It is inevitable, given that Derbyshire are likely to have to bring in a few players this close-season, that fans will link them with everyone released and assess the relative merits of those who are on the market. Indeed, given the club Chairman's reference to a "marquee" or "landmark" signing, that conjecture is spread far and wide as fans suggest X or Y would be a good signing. Radio Derby allegedly referred to ongoing talks with a big name the other day.
I have mentioned a few names that people have contacted me about, but I don't think we will see a revolving door at the County Ground this winter. For one thing, it isn't needed. After a season of genuine encouragement with an essentially young squad, it is fair to assume that this can be sustained, as the players come to terms with the demands of first-class cricket. Tweaks are required, but I think that the squad we have, with a handful of sensible recruits and winter improvement, is capable of a challenge next year.
The serious work has already been done. Extended contracts for key personnel has ensured that the players who make the leading contributions and will continue to do so are tied to the club for the next two/three seasons. With the possible addition of one more batsman to bolster a young line-up, an all-rounder to replace Greg Smith, a spinner and perhaps a seamer, we should be OK.
One of those roles will go to the overseas player. My gut feeling is that we will target Danish Kaneria but the plan B will see what I suggested over a month ago, a reversal of the Guptill/Khawaja pairing with the New Zealander here as long as possible, but probably, looking at his country's commitments, no longer than mid-June. Khawaja will then have a chance to bat on later season tracks which should be more to his taste than April ones were this year. I simply cannot see anyone else for a season-long role than those options. Maybe we will see a major international name for the T20, but there are eighteen counties looking for that player.
Kaneria would be a massive signing, but much will depend on the outcome of a legal hearing this week in Pakistan - see:
What happens in this will effectively decide whether the player can play county cricket for us or anyone else this season and I. like the rest of you await the result with great interest. Whether he then gets the requisite No Objection Certificate from the Pakistan Board and clearance from the ECB will determine what happens next.
A contributor to the Forum the other day suggested that we are set to sign both Kaneria and David Wainwright. I could see the merit of this to some extent, though whether Tom Knight would get the immediate cricket he needs if that happened is a moot point. For me, whoever lands Wainwright will get a cricketer who has not yet revealed the depths of his talent and in the right environment he could thrive. A batting average of mid-seventies and a bowling one in the teens for his club this year suggests a player of potential, though so too do first class averages of 35 for batting and 36 for bowling.
I don't necessarily see Wainwright as blocking Knight in the long term and there would be room for both in a side in the long-term. History is full of sides with two or three spinners and I could easily see Wainwright developing into a genuine number six/seven and replacement for Greg Smith. Indeed, his averages are already better. Kaneria might be a short-term obstacle for Knight, but at eighteen the lad has time on his side and plenty of other commitments. IF Kaneria signed, I would only see it long-term as a benefit for the lad.
Further conjecture about who we will sign is largely pointless, but won't stop fans doing it and enjoying it. The reality is that none of us outside the club know which players are currently available and/or out of contract. We know the ones picked up in the media, but don't be at all surprised if a name arrives at the County Ground from out of nowhere. Chris Grant and Karl Krikken have done a mountain of work in preparation for the close season, restructuring the club, the staff and the finances. They will have their targets in place and even now are probably involved in talks with players at home and abroad.
Enjoy your weekend!