Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Derbyshire v Surrey day 3

I'm not sure what to make of the current game tonight.

Only 77 ahead with six wickets left, we have a lot of work to do to get our noses back in front on the face of it, although events after tea today suggest that the wicket may be playing up a little. With Surrey losing their last six wickets for 25 and us our first four for 26 something happened. Swing?

Having been in Belfast all day and away from things I'm not sure, but if such conditions continue (and we bowl better than we did in the morning and early afternoon today) there could yet be a twist in the tail. Of course, the weather could yet have a say in proceedings, but a game that looked dead at lunchtime suddenly looks a fair bet to produce a positive result.

Should be a good last day...

Monday, 30 May 2011

Monday musings

There's times when some comments baffle me.

Like today. 'Anon' says that the club should make a statement on the Groenewald 'situation'. You'll all know, I'm sure, that Groenewald has given 28 days notice of his intention to speak to other counties. As he comes to the end of his contract that is his right and I'm sure that all of us, in his situation, would do exactly the same thing.

At the same time, the player has made it known that he wants to stay at Derbyshire, where the team spirit and positive attitude in the dressing room is obvious and a tribute to the senior people in the club. As I've written before, the player will see if there are bigger offers out there and will then speak to the club to see if they are prepared to match those offers. The size of them will dictate what happens next. It may be that the current economic climate in the game means there are no more lucrative takers for the player's services. It could equally be that there are, but they are of a level that the club can match and probably keep the player accordingly, assuming he's enjoying the club as much as he says. He may also want to play in Division One and if that's the case there's little we can do, unless we get better luck with the weather in the second half of the season.

There's a lot of supposition in it all, but what do you expect the club to say or do, Anon? They will want to keep him, without doubt, but if we're paying (my guess) £40-45K a season and someone else offers £80K he will go, simple as that, as we can't afford him. Graham Wagg went for an even better deal, but if anyone thinks his current 28 batting average and 13 wickets at 49 is worth a rumoured £90K a season plus perks you're on your own. If the difference between Groenewald's best option and ourselves is £10K there's a better chance of our striking a deal, but at the end of the day we are a business. We have a finite and small playing budget, the smallest in the country and need to have enough players on the staff to account for injury problems and ensure competition for places. To suggest that a refusal to match big offers from elsewhere is short-sighted and indicative of a lack of ambition is baloney of the highest order.

Let's assume that we have £650K to pay for player salaries. I don't think that's too far away, from my reading of club accounts etc. A decent senior player can probably expect to get around £40K a season (I'd guess) so you could have 16 for your money. So what happens when they are tired or injured? Don't forget you also need to pay more for an overseas star of any stature. Had we matched Glamorgan's offer for Wagg, what do you think that Madsen, Smith, Groenewald, Durston and Sutton, senior players as good, if not better than Wagg would have thought? Do we give them all £90K to keep them happy? OK then, that's £540K of your £650K gone on six players. I'm sure that the rest of our squad would play for £10-15K a summer. Palladino, Hughes, Redfern, Jones, Park - they'd all be happy with that. Your overseas player would too. You would wouldn't you?

I didn't think so...

Nor, as I've written before, can we expect the Chairman to make up any shortfall. There may be occasions he chooses to help the club, but he is involved as much for his financial acumen as the depth and contents of his pockets. Living beyond our means is a sure route to financial meltdown.

I hope that we keep Tim Groenewald. I hope that we keep Greg Smith. The reality is that if another club with more money decides that they want them, we won't hang on to them because money talks, for you, for me, for everyone. What we will have to continue to do is bring on youngsters, spot those lacking opportunity elsewhere and give it to them for as long as we can afford to.

One thing we have going for us is that there are financial issues everywhere. The ECB age-related payments mean that increasing numbers of clubs are bringing in younger players. That's why Usman Afzaal and Bilal Shafayat are no longer in the county game, because they're priced out of the market and they're too old to make money under current regulations. Kent were linked with Greg Smith a couple of years back and now can only pay a staff of 18. Lancashire and Yorkshire made seven figure losses, Warwickshire only made money because they sold land for development, but you can only do that once. Other than that, they made a trading loss, like almost everyone else.

Here's a question for you. Would you sooner spend beyond our means for the next five years, maybe win a few trophies and then go out of business, or be in this for the long haul? The former gives no guarantee of success, the latter will see good days and bad, but ensure that we have a club to entertain us for a long time to come.

I know which option I prefer and it ain't the first.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Derbyshire v Surrey day 1

Hands up everyone who, when they heard we'd lost the toss and had to bat today feared the worst?

