An inauspicious beginning to the CLT20 for Martin Guptill today, run out without facing a ball as his team, Auckland, went down by two runs to the Kolkata Knightriders. Without that they would probably have won, as they did well to restrict a side with plenty of talent to just 121. He will have another opportunity tomorrow, as his side face Somerset.
Elsewhere, Akhil Patel has been released by Nottinghamshire. Patel looked a player of talent when I saw him for Derbyshire Seconds, but is not the first and won't be the last to be in the shadow of a father or sibling. He is still young enough to get another deal, but needs to cement undoubted talent to a weight of runs when opportunity presents itself.
There's still not too much in the way of news of released players, but of the ones I have seen, someone who perhaps has a case for a chance elsewhere is Naqaash Tahir at Warwickshire. At 28 next season his age is perhaps against him, but the player's record suggests ability, even if injuries have affected him over the years. He bowls with decent pace and Graene Welch said that there was "nothing he can't do with a ball in his hand". Apart from paint, perhaps....
139 wickets at 29 is no bad record, ten times having taken four in an innings, but whether the lad gets another chance elsewhere is debatable. Time will tell, once again. There may yet be a cull from Yorkshire but most counties retain players on contracts until October, so some retained lists may take a while yet. Our northern neighbours may release players to finance more coming in, but seem to need some of their 'names' to perform with greater frequency than was the case in 2011.
I came across an interesting piece from Chris Adams, who has done a fine job in turning Surrey around. He said that, given the requisite level of ability to be on a county staff, the most important factors for individual success were, in order:
Character - determination and a willingness to be a part of and contribute to the team
Strength of mind - powerful and able to focus on their game
I find that interesting, although once again the history of the game is littered with examples of gifted individuals who didn't make it, while journeymen professionals carved out successful careers. No names, of course...
In closing, thanks to all of you for your continued e-mails and comments. I got a good one earlier today which referred again to my ratings of players for the season. The writer suggested that my score for Matt Lineker was unfair, as the player had the additional pressure of only three matches in which to prove himself yet managed to do so.
It is a fair comment and I'm inclined to think that another year it is unfair to rate any player who plays less than five matches. I would also agree that Lineker had a tough task. He scored a thousand runs in the Second XI and another thousand for Ockbrook and Borrowash. He could have been forgiven for easing up there, but it is to his great credit that he retained both his intensity and appetite for runs.
In his last three seasons for the club he has amassed 3,900 runs. Throw in those second team runs and that is 5,000 runs in three summers. Not bad, huh?
None of the wickets he played on when he made the senior side could be called straightforward. Certainly Chelmsford and The Oval were tricky, while the County Ground offered lift and movement for the bowlers, despite two good first innings totals. Yet those who saw his first innings against Kent were impressed by his composure.
In the circumstances Matt Lineker did a very good job, though in the light of the above we probably shouldn't be too surprised. I would genuinely like to see him given an extended opportunity next year to make a place his own, ideally accompanied by the "Derbyshire Bradman", Paul Borrington. Bozza has scored 3,200 runs in the last two summers at Ticknall. Fourteen fifties and fourteen hundreds in 53 innings. Sooner, rather than later, two players who are capable of that must be able to make the next step. They just need the extended opportunity that has gone the way of others.
I accept that there is a chance that two players of relative inexperience may face challenges, that there is a possibility that one, or both, may not make it. Yet based on their respective records in high standard cricket, there is a better chance that they might. We need to know how good they can be at the earliest opportunity and not spend the next few years wondering "what if?"
In the 140 years of their history, Derbyshire have never had two young players with such impressive records in local and Second XI cricket. If they come through, we have an opening partnership for the next ten years.
If they don't, at least we've given them a try. That has surely got to be worth a shot.