Wednesday, 30 December 2009

And another one...

Another fine batting performance by Robin Peterson today as the Cape Cobras posted an impressive total against the Eagles as his side posted an impressive 281-7 in 40 overs in the MTN40.

Batting at number five, Peterson scored a brilliant unbeaten 78 from just 47 deliveries with 2 sixes and 9 fours, ending the innings with a Dilshan-esque scoop over the wicket keeper.

Seven an over is always an imposing total and the Cobras look to have a fine chance of continuing a very good season.

Update on the Eagles reply later.

Postscript - EASY! Eagles 166-8, with Peterson returning figures of 2-30 in 8 overs. Man of the match is what I'd call that performance.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Ch-ch-changes.

Lancashire have signed Kumar Sangakkara as their overseas player for 2010, at the same time that Worcestershire announce they cannot afford a second overseas player for the T20.

That one sentence encapsulates the modern game as the rich would appear to get richer (if not necessarily better) and the poor... well, they're struggling to make ends meet. Worcestershire have offloaded most of their bigger names and one would assume higher earners, yet still struggle to balance the books. Worrying times for the county and their fans.

It makes you all the more grateful for the fact that we are very well managed as a club. Tom Sears did tremendous work, overseeing a reconstruction of the staff that is never especially palatable but was nevertheless necessary. Keith Loring has continued the good job and the commercial side of the club has probably never been stronger. Overseeing it all is the admirable Don Amott, who has done a wonderful job at the helm of the club in ensuring that people behind the scenes are all pulling in the same direction. For those of us who lived through the annual joke of meetings in the Barnett/Cork era, when factions within the committee threatened to tear the club apart, it is refreshing to see and hugely enjoyable.

The considerable steps forward just need a concrete sign of success now to convince all of the fans. For all that polls on this site suggest 80-90% of fans are happy with progress, there are a few grumbles on 606 that we're not moving forward on the pitch. For the life of me I cannot see why people feel that way.

Yes. we're still poor at Twenty/20, but at least last season sorted the batting side of that format. If we can address the bowling side this year and continue to bat as a unit, we should improve still further. In the Championship we could, perhaps should, have been promoted last season, with only the inability to finish things off on the last day ruining an encouraging campaign. In the forty over competition, we lacked a bowler who could keep it tight and give us control, much as with the T20.

This winter John Morris has replaced a fine wicket keeper batsman in James Pipe with another one in Lee Goddard. For what it is worth, I think Goddard will do even better than Pipe in the long term as he is a very fine wicket keeper and batsman. Morris has also signed an international, spin bowling all rounder in Robin Peterson and a strike bowler of potential in Mark Footitt. The latter two could, if they show the form they are capable of, sort our last day blues in the Championship which is where I see our strength in 2010.

As we come to the close of one year and look forward to the next, I am hopeful that this will be the year we take that large, evidence-based step forward on the field. We have a long and talented batting line up, with Goddard, Peterson and Wagg surely the best seven, eight, nine in our history. If Groenewald was at ten and Jones at eleven you could argue we don't actually have a tail. Then it comes down to the bowlers doing their job.

Graham Wagg was, I think, over bowled at times last year and the advent of Peterson should enable him to devote more of his energies to his main weapon, his skiddy swing bowling. It will give him someone to work with on his spin option for the longer term too, of course. With Footitt to supply a faster left arm option and Groenewald, Lungley, Clare and Hunter to back up with right arm options, Derbyshire will have a depth of seam bowling to rival most clubs - if they stay fit.

So here is where I suggest that Steffan Jones will be the key man for us next season. Not just for his whole-hearted, strong as an ox seam bowling, but for his ability to get the best from the rest of the attack. It is where we fell down last year without a doubt. If Jones can first of all get them fit, then work out ways in which they can get the ball in the right areas on a regular basis, I don't think we will be too far away from something good next season.

The other key man will be Peterson. There will be pressure on him to perform without a doubt, but a man of international pedigree should be able to handle that. His spin bowling will give us our first genuine option in that area in a long time. Some have suggested that we need him to do an Ant Botha, but for me he has to exceed Botha by some margin given his greater reputation in the game. No targets, but he must bowl tightly when conditions suit the seamers so we can give them a breather, then bowl with penetration when conditions suit. Botha was good at the former, but rarely at the latter. In addition, Peterson must bolster a failing innings when required and take the game by the scruff of the neck when quick runs are needed.

A tall order? Well, he's shown this winter for the Cobras that he can do this, so no. We just need him to carry that form into our season and who knows what might happen?

Finally today, I noted that this blog had risen to 20th in the rankings and have now removed the "badge" from the site. I don't write it for such things and although it is encouraging, it is not and cannot be the raison d'etre for doing it. I do the blog because I enjoy it and because there seem to be an increasing number of other people who do too. Whether I'm 20th or 120th doesn't really matter all that much.

Mind you, that's not to say that I hope Derbyshire adopt the same attitude!

This may be the last blog of the year, so can I take this opportunity to wish you all the very best for 2010 and for your support through 2009. May 2010 be the year of the Falcon.

C'mon Derbyshire!

Sunday, 27 December 2009

The good, the bad and the indifferent

It's still very cold up here today and it is natural that thoughts turn to warm summer days and cricketing fantasies when a trip to the garden shed leaves you feeling like Soldier Oates about to leave Captain Scott's tent.
Here's a few names for you:

Geoff Boycott
Saeed Anwar
Justin Langer
Jacques Rudolph
Allan Lamb
Mohammad Yousuf
Mahela Jayawardena
James Hopes
Dennis Lillee
Garth Le Roux

Throw in a wicket keeper - go on then, Bob Taylor will do - and that's a pretty decent team of players who could have played for Derbyshire, but for injury and circumstance. A little light in bowling, but plenty of batting talent in there.

Boycott almost moved from Yorkshire in the midst of the troubled period when John Hampshire and Phil Sharpe moved south. In the end he stayed put and we can only imagine what might have happened had Boycs joined our flimsy batting line up of the time. Many of the others were prevented from joining by injury, most notably Dennis Lillee, who would have been a real coup had he not sustained a stress fracture of the back in the early 1970's. Le Roux and Lamb played in the same Second XI as Peter Kirsten and while no one would argue about the choice of the dapper Kirsten, we could have had Lamb as well with his English passport. Le Roux went on to be a force for Sussex and in Packer cricket and would have been another strong asset in other circumstances.

Then of course, there's ten players who did play for us but with questionable success.

Michael Slater
Travis Birt
Mohammad Kaif
Clive Inman
Lawrence Rowe
Shahid Afridi
Jon Moss
Chris Harris
Srinivas Venkataraghavan
Daren Powell

Most of them had their days of success, but none were frequent enough to warrant the signing costs. Rowe was a batsman of brilliance, but had so many ailments in his time at Derby that he could have been sponsored by the NHS. Slater and Birt were that rare beast, the relatively unsuccessful Australian. Both had concentration problems and were largely unfulfilled talents at County level. Inman was a Sri Lankan (Ceylonese) but qualified through years at Leicestershire, where he was a fine player. His eyes had gone by the time we signed him, however. Afridi played every game as a T20 slog, Moss was just an average player and Harris was a strange, short term and short sighted signing, just like Powell. Kaif was signed for potential that was never realised, while Venkat was a fine bowler we didn't need at the time. He got plenty of wickets, but often at cost at a time when we desperately needed a batsman of world class. Very, very fine bowler at the wrong time.

Ah well. Never end on a disappointment. Think of these fellas at their peak and the glow will sustain you on your next trip outside on these cold days.

John Wright
Chris Rogers
Eddie Barlow
Peter Kirsten
Mohammad Azharuddin
Dean Jones
Adrian Kuiper
Michael Holding
Ian Bishop
Ole Mortensen

I'd add Venkat to THAT side for balance and take on the world.
No, make that Mars. With Barlow as skipper we would beat them all.

Well, I'll be blowed..

So how was it for you?

Christmas chez Peakfan was a non stop eatathon for two days that was hugely enjoyable. The kids seemed happy with their gifts, while Mrs P was equally happy with what her thoughtful husband had got for her. Likewise, I was very pleased with what I got, even though there wasn't a cricket gift in sight!

Thanks to my friend, David, who has surprised me today with the news that this blog is ranked 23rd most popular cricket blog in the world in the Blog Rank website. I'm astonished to be placed so high, especially when the ones above me are all writing about cricket in a wider form than I am. Yes, I love the great game to bits, but I'm a Derbyshire fan and could really only be bothered to write about God's own county. That the site gets a score of 96.8% is something I am proud of too.

With the news comes a "badge" that I've posted on the site. It apparently will change as my position does... gulp... so if I drop down the charts faster than an X Factor single I'll remove it!

Given that 20,000 hits in my first year turned into 58,000 by the end of year two I am really pleased and grateful to all of you for your continued support. Guess I'll need to keep writing now...

Robin Peterson has continued to do well for the Cobras, although his team were derailed today by a special innings from Albie Morkel for the Titans. Morkel slammed 84 from just 48 balls with 9 fours and 4 sixes as the Titans posted 277 in 40 overs. This was 21 too many for the Cobras, although Peterson scored a brisk 37 to follow his 1-40. Just before Christmas he both batted and bowled well for them in another win and continues an excellent run of form. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't mind seeing Morkel as our T20 specialist next summer. His bowling is expensive at times, but he took the Cobras apart today and would certainly fill a few of those new seats.

Anyway, that's all for now. See you all before the New Year (hopefully) and if you've any comments/suggestions, please send them to me at peakfan36@yahoo.co.uk

Time for a celebratory beer, I think...