And those who, when we slipped to 16-2 with both openers back in the pavilion, thought we'd struggle to stay batting at tea? The ball was moving around with the odd one lifting and others keeping a little low. Surrey must have fancied their chances.

That being the case, to close on 375-7 represents another fine day's cricket from Derbyshire, watched for some of the time by Geoff Miller. He cannot fail to have been impressed by the precocious talents of Messrs Hughes and Redfern, who rallied the innings after Wes Durston helped Hughes turn 16-2 to 107-3 at lunch.

In the afternoon the two young left-handers batted beautifully and although there was a flurry of wickets post-tea, another stand of 50 between the most experienced players in the side, skipper Luke Sutton and Steffan Jones saw us to a thoroughly satisfactory close.

It was a fine effort by Chesney Hughes, a player of extraordinary talent who is still closer to his 20th birthday than 21st. The youngsters cannot fail to have impressed the watching Martin Guptill, who started his county career with a hooked six then fell to a caught and bowled from a ball that apparently 'stopped'on him. It happens, but there'll be plenty of good days from the talented Kiwi.

As always, we'll not know how good a score this is until they bat on it. There's plenty of talent down their order and Mark Ramprakash will want to possibly bow out from Derbyshire grounds with a good score.

Yet we're very much in this game and ahead at present. Another 50-75 runs tomorrow would be nice and then we'll see where the game goes from there - if the weather allows it, of course.

Again though, top marks for the boys today. You can't fault the battling spirit and it augurs well for the rest of the campaign.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Derbyshire v Surrey preview

If the weather allows it, Derbyshire have an opportunity tomorrow to improve a league position that in no way reflects the quality of cricket that they have been playing. Surrey, a side who haven't really got going are the opponents but we cannot afford to underestimate a side with some good players.

The big names are, of course, Mark Ramprakash and Steven Davies, but Chris Adams has been bringing young players through and they have plenty of them. Jason Roy has been in good form, as has skipper Rory Hamilton-Brown. The toss, as it has been so far at the County Ground, is likely to be crucial.

I don't see many changes in the Derbyshire side, unless one of the seamers is rested to allow Steffan Jones or Mark Turner an outing. Martin Guptill will replace Usman Khawaja and make his debut and  I think we'll see the following Derbyshire side tomorrow:

Guptill, Madsen, Hughes, Durston, Redfern, Smith, Sutton, Clare, Rafiq, Groenewald, Palladino

Guptill and Madsen promises to be an excellent opening pairing and I look forward to seeing their understanding develop as the season progresses.

A good result in this one will see us into the T20 with a spring in our step. If the weather keeps out of it we'll have every chance.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Kent v Derbyshire day 4

The weather once again intervened today and meant that any prospects of a good finish were fairly quickly quashed, but nothing should detract from another very good, polished and professional performance by Derbyshire.

Only the most churlish fan could dispute the fact that we have been playing some very good cricket this season, in all forms of the game. It has thus far been an impressive campaign with only a few dips in form and everyone is to be congratulated on some very good cricket. With better luck with the weather we'd have won the last two Championship matches and been in a good position at the halfway stage.

Its goodbye to Usman Khawaja, who finished with an average of just under 40 thanks to his century against Kent and impressed everyone with his willingness to be one of the boys, even if the runs didn't always come in the quantities he'd have wanted. For a young man in his first taste of English conditions it was a decent effort however, and no one could accuse Khawaja of anything but 100% commitment.

Now it's hello to Martin Guptill and I'm sure we all look forward to seeing how he does in English conditions. I'd guess batting first on Sunday might not be high on his list of things to do before you die, especially after  the first morning of games this season. Hopefully the skipper has a two headed coin with him and gets an early shout in...

More tomorrow.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Finally tonight

I still don't see us signing another player for the T20, but...

If I was signing a player on the back of the IPL and omitting the bigger names on ground of cost and the Indians because they'll be here soon, I'd go for one of two players, assuming they'd come.

Shaun Marsh - average 42 or James Hopes - average 39 and steady overs with the ball.

That's my thoughts, but don't hold your breath on it guys...

Kent v Derbyshire day 3

The way that Wayne Madsen and Usman Khawaja were batting at tea today, they could both have been lining up centuries in each innings by the end of the day

They could yet get there, but rain has taken a lot out of this game and there must surely be a contrived finish to get any positive result. Kent's long and fairly illustrious batting line-up eased them past the follow on but Derbyshire's bowlers stuck to their task well and  by the day end there was a useful lead of 185.

