradburn came in - and I must stress his resignation from the Pakistan role may be mere coincidence - I remain convinced he would bring that little sprinkle of fairy dust. He knows cricket, cricketers, people and getting the best from them. 

Anyway, fantasies, notions and wild ideas are done. 

By next weekend I expect us to know our new Head of Cricket.

Maybe we are all wide of the mark and we end up with Alan Titchmarsh...

If so, we will know Neil Godrich was on the panel!

Bradburn resignation starts conjecture

I had several messages yesterday about Grant Bradburn, regarding his resignation from his post with the Pakistan Cricket Board. 

I had seen the news early yesterday and like many of you was intrigued. 

Bradburn was in a very senior role, Head of Performance, the capo dei capi in the coaching field in that country. Undoubtedly a senior, very highly paid position. 

Could he, or would he resign that post to come to Derbyshire? Or is the timing coincidental and he has been offered a position elsewhere? 

As I wrote several weeks ago, and have done since, he would be my choice of Head of Cricket. Yet we don't know he has applied, nor that he is in line to be interviewed. 

One would assume that the latter would be a formality, if he did the former and also that he would by far be the best qualified candidate. 

Yet we must not get ahead of ourselves. I understand that we have still to interview some candidates anyway, so even if he was interviewed, an announcement may not be imminent. 

I have been part of a number of interview processes where the successful or preferred candidate was known in advance, but the process had to be followed and those interviews completed. 

IF (note the capital letters) Bradburn applied for the job and IF ( note them again..) he was interviewed, then the likelihood is he will be new Head of Cricket. He is intelligent, articulate, supremely qualified and perfect for the job. 

But we don't know if he has. 

While his potential appointment would be as exciting for me as anyone, I will keep my powder dry until there is an announcement. 

But what an announcement it would be.. 

Thursday, 14 October 2021

Back to two divisions in 2022

As we wait for the communication, be it puffs of smoke, semaphore or tweet, that announces the new Head of Cricket at Derbyshire, news comes today of a return to two divisions next season.

It is welcome for me. I like my life and  sport simple and three conferences always struck me as a faff, even if a necessary one in these Covidian times.  I struggled with most of last season after our awful start to it, but the latter section, merely to prove who was best and worst of the worst, was pretty dull fare.

It was ironic, because those celebrating the creation of three conferences said it meant there would be no meaningless games like we used to see in three-day cricket when it was a seventeen or eighteen-team single division. I liked that and far preferred seeing every county and its players in the course of a summer, even when tenth v twelfth didn't matter all that much. 

Now? Leicestershire twice in T20 and four-day, maybe in the RLODC. Same for Nottinghamshire, who must have hoped that the ECB might forget they will be in division two alongside us... 

They must start massive favourites for that division next year, although if we get our Head of Cricket appointment right and recruit good overseas players, we can challenge for the second promotion berth.

But so can most teams and that is the beauty of it. Fixtures will be out in November and there is no one else in the division that, with a good, motivational coach and a sage selection policy, we can't beat.

The two divisions :

Division One

Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Kent, Lancashire, Northamptonshire, Somerset, Surrey, Warwickshire, Yorkshire

Division Two

Derbyshire, Durham, Glamorgan, Leicestershire, Middlesex, Nottinghamshire, Sussex, Worcestershire.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts. 

Indeed, if anyone wants to give me theirs on next season and the new coach (when announced) in an article, do please let me know.

Next Friday I go in to hospital for surgery on my other hand, which I was supposed to have over two years ago. I will be unable to type for two weeks, but will again use voice recognition software, as I did before, if there are breaking stories.

Do please keep your thoughts and comments coming! 

Saturday, 9 October 2021

Weekend Blog

Enjoying a nice day off yesterday, I spent a pleasant few hours watching Scotland play Papua New Guinea in a T20 in Dubai. Earlier I had watched Ireland demolished by the United Arab Emirates in another warm up match for the T20 World Cup, but the Scots hold considerable 'Derbyshire' interest.

Ali Evans was bowling, while Calum MacLeod (quaintly called 'Maclee-od' by one commentator) not only saw his team to victory with the bat but bowled a few tight overs of off spin, which slowed their opponents down. He started his career as a handy seamer, but suggestions that his arm wasn't always straight saw it largely go by the wayside.

There was a good finishing knock too from Richie Berrington, who very nearly had a trial with Derbyshire during John Morris' time. I put him in touch with the then Derbyshire coach and a trial was arranged but fell through due to his Scottish commitments.  It was a pity, because he is a decent cricketer and was then in a rich vein of form.