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me

Twelve wins in the Pro 40,
Eleven fit players,
Ten always firing
Nine tons for Rogers
Eight's our new keeper
Seven score a thousand
Sixes a-plenty
Five crucial wins
Four play brilliant
Three quite good
Two average
And runs and wickets for RP....

I don't see many of you wassailing that one around the houses this year, but hey, it's Christmas and it's as good as it gets. Minus six up here just now and snowing again. There's been more slips than Waggy normally has with the new ball.

Anyway, there's merit in the song and my Christmas wish is that Derbyshire translate their undoubted ability into more wins in 2010. If you look through the team there is potential and flowering talent throughout. Success in the season ahead isn't just down to that, of course.

We'll need our share of luck. We'll need to hold our catches, hope a few get dropped from our guys and hold our nerve when the going gets tough. We also need good result pitches from the newly aligned tracks and decent weather when the game comes to a crucial stage.

All or most of the players need to kick on again. If Buck again bats brilliantly and Wayne Madsen doesn't suffer second season blues we'll get good starts. Then it is down to the middle order showing they have learned from last season's progress and can become reliable county (or better) cricketers. We'll find out if Robin Peterson is the answer to our problems too. If he kicks into form, especially with the ball, we should see better results as a consequence. While I'd like to see him score 750 runs and take 50 Championship wickets, that is down to whether other batsmen fail and other bowlers don't take them. If the top four bat as they did in 2009, Peterson will have few opportunities for big innings at seven or eight.

In the field, we need Steffan Jones to get everyone fit and keep them that way. If he does, there will be few teams fancy playing us and we should do well, especially in the Championship, where I expect another promotion challenge. Improved one day form will be a bonus and bigger crowds will add to John Morris' playing pot for future years.

In short, may we play good, purposeful cricket and enjoy a season of continued improvement and better results.

Thanks to everyone for turning 19,000 hits this time last year to three times that figure as 2009 draws to a close. It shows that interest in Derbyshire cricket is high and I'm grateful to all of you for your support.

Have a great holiday and I'll be posting at some point between Christmas and the New Year.

Cheers!

Sunday, 20 December 2009

In the bleak midwinter...

Minus 5 up here tonight and four inches of snow on the ground. That frosty wind sure is making moan right now.

England just got away with a draw against the Saffers, who seem to have a conveyor belt of talent that has now produced Friedel de Wet, a bowler of some talent who has played for a couple of county second elevens as part of his learning curve. Given that a number of sides have expressed an interest in a quick bowler for all or part of next season, de Wet could be one who may come under the radar.

There's no stopping the Cobras in South Africa, as Robin Peterson's fine all round match ended in a win by four wickets yesterday, with RP hitting the winning runs with two boundaries in three balls faced. He certainly out bowled Monty Panesar and now averages 42 with the bat and has 19 wickets at 29. They have good daylight between themselves and second place and I'll be pleased to see someone with a winning mentality at Derby to add to the considerable expertise already there.

Later this week I'll be doing my Christmas wish list and then it will be full steam ahead for 2010, the year of the Falcons...

Friday, 18 December 2009

Whisper who dares...

Whisper it quietly, but there are signs that Derbyshire are starting to be taken a little more seriously in the game. If anyone needed evidence of that, it comes from the Live Sky schedule, published this week.

We are on FIVE times in the current listing, three of them in the ECB Pro 40 and the remainder from the T20. The games in question are (Pro 40 first):

Friday 7 May - Northamptonshire v Derbyshire (d/n)
Tuesday 20 July - Derbyshire v Gloucestershire (d/n)
Tuesday 24 August - Derbyshire v Middlesex (d/n)

Wednesday 9 June - Derbyshire v Warwickshire
Monday 21 June - Derbyshire v Worcestershire

Four opportunities to get your face on TV at the County Ground - excellent!

I'm also delighted to read that we are, as DCCC Forever suggested, taking cricket back to Staffordshire and the lovely Leek ground. That county has been and continues to be a rich source of talent over the years and the more that we can encourage the locals, the better it will be for membership figures.

I'm all for cricket at out grounds. I have to admit that when I was a kid, my least favourite ground was Derby. The players seemed so far away and it was a fairly open, unattractive ground. Now, the facilities are excellent and will continue to improve. Chesterfield was my favourite, but I liked Buxton and even Heanor. Ilkeston was OK, no more than that, but we're unlikely to go back there from what I've heard of the place these days.

A lot of clubs suffered when Health and Safety legislation changed and the facilities at many out grounds were unsuitable for food preparation, for example. Car parking can also be an issue in some places, but it is good for people to see the county coming to them, if at all possible. Having spent a lot of money developing the County Ground we're not going to become a nomadic eleven in a hurry as there would be no logic in doing so. Giving an out ground a game each season is encouraging and may lead to improved facilities in these places.

Elsewhere, thanks to Peter who posted a link in response to a recent blog. It suggests John Morris is close to signing his T20 specialist. For those who didn't see it, here is the link:

http://www.testmatchextra.com/Blogs.aspx?BlogView=Post&PostID=1381602a-85cb-4ff2-a8f7-7f2ba67d2137&BloggerID=945a8657-c692-4216-b395-5cf672919e26

My guess is that his three names will be South African as that is a favourite hunting ground where he has plenty of contacts. I've previously suggested that my preferred names would be Albie Morkel, Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers and will stick with that, possibly throwing in Charl Langeveldt, again I've said before. JM has surprised us before though...

I see that Northamptonshire have today signed James Middlebrook, who will do a sound job for them. He's no Robin Peterson though, who has followed his blistering first innings 70 against a strong Lions side with figures of 4-65 in nearly 25 overs. The Lions include Monty Panesar and it will be interesting to see how he bowls in the final innings. In the first innings, Panesar's 0-26 in seven overs compared poorly to Peterson's 2-28 in nine.

The man's on fire!

See you soon.

Update: RP took 5-70 in 27 overs...

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Robin Reliant

Hi everyone. Sorry I've not been around these past few days but I've been hit with the virulent flu bug that has knocked most of our part of the world, as has my son and wife, so there's been other priorities. Still not got my voice back, so its a good job that this isn't an audio blog. At present I'm somewhere between Barry White and Joe Pasquale when I open my mouth, which is pretty disconcerting!

Anyway, I've been catching up on the world game and again the Cobras in South Africa are dependent on Mr Peterson in their current match against the Lions, a strong side. 2-28 in the first innings, followed by an explosive 75 from 61 balls as he again top scored at number eight, thus allowing me to be the first to use the headline to this piece. I would think the Cobras wished he'd become an overseas player years ago in his current hot form. The Lions have reached 82-0 in their second innings, when RP has only bowled one over.

There was also a brilliant 140 from 116 balls by Chris Rogers for Victoria against South Australia the other day, but they still lost by 49 runs after Andrew McDonald, Brad Hodge, Cameron White and David Hussey were blown away for next to nothing in a chase for 340 to win in 50 overs. Buck even hit three sixes, quite unusual in itself, but again confirmed what a fine player he is.

Finally, Paul "Bradman" Borrington was run out for 91 playing for his club side in Australia last weekend, the latest in a line of fine innings by the young batsman. He will be making a big impression in good standard cricket over there, all of which augurs well for April.

That's it for now. Hopefully I'm back in full voice shortly so I can get back to some good old carol singing, or at least an Al Jolson favourite that may be heard at the T20s next year.

When Rob-Rob-Robin goes bob-bob-bobbin' along...

I'll leave it there for now!

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Key man in the news

A man whose work will be pivotal to Derbyshire's chances of success next year was in the news this week.

No, not Chris Rogers or Robin Peterson, but Neil Godrich, as he picked up a deserved award for one day groundsman of the year.

Neil has a huge task this winter as he turns our pitches round at Derby so that at the going down of the sun we will be playing cricket. The success of his work will go a long way towards determining our season next year, as he really needs to emulate his counterpart at the Riverside and get good, sporting tracks where bat and ball have an equal opportunity to shine.

Which is where, for once, I will applaud the ECB with the trio of rule changes announced yesterday for Championship cricket next year. They may not change the world, but they are a step in the right direction.

Change number one sees 16 points awarded for a win, but only three for a draw, a change from 14 and 4 respectively last year. It is a sensible move, although one that will be less welcome at Edgbaston and Taunton, where result pitches only happen in a fourteen day match. Teams may no longer opt for the attritional route to success and that can only be a good thing.

As can the fact that batting points can only be gained in the first 110 overs of an innings instead of 120. It won't necessarily stop teams batting on for the unbeatable total, but will add a sense of urgency to innings that has not always been the case. Of course, this reduction means that the battle for additional points will take place early on the second day in most instances so you'd better plan to be at matches a little early next year. If a team starts the second day needing, say, 47 from six overs for another point, there's unlikely to be a great deal of playing in at the start of the day.

The final change makes the greatest sense - no heavy roller once a game has started. I know occasions when teams in the past have used a heavy roller to break up a crumbling track, but they are as common in modern matches as a unicorn. More often than not, especially when there is moisture in the track, the heavy roller will bind it together and keep conditions more in favour of batsmen. The fact that a lively track cannot be deadened should result in more results irrespective of the point and over amendments above.

I may be wrong, but I see teams with a good spinner reaping the rewards of this one and sides thinking ahead to the fourth day of a game at the toss and the greater possibility of bowling sides out with a quality spinner. That of course makes our signing of Robin Peterson all the more crucial, as Peterson's experience will be of paramount importance and will perhaps make him our most potent weapon. I'm sure John Morris had a notion that this change was in the air and will be even more pleased now.

Funnily enough, if one takes away Swann and Rashid, most of the top spinners in the country will be in Division Two next season. Robert Croft, Monty Panesar, Peterson and perhaps the experienced Claude Henderson will all look forward to greater assistance next summer and will be exercising their spinning digit with renewed enthusiasm.