If the weather allows it, Derbyshire will be wanting to set something like 340-350 in around seventy overs tomorrow. To win they must, of course risk defeat and Luke Sutton will be wary of their stuttering batting suddenly firing on all cylinders. 150 in around 30 overs is do-able and then it will be game on, if both skippers are willing to make a game of it.

In other news today, Tim Groenewald is going to speak to other counties, which is his right as he nears the end of a contract. He says, encouragingly, that he wants to stay and much will depend on how realistic his demands are. I would hope that we can retain a man who is a very good cricketer, but the club has a limited budget and, as we saw with Graham Wagg and may do with Greg Smith, it can only stretch so far.

Finally tonight, Martin Guptill (pictured) should be arriving sometime early tomorrow and will be a very welcome addition to our batting strength. If he lives up to the performances of his mentor, John Wright, none of us will have any complaints by the time September comes.

Welcome Martin - and good luck!

Seconds deserve credit

Those of you who, like me, peruse the web for all sorts of news of the club will have read of the success of the Second XI in the twenty over competition. Two games against Durham, both won, were followed by two games against Yorkshire, which were also won.

The squad for the Yorkshire games?

Borrington

Lineker
Poynton
Hughes
Whitely
Needham
Durham
Sheikh
Knight
Burgoyne
Footit
Fletcher

Twelve lads, ten of who have come through or are still in the Academy, plus Matt Lineker and Mark Footitt.
Four out of four takes some doing against good opposition. Full credit to the lads concerned, to AJ Harris for a fine start as coach to the Seconds and to Karl Krikken and Howard Dytham for their hard work.

Good form throughout the club  - great work guys!

Book Review - Spirit on the Water: XI extraordinary cricket tours by Mike Harfield

The latest book that I have been sent for review is Mike Harfield's account of eleven cricket tours, three of them by his own club side. The author is well known for his previous offering, Not Dark Yet, which shares with Michael Simkins' Fatty Batter the Peakfan award of most amusing cricket book ever.

For me, the problem with this book is that it falls between two stools, in being part bona fide cricket tour account and part humour. Those who like one or another may not find it firmly enough in their camp for taste, although I would have to qualify that comment by saying that I found it an enjoyable read.

Within its 206 pages we read of the all-conquering West Indies tours of England in 1963 and 1984; of the Australian tour of India in 2001 and the West Indian tour of Australia under Frank Worrell in 1960-61. There's also the England tours of Australia in 1928-9 and of South Africa in 1913-14, the latter a tour de force by the great, yet cantankerous and curmudgeonly Sydney Barnes.

Puzzlingly there's also the first Aborigine tour of England in 1868, which shows good research but is perhaps of less interest to modern cricket fans than had the chapter been given over to the Australian tour of South Africa in 1969-70. That series saw a good Australian side thrashed 4-0 by a near great South African side with the likes of Barlow, Pollock, Procter and Richards in it.

That is a minor and personal point, but the book has much to commend it, with rich anecdotes and amusing observations "Tony prowled the dance floor with a glint in his eye that was part child in a sweet shop and part lion stalking a herd of wildebeest."

There are a few irritations. Bruce Pairaudean (sic) shouldn't have got through and Ryan Sidebottam definitely shouldn't among several typos, while the author's puzzlement at Geoff Boycott playing for the Minor Counties against the West Indies in 1963 is easily answered (he was not yet a first team regular and their Seconds played in the Minor Counties at that time).

Also surprising is attributing Walter Hammond's ill health in 1925-26 to a mosquito bite in the groin.The author cites David Foot's biography of the player in the bibliography, a book which laid the blame fairly and squarely on the England great contracting syphillis in the Caribbean, an ailment that affected him for years.

On balance though, I would recommend this book. If you're going on holiday and are looking for something light to while away time on the plane or beach, there's much to be said for it. With cricket writing increasingly incestuous, it is nice to see a different take on things and the author has done a good job overall. Credit too to the publisher for a clean, attractive cover and a typeface that doesn't need binoculars.

Spirit on the Water is published by Loose Chippings Books and is currently priced just £8.55 on Amazon 

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Kent v Derbyshire day 2

While the eventual first innings total was below last night's expectations, Derbyshire are still in a good position going into day three against Kent.

With the hosts 262 runs behind, Kent still have work to do, but with Darren Stevens and Azhar Mahmood in next they could still get close to our first innings. We need a morning tomorrow similar to they had today and could then work our way into a strong position by this time tomorrow.