It is always a pleasure to watch George Munsey bat and as someone commented early in the week, he would be a one-day asset to Derbyshire or most sides.

The powerful left-hander led off in typical style and is in a rich vein of form just now. Whether he could fit into a Derbyshire batting line up at full strength is a moot point.

In today's Scotland game against Namibia, both Mark Watt and Safyaan Sharif are on display, so there is plenty of Derbyshire interest out there. Only tarnished by a commentator who bellows into the microphone at any activity. Jim Laker, he isn't... 

Much will depend on winter activity at the Incora County Ground, both in the recruitment of the Head of Cricket and any possible departures.

I'd recommend the Free Sports Channel 64 on Freeview. The South African domestic T20 is going just now and there are some fine players on view, our own Leus du Plooy soon to be among them, playing for South Western Districts. 

Tuesday, 5 October 2021

Congratulations

Well done to Neil Jones, who is the winner of the first sponsors draw for a cricket book over the winter.

A signed copy of Luke Sutton's 'Life of a Sports Agent' will soon be winging its way to Neil's home - can you drop me an email with your address, please Neil?

Many thanks to those who entered and there will be another book up for grabs next month!

If you want to take part, or if you just want to sponsor the blog, please click the 'donate' button, that you will see on the top left hand side of the screen when on a PC or tablet. 

Sunday, 3 October 2021

Fantasy short list

I always like it when a question posed in an email generates thoughts worthy of an article.

So it is that today I give you my fantasy five-man short list of people who I would love to have applied for the Derbyshire job. I have no idea if they have, but these five would give the board some fascinating interviews and provide a heady mix of experience. Thanks to an old friend for providing the stimulus for it!

Ian Bell

I think he wants to get in to coaching, so why not with a challenge? On the up side, his name would generate interest. On the down side, he has no background in coaching but has recent playing experience. Can he motivate people? 

Karl Krikken

The coach with the best record in recent history. Would he leave a role at Lancashire where he is settled? Would he go back to a club that sacked him? He is good with young players, both spotting and developing them. 

Mark Alleyne

Back working with Gloucestershire and a man with a fine track record as player, captain and coach. Yet not given a role in the game for a few years, for some reason. That he would be a canny coach is beyond doubt, that his tactics would be sharp is too. Could he get the best from a group of players not without talent? Would he capture media attention?

Simon Katich

Knows Derbyshire, knows the English game, but likely to be part of the 100 in some capacity and while the concept is appealing, the conflict of interest would be an issue. An overseas coach might be the way to go if he could cover the bases of the job description and offer knowledge of the county and world game. 

Grant Bradburn

For me - and I have spent a lot of time in recent months studying potential coaches around the world - he would be 'the man' . 

The question mark is if he would be remotely interested in Derbyshire. He has a senior role, Head of Performance in coaching the top coaches in Pakistan. 

His career and reputation has been made in improving the fortunes of clubs and countries that were minnows.  He did it in New Zealand, in Fiji and in Scotland. 

I would be astonished were he to apply, but this is a fantasy list and I have read that he is away from his family in Pakistan, which must be a strain. He is also known to John Wright, who brought him to the county for a few weeks to work on the T20, with success. 

That is my top five fantasy list. If any one of those applied they would be a stand out, bringing new ideas, voice and tactics to the club. 

If they all applied? You couldn't go past Bradburn. Living in Scotland, I saw what he did for the cricket team and its media profile up here. The players both respected  and responded to him. They beat England, claimed several other notable scalps and became more professional. He is a thinker, a strategist, a tactician, but most of all a motivator who gets the best from people. 

We can all dream, right?

And if you have ideas for other articles over the winter, please drop me an email or DM on Twitter. 

Saturday, 2 October 2021

Landmark weekend and deadline passes

 Been a busy old week chez Peakfan, with my birthday among other things that have kept me busy.

It is also a landmark weekend, with the blog going past 2.75 million views and interest continuing. Thank you so much to all those who check in, wherever you are in the world.

Yesterday was the closing date for applications for the Head of Cricket role, so we are fast approaching a defining moment for Derbyshire cricket.

I think they will want to interview as soon as possible, so my expectation is that the successful candidate will be announced inside the next fortnight, so he can get on with the job of improving our fortunes in 2022.

With John Sadler already taking the Northamptonshire role, it is the only one on the county circuit at present. A challenge, for sure, but one that a lot of people should fancy. We just need someone brave enough to make big decisions, intelligent enough to strategise the club's future and cricket-savvy to make our game more aggressive. Throw in the need for motivational skills and good contacts and the need for someone special is clear.

Fingers crossed we get such a man.