Two more points from this week's news. First off, I was surprised to see Glamorgan set to sign Shaun Tait for the T20 next season. He is undeniably a bowler of talent and potential, but his radar is distinctly dodgy and it will be either an inspired piece of work or a huge gamble.

Finally, in South Africa, Mr Peterson is following his recent top form with another innings of substance for the Cobras today. He is currently unbeaten on 66 against the Titans with Sir Charl of Langeveldt currently keeping him company, though perhaps not for long. Peterson's form since he became an overseas player for the Cobrass - since signing for us - has been a revelation. I hope he carries it through to April.

Though most of us would like to see an aggressive all rounder playing as our second overseas player in the T20 next season, I would not be remotely disappointed if we ended up with Langeveldt back in Derbyshire colours, which, with Peterson, would give us eight overs of reasonable control in the field. If we'd had that last year, the way we batted would have ensured that we won more than the previous one. As it happened, we bowled poorly too often and paid the penalty.

With long batting potential anyway, maybe a world class bowler who is recognised as a master in the format may be a way to go if all else fails?

Just a thought. By the way, as I close Langers is out. The fact that he is at number ten says little for their number eleven and Peterson is playing a lone hand now.

Guess we'd not depend on Langers batting anyway...

** Update - Peterson moved to 83 in an over with two sixes an a four off Saffer spin rival Rolof Van Der Merwe, one of each from a switch hit a la Pietersen. Smiles all round...

** Update - Peterson reaches a brilliant century with 3 sixes and 9 fours, having added 40 for the last wicket with Plaatjes who scored none of them! Mind you, RP farmed the bowling so well he only faced seven balls in six overs.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

I'm still around!

Hi everyone. Just to let you know that I'm still around but there's little to report of late.

Robin Peterson only got to bowl six overs for the Cobras today in South Africa, while Chris Rogers has still to bat in the latest match for Victoria.

Other than that, top marks to DCCC Forever for the first spot on this blog of the clash between England's World Cup fixture and our game against Nottinghamshire, which resulted in the local clash being switched. Personally I'd have asked them to switch the World Cup match as ours is much more important!

Other than that, the only thing to report is that 80% of those voting would prefer a side of the best available players in Derbyshire colours, rather than just local players. That's sound backing for John Morris and while I'm sure he'd like to have a locally sourced side as soon as possible, realistically that is a way off.

I'll hopefully be back over the weekend, so will see you then!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

All quiet on the cricket front

There's not much to report in the Derbyshire cricket world just now.

I don't see any more signings until the New Year at the earliest, when we're likely to be looking to confirm our second overseas player for the T20, assuming we get one.

Elsewhere, there are various clubs looking for players, with Kent saying they are looking for an overseas bowler and Worcestershire signing a keeper on loan and struggling to replace the exodus at the end of last year.

That was a fine knock by Chris Gayle the other day/night against the Australians, who have now slipped to third in the world Test rankings. They still have fine batsmen, but the Aussie attack is a pale shadow of what it used to be and won't cause too many alarms for the better sides. Having said that, Gayle played a fine hand against them and showed unusual restraint. Gayle is a player of a great innings rather than a great player. His average in Test cricket is ordinary, yet when the mood takes him he can bat like a dream. In most cases he bats the same way, irrespective of the format of the game, part of the reason why I don't think he would make a great overseas star for a county.

Speaking of overseas stars, Travis Birt cannot get into Tasmania's side now and it is remarkable how the careers of both Birt and Moss went downhill after their stint in Derbyshire colours. Michael Dighton is another who plays only an occasional innings of substance and is more often than not a one day player only for Tasmania.

Anyway, that is pretty much it from me for tonight. Sorry there's been no blog for the past couple of days but there's no point my putting any old guff on here!

Until the next time

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Sunday thoughts..

For those of you interested in such things (and why wouldn't you be?) Robin Peterson finished off the innings in South Africa to complete figures of 5-60 and match figures of 8-121 to go with his first innings of 70. He only needed two balls on the last morning to take the final wicket and this is encouraging news from our new all rounder.

For me, that sort of track is exactly what the game needs, with four innings between 200 and 250 and batsmen and bowlers alike having a chance. The Cobras were kept in the game on the first day by Peterson's knock and then given every chance on the third by a fine century from Alistair Gray. The latter was the sort of knock that builds reputations and creates memories, scoring runs when most needed and in testing conditions.

I mentioned in the week about Peterson's role being to score runs when most needed and not to set targets. To be honest, making such a comment assumed that our top order batting would be as successful as it was this year, an assumption that we cannot make. I think this is our best top four since the halcyon days of Barnett, Bowler, Morris and Adams, but we must remember that Wayne Madsen, Garry Park and Dan Redfern will all be better known next season. We cannot expect Madsen to average 60 every season and while all three have played before, my point is that their strengths and weaknesses will be better known. I have confidence in all of them to maintain standards, yet it will be understandable if second season syndrome kicked in and there was a dip. All are fine players, but the bowlers on the circuit now know about them and will have worked out the best areas to bowl. If that's the case, Peterson, Borrington and Goddard, together with Graham Wagg will have work to do.

Disappointing news from Australia where umpire Mark Benson has left the Test match between Australia and West Indies and is said to be retiring over the referral system. I'm perhaps in a minority here, but while acknowledging the role of technology, feel it should be kept for line decisions only.

For me, questioning a referee or umpire is a no go area. Maybe it was the way I was brought up, but having done plenty of it myself in football, hockey and cricket it is a thankless task. Chris Broad said that the referral system takes pressure from the umpire, but does it? When your decisions are constantly questioned it is tiresome and then to stand there all day when a couple are contentiously shown to be incorrect without genuine proof must be very difficult. There are no "bent" umpires and we must restore faith in them and their occasional human frailties.

The problem can be worse in club cricket. I remember a few years ago chatting to the elderly umpire of a visiting club before a match and asking him how the season had been going and who had got the most wickets for the club that season.

"Me" he replied laughing, yet his performance that day suggested he was not kidding. One batsman was given out lbw having been hit in the box, a second was "caught" off his thigh pad and a third given run out when he was almost past the stumps.

So my wish would be for sporting tracks to be encouraged and a review of the referral system. I love cricket and would be loathe to see its values tarnished by the consistent challenging of decisions.

That's it from me today. We're putting up the Christmas tree this afternoon and Christmas is less than three weeks away.

Can't wait!

Saturday, 5 December 2009

More good news from South Africa

Fifteen overs and 4-58 for Robin Peterson today as the Cobras closed in on a win over the Dolphins in South Africa. Dolphins need 109 to win tomorrow with one wicket left, or as you and I would call it, a miracle.

Interestingly, the highly rated Rilee Rossouw tried to hit the perceived dangerman from the attack and Peterson's first two overs went for 15, but he came back strong to take four of the first five wickets, including that of the young left hander. He only made two in the Cobras second dig, but has had an excellent game.

Elsewhere, Shane Watson's unbeaten 90 for Australia keeps his place safe for the time being, while Paul Borrington followed two half centuries with an unbeaten 32 for his club side over in Oz.

Best of all, I took 37 from one over of Andrew Flintoff in Ashes cricket on the Wii (he opened with a wide) and have thus become the only man in history to perform this feat twice, beating my son who did it to me in the subsequent run chase!

If I could only do it in the real thing...

Friday, 4 December 2009

Turned out nice again...

At the risk of sounding like George Formby (he does a lovely grill...) it has been a good week to be a Derbyshire fan.

After signing Mark Footitt from Nottinghamshire, the final piece of the jigsaw (in my opinion) was the signing of Robin Peterson, a very good cricketer who will add skill and balance to the county XI.

I've covered both signings at length elsewhere, but suffice to say that I'm quite happy with where we are at this stage of proceedings. If the club coffers can stretch to another overseas player in Twenty/20, I'd be cautiously optimistic about our prospects for next season, especially in the Championship.

To be honest I think that is where we're likely to see Mark Footitt, as a shock bowler who might get early wickets with the new ball. I wouldn't expect him to play as often in the one day stuff, but we've plenty of other options there and if Steff can show them the areas to bowl we should be OK. Peterson will also offer probing and accurate options in all forms of the game and we should be a stronger outfit than last year.

What I'm not sure of is how much of the one day cricket Paul Borrington will play. There's been discussion on In Morris We Trust about his position in the batting order and that will be John Morris' call. My suggestion would be he bats six in the Championship, so we have a man used to facing the new ball if the second one is taken. We'd also have Peterson, who has opened many times in one day cricket, so I'd fancy our tail to make the contributions we have become used to in recent seasons. Of course, Borrington could go three, or even open, but I don't see the point in splitting Rogers and Madsen, an excellent opening pair, while Garry Park made number three his own last season. With Greg Smith an ever-improving number four, there's a decent line up taking shape. Morris may choose to go with an extra bowler in the one day games, maybe even include Jake Needham as another spin option. I don't know because I'm not John Morris!

I've had a couple of e mails today about my Ockbrook and Borrowash comments yesterday. Just to clarify, I have absolutely no issue with O and B signing and playing whoever they want. I was merely using the analogy with regard to comments about our Kolpaks. The early votes on the poll suggest most of you agree with me that you'd prefer to see a winning Derbyshire team, or at least one that plays competitive cricket, over a team of local lads losing heavily. I'm sure the same goes for O and B. They could play youngsters and win less, but who's to say that they're wrong in doing what they do? It brings success and good luck to them. I know Matt Lineker is a fine player who was offered a county deal but preferred his professional career and they'll doubtless have some talent coming through. It's encouraging seeing the youngsters playing locally and I hope that they continue to thrive in the various clubs and percolate through to the county setup.