There's a lot of comments on the blog regarding signing another overseas player for the T20. Fair enough as a concept and you'll get no arguments from me if we attracted a big name, but I'll reiterate my comment from last night. Why would they come? When the big name players are earning £500K plus for their IPL stints and are in all likelihood millionaires after playing there for several years, what incentive do they have to play here for six weeks? If we somehow put together £40,000 that is small change for these guys, but a fortune for us, with no guarantee of success.

Delhi Daredevils spent a fortune on Dave Warner, Virender Sehwag, Andre McDonald, James Hopes and Morne Morkel this year. They came bottom. Jesse Ryder, mentioned on here by someone the other night and a cricketer of fairly modest talent, went for £100,000 and such money has completely skewed the market for county sides. Loots Bosman has also been mentioned tonight, but for all the splendour of his assault on Yorkshire at Headingley last year, Bosman was not a huge success. I'll accept he had a knee problem, sustained at Chesterfield, for part of the campaign, but the wickets here are not conducive to Bosman's full throttle assault from ball one.

I am confident that Martin Guptill will score much more heavily this season and I'll not argue that another big name would be useful. Yet in a restricted market, I can't really see where that player will come from. Comments along the lines that 'John Morris would know' are unhelpful, as are suggestions that Luke Sutton won't have the contacts. It is not his role! If Karl Krikken  decides another overseas player is required, he and Chris Grant will have contacts among players and agents of their own. It is a small business and if there's a will, there's a way.

I'm not holding my breath though. I expect us to go with what we have. Any more is a bonus.

In closing I was amused to see 'Lotsie' Tsotsobe's rant on Twitter about his stint at Essex and his disappointment at being dropped. Today it resulted in his contract being terminated. Tales of his attitude, lack of fitness and insular personality are out there and five wickets at 77 tells a story that does him no favours whatsoever.

I suspect we'll not see him back as an overseas player. Call me Sherlock if you will...

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Kent v Derbyshire day 1

An impressive batting display by Derbyshire at Canterbury today saw them amass 370-3 against Kent, with Wayne Madsen and Usman Khawaja reeling off impressive centuries to put us in the driving seat.

Chesney Hughes got the innings off to a flyer, but the 231 run stand for the second wicket gave us a stranglehold on this game.

Where it goes from now will be interesting. We have scored at almost four an over and will presumably be looking to declare before tea tomorrow, unless things go pear-shaped in the morning. Anything over 500 is a psychological barrier, with 550 leaving the opposition 400 to simply save the follow on.

Of course, we must suppose that batting conditions are pretty good and that their talented line-up will also enjoy a hit on such a track. Bowling them out twice to win the game will not be easy and I have a feeling that young Mr Rafiq may have a role to play before the game is out.

Still, that's all for the future. For now, let's enjoy as competent, confident batting display and another good effort from our boys.

Once again in what is turning out a pretty decent season, we couldn't have asked for more.

Tuesday thoughts

Alas poor Khawaja. We knew him quite well. But not for long enough…


The vagaries of the international cricket calendar were brought home again today with the Australian cricket authorities recalling Usman Khawaja for a training camp prior to a tour to Zimbabwe. I’m well aware that it is all in the name of bonding and engendering team spirit, but one would have thought runs in England might have been of greater benefit to Khawaja’s long term development than shuttle runs with his mates and a hit or two in the nets.

It is disappointing but I would think no one more disappointed than the player, who has had a low-key spell with the club until today. He will, I'm sure, have hoped for more from his stint than one major score against Worcestershire in the Pro 40. I am convinced that he will go on to be a fine player for his country, but lining up the ball in England during April and May has been beyond a lot of big names in the past and Khawaja has simply become the latest name on a long list. Had he been able to play through the season I am convinced he would have blossomed on the later season tracks.

The good news is that Martin Guptill should hopefully ensure a seamless transition and be available for the next match, assuming that he is not jet-lagged or seized up after a marathon flight from New Zealand. The club’s stance is that we now seem likely to go with one overseas player in the T20, although tentative enquiries have been made about a replacement.

I can see the logic in that. Unless you are bringing in a top player, where is the merit in leaving out someone already being paid? It would be fantastic to see a name who is currently lighting up the IPL, of course and no one would fail to be excited at the prospect of a Gayle, Kallis, de Villiers, Marsh or Pathan. I just can’t see any of these players being up for it though. Why would they, when they have just earned a king’s ransom in return for fairly modest effort? The thought of another six weeks away from home at county rates can have little merit for someone who has just banked a few hundred thousand pounds…

Bringing in a lesser light simply sees us return to my earlier point of leaving out players on the staff. With respect to those concerned, the likes of Jon Moss, Travis Birt and Chris Harris were not substantially better than we already had when we signed them and I’d go on the side of fiscal propriety and bringing on the kids if we couldn’t aspire to better than that.