In closing,  there are just over 24 hours to put your name in the hat for a signed copy of Luke Sutton's excellent book 'Life of a cricket agent'

It is open to anyone who has so far sponsored the blog, so if you have done so AND would like the book, please drop me an email to peakfan36@yahoo.co.uk

If you haven't yet donated, please feel free to click the 'donate' button that is visible on your PC or tablet, in the top left hand corner.

I look forward to announcing the winner in the coming week.

Good luck!

Three re-sign as Priestley leaves

I didn't have time earlier in the week to comment on the contracts awarded at Derbyshire, but I have a few minutes now.

I have no real issue with the award of two year contracts to Alex Hughes and Tom Wood, nor the one-year one to Mattie McKiernan. It was something of an inevitability for the latter two, after the awards they won at the club's annual dinner last weekend.

With Wood having been 'poster boy' for the club Twitter feed in recent weeks, it would have looked pretty silly to then announce his release. His century against Nottinghamshire will live long in the collective memory and his power and  stroke play in one day cricket will prove a potent weapon.

He has work to do on his technique for the four-day game and the defence isn't as secure as it could be, but the talent is there for the new Head of Cricket to work on. 

Similarly, McKiernan was voted Second XI player of the year, so to then announce his departure would have made the club a laughing stock.

I like him as a cricketer, but he needs to make the most of his opportunities next year under a new Head of Cricket. He also needs to be given more at senior level, because his bowling seems to be seen as a 'last resort'. I think it is better than that and perhaps he, like Anuj Dal, could benefit from greater responsibility.

Long time readers will know I am a big fan of Alex Hughes  and so I am pleased to see him get a new deal. Coming in from left field, he will be a strong contender for the captaincy if they don't look to Matt Critchley, certainly in the one-day games. A change is needed, in my opinion, with fresh eyes and enthusiasm. 

Yet my concern is that Dave Houghton has made, or been allowed to make, decisions on contracts when he won't be at the club.
Unless the new Head of Cricket is to be given a pot of money as yet undeclared, he looks set to go with the same squad for next year, as he has been presented with a fait accompli.

I just find it very odd. So whoever comes in cannot be fairly judged next year, unless he turns us into a mid-table side, because there would appear to be only money for the overseas players.

It makes the appointment of the right man absolutely critical, because we desperately need someone with a track record of motivation, capable of getting the best from what we have.

Nils Priestley won't be part of the new regime, his release having been announced yesterday.

A talented cricketer, capable of useful left arm spin and clean hitting, his development was not sufficient, at this stage, to earn a new deal.

It could come again, if he goes away and works on his game, or his future could be outside cricket.

Either way, I wish him well. 

Sunday, 26 September 2021

Questions on the Head of Cricket role

I have had a few people drop me emails with regard to the Head of Cricket role and I thought I would respond to those questions on the blog, as they have recurred.

Do I think anyone internally will apply and do I think they might be options?

They are always options, but in an ideal world where we get interest of good standard from outside the club, my preference would be for a new broom. The squad needs a dispassionate look from outside, at players, performance and salaries. Are we getting the maximum bang for our buck from senior players on major salaries? 

In setting up the Academy and Pathway, Dave Houghton did a good job. We look to have some talented players coming through the age groups and I think they have the right man in charge with Daryn Smit. Especially since he will be focusing his weekends now on watching them and/or playing locally, which I would have thought a key element of the role.

There he can see the young talent in match situations and hopefully help them progress with sage advice.

I don't think this is the time for him to get the top job, but don't think Mal Loye or Ajmal Shahzad are either. The former was overlooked when Houghton got the job and I am not convinced he is the right 'fit' for that role. I also think Shahzad is doing a good job with the young bowlers and might be an option down the line, but not just yet.

Ian Bell is understood to be looking for a coaching role. Is he a possibility? 

Yes, though I have no idea what his abilities as a coach may be. Is he a motivator? His name would create interest, for sure, but that isn't the same as turning around our fortunes. He will know a lot of players, has very recent experience and MIGHT prove a decent wildcard pick. 

Do you seriously think Grant Bradburn would leave a role in Pakistan for Derbyshire? 

Why not? Did anyone really think Eddie Barlow would come here, or Dean Jones? I know people in Scotland were surprised when he took that role but he led them to memorable wins and heightened standards. 

Pakistan and its cricket is always in a state of flux and he strikes me as a man who likes a challenge. Were I on the board, I would take the initiative and approach him. 

What about Wayne Madsen as an option? 

Possibly, at some point. Though our greater need for now is his batting. It is not sustainable to be player/coach and only Mark Alleyne ever managed that with success. I think Wayne is too young to pack in as a player and has a couple more good years in him with the right man at the helm. 