Finally, just to confirm what I posted on 606 tonight, I express MY opinions on this blog. They're not gospel and I don't expect people to agree with me all (any?) of the time. I don't carry personal grudges against individuals as I'm not that sort of guy, but I will tell it as I see it. That way I hope that the blog is worth a read. If I simply recounted the events I'd be replicating one of any number of sites out there.

See you soon and thanks for looking in!

Kerchiiing!

Robin Peterson follows his 70 in resurrecting the Cobras innings yesterday with 3-61 in 20 overs as they take a first innings lead of 11 over the Dolphins. These are strange names. Cobras I can live with, though its not as good as Scorpions, Phantoms or FALCONS. Class name for a class team...

Speaking of names, is there a better name in cricket than the Dolphins young all rounder Shadley van Schalkwyk? John Morris should sign him up for his name alone and I'd lay good money on him being Sir Sean Connery's favourite cricketer!

If Martin Edwards is reading this one, you've got a fantastic name for a character in a future book there...

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Just what we need!

There was the kind of knock that we'll settle for from Robin Peterson in Cape Cobras colours today.

On what looks like a sporting first day track, the Cobras were at one point 85-6 before Peterson, with 70 in two and a quarter hours batting at number eight, steered them to an all out total of 231. Their opponents, the Dolphins (not very threatening sounding name that)had made 72-0 by the close, with RP bowling one solitary but maiden over.

It is good to see how well our players are doing overseas. With Paul Borrington and Chris Rogers scoring well in Australia and Peterson and Garry Park doing well in South Africa it bodes well for next season.

There's a good article in the DET today on John Morris' thought process on signing Robin Peterson. He makes a lot of sense and if you've not already seen it you can do by clicking the link below:

http://www.thisisderbyshire.co.uk/sport/County-cricket-Derbyshire-buck-trend-Kolpak-signing/article-1569448-detail/article.html

Those who think Jake Needham's path is blocked would do well to read this. You could also ask the question - why would JM put him on a contract until the end of 2012 if he didn't rate him?

"Anon" has replied to last night's post by saying he's disappointed we have as many as seven overseas players, whether Kolpak or not. Ignoring the fact that you'd hardly discount someone because they were born abroad (Dexter, Cowdrey and many more..) I don't think it matters, but its enough for me to resurrect a poll.

Would you sooner see a strong Derbyshire side with players signed, within the regulations, from all over the globe, or a poor team of local talent? OK, in an ideal world we'd have a fantastic crop of local youngsters and may have one some day if the Academy bears fruit, but in the intervening period I'm happy to see a better quality side irrespective of origin. What about you?

What concerns me is that the strongest local league side, a natural conduit for the County set-up, is Ockbrook and Borrowash. I saw them on Sky in the club T20 and who was playing? Matt Cassar, Kevin Dean, John Owen, Lian Wharton, Trevor Smith - good players who will get them success, but with absolutely nothing to offer the county set up. A few others were not in the first flush of youth either. Yet who's to say they're wrong and should play youngsters yet lose a few more than they do?

Finally tonight, DCCC Forever asks if I heard anything about our playing a game at Leek this summer. Sorry mate, I've heard nothing, though I know they'd be keen to look at a game in the better outgrounds if the facilities and infrastructure was there. I dare say all will be revealed in good time.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Thoughts on the boards

It has been interesting reading some of the thoughts on the message boards in the light of the signing of Robin Peterson.

The most pleasing aspect is that the majority of people are delighted with the signing. There's the odd WUM (wind-up merchant) on the BBC site which is annoying as always, but by and large the real fans seem very pleased with this capture.

Why shouldn't they? If you cannot see that Robin Peterson for Mark Lawson isn't an improvement in the side then you really shouldn't be allowed out unaccompanied. I'm sorry, but it is patently obvious that an experienced international spinner who can contribute with bat and ball improves the balance of our side immeasurably. I suggested James Middlebrook would have been worth a punt, but am delighted to concede that John Morris has trumped that suggestion and then some.

One of the contributors says that Peterson "must" score 600 runs and take 30 wickets in both one day AND four day cricket to be worth the expense and justify stopping the progress of Needham and Hughes.

Hmmm. That's daft. If the top order bat like they did last year he'll get few opportunities to score 600 runs. If the tracks favour seamers, his role will be to keep one end quiet while they have a breather. To set targets is silly. What we need from Robin Peterson is a player who will score runs when we need them, take wickets when conditions are in his favour and keep the opposition quiet when they're not.

Some say we need him to do an Ant Botha. This bloke is better than Botha - he's an international, which Botha isn't. If he proves his ability next season it will go a long way towards making it our best for some time.

As for stopping the progress of Needham and Hughes, the latter is one for the future and unlikely to play much apart from an occasional T20. Surely it will help his spin to work with an international with 400 first class wickets? Same goes for Needham, who will have a specialist to help him recover his mojo.

Regular readers will know I've mentioned Bob Swindell and Geoff Miller in the past and how their progress was hindered by the signing of Venkat. That situation was completely different to this one. For one thing we needed a batsman or a strike bowler at that time more than anything else and the two best young talents in the club were those lads as spinners. This time it is patently obvious that we need a spinner as the current ones are simply not ready. I could see Needham and Peterson bowling in one day games if Needham gets his rhythm back, as the key to T20 success is mixing up the pace of the ball and taking it right off on occasions. They may bowl in tandem at Cardiff too, but Jake needs to do a lot of bowling to get his loop back. I watched him at the end of the season for Ockbrook and it was nowhere close to the bowler I've been impressed by in recent seasons. I hope he gets it back and the best chance of that is if he can work with someone who bowls in a similar style and can relate to his problems.

Finally, there's the usual idiots claiming we're a Kolpak side. I am prepared to be corrected, but with Greg Smith qualified next year and in possession of a British passport, the only non-qualifieds we have are Wayne Madsen (who plays on an Italian passport) and Chesney Hughes (who has a British passport but needs to qualify through residence.) With Chris Rogers as the overseas, Peterson is the only Kolpak.

If you're going to moan, at least make it justifiable guys!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

The Follow On link

I've now sorted the link on the left to this useful site for local cricket information.
Apologies if you've found this frustrating recently.

Well I never...


Mrs Peakfan is a big fan of Strictly Come Dancing and her favourite this year is BBC presenter Chris Hollins, who she thinks is a "nice little man." Given her husband thinks Ola Jordan is not exactly unattractive we're in agreement on that one...

Anyway, she asked me to check his age and it turns out he's 38, but more than that he played first class cricket for Oxford University in 1994 and actually boasts a career batting average of nearly 52, while taking 4-64 against Nottinghamshire as a career best. That boosts him still higher in our house for obvious reasons. With such names as James Whitaker and Dermot Reeve among his 14 wickets, he can obviously boast of being a decent player.

His highest score was 131 against Cambridge University in the varsity match and he also scored 68 against Leicestershire. Respect to any man who does well against our local rivals!

Time to smile

There were perhaps two concerns for Derbyshire fans prior to the confirmation of the signing of Robin Peterson today.

One was that we desperately needed a proven, quality spin bowler as last season highlighted we were lacking in that department. The other was that, having lost the services of the experienced Wavell Hinds from the middle order, we needed an older head in there.

Daniel Redfern, Paul Borrington and Lee Goddard from 5 to 7 in the order is ripe with potential, but there will be times in 2010 when someone who has played at the top level for some time will be more than useful to help stabilise an innings after a flurry of quick wickets. In an ideal world these young players will be coming in with the score reading 270-3 and I think we have the makings of a very strong top order now, but Peterson is a good enough player to bat anywhere required. He can hit a ball when the need arises, but can also dig in and grind it out.

Yet however handy his batting will be (and I’d expect him to make at least 400-500 Championship runs, depending on opportunity) it is his bowling that will make our side far better balanced than in recent years. This is a man with around 400 first class wickets in all cricket. He can bowl accurately when there is no help in the track and take wickets when there is a suggestion of turn. I’m looking forward to seeing how he fares compared to others on the circuit.

His signing won’t necessarily mean the end of Graham Wagg’s spin bowling, but it will mean that there’s less of a tendency to over bowl him. Wagg, Smith, Redfern and Madsen are all capable of useful support at the other end and will benefit from having an experienced international spinner on the staff that they can work with.

It will also confirm us as being one of the best fielding sides in the game. Garry Park and Greg Smith are real livewires in an excellent fielding side and Peterson comes with a reputation in this area.

I think that will be it for this winter, apart from perhaps a Twenty/20 overseas player, but the Peterson signing, following on from that of Mark Footitt, gives me genuine cause for optimism next year.

If Steffan Jones can get Footitt fit and firing (easier to type than say, that one!) we have picked up a genuinely quick and penetrative bowler. With the signing of Peterson, John Morris has a “go to” man who can keep things tight and create that all-important pressure on batsmen. These were areas that cost us in last year’s Championship campaign, but I have a feeling we’ll be much better off in 2010. With a permutation of seamers to suit the track, I’d expect the following first choice side to take the field when the Championship campaign opens next season:

Chris Rogers
Wayne Madsen
Garry Park
Greg Smith
Dan Redfern
Paul Borrington
Robin Peterson
Lee Goddard
Graham Wagg
Seamer
Seamer

As I’ve said before, there may be occasions when an extra seamer may be useful, but Wagg plus two with Smith and Park in reserve should be enough for most surfaces.

The other thing I’d say is that Goddard is a very, very good batsman to have coming in at number eight. Once he establishes himself the runs will flow.
Excited? You bet!