Indeed, if there was a need for reinforcements, why not simply engage one of a couple of players living locally for the tournament? If we need another batsman, sign Usman Afzaal or if we need a bowler engage either New Zealander Iain O’Brien or Pakistan’s Saqlain Mushtaq. There would be no flights to pay, since they are all playing their cricket in the local leagues at present and the first two may welcome the opportunity to put themselves back in the shop window. Mushtaq’s knee wouldn’t stand up to full time cricket these days and may not even stand up to T20, but all these players know English conditions and might well be a better bet than Johnny Average, flown in from far away climes on a costly deal.

Some may suggest (I’d be surprised if they didn’t…) that the Chairman could finance a deal, but I don’t think it fair to expect Chris Grant to stand at the pavilion entrance holding a fistful of dollars.. The club must be self sufficient and live within its budget. If Mr Grant chooses to help at times it is welcome and appreciated, but it should not become expected by the fans. As I’ve said before it is his money to use as he chooses and unfair for any of us to suggest otherwise.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Kent v Derbyshire

A squad of fourteen has headed down to the Garden of England for the clash against Kent. Hope its drier than the garden of Peakfan, which is currently wind and rain lashed after winds registering 110mph at times. Unreal...

With a doubt over Dan Redfern's knee, Paul Borrington could make a delayed season debut, while there will be a decision to make over the seamers, with Mark Footitt raring to go. My guess is that we'll narrow it down to the following 12:

Wayne Madsen, Paul Borrington, Chesney Hughes, Usman Khawaja, Wes Durston, Greg Smith, Luke Sutton (Captain), Jonathan Clare, Azeem Rafiq, Tim Groenewald, Tony Palladino and Mark Footitt.

There's a tough call. The extra pace of Footitt or the established trio of Clare, Dino and Timmy G? Do you play all four and drop the increasingly impressive Rafiq? It will, as always, depend on the state of the wicket.

Kent have had a nightmare start in this competition, which is hard to believe with the likes of Key, Jones, Van Jaarsveld, Tredwell, Denly and "I'm in a dancing" Mahmood in the side. If that was the Derbyshire side, can you imagine the fuss at under achievement?

Denly returns from injury in the following Kent side:

Key, Denly, Northeast, van Jaarsveld, Jones, Stevens, Mahmood, Tredwell, Coles, Shaw, Saker.

I've seen it described as crucial or season-defining. A win would certainly take us up the table and another good one against Surrey would send us into the T20 having had a good first half of season. Second in the pro 40 and midway in the Championship is a world better than last year.

C'mon the shire. Lets go get 'em!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

County players do well in Premier League

It is good to see that some of Derbyshire's fringe players are working hard in their league commitments to keep in the frame for the senior side.

Saturday's cricket saw Paul Borrington make an unbeaten century for Ticknall, while Ross Whiteley made an unbeaten 136 for Swarkestone. Meanwhile Mark Footitt took 5-38 for Stainsby Hall as they cantered to a win.

Mind you, one of the strongest sides in the East Midlands must be the West Indian Cavaliers in the Nottinghamshire Premier League. Their batting is currently headed by Usman Afzaal, too good a player to be out of the county game, while their bowling is spearheaded by Alex Tudor and Saqlain Mushtaq.

Three Test players in one club side. Impressive!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Sorry...

The poll's not working at moment. Trying to sort it out...

Something for the weekend

So that's the poll done and dusted.

81% of you felt that Chris Grant made the right decision based on our current knowledge of the John Morris situation. That's an overwhelming vote of support for the chairman and is obviously based on the facts as we know them at present.

If you have followed this blog from its beginnings, you will know that I was and am an admirer of John Morris and what he did for the club. I will maintain to anyone that the squad he has left behind is considerably stronger, bar for one or two individuals who are missed, than the one he inherited. Anyone in any walk of life can only aspire to do their job to that standard.

No, we don't know all the facts. We may never do, if Morris and Andrew Brown accept that whatever happened was justified, or we will do should any legal case ensue. Only time is going to answer that one, but the club and we as fans now need to put it behind them and move on. There's a lot of important cricket to play in the coming weeks and the players and club need to be 100% focused on it.