Why are you against Chris Adams? 

I never said I was! I just don't think the Derbyshire way of appointing our former players is the right way. Chris is a strong man and good coach, but my impression of his methods is that they are similar to John Morris and Kim Barnett, neither of which ended well (sadly). 

When will this be sorted? 

Closing date is October 1 and I expect them to want to interview soon afterwards. There are contracts to renew or otherwise, overseas players to sign and memberships /sponsorships to sell. 

The sooner we have someone in place the better, for all concerned. 

Friday, 24 September 2021

Season review

With due respect to all involved, I have never been so disillusioned as I was this year in watching Derbyshire. While there were green shoots of promise and it ended with a win, for the most part it was depressing fare. The early 1970s were bad, but we still had Lawrence Rowe, Venkat, Ward, Hendrick and Taylor, even when results weren't there. 

The main problem was a batting line up that struggled all summer. I am discounting the run fest down at Hove in the final match, as the opposition bowling was inexperienced to a man, but too many times the batting collapsed like a pack of cards, leaving our own young attack little to work with.

Billy Godleman looked jaded for much of the summer, endured an awful Blast which did no favours for the coach who kept picking him and returned to an approximation of his best only in the season's closing weeks. I would see him as a wily senior pro next year and hope that a change of captaincy will allow him to focus on his batting in four-day and 50-over cricket. 

Luis Reece struggled manfully with injuries to his shoulder and knee, both requiring winter surgery, but his game was badly affected. Only in the Vitality Blast did he show his real class and we must hope that he returns to his best form next year. I would love to see the new Head of Cricket be fair with a move down the order in four-day cricket, as the current work load is colossal and may shorten his career. 

Leus du Plooy was another who kept his best for the Vitality Blast. He plays on a different level to most at his peak, but too often this summer lapsed to a level of mediocrity that was hard to fathom. Capable of destroying the best of attacks, his hesitant starts in the longer form were painful to watch and eight ducks show where he needs to improve. 

Wayne Madsen missed too much of the season for comfort, after tearing his hamstring at the start of the Blast. His absence stymied any chance of our success in that competition, as even in the later years of his career he remains the side's best player, the wicket most wanted by opponents. He remained a safe slip, though his bowling was rarely seen. Again, we must hope he returns to something closer to his best under a new coach, as the thought of Derbyshire sans Madsen is hard to think about. 

Matt Critchley had a terrific season. He started the summer in sparkling form, tailed off mid-season but came back to form to reach his thousand runs in the last match. His bowling, in the time honoured method of leg spin, could be devastating or expensive, but his potential loss this winter would be a huge blow. The appointment of a good coach could yet kick him on to another level, but Critch may see his future elsewhere. I hope not, as his languid style and infectious enthusiasm are a joy to watch. 

Tom Wood at last had his chance after years in the wings. A brilliant century against Nottinghamshire in the RLODC showed what he could do, while his belated introduction to the Blast side saw him finish top of the averages. Yet in the longer form he looked ponderous in footwork and loose in defence. Worth a one-day contract, perhaps, but that may not be enough for him and the jury remains out on his four-day future. An average under ten isn't a strong argument. 

Harry Came was signed after a couple of second team innings and can certainly hit a ball. The question is whether  his propensity to play across his front pad and away from his body will allow him to do it for long enough against good bowlers and red balls. He has two years to show what he can do and if he can temper his aggression with a little more nous might prove a handy player. 

Alex Hughes had a tough year, missing matches with injury and seemingly deemed a bloke to run around the outfield at other times. I don't think his being used as a night watchman at Chelmsford did him any favours and was an insult to a player who has batted his best at number three. He remains an early pick in my one - day side and should have been skipper before now. Will there be a new contract? I hope so, but sadly the figures don't stack up this year for a committed and gutsy cricketer. 

Anuj Dal was written off by many by the time August arrived, myself included. It is to his great credit that he was the side's most reliable player in the closing weeks, suddenly realising he could both score runs and take wickets at this level. We all know he is a wonderful fielder but if he can carry that form through, we may just have found a good all-rounder in a time of adversity. He is a joy to watch, has a ready smile and an obvious enjoyment of what he does. A new contract seems  certain and deservedly so. 

Brooke Guest made a positive impression on most. While the weight of runs to fully  back the claim wasn't there, he looked an organised player with plenty of time. His century against Leicestershire will do him good, while his wicket keeping was generally tidy and improved with a guaranteed slot. He looks a good bet for a long county career. 