Derbyshire sign Peterson



Today's announcement that Derbyshire have signed the experienced and highly talented South African all-rounder Robin Peterson for 2010, with another year's option, is something that should be celebrated by all fans of the club. Peterson was recently a member of his country's Champions Trophy squad, somewhat indicative of a bloke who can play the game.

Peterson is an experienced cricketer but is still, at 30, young enough to have plenty in the tank. He is a slow left arm bowler of real ability, as you would expect from a man with considerable international experience. Good enough to have taken 240 first class wickets, together with 130 in one day matches. He is also economical in Twenty/20 and has a career average of less than seven an over in the short game. He gives the ball a real tweak and has cultivated, apparently, a “wrong 'un” that comes into the batsman and poses problems.

Added to that he is a batsman of talent. Good enough to score five first class centuries and to open in one day cricket, he gives the ball a smack.
He is also known as a brilliant fielder, so in every aspect John Morris seems to have pulled out an absolute cracker from his South African book of cricket contacts.

Make sure you note that. We've signed a spinner – and a good one! A guy good enough to take five in an innings on eleven occasions and with a one day best of 7-24, which is impressive by any standards (OK, apart from Michael Holding's...)

Criticism of Wavell Hinds generally (and unfairly) focused on his being only an average fielder, an irregular bowler and a batsman who was slow to start an innings. I think his bowling was under-utilised but maybe there was a reason for that. Peterson will bring both control AND increased penetration to our attack as a front line spinner worth a place for the other things he brings to the mix.

His all round skills should improve our one day side, whether opening as a pinch hitter or coming in lower down to boost the run rate towards the end of the innings. His accuracy should give us a little more control when teams are coming at us with the bat. His fielding will disappoint no one.
Peterson has played with success in the Lancashire League with Burnley, averaging 52 with the bat and taking 37 wickets at 12 in a successful, but curtailed stay in 2006, when he was recalled for international training. He proved a popular professional there. Last year saw him play for Nelson, where he again excelled, averaging 37 with the bat while taking 44 wickets at just over eight runs each. I'd settle for that next season. I know that there's a world of difference between the leagues and the first class game, but they've given useful experience of our conditions to many cricketers over the years. Just ask Wayne Madsen how it helped him.

Back home, he moved from Eastern Province to Cape Town, where he plays for the Cape Cobras alongside Charl Langeveldt. It can't have done us any harm...

If you want a shot of our new man in “action”, go to

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5F5v2BLstC8 as he faces a backyard, cyclist powered bowling machine firing tennis balls at him...

Given the increasing strength of South African cricket, you have to be a decent player to get into their squad. You have to be even better to get into the team. With six Tests and 35 One Day Internationals under his belt, Robin Peterson is a very good player, suffering only in that South Africa, with Rolof Van Der Merwe and Paul Harris, now have three quality left arm spinners. In my opinion, we are very lucky to get him and I look forward to seeing what he will bring to the County Ground.

Throughout the close season the cricket boards have been full of people insisting that we needed a high class spinner. Now we've got one and he offers so much more.

Yes, I like this signing and I hope that it is similarly applauded by my fellow fans. I wrote recently that I thought Morris would produce a good spinner from somewhere, one who contributes in all facets of the game. And he has.
Excellent! More later.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Sunday thoughts

What a strange series is going on in South Africa at present, with both teams taking turn about to play brilliantly and poorly. The other day the hosts slaughtered England and scored 350 in their 50 overs, today it was a paltry 119 all out.

One of the frustrating things about South Africa as a side is that inconsistency. On paper they are one of the best sides in the world and that often translates to the pitch, yet they don't give the appearance of invincibility that the truly great sides have. I think the major issue is the lack of the real "over my dead body" players that a genuinely great side has.

Take the three great sides of my life time. The Australians under Steve Waugh were led by a man who would set the standard and had some fine players in the batting ranks who were of a similar mindset. Justin Langer, Matt Hayden, Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting - in any era of the game they were great players and had the fight in them when things were going poorly. They also had two pretty useful bowlers in Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne...

The same went for the West Indies in their golden era. With quick bowlers like Holding, Roberts, Garner and Marshall there were some of the all time greats, while Viv Richards, Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes would always produce when the chips were down.

Going back a little further, the South Africans of the late 1960's were outstanding. They had such a liberal sprinkling of genuine greatness in Barry Richards, Eddie Barlow, Graeme Pollock and Mike Procter that beating them was always going to be difficult.

The current South African side has players of brilliance - Smith, de Villiers, Kallis - yet they have an air of vulnerability that the genuine greats don't offer. I would accept Kallis as one of the greats of the game on his record and the other two may well end up as such, but Smith and de Villiers often give you a chance. Kallis is still the man that the oppisition want to see the back of more than anyone.

Maybe the problem is that the rest see themselves as bit part players and there's an element of "if they fail, how can we succeed?" Perhaps they need an Eddie Barlow who moulded teams of few stars into tight, competitive units by stressing the role that each played in the overall picture.

Having said that, I wouldn't say no to any of them at Derbyshire should the situation ever present itself. I've said before that South Africans offer good value as overseas signings and they do. Given that this season we may have Madsen, Park, Smith, Groenewald and Peterson in our ranks it would seem John Morris agrees.

Changing tack a little, a few weeks ago I wrote that I thought Adrian Barath may well be the next great West Indies player and his first tour to Australia, which was always going to be a learning curve, has done nothing to change that opinion. A 70 in the warm up match was followed by a Test debut century for the diminutive opener and I think he will have a long and illustrious career in the game. He looks compact and organised and while blessed with a full range of strokes seems less casual than many of his countrymen. At 19 he seems to have it all and the only thing he will need to prove is that the mental strength that is so important at the top level is there in abundance.

Finally today, an innings win for Victoria meant that Chris Rogers had no chance of a second knock for them, just as the Australians easy win over the Windies kept the pressure off Shane Watson the second time around. I'll be following that one closely over the winter months.

See you soon!

Friday, 27 November 2009

Weekend watch

Lots of cricket going on around the globe at present and there's been mixed fortunes for players I've suggested for our second T20 overseas berth next summer.

There was a brilliant century from AB de Villiers today to reinforce why I regard him one of the world's best batsmen. In full flight he is a lovely player to watch and such an innings will no doubt put him under the microscope of a few counties.

Albie Morkel, however was dropped after a run of only average performances, while Jacques Kallis is injured at present. Whether we will move for any of them I really don't know, but I rate them all as players.

Meanwhile Leicestershire have confirmed they are in talks with Australian Brad Hodge about playing for them next summer in the T20, so there are good players already being lined up, following on from Middlesex signing Adam Gilchrist earlier in the week. I just hope that John Morris has money in his coffers for a decent quality player as the standard of opposition in this lucrative format looks set to be high.

A day after suggesting that Buck Rogers needed a good score in Australia to put pressure on Shane Watson he was out for just 9 for Victoria today. A superb century from Nottinghamshire's David Hussey still left them in the ascendant, however.

Back in South Africa, Derbyshire target Robin Peterson bowled a long tight spell for the Cape Cobras and took two wickets yesterday, although today he was dismissed for nought in a low scoring game. There's no more news about him other than that we all have read, so its just a case of being patient and keeping fingers crossed.

Finally tonight, Northamptonshire have secured the services of Andrew Hall and David Lucas for next season and hope to have David Sales fit for 2010. They may turn out to be a decent side and if Hall replicates his 1,000 runs and 40 wickets from this year will be strong contenders, at least in the Championship next season.

See you soon. Have a good weekend!

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Here we are again...

Sorry to miss a couple of days on here but things have been pretty busy on the work front and there’s not been too much to report anyway.

Last night I had to attend the local sports awards and our club picked up one for attaining Charter Club status, which effectively means that we have all our Child Protection and Health and Safety Policies in place. I was very impressed by the guest speaker, Dame Kelly Holmes, who gave an inspirational speech and was professional and approachable throughout. She also glowed with health and vitality and is a very striking looking woman.

I also had the great pleasure of a long chat with cricketer Irvin Iffla. Many of you may not know the name but he is a legend in Scottish cricket. He came over from Jamaica in 1951 with his path into the West Indies side blocked by Sonny Ramadhin and Alf Valentine. Instead, for the next forty years Irvin took hundreds of wickets and scored thousands of runs, primarily for Stirlingshire. He made an average team into one of the country’s best and he returned phenomenal figures. In his last three years as a player, when he was in his seventies, he played for my club and the accuracy of his bowling and the “hum” of the ball as it fizzed through the air is still talked about. By that stage he did little running between the wickets, relying on fours and sixes to put runs on the board. Now a sprightly man of 85, he was recently awarded the Freedom of Stirling, a well-deserved honour.

It was a terrific evening, but a late, late night!

Anyway, to matters in hand and there’s an excellent article in the Derby Telegraph today on John Morris and the difficulties that he faces for next season. Regular readers will know about this, but it is still good to see what JM says himself and it is worth a read. You can see it at

http://www.thisisderbyshire.co.uk/sport/Cricket-New-regulations-leave-Derbyshire-chief-Morris-facing-delicate-balancing-act/article-1542383-detail/article.html

I was interested to see that Shane Watson had got a duck for Australia today against the West Indies. It puts pressure on him in the second innings and might offer a glimmer of hope to Chris Rogers if he sustains his recent golden form for Victoria – and us for that matter. Next season will be Rogers last for us unless he gets at least one more Test match. If he got even one Test this winter he could then play for us for longer, something that can only be a good thing.