I will be running no further polls on the situation unless there is a genuine reason to do so and I can't envisage what that might be. Nor will I be writing about it, as there's nothing more to comment on at this stage.

So please don't keep covering old ground in your comments. You may not like what has happened and that's your prerogative, but nothing will bring John Morris and Andrew Brown back. Time to focus on the cricket.

Which is this week's poll. How do you expect the T20 campaign to go this year?

In closing, I'm delighted to see Peter Gadsby involved at the County Ground and offering the players incentives for a successful campaign. The more financial muscle and business acumen we get involved at the club the better and Mr Gadsby has been a major backer of Derby County over the years.

The current regime at the football club leaves him little room for manoeuvre, but I'm delighted to see him involved at the cricket club and it can only be of long-term benefit to all concerned.

For now - have a good weekend!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

150,0000 (and counting)

Who'da thunk it eh? The blog has now had 150,000 hits, proving that interest in Derbyshire cricket is alive and well and living in ....well, lots of places really. I was thrilled to get to a thousand and each successive one seems to get faster, so thanks to all of you for your continued interest. I'm sure you don't always (ever?) agree with what I write, but I'm pleased that you keep coming back for more!

Well, a day after the Dutch draw, time for reflection. Someone mailed me to say they thought it was a point gained, which at the start of the final over looked unlikely, but I still see it as a point lost. For me, a team that can beat Sussex, Yorkshire and Worcestershire should be able to beat Holland/Netherlands/ whatever they like to be called. No arguments. While they are an improving side and have players who have first class experience elsewhere, a first-class county should still have enough to beat them. Had we done that at Derby and yesterday we'd have been sitting so pretty that we'd be asked out on dates...

Having said that, they are the strongest of the so-called minnows and I fancy that we would do better against Scotland or the Unicorns (please God, let us have the Jocks next year so I get a home game...) It is also worth saying that our destiny still lies in our own hands and we have still to play Middlesex and Kent twice, as well as return fixtures against Yorkshire and Worcestershire at Derby.

Remember too that for those games, the first of which is at the end of July, we will be undoubtedly strengthened by the presence of Martin Guptill, an experienced international batsman with 52 one-day internationals behind him and considerable success. It was always going to be difficult for Usman Khawaja to line up the ball  in English early season conditions and we have not yet seen him at his best, with the exception of the game at Worcester. He is far from alone in this and I well remember the early struggles of Greg Chappell at Somerset and Glenn Turner at Worcestershire, neither of who turned out bad players.

Khawaja still has time to make an impression in the Championship and T20 and as a dedicated professional will be working hard to do so. I suspect that the experience will do him more good in the long term than it has thus far shown, but he is a player of talent and I hope we see him in full flow before his time with us ends.

It is also worth saying that the fact that we are now complaining about a tie and 'only' second in the group is a fair measure of improvement. I totally agree with Karl Krikken that we lost a grip on the game yesterday when Bukhari was the only player to score with any freedom in their powerplay. Even from a distance, four an over on an awkward track needed players to apply themselves and no one really got going in a mediocre batting effort.

As alluded to by a couple of comments on last night's post, maybe we need to rethink when the tournament starts again and move Garry Park up the order. I think that having Guptill opening will make a difference anyway and Chesney Hughes' recent travails can't go on much longer. Logic suggests that Guptill and Khawaja will open in the T20 with Durston at three, Hughes at four, Madsen at five and Smith at six. I'd then be inclined to go with Park's all round option at seven, the skipper at eight and Jones and Groenewald in there too.

That would leave one place. I would think Yorkshire will recall Azeem Rafiq for the T20, so we will either need to look at another seamer, the spin of Jake Needham or the all round talents of Ross Whiteley.

Not a bad team and one that, like the Pro 40 side, has the capability to do pretty well. It will need everyone on top of their game though. A return to the intensity pre-Sussex and Netherlands is required and imperative.

First though its Canterbury and the Championship next week. A good display there and we'll all be on the happy pills again.

Have a good evening.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Netherlands v Derbyshire

Oh dear...

That was a poor one and while the wicket was obviously difficult we should have won the game.

Steady bowling, but poor batting. That's all you can really say.

Marks to Garry Park for battling it out and to Steffan Jones and Tim Groenewald for eking out the runs for a tie, but we really should have done better than that against that level of opposition

Disappointed...very disappointed. Maybe a great game of cricket, but we should win these.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Netherlands v Derbyshire

As Chris puts it on Falcons Forum tonight, we'd have taken four wins and two defeats in the first six games before we started and that's what we will have if tomorrow's result goes our way.