Harvey Hosein batted very well in early season and seemed to have sorted his early innings foot movement issue, one that used to see him a prime candidate for lbw. I would prefer to see him up the order a little, as he isn't a player who can cut loose when batting with the tail. I just hope two late season concussions haven't impaired his confidence. Steady, if not spectacular with the gloves, the battle for the wicket - keeper role will be fascinating. 

Ben Aitchison finished top of the bowling averages, took the most wickets and deservedly so. He looks set for a long county career, though is a greater force in four-day cricket at this stage. A good work horse, he forms a nice pairing with Sam Conners and they offer considerable potential to the new HOC. He bowls with good rhythm and is also a safe slip fielder, while I suspect the batting could develop too. 

Sam Conners is always a threat with a new ball but needs to build himself up so he can stay fit throughout the season. I had the feeling that he was less of a threat in his later spells and will need to prove he can bowl three or four spells a day of equal menace. If he can, he will be a fine bowler, as the basics are all in place. He and Aitchison could be very special together. 

Mikey Cohen was also improved, before the latest back injury of his career ended his season early. He might need to modify his action, as he seems to come down hard on his right side, which is likely where he has the problem. If that doesn't make him less effective he is another with long-term potential, because he has genuine pace which was better directed than before. 

Dusty Melton was badly affected by injury and will need a big, fit season next year to convince the new HOC of his long term merit. When he does play, his pace and aggression are great to see, but that will need to be seen more often than we have so far. Filling one of the crucial overseas berths, he has to step up on a regular basis. The talent and pace are there to do so. 

I like Mattie McKiernan as a player, but I am not convinced he is more than a bits and pieces man at this level. Tidy with bat and ball, excellent in the field, but is that enough? He lacked opportunity, but didn't really grasp the limited ones that he got. 

Alex Thomson arrived mid-season and is similar to McKiernan. I am not currently sure if he has what it takes to bowl sides out, while his batting looks useful, but no more than that. He has two years to prove me wrong and I hope he does, because we have long needed a decent off spinner. I am just not sure how much cricket he will get, to be honest and like Harry Came, two years to show what he could do seemed excessive to many supporters. 

I don't expect to see George Scrimshaw again in our colours. He had some good Vitality Blast matches, but turned down a deal in favour of one elsewhere. Good luck to him, but Derbyshire gave him a chance to  get back into county cricket and one would hope that counted for something. 

Fynn Hudson-Prentice will be missed and made a big impression on supporters. Very much an impact player and capable of impressing with bat and ball, he was the sort of player we really need to retain to progress. I wish a whole-hearted player and lovely lad the very best. 

Overseas players? I might as well put them together as they barely featured. Billy Stanlake was a huge mistake, an accident waiting to happen, while Ben McDermott didn't look to have the technique for wickets that do anything. Dusty Melton barely played, while Logan van Beek took wickets but was simply too expensive in the Blast. Ravi Rampaul returned for the RLODC but looked to be past his best days. 

The failure of those selections was a major contribution to the departure of Dave Houghton. Good overseas input can mask deficiencies elsewhere, but we had next to none this year. 

The Head of Cricket made poor and questionable selections, showed limited ability to motivate and frustrated supporters with anodyne post match comments which blamed all but Uncle Tom Cobbly. 

After all, he recruited most of the players he was slating. He insulted Alex Hughes at Chelmsford and Harvey Hosein to a members forum. As Head of Cricket it was his job to know what the issue was with a batting line up that never functioned, his comments of 'I can't put my finger on it' being of no value to anyone and rather an embarrassment. 

Furthermore, he released Tony Palladino. There was one more summer at least in the loyal seamer, whose input on challenging days would have made a difference. Look around the circuit to the clubs that had that experienced bowler and the difference that it made. 

Like every other supporter, I am aware of the financial challenges at the county. That means that recruitment has to be especially canny and with a handful of exceptions, his wasn't. It also means that you work with and strive to get the best from what you have - and he didn't. 

His replacement is worth waiting for and spending money on. We previously took an easy option and appointed a man 'on the doorstep' who wouldn't cost relocation expenses and could start immediately. 

We cannot do that again. 

Whoever comes through the recruitment process this time has to come through a robust and thorough one that finds the best man for the job. I have said before that the dream appointment would be Grant Bradburn, who has made his reputation on developing players and teams where money was an issue. Mark Alleyne would be another good option, a strong strategist like Bradburn and also capable of getting the best from people. 

2022 can be better, even if we don't have much money to spend. That Dave Houghton was bizarrely allowed to recruit  for the year still puzzles me. 