The only other news of note from the last couple of days is that Nottinghamshire have signed the Australian left armer Dirk Nannes for the Twenty/20 next summer. When he’s fit and firing Nannes is a lively customer and will be awkward to get away. Is he, as Mick Newell claims, the best twenty over bowler in the world? I don’t know, but he’s very good. Charl Langeveldt might have claims on the title as a man who mixes up the pace of his bowling and keeps things tight, but for me the best in the world is probably the Pakistani Umar Gul. There are times when he looks like he can’t be bothered, but his unerring accuracy with the yorker, speared in at leg stump, makes him an awkward proposition on his day.

Finally, it was good to see on the club site that Paul Borrington continues to do well in Australia. The experience has got to be good for him and it would appear that he is facing some top quality opposition and still producing scores. Long may it continue – into next season and beyond!

Monday, 23 November 2009

Just a few thoughts

An early finish from a meeting this afternoon has given me a chance to get home early and blog while the night is still young.

I see that team building plans carry on apace around the country, with Jimmy Anyon moving from Warwickshire to Sussex. He's a decent bowler but it was telling that no one was suggesting we make a move for him at Derby. I think we'll be fine now we've added Mark Footitt to the squad and just need that spinner's berth sorted...

There's still a little rumbling around IMWT re Wes Durston and the benefits of signing him, but I don't see it. As Master Villain points out, he's more likely to play Minor Counties and perhaps take up a school coaching post. His age, when one takes into account new regulations is against him and I don't see any merit in signing him to play in our Second XI. If we assume that Rogers, Madsen, Park, Smith, Redfern and Borrington will be our top six, John Morris can drop down to a five, or bring in John Sadler or Chesney Hughes with penalties, both of which will be more financially viable than bringing in another player. Durston has a decent record in the county game, but as I've said before, any batsman plying his trade at Taunton really should have.

I've been watching some of the South African cricket over the last week or so. Despite the flurry of strokes that came from Messrs Smith and Bosman, I still can't take to Twenty/20. It's here to stay but I agree with Ian Botham that we're playing too much of it and are saturating the market and doing the players few favours. There'll be more injuries and niggles from the diving around and sides of lesser quality will then take the field. You only need to look at all England's injuries to see that.

Bosman may well have played himself into the mix for an overseas berth somewhere in the competition, but I'm now more in favour than ever of helping out the poor bowlers. We already have good batting tracks expected as the norm and boundary ropes are brought in to encourage more six hitting. We have heavier bats with bigger middles and mishits are carrying for six. So why not do away with fielding restrictions - or at least change the amount allowed in the outfield? If you're going to go for the big shots that's fine, but risk mishitting one and its goodnight Vienna. We may as well just have a bowling machine at either end plus the fielders, as bowlers have so little margin for error. You can bowl a good four over spell and still go for 40 and I think it is time that something was done for the poor saps who have to run in and bowl.

I'd also propose a little more leeway in pitch preparation. Was there any point to the first Test between India and Sri Lanka? Apart from a short spell on the first morning, the bat was in the ascendancy throughout and we're seeing some very average players boosting their statistics on wickets that make Taunton look like a minefield. Again, it makes for much greater
entertainment when there's an even battle between bat and ball, yet groundsmen live in fear of pitches being condemned and go too far the other way.

I hope that we get our wickets sorted at Derby this year. The best home track last season was probably the one at Chesterfield where the bowlers and batsmen both had a chance if they kept their wits about them. To challenge in the Championship next season we need results and the ability to take twenty wickets if there if bowlers get a little help.

Finally I see that Yorkshire ae looking for a "high impact batsman" for their second berth in the Twenty/20. Isn't everyone? We're looking for a player who can bowl tight like Langeveldt and then hit 70 in half-a-dozen overs... I just hope he's out there somewhere!

See you soon

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Weekend thoughts

Morning everyone! You'll have noticed that I've missed a couple of days this week. Well, I could see no point in going over old ground again and I've been pretty busu on the work and domestic front. Christmas is coming and the goose is not only getting fat, he's a little concerned about it...

Good to see Chris Rogers doing well in Australia. Six centuries in successive matches is remarkable and the fact that he is bracketed in his speed to 7,000 Sheffield Shield runs with Bradman and Greg Chappell shows the ability of the man. He is totally in command of his game right now, as evidenced in the closing weeks of our season.

That, of course, makes it all the more remarkable that he still cannot force his way into their national side. I would fancy him to make a lot of runs against a somewhat threadbare West Indian attack if selected, but for now all he can do is keep scoring runs and hope that Katich or Watson make a mess of things. I'm sure that if you asked 100 neutral Aussies who the better batsman was between Rogers and Watson that the larger percentage would favour Buck. Sadly, they're not selecting the national side and this ain't Family Fortunes...

So good is his record that you wonder if there's something personal and I'd be surprised if that hasn't crossed his mind. When Langer and Hayden were the men in possession he would have had few complaints, but Katich, worthy player that he is, doesn't compare to those two and Watson effectively gets in on his all round game and the few overs that he will bowl. He's still a good one day bowler, but a succession of back injuries have meant that their hopes in him as the new Botham have come to naught. I know who my money would be on in a weight of runs competition as Rogers has shown.

Elsewhere, Yorkshire have secured the longer-term future of seven young players, including former Derbyshire youngster Garry Ballance. He left the club when his uncle was dismissed as coach and has since been studying at University at Yorkshire's expense, a nice deal if you can get it. He's now signed up until the end of 2012 and they'll be hoping that he shows the talents that flickered when he came to Derbyshire as a schoolboy.

That's pretty much it for today. It was good to see that interest in the club website has increased and that shows the club are getting more professional. While the club site offers far more than this blog, I'd have laughed if you'd have told me 19 months ago that I'd be well past 50,000 hits. It all proves that the club are going in the right direction, as people don't bother reading about things when they feel it is a waste of their time. Thanks for your continued interest and I'll see you soon!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

News today

Middlesex sign Adam Gilchrist for the Twenty/20, while being linked with signing Sachin Tendulkar as their second player. The IPL hits English cricket with a vengeance.

Given its capacity for generating income that is way ahead of any other form of the game, the Twenty/20 may well see counties putting increasing money towards it in the hope that speculation leads to accumulation. There is little doubt that Gilchrist and Tendulkar as a pairing would generate huge crowds for Middlesex and also for any ground on which they played. Sadly they’re not in our group as Keith Loring’s additional seating would have been filled quite nicely by that duo.

The last that I heard was that there would be no restriction on the use of players in the twenty-over thrash, so counties would effectively have carte blanche to play whoever they wanted, so long as they could afford to do so. The congested international calendar brings its own restrictions and the recruitment of recently retired players of top quality such as Gilchrist is one way to get around that. Matthew Hayden and Andrew Symonds may generate interest too, although the salary demands of such players will be considerable. We could also see those who have the resources perhaps bring in a Kolpak specifically for Twenty/20 AS WELL as the second overseas player. There appears nothing to stop it bar lack of funds, as far as I can see.

Steve Rhodes at Worcestershire strikes me as one of the more honest and straightforward men in the game and speaks quite frankly today about the financial difficulties they face. They hadn’t budgeted for an overseas player this year because of severe cuts to their playing budget – this despite losing almost all their bigger names. The unexpected departure of Stephen Moore has given them a little more scope, but the news comes as a surprise.

Or does it? Several counties are expecting to announce big losses this season, which makes the management of finances at Derbyshire all the more laudable. There are fans who expect us to sign everyone who comes on the market, which is unrealistic. We are living within our means and are slowly but surely moving in the right direction.

For me, Derbyshire cricket was in decline and had been since the Dean Jones era. It is impossible in any organisation to arrest such a decline, one that had taken place over a fifteen-year period, in a couple of short years. They have done remarkably well to streamline the commercial operations at the club in an attempt to increase the playing budget. Intelligent use has been made of club reserves and if success comes on the field – or continued improvement at the very least – the club could be one of the few in the country with a viable economic future.

Speaking of which it was refreshing to see Monty Panesar donate £10,000 to Northamptonshire on his departure to Sussex, thanking them for their role in his development. It was a decent gesture by an honourable man. For the good of English cricket we should hope that he rediscovers his mojo on the south coast.
Sorry about the lack of a blog last night, but it was a quiet day for news and my mother-in-law’s birthday, so we took her for a meal. See how I continue to build up these brownie points?

Finally in my lunch hour, the fixtures are out! We start at the Oval and finish in Cardiff, where we will doubtless celebrate the winning of Division Two of the Championship…

In between we have a lot of cricket and I hope to see a few games next year, all things being equal. At this stage I’m cautiously optimistic about our fortunes, though my expectations will increase if a certain South African signing is finalised in the coming weeks and months. Whether the gentleman concerned is a catalyst to great things is one that the future will tell, but the completion of his signing would give Derbyshire a balanced looking side for the first time in a long while.

That can’t be a bad thing.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Footitt set to make his Mark?


Given that there were some of our supporters complaining that the linked Robin Peterson was not good enough for Derbyshire, there will be a few raised eyebrows at the signing of former Nottinghamshire left arm fast bowler Mark Footitt. After all, Foottitt has had major injury problems that saw him miss the entire 2008 season with a bulging disc in his back, while his struggle for form in 2009 saw him released by his county before the season ended.

So why have we signed him?

There are several answers to that one. For one thing Footitt is, at 23, the right age for Derbyshire, given that we will receive payments dependent on fielding players under various ages this season.

There’s more than that though. At the end of 2007 he was being talked about around the circuit as an England bowler in the making. There was talk of a technical issue with his action and where his feet landed, but Footitt had a rare gift of being seriously quick when everything clicked. He’d had that ability from his youth in League cricket at Papplewick when he rattled experienced players with raw pace that is unusual in left arm bowlers. Very few of that style have ever been genuinely quick. Bill Voce (although overshadowed by Harold Larwood) and Wasim Akram are perhaps the only two who spring immediately to mind.