There's no doubt that we need to play a lot better than we did yesterday, although to qualify that, worthy as our opponents are they're not international players in the true sense. We cannot and must not take it easy though, as they showed when they surprised us at the County Ground.

I don't see many changes from Sunday's team, although Mark Footitt's extra pace could be a useful weapon.

Likely line up is:

Hughes, Khawaja, Durston, Smith, Madsen, Park, Sutton, Clare, Rafiq, Groenewald, Jones/Footitt

My forecast is a Derbyshire win, but we'll need to be at our best to do it.

Monday musings

Not over yet was correct in his post of last night, in that every under-par Derbyshire performance from now on will possibly attract the type of comment that we saw last night underneath the Sussex article. I don’t have a problem with it, unless it gets personal or unless there’s someone, as was again the case last night, who is trying to make out they are several people banging the same drum. In either case it takes me about two seconds to delete and it is very obvious when you’re doing this. Please feel free to make your point but don’t try to make it look like there’s an angry mob backing you…


The bottom line is that yesterday we lost to a Sussex side with six players of international experience. We have one, who has one Test match to his name. It wasn’t quite David v Goliath but it makes our beating them at Derby all the more laudable and is put into perspective by the fact that they have so far hammered everyone at home.

As I said last night, the loss, heavy as it was, does not make us a bad side, any more than three straight wins made us world-beaters. Our aim must be to be competitive and if every player is not at the top of his game we won’t be, at least against the better sides. Even if we are, if our opponents from those better sides are also playing to their ability, we’re still likely to take a beating. Class tells, you know.

We have some good players and Durston and Madsen took us to the edge of a good total yesterday, but the mid-innings collapse from 164-3 to 170-8 was disappointing. Better sides than us have problems in the powerplay and it was just one of those days.

Realistically, ten an over from those last seven overs would only have given us 230 and Sussex won in a canter after what appeared to be ordinary bowling and less intense fielding than we have seen of late. Chesney Hughes has a great pair of hands, but anyone who has played cricket at any level and hasn’t dropped an easy catch is a liar…it happens.

As Steffan Jones said in the Derby Telegraph this morning, and I posted yesterday, this performance had nothing to do with the loss of John Morris. We have had and will have flat days as we are a young and relatively inexperienced side. Look around the country and others have had them. Hampshire and Surrey aren’t doing too well, Somerset have had a nightmare or two and so have Nottinghamshire. All these counties have far better players, on the whole, than we do. Players who have played the highest level of cricket possible, yet still underperform on occasion when they aren’t at their best.

There were plenty such days under John Morris, as there were under Dave Houghton, Adrian Pierson and Phil Russell. When we had Cork, Malcolm, De Freitas, Barnett, Adams and Bowler in the side there were poor displays, even when Dean Jones and Les Stillman were at the helm. The team under Eddie Barlow and the 1930’s side had some bad days too. It will also happen under Karl Krikken and any coach in the future.

It happens. If you can’t deal with it that’s unfortunate but only your problem. It doesn’t mean that people aren’t trying, though. Just that sometimes, as you’ll find in your working life, your best on a given day isn’t quite good enough.

Here endeth the lesson…

On a separate note, how strange that Warwickshire were only docked eight points for the pitch at Edgbaston during the recent match against Worcestershire. Even more extraordinary is their decision to appeal against the decision, presumably on the grounds that it was the media, not the umpires, who alerted the pitch inspectors.

For me that is beside the point and indicative of umpires failing in their responsibilities. When several batsmen are getting hit on the head and chest by balls flying off a length, the wicket is patently unfit. In recent years we have had teams penalised more heavily for wickets offering undue movement and assistance to bowlers. If I was a batsman I’d prefer batting on the latter any time to one where my thoughts flashed constantly to upgrading my life insurance.

I know that in the old days of ‘sticky dogs’ the ball would fly around as a wet wicket dried and batsmen rarely lasted long against bowlers of skill. By the same token, such wickets with the law changes are no longer acceptable. I like to see cricket wickets where the bowler can test a batsman, but there’s a world of difference between having your technique examined and your features rearranged.

Ashley Giles is claiming that the development work at the ground is behind the problem. Fair enough, but if they can’t get better surfaces than that, they should be using outgrounds more often at present. Having turned the square around, Derbyshire’s groundstaff are to be commended on wickets that produce excellent cricket so far this year. Successive championship home matches have gone to the last afternoon and one can ask for no more than that. There seems to be early assistance for bowlers and encouragement for them thereafter, exactly as it should be.

