Tuesday, 20 September 2011

The blog in winter

This is the worst time of year for county cricket fans, as the understanding gradually sinks in that there will be nothing to entertain us for the next six months or so. There will be news emanating from the club, as well as from the county circuit and I'll naturally bring it to you here as I become aware of it.

Realistically I expect to blog two to three times a week over the next few months. I'll also be reviewing some of the best cricket books of recent months in the lead up to Christmas and it might give you a few ideas if your dearly beloveds are wanting to know what you'd like. That's definitely one of the perks of doing the blog - I don't have to pay for any books these days, which is a real bonus!

In the next couple of days I will review one of the best cricket autobiographies I have ever read, so look out for that one.

On the circuit today, Michael Powell left Glamorgan, while Dan Housego left Middlesex. Both are good batsmen at opposite ends of their careers. Powell has been a thorn in Derbyshire sides over the years and has been a fine player. You don't get to 34/35 and average around 40 by being anything else. Whether he finds another county is a good question, as the last couple of season have suggested a slight decline to 25/35 average, but Powell has as good a chance of any player of his age.

Housego at 23 probably has a better chance of being picked up elsewhere. He has done quite well with limited opportunities over the last two seasons and could perhaps be deemed unfortunate. I suspect another opportunity could well come his way, as he is a prolific scorer in Second XI cricket. Having said that, Michael Thorneley is too, yet cannot get a crack at another county as yet. More and more clubs are dependent on the ECB appearance payments and don't want to necessarily lose money to a player raised in another county unless there is real potential . Housego will continue to earn cash for Middlesex wherever he ends up, which I expect to be down south.

Staying down there, the news 'broke' today that Greg Smith was joining Essex, something that I revealed back on September 8 in an article on the player. Given that no one else was in for him, it hardly needed a crystal ball and a shawl to work out that one out. I wish him well, but suspect that he will need to up his performances from their Derbyshire level to merit the rumoured salary.

I bet he wishes that the BBC could have found a more flattering picture for the news release though...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/cricket/14993953.stm

Nothing else today. More (hopefully) tomorrow.

6 comments:

notoveryet said...

On the other hand, he might have selected it to show the effort he puts in that some of our supporters seem to think he lacked. He also left with a good grace that some of our departures have lacked.

I won't speculate about the money side of things, but I think this is one that we will regret in years to come.

mastervillain said...

Give the lad a break. I think the weight of flak he has received has got out of hand.

Yes, his season was not up to scratch and his application may have been lacking, but his overall record for us is not bad. If the guy can get more money in his late 20s elsewhere, then best of luck to him. He has served us well in his time and left with good grace by the sounds of it.

How do any of us know whether or not Essex were the only club to make him an offer?

There have been far poorer players released by Derbyshire in the last few years that is for sure.

Peakfan said...

Agreed with most of that guys. The reality is, however, that what he wanted and what we could afford - coupled with ECB penalties - made him an expensive luxury at Derbyshire given his respective averages.
Re other interest, most counties have now disavowed Kolpaks...

Anonymous said...

As far as I am concerned Smith was a good cricketer who I gather always trained harder than any other player at our club. I don't know why some of our fans seemed to have a go at him.
He always did his best for us and I wish him well.
Ben

notoveryet said...

I'll perhaps try to elucidate my thoughts a little. We are spending money on players who more or less replicate others in the side. Turner and Footitt are prime examples. Both are reasonably mature players with years of county experience behind them; both fast, explosive and capable of going for buckets full of runs as readily as they take wickets. One might improve, both almost certainly won't. Yet we are paying both (I assume) relatively high wages, even though we can't risk playing both at the same time, and it's reasonable to assume that one or the other will be released next year. I could also mention Borrington and Lineker in the same context. I would guess that the wages paid to any one of them would comfortably have paid for a great deal more than the difference between what Greg Smith thought he was worth and what Derbyshire thought he was worth.

The PCA most valued player rankings has its flaws, but on this basis, Smith was our third most valued player, even in an indifferent year for him. This puts him ahead of Clare, Groenewald, Guptill, Madsen, Palladino etc, with only Durston and Hughes ahead of him. He was also the 60th most valuable player in the country on this basis.

I know the PCA system favours the all-rounder who captains a winning team, is an excellent fielder, and plays in all forms of the game, but that doesn't seem to me to be a bad way of estimating all round value, compared to the single measure of a championship batting or bowling average. Yes, we should pay top money to an outstanding batter or bowler, but someone who contributes in all areas and in all forms shouldn't be overlooked.

I think this is what we've done with Smith. He brought something to the balance of the team that we are not going to be able to replicate. If Durston's bowling improves further, we could have had a very serviceable pair of spin bowlers without needing a specialist. Instead, we're going to spend a great deal more than keeping Smith would have cost in the hope that we can fill the gap that he leaves.

Looking at the PCA rankings is interesting in the context of who we keep and who we don't. 11 players with Derby links are in the top 100 - 4 current players and 7 former. Blackwell is at 5, Clarke at 9, Durston at 22, Richardson at 37, Hughes at 56, Smith at 60, Clare at 69, Wagg at 71, Groenewald at 89, Rogers at 95 and Guptill at 97.

Apart from lacking a wicketkeeper (Sutton instead of Wagg on current form) and having to replace one of the overseas (Madsen for Guptill), I'd be pretty confident of promotion with that team. But three of them we wouldn't pay enough to keep, two we couldn't keep happy, one we rejected, and one couldn't stay because of international commitments.

Alan Richardson is an interesting question that has got little attention. My memory is a gangling, clumsy looking trundler who I wasn't surprised to see released, but was surprised to see succeed years later with Middlesex. He's now having an Indian summer with Worcestershire among the big boys and is exactly what we could have done with. Does anyone have an idea about how he went under our radar when he was released by Middlesex? He is perhaps a classic of not being seduced by figures alone.

Marc said...

Sorry boys but i fail to see just what part of Smith we are going to miss. He was nowhere near achieving the benchmark 1000 runs and what,s more he never has been.

His one day recpord this season in particular was abysmal and hasn,t been anything much to write home about in the past. He,s reasonable as a bowler,but nothing more than that and has seldom taken enough wickets to even consider him as a possible match winner.

It would be almost impossible not to replace him with someone who is as least as effective and in all probability,far more effective. It,s all a matter of opinion but i think the club has got this one bang on. He was not worth keeping and certainly not on the sort of money he was seeking. Essex have far more money than sense.