There are good players at the club who the right coach could mould into a competitive team. But in my message to the board, PLEASE don't pick a guy who used to play for Derbyshire simply because you know them. 

If he turns out to be the best option, so be it, but let's be ambitious, brave and innovative in our appointment. 

2021 was a summer to forget. 

2022 can be one when the club starts to rise again. 

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Sussex v Derbyshire day 3

Derbyshire 465 and 23-1

Sussex 300 and 187 (Rawlins 58, Madsen 2-8, Dal 2-17, Moulton 2-24, Melton 2-40)

Derbyshire won by nine wickets

Derbyshire ended their 2021 season and the tenure of Dave Houghton with a nine-wicket win today at Hove, while Matt Critchley went in to open and was able to score the 15 runs he needed to reach a thousand runs for the first time.

It was a good effort, even if we have to remember that the home side were well below strength. Once Ben Aitchison had removed Ben Brown early this morning, Critchley quickly ran through the tail and Billy Godleman, surprisingly in some eyes, opted to enforce the follow on. It made sense to me, when the home side's experience lay in batting and the attack was essentially young players. A last afternoon run chase would have been realistic.

It wasn't needed though. Ed Moulton's natural in swing was a problem for the left handers and he took two early wickets, Brown playing on while playing the shot he barely mishit in his first innings. Skipper Haines rather gave it away with a suicidal call for a single, and although Aitchison's throw wasn't the best, Guest gathered and removed the bails with excellent agility.

After lunch, as in the first innings, Sussex were troubled by the pace of Dusty Melton and it was clear why Dave Houghton has given him another year. There are echoes of a latter day Ole Mortensen in his sustained aggression and his excitement on getting wickets and bullish aggression at all times is good to see.

He opened the door and the innings was brought to a close with two wickets each from Anuj Dal and Wayne Madsen, whose bowling has been almost unicorn-rare this summer. A blitz from Rawlins ensured that we needed to bat again, but 23 off over a hundred overs was not likely to trouble even our fragile batting.

Critchley opened with Came, the latter soon departing, but the former had the glory of the winning run, which also brought up his thousand for the summer. It has been a terrific effort and if one adds in his 32 wickets, his value to the side is clear.

Will we see him in Derbyshire colours again? I hope so, but much will depend on the appointment of the new Head of Cricket. If it didn't affect the way he plays the game, I would consider offering the captaincy, because I feel it is time for change on the field too.

Billy Godleman has done a sterling job for the county, but a new broom would be beneficial as we start a new era. Billy can then focus on being the best he can as opening batsman and being a sage advisor to the new man.

Thanks to Dave Houghton for his efforts and to the players for at least sending us into the winter on a win. 

I will be back over the weekend with my season review. 

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Sussex v Derbyshire day 2

Derbyshire 465 (Dal 49*)

Sussex 255-6 (Brown 150*, Carter 51, Aitchison 3-60, Melton 3-47)

Derbyshire lead by 210 runs

A superb century by Ben Brown proved the major obstacle to Derbyshire's hopes of ending the season with a win at Hove today.

After our first innings ended at 465, with Anuj Dal continuing his excellent end of season form with an unbeaten 49, Brown played pretty much a lone hand for the home side.

Oli Carter made a nice half century and helped to add 142 for the fifth wicket after Sussex slipped to 46-4 at one stage. Ben Aitchison took a wicket with the first ball of the innings, Orr caught behind by Guest. But after Aitchison's three - wicket salvo there was, no further joy until Melton struck twice in an over after tea, removing Carter and Rawlins.

Melton also took three wickets and bowled with good pace all day, while Dal continued to show signs of becoming a steady bowler. If he can get a little more menace in his bowling, he could prove an all rounder of talent. There wasn't much in the wicket for Critchley, while McKiernan barely bowled. Meanwhile Moulton looks a little out of his depth at this level and I would be surprised if we pursued an interest in the Lancashire seamer. 

Brown ended the day on 150 out of 255-6, a splendid and hugely enjoyable innings. Brooke Guest was convinced he had him stumped in the day's penultimate over, but the umpire deemed otherwise. Otherwise he went serenely on and kept his side in the game. 

A rush of wickets tomorrow morning may still see the follow on enforced, but I would be surprised if we did. Our best chance of a win might be the hope it turns in two days time, while Matt Critchley will want a crack at the last fifteen runs he needs for his thousand.

All still to play for then, with two days to go. 

Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Sussex v Derbyshire day 1

Derbyshire 371-5 (Madsen 111, Critchley 85, Godleman 52, Came 45, Guest 30*)

v Sussex

Relatively speaking, there haven't been too many days in our long history where Derbyshire have made batting look easy, but today was one of them.