Perhaps his build wasn’t right for a genuine express bowler and Footitt may need to accept that he will be a lively bowler on the fast side of medium who can bowl an occasional really quick ball. Or will he?

Steffan Jones will step into his role as bowling coach with a dual purpose of getting the bowlers fit to do their job and then putting the ball in the right areas often enough to cause problems. Footitt, on his track record, will give him a challenge, but then so will Tom Lungley and Jon Clare. Part of the problem with any bowler after major injury is psychological. If I bowl flat out will this happen again? We saw it last season with Jon Clare, who looked a much more pedestrian bowler than in 2008 when he burst on the scene. If Steffan Jones can get Footitt and the others fit, they can form a fine line up of seam bowlers that will rival any in Division Two.

If he can sort out the minor technical issues that account for Footitt losing his radar from time to time we could see a real threat with this lad. In his sporadic appearances for Nottinghamshire he has taken his wickets at a rate of one every 40 balls, which is comfortably ahead of anyone on our staff, and indeed most bowlers in the country. Maybe some of them have come against less demanding opposition, but Footitt has some notable scalps in his fledgling career, including Sourav Ganguly and Simon Katich.

Still not sure? Have a read of this article by Scyld Berry. His comments on Footitt start midway through the article, but it illustrates the potential in the player.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/columnists/scyldberry/2335009/Hot-Footitt-could-stride-into-England-side.html

Last season Derbyshire struggled to bowl sides out on the last day of Championship matches, primarily because we had no real variety in our attack. Already this week we have been linked with an international slow left arm bowling all rounder. Now we have signed a young bowler who offers a change of line and potentially something that we have lacked for some time. Genuine pace. In the right areas, no one likes to face it.

Next season we might just find out if Mark Footitt has what it takes to be a force at this level. There are no guarantees, but we’ve signed him in the face of opposition from other counties, so there’s a few professional people out there must rate him.
That will do me.

Monday, 16 November 2009

And so it begins...

We've not yet signed Robin Peterson. We may not sign him, yet over on 606 there are those moaning already that he's not good enough.

Sigh.

I'm not going over yesterday's ground but don't people ever think about giving the benefit of the doubt? He's an INTERNATIONAL spinner with a decent pedigree. He bats solidly (and at times spectacularly) and fields like a panther.

Someone makes the comment that we should stick with "Jake, Chesney, Smudge, Redders and Madsen". Ah yes, that deadly spin quintet. I rate all of them as players of potential, but the reality is that four of them have 48 first class wickets between them and 27 in one day games. Smith has 71 and 42 respectively, but I'd venture that 2/3 of them were taken bowling seam.
Peterson has 242 and 167 respectively, at an average only a little higher than Daniel Vettori. C'mon guys, show the man some respect.

I sometimes wonder if the "fans" ever think about what they write. I've asked a few players if they ever read the message boards and comments and the answer is more often than not in the affirmative. "You can't help it" said one. I don't have a clue whether Robin Peterson reads such things, but if he was sat at home reading 606 and thinking about putting pen to paper, don't you think it could be a deterrent if people are writing him off even before he does so?

How people can look at Peterson's record and suggest "he's not much better than we already have" is ludicrous to the extreme. Last time I looked, our squad wasn't choc-a-bloc with spin bowling all rounders of international experience. How can people write that "he's not worth the outlay" when they don't know what the outlay is?

I'll not be writing any more about Robin Peterson as its pointless until we know he is going to sign. I may as well write about Sachin Tendulkar and Rikky Ponting and what they might do for us.

But please guys - show a little respect and at least a modicum of common sense. If you can't see that the signing of an international class - which he must be because he's played it - spin bowling all rounder isn't an improvement on what we have, or on the names that have been bandied about this winter, then there really is no hope.

We've talked about Middlebrook, Brown, Keedy, Salisbury and Botha - some of them people who aren't even available. Be glad we're even linked with this bloke, and at least reserve judgement until he's signed and played a few games, if that ever happens.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Seriously...

Calm down.

There are a couple of things about the "signing" of Robin Peterson, announced on the 11th in South African newspapers, referred to yesterday on cricinfo and the subject of great excitement on IMWT that I think need to be said.

First and foremost, IF it happens it will be a terrific piece of work by John Morris

Now the bad news...

The link that "Anon" posted onto the previous blog piece merely says that Peterson has indicated "his intention" to sign a Kolpak deal with Derbyshire, which is great as far as it goes.
But it means that he hasn't yet done so.

If you look at his Test and one-day international record, he hasn't played the prerequisite number of games for South Africa in the qualifying period. We have to remember that the key to this is April 2010, when the season starts.

Peterson's last Test ended on March 3rd 2008, outside the two year qualifying period. It was also his only one in a five year period, so he doesn't make the necessary criteria there, either.

I have him calculated at 14 one day games in a five year period, not the necessary fifteen, though his five twenty-over games may be taken into consideration. So too may be the fact that he has been in his country's squad in the recent Champions Trophy, an indication of a player of some talent. Yet something suggests to me that it might have been better for us, especially if the player was to sign a two-year contract as the South African press suggests, if Peterson had played some more matches for their national side this winter.

As it stands, it would appear that we want to sign him, which is great. It appears that he wants to sign for us - which is fantastic.

But will he get a visa? If anyone out there is an expert on Kolpak visas then please let me know. As with all things cricket, the waters are muddier than any blues guitarist of the same name. Think Duckworth-Lewis. Now the Memorandum of Understanding, then the new Kolpak regulations. Maybe if Peterson has worn blue trousers twice in the past three months on his way to a game and has whistled the national anthem it will work in his favour.

I don't know. If you ask me if I'm excited at the thought of this bloke playing for us, my answer would be an unequivocal yes. If you ask me if I think it will happen, I'm less sure.

I'll be writing in length about it if it happens. Until it is announced on the club site it hasn't.

And it might not.

I'm not being negative, just realistic. Given track record, if the ECB could find a tiny loophole to prevent "little" Derbyshire bringing in an international all rounder that could threaten the order of things in county cricket, I would bet my beer money on it being utilised. I'm thrilled at the thought of this chap playing for us next year, but the time for dreaming will be when its done and dusted and not before.

A cautionary word...

I've had a call from a pal at our village club tonight who saw the information on Robin Peterson on cricinfo earlier today. He's a South African himself and is regularly jetting between the two countries and keeping abreast of information on South African cricket.

He told me that the Peterson deal may not be accurate and that the newspaper concerned has a reputation for getting things wrong. If one newspaper prints something, the feed goes out through agencies and all of a sudden, rightly or wrongly, there's a factual story.

Maybe there's no smoke without fire, but for now I've pulled my Peterson piece. There'll be plenty of time for that when the news is OFFICIALLY announced through the club site, but until then I'm going to err on the side of caution, just in case this is a poor piece of journalism.

Good news, however from Perth, where Paul Borrington is playing for Midland Guildford in Western Australia. Last weekend, in the first innings of a 2 day match that continues this weekend, he batted at number three and was last man out for 70 in a score of 140 all out. For a young man on different tracks in a country a long way from home that is an impressive debut. An early example of what you can do takes a lot of pressure off a new player at any club and Paul will benefit from this excellent start.

More to the point, if he comes back from Australia with his confidence high and his reputation enhanced, so will we.

Look on the bright side. Only 137 sleeps until April...

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Weekend thoughts

There's not really too many of these today, to be honest with you, as it has all been said over the course of the week.

Last night's news about John Sadler was welcome and we at least know that he will be around this coming season. How much first team cricket he plays will depend on the form and fitness of others. Given the age restrictions on players this year I'm sure that John Morris hopes he doesn't need to use him too often, but he is a solid, if not spectacular player and will play an important role in the Second XI.

There will be a lot of interest in their performances in 2010 and I hope that we receive regular updates on results and individual performances through the club site.

I've tried to find out how Paul Borrington is doing over in Australia with the Midland Guildford side, but the club site has been down for a few days so that's a job for another time.

Finally I was astonished at how South Africa made a mess of another Duckworth-Lewis calculation yesterday when they had a win against England within their grasp. I know that this is the bane of many a cricketer's life and that the runs required when using it is normally the sort of thing that requires Stephen Hawking to calculate. Yet yesterday seemed, on the surface, fairly straightforward. When England made 202 in 20 overs that was just over ten an over. When South Africa got to 13 overs I would have thought that they therefore needed to have scored 132 to be sure of a win, yet D/L said that they needed 129. Baffled? Yes.

See you soon.

New deal for Sads

Late night for me tonight after a pleasant evening's entertainment and I'm glad I had a last look at the Internet as the club site reveals John Sadler has signed a new one-year deal with the club.

In much the same way as Steffan Jones, Sadler's new role sees him become the Second XI skipper, although he will be available for the first team as and when required.

It is another piece of the 2010 jigsaw and again shows the thought that has gone into next season. Sadler is a decent county professional who will no doubt teach some good habits to the youngsters who will make up the majority of the Second XI. We need these players to progress and follow the likes of Redfern, Borrington and Clare into the first team and having a reliable man on the pitch will do them no harm at all.

It also confirms what has appeared likely for some time, that the top six next season is going to be Rogers, Madsen, Park, Smith, Redfern and Borrington. It is a relatively young and inexperienced line up but one that offers considerable hope for the future.

Morris' squad is now taking shape. There'll no doubt be a few comments about this on the message boards this weekend, but I'm happy enough with it at this stage.

Now its time for bed!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Well done guys!

I'm a firm believer in giving credit where it is due and tonight I'd like to applaud the marketing staff behind the prices to watch Derbyshire cricket next season.