It was like the Derbyshire in the time of Wright and Kirsten, or when the 'Million Dollar Quartet' of Barnett, Bowler, Morris and Adams were in their pomp. The score rattled along at four an over all day to see us to the close at a commanding 371-5.

The home side's attack stuck to it all day, but truth be told they were far from experienced nor penetrative on a wicket that was largely blameless. The odd ball moved off the surface, but I suspect our two leg spinners might get some bowling on the final day.

We mustn't forget that this was bottom v next to bottom, but you can only play the side in front of you and at least we batted well for one of the few times this summer. 

Came and Godleman set off like trains, aided and abetted by bowling that redefined erratic and accounted for 43 extras by the end of the day. I thought Came looked good and the end only came with a leg before verdict against him that looked like it might have hit an extra leg stump, but not the real one. That tendency to play across the line needs work, because he looks good when he plays straighter and there were some nice shots to enjoy. 

Sadly Leus du Plooy got his eighth duck of a disappointing summer and the manner of dismissal suggested a bloke needing a break. Is he over-thinking it? He looks a shadow of the player who arrived here and perhaps needs the new Head of Cricket to strip his game back and play in the way he has been successful.

Thereafter it was nice to see Billy Godleman and Wayne Madsen bat in characteristic fashion, the former nurdles, nudges and the odd cover drive, the latter the Madsen of old. It wouldn't have been right for him to go into the winter with a highest of 76 and here he proceeded to a delightful century, packed with trademark strokes and looking a million dollars.

Billy was far from happy with being given out caught behind, soon after reaching his half century, but thereafter Critchley and  Madsen added 123, which Dave Griffin later revealed to be the first century stand against Sussex at Hove for the fourth wicket EVER. Since they started there in 1880, that is some statistic..

Both went before the close. Madsen was caught at deep square leg for 111, while Critchley, who batted imperiously, was out for 85, still fifteen more needed to reach his thousand for the summer.

By then the damage was done. Guest and Dal saw it through to the close and may yet inflict more damage on a young attack tomorrow. 

If only there were more days like this, eh? 

Monday, 20 September 2021

Sussex v Derbyshire preview

The last match preview of the summer and the last of Dave Houghton's tenure as Head of Cricket.

A brief one, too. Yours truly has done a 13 hour day and start again at 8 tomorrow, so succinct works well tonight..

We have a fourteen-man squad down at Hove, led by Billy Godleman. Will it be his last match as skipper? Time will tell and much will depend on the new man in charge.

That squad :

Godleman, Came, Wood, du Plooy, Madsen, Critchley, Guest, Dal, Hughes, Thomson, McKiernan, Aitchison, Melton, Moulton.

Come to think of it, that is pretty much those left standing.. 

Sussex have George Garton and Chris Jordan away to the IPL and Fynn Hudson-Prentice can't play by the terms of the loan agreement (and broke his hand against Leicestershire anyway). Tom Haines will skipper the side and is the country's most prolific batsman.

Their squad :

Haines, Atkins, Brown, Carson, Carter, Crowcombe, Hindley, Hunt, Ibrahim, Orr, Rawlins, Sarro, Ward.

Dave Houghton will want to sign off with a win and we really should, against a weakened side. It shouldn't and wouldn't, for me, mask a season of major disappointment.

Fingers crossed we can winter on a win, the only side this far to have no wins in the long-form game.

As an aside, Matt Critchley could reach a thousand runs if he makes a hundred between his two possible innings in this match.

I hope he does. He has come through the summer in credit and we must hope he is still in the club when we all emerge from hibernation. 

Sunday, 19 September 2021

First draw for blog sponsors

Thank you to all of you who have so far kindly sponsored the blog and the writing I do for it.

That support is much appreciated and makes the difference some days between finding the time to put something 'out there' or not.

It promises to be a busy winter and I look forward to reporting on a new Head of Cricket, signings and much more.

I will also do one or two lighter pieces based on stories from my own club cricket career, ones that have proved popular on the cricket talks I do around the country.

There's the possibility of something completely new, too, but I will hold fire on that for the time being..

As promised, there will be a regular draw among those who have sponsored the blog, with the winner receiving a copy of a cricket book. 

This month the prize is a signed copy of former county favourite Luke Sutton's book 'Life of a Sports Agent'.

If you have already donated AND would like to be in the draw, please drop me an email to that effect - peakfan36@yahoo.co.uk

That way the book goes to someone who wants to read it and hasn't already got a copy. 

If you would like to be involved in this and future draws, simply click the 'Donate' button on the blog. This can only be seen if viewing on a computer.