£145 for a season's cricket if bought before April is a steal in this day and age, as anyone who forks out to go and see football will tell you. If the club did well, that could equate to your ticket costing you around £3 a day. Kids under 13 are free, those under 16 just pay £20. It is only £65 for under 20's. I cannot think that anyone could find fault with this pricing and it is a huge inducement to someone to take a youngster along and introduce them to the game.

With the membership transferrable for Championship games and offering discounts at various stores in the city, there is a lot of work gone into this. As someone who does a lot of marketing work, I can only applaud the team for an excellent job.

I think it was DCCC Forever who suggested that today may see an announcement on new players as an inducement to renew. I've two things to say about that. First, that those prices are a great enough inducement themselves. Second that it wouldn't make sound marketing sense to dilute the impact of one campaign with another. This is very much a good news story, and should stand on its own as one. I trust John Morris to continually improve Derbyshire Cricket Club. If you still have doubts, you can always wait until March to get the existing price, but this is a nice early treat for club fans. If we bring in more players, it will become even more so.

Last night I poured a little water on the idea of Oliver Newby coming to Derbyshire. Thanks to Chris for directing me to a story that suggests Middlesex are chasing (and think they will sign) Mark Footitt. As I've said before, we can all come up with players to sign, but sometimes, for no reason, things don't work out. Sometimes they do but take a long while to finalise.

We must all be patient. I don't think we're too far away from next year's side. Most people agree we need a spinner, some think we need another seamer, some think we need another batsman. Most will again agree that a second overseas for the Twenty/20 is essential. The reality is, however, that only John Morris knows who is available and what we can afford. There's a balancing act, of course and sometimes you have to speculate to accumulate. Maybe a little more than expected on a top T20 player would be worthwhile from the extra crowds he would bring in, but I have no more access to the club balance sheets than any of you do.

With a little luck and a little patience we could have a pretty good side in 2010 and beyond. Some people may not realise it, but having supported Derbyshire for over 40 years I can honestly say that these are good times to be a fan. We seem to have people, both on and off the pitch, who know what they are doing and that is very much a rarity in my experience.

Keep up the good work guys!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

A few words

Not much to report tonight. Fixtures out next week, new membership prices tomorrow.

Leicestershire are pleased they've signed Hoggard and he may do well for them, but I have reservations about him as a potential skipper. So, it would appear, did Yorkshire and he will need to make an early impact to keep the fans onside.

As I replied to Master Villain on last night's post, it appears that Oliver Newby hasn't signed for Lancashire but still has a year on his existing deal so is unlikely to be going anywhere in the near future. Mind you, if I was him and saw Daren Powell brought in, ostensibly ahead of me in the pecking order, I might be asking a few questions.

We'll see what happens as the week progresses. See you soon.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Tuesday thoughts

I'd a couple of surprises when I got home this evening. England 89 all out v South Africa A. OK, not that big a surprise, but Cook made 22 in 13 overs. Eh? Did he think it a Test match? What a shambles... mind you, what a track.

Then I check the teletext and it says "Derbyshire sign Jones/du Plessis". Blimey, that was a shocker alright (you're best to say that last bit in a Dick Van Dyke "Mary Poppins" voice for true effect). Turns out the Lanky boys hope to retain Frankie-boy somehow, just when I thought JM had picked us up a good Kolpak!

So, we've at last confirmed the signing of Steffan Jones as seamer and bowling coach. It's been a few weeks since I found this signing alluded to in the Bristol local news and mentioned it on the blog. It has taken some time to finalise as Steffan was in India with Somerset and then had a break, but it is good to see him officially a Derbyshire player.

Coach too. I'm not sure how good a bowling coach he will be, but he must have his badges and if John Morris is confident that he can do the job then that will do me and should do the same for other fans. I cannot think there will be anyone better at ensuring bowling fitness, as Jones always looks a strapping picture of health and vitality. If he can pass that on to less robust members of the bowling line up it will be money well spent.

Two more years as a bowler will be an asset as Jones usually has the ball in the right areas and he will be a key member of the attack. Like all the seamers, there will be occasions where he will be rested and at 35 we cannot expect him to play in every game, but I'm confident that Jones will play an important role for Derbyshire next season and could help to energise and rejuvenate our strike bowlers.

Master villain amusingly asked if I was going to do a Simon Cowell and start to praise him if/when we sign Jason Brown. Put it this way, I'll run round the County Ground clad only in my jockstrap if Brown signs for us. The pattern of John Morris' signings is that he likes multi-faceted players who bring more than just batting or bowling to the table. Brown looks to be past his best as a bowler, is only an average fielder and can't bat. If we signed him I'd be concerned that the wheels were coming off, quite frankly. Any signing HAS to be better than you already have to be worthwhile. Outside of his immediate family, few would suggest that of Brown and Derbyshire. Jake Needham, for all that he struggled in 2009, offers far more and crucially has time to improve - something that Brown doesn't have. We need an experienced spinner, but not one past his prime.

Master villain also suggests that we may be interested in Oliver Newby, who has apparently yet to agree terms with Lancashire. Newby and Nottinghamshire's Mark Footitt are both young seamers who, I would agree with him, could do a job at Derby. Any potential move would, for me, be dependent on three things. The first would be their salary demands, which we don't know. The second would be their age, which we do know and where they both score as being under 26. The third is whether John Morris wants another seam bowler.

With Jones, Wagg, Groenewald, Hunter, Lungley and Clare we have six, with Smith and Park as back up to some extent. There's also Atif Sheikh coming through, so Morris may feel that this is enough to get him through the season. If he doesn't, who knows - we may make a move for one of them.

Both have considerable ability and while Newby has the greater experience, Footitt is younger and has the asset of being different to the rest of the attack in being a fastish left armer with an excellent strike rate. Variety is the spice of life, but as I've said ad nauseum on this blog, it may well be hypothetical as we may not have the money.

A greater concern could be the batting. We have what I see as a top six of excellent potential in Rogers, Madsen, Park, Smith, Redfern and Borrington, but only John Sadler, assuming he signs a new contract, in reserve. We only need a couple of broken fingers or injuries in the early season to have a problem, but perhaps Morris would at that point dip into the loan market.

Having been driving up and down the country for the past few days I've had plenty of opportunity to think about next season while watching the proliferating speed cameras and think that if we have the budget we really need to sign a name for the second overseas role in the Twenty/20. There's a lot of cricket in there next season and it does not offer the same restrictions that the Championship and 40-over competition will do with regard to age groups. We really need to make an impression and get the crowds in to see a good side. If we lose the first four games and are left with a lot of dead matches, the County Ground will be like a rock club on Village People tribute night...

A big hitting batsman, perhaps ideally one who can bowl some overs, would be a great asset. I highlighted a few names last week who I thought could do a great job for us but we'll not know for some time who is available with the ever-increasing international calendar.

Finally to Lancashire and what a surprise to see them sign Daren Powell last week. Nothing about the West Indian's career suggests a man who will cut swathes through county batting line-ups and their fans are pretty scathing about it on 606. Some will remember a brief and unspectacular foray at Derby a year or two back and Hampshire fans were unimpressed by him when he had a stint there. I wrote last week that I could see counties still "going Kolpak" in the right circumstances, but I'm not sure what they must be at Old Trafford for this to seem a good move.

If Powell is the answer, I can only assume it's a darned funny question...

Monday, 9 November 2009

Back in bonny Scotland

Evening all and after a brief sojourn south of the border (but not down Mexico way) I'm back in the arms of my family and glad to be back. Even more so, they're pleased to see me too!

Anyway, there's nowt happening on the cricket front, though we should hear this week the fixtures for 2010, which will be eagerly anticipated.

Both 606 and IMWT are choc-full of comments on potential targets, but I've been over the McGrath/Taylor ground and haven't changed my stance on either of them. I cannot see any circumstance in which we would see them at the County Ground next year. John Morris has a decent, improving and competitive squad together and I cannot see any major changes. I still think he will bring in a spinner from somewhere, but just who is something I cannot get a handle on. Middlebrook may be an option, but I don't see Jason Brown as an improvement to the squad at all.

Other than that, maybe another young seamer, if he could find one, but then the chase will probably switch to the Twenty/20 second overseas star. If there is any money in the coffers he'll want to improve our fortunes in the cricket cash cow and fill some seats if at all possible. In short, anyone expecting major changes will be disappointed - and rightly so.

Matthew Hoggard has now signed for Leicestershire and he'll have a lot to do, in my humble opinion, to justify the bandied around £100K salary. He'll certainly need to play in more than just the Championship and while he will undoubtedly improve the Foxes attack, their fans will be hoping he stays fit and shows early form.

Not much else to write tonight, I'm afraid. Hopefully more (including confirmation of Steffan Jones signing) later this week. Maybe even tomorrow...

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Sorry, but...

Just a quick blog this morning to say that there'll be nothing now until Monday.

I'm shortly to swap the tranquility of the Lakes for my parents place for the weekend and I'll have no internet signal there. My folks are many things, but silver surfers they ain't. Given that I'm not too keen on nicking a neighbour's bandwidth for obvious reasons (even if it wasn't encrypted) so I'll not be able to blog until my return north, which will be sometime on Monday afternoon.

Still, its not that there's lots happening. Pretty quiet around the club at present and perhaps the next we'll hear is the announcement of fixtures and the membership prices next week. As someone wrote on (I think) 606 (I'd check but this hotel wi-fi is fragile to say the least) it may be that they're saving any signing news until then. If there is any signing news. There's still no official news on Steffan Jones, while our search for a spinner presumably goes on. Maybe we're giving Bishan Bedi a chance to get into shape before unveiling him as a new form of Kolpak - one of the "thirty years retired so it doesn't matter" variety!

Anyway, catch up with you soon and remember to keep the faith!