The draw will be made in 2 weeks time on October 3.

Please note that my PayPal is linked to my main email account and emails to it or to the one above will be included  in the draw. 

Many thanks to all of you! 

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Thoughts on Kent

A few spare minutes before we set off on our latest 'expedition' around Berwick upon Tweed  to give thoughts on the latest defeat for Derbyshire, against Kent.

I only saw day one, but the seasoned Derbyshire watcher will know how it went from there. For some reason this year, we have looked like we have batted on a different surface to opponents.

While injuries have played a part, as Billy Godleman explained after the match, responsibility for performance rests with the individual and the coaching staff. That's why, when I was suggesting several weeks ago - perhaps like a latter day Sam Cooke - that a change is gonna come, it needed to be done THEN.

We were never going to return to winning ways with the current coach, because it was obvious the dressing room had gone. It happens in professional sport. Dave Houghton is a nice bloke, a good man, a highly-rated one-on-one batting coach - but not a motivator or strategist. Why else has no one but Derbyshire ever given him a head of cricket role?

It was as clear then to me as it is now to the nay-sayers that new ideas were needed. More modern ideas. A man who can motivate both individuals and a strong team ethic. Had we done it then, we could have had a new man in by October, but I would still stress the importance of waiting for the RIGHT man if a notice period needs worked.

The club shot itself in the foot by not acting decisively and allowing recruitment to take place by someone who was, at least potentially, not going to be around. They should not make another mistake by appointing someone because he is immediately available. Good coaches are usually, though not always, in work. Should someone in that situation apply, their being unable to start immediately must not be held against them. Good things are well worth waiting for... 

Because next year will also be a challenge. At the very least the new man needs to look into the declining numbers of a talented top four and ask why so. Sorting that will be a major plus on his account, and they haven't become bad players.

Godleman has been poorly managed. He should not have played T20, should not have been kept in the side when it was clear he was struggling.  For me, a new skipper is needed and he can then concentrate on his batting for the final year of his deal. Just as a new voice was needed at the top, new ideas, from inside or outside the club, are needed on the pitch. 

Reece is asked to do too much. Why else is he needing shoulder and knee surgery? The new coach must decide if his batting or bowling are the greater need and either drop him to three or to five/six. The latter makes more sense to me, but the reduced figures make sense  when the injuries are considered. Whenever he returns we have to be fair to Luis. He is a terrific player, but has got through most of this summer on willpower and pain-killers. 

Madsen is sadly a declining force. Age catches up with everyone and while he retains his ability to play a cameo of genius in the one-day game, five centuries in five summers of four-day cricket reflect a loosening of technique. More is needed from both him and Godleman for the new coach to deem further contracts essential, at the end of next season. It hurts to say that, as both have become integral parts of the county cricketing landscape, but such experience and reputation do not come cheaply and any new coach will have to assess if, on figures alone, either should be retained from 2023.

Du Plooy? No one can doubt his talent, but he is another to go back this year. I think bowlers have spotted a lack of foot movement when he first goes in and the red ball on English tracks has proved a challenge. Like the little girl with the curl in Wadsworth's poem, when he is good he is very, very good - but when he is bad, (it) is horrid.

Two pairs confirm he isn't a great starter and a batting average of 19 doesn't lie. Then again, to play a bloke at three on English wickets, who has a high South African average on true tracks batting at five, was asking for trouble. Leus is too good not to come again, but we have to find at least a number three for next year - likely from overseas - so Madsen can bat four and du Plooy at five.

For both, if we get a run-scorer at three, there will be a world of difference coming in to bat against an older ball.

That was why I always maintained the importance of Paul Borrington in our 2012 promotion. He may not have scored massively, but he batted time and he tired the bowlers and aged the ball. Big late order runs that year owed much to that, whereas we too often this year have lunched with the top order blown away, damage limitation thereafter the only aspiration.

Guest and Dal would both benefit from that. Dal has done well in recent weeks and should now get a new deal, but he has to prove that he can make runs (and take wickets) in early season, when it REALLY matters. County cricket history is littered with men who feasted on tired, late-season bowlers and did enough to be contracted the following year. Anuj needs to show he is better than that. If he does, then a choice between du Plooy, Reece, Critchley, Guest and Dal between five and eight SHOULD offer good runs.

I will pull in other things in my end of season review, but for the first time since I started watching Derbyshire, 54 years ago, I cannot wait for the season to end. 

Never said it before and hope never to again. But this season has been awful. 

It is essential that the board do the right thing and this time appoint the right man in a thorough and proper recruitment process. 

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Derbyshire v Kent day 3

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