Warwickshire should have been docked the maximum points. Whatever the reason, an unsafe pitch is an unsafe pitch. Any county penalised for a track that ‘only’ offers bowlers too much help from here has a right to feel aggrieved.

Do you think we’d have got away with it?

Me neither.

PS Speaking of Adrian Pierson, it was nice to hear from him in relation to our current situation. The ex-Derbyshire coach, now a pilot, posted as follows:

The best man for the position is already there!!!! Luke Sutton as player manager... He is an excellent man manager and motivator, he understands the game and leads by example. The fact that he is not of "outstanding" talent is also to his advantage because he has to work hard to achieve. The bare fact is the club has limited cash to invest in the best, therefore the committee has to target specific competitions to win and structure the squad accordingly. Going for high profile names such as Ricky Ponting is a costly risk. Also going for 'old' ex-player favourites doesn't mean that they have the required people skills necessary to empower the players to express themselves with confidence AND play for each other. Save the "new coach" fee and invest it in the TEAM!


All the best to you; the supporters and the CLUB.

Adrian Pierson (very ex-manager)

Thanks for getting in touch Adrian - I hope things go well for you and its good to see you still follow the club's fortunes!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Sussex v Derbyshire Pro 40

Well, we slipped to a heavy defeat today and from our previous high standards of fielding, but these things happen and the record between the two sides is thus 1-1. That's not bad against a team that today fielded six internationals.

The most important thing now is to refocus and get everyone ready for the game against the Netherlands, when we will want - and need - to avenge the defeat at the County Ground.

We lost our way in the Powerplay today and the wheels came off an innings that looked like it could get to 220-230. Realistically, even that wouldn't have been enough and we were well beaten by the better side. There was again good batting from Wes Durston and Wayne Madsen, though sadly little support from elsewhere on this occasion.

Apparently a commentator today asked how much the defeat owed to the dismissal of John Morris. The answer, of course, being about as much as the near-victory against Essex at the County Ground on Friday did.

Absolutely nothing.

We're not world-beaters and never were. If the team all work hard they could, on a good day, surprise opponents who take them lightly and on others could get a doing, which happened today. It happens to all teams and if you're looking for another example, look at how poorly Hampshire are currently doing, despite a massive outlay on players.

Just need to get it back in the next one...

New name for IMWT

IMWT is now known as Falcons Forum.

You can get to it by clicking on the link on the left of the page and then saving as a favourite, which it is for all of us of course!

The coaching situation

Earlier today, contributor John asked who I thought should be the new Derbyshire coach.

I've already seen a few names mentioned. Chris Adams was one, but I've yet to see anything in Adams as a coach to match Adams the captain and player. He's struggled at Surrey and has had a lot of money to spend, so I don't see any obvious merit in bringing him back. I've also seen Shane Warne mentioned, which amused me, as he has negligible coaching credentials and would cost a lot more than we could afford. I will come back to him though.

Perennial names Andy Moles and Dougie Brown will no doubt be in the mix, as they tend to be whenever a vacancy occurs. Hand on heart though, I can only think of three who would interest me at this stage and one of them would be out of our league. That's John Wright, a coach with a solid international reputation but currently coach of New Zealand. I can't see him resigning that one to come back 'home'.

The second would be old county ground favourite Graeme Welch. Pop was a good servant to the club and could do a good job as a coach. At least he'd know what he was coming to.

Yet my preferred option would also know that, because he's already here. My vote would go to Karl Krikken. He is a top-qualified coach who knows the game and the players, with the added bonus of having been a Derbyshire man for a long time. He will keep everyone pulling together and get the best out of them. I'm sure he has every attribute required for such a role and now has the opportunity to stake a claim in the medium to long term having got the job to the end of the season.

Realistically a coach is usually only as good as his players. Eddie Barlow, who inherited a somewhat ragtag outfit, was an exception but it largely holds true. I could have coached Clive Lloyd's West Indies, or the Australia of McGrath, Warne, Hayden, Gilchrist and Waugh.

John Wright once replied, when asked how you coach the Indian side with its galaxy of talent, that you make sure that there are the same number of practice balls at the end of the session as there were at the start. At that level, players don't need a lot of coaching, just reassurance if they hit a bad trot, or a quiet word that they've started to do something that might affect their game.

I would sooner see us go for a marquee signing, mentioned in a couple of newspapers this week, who could do the sort of job that Eddie Barlow once did, given control of the playing side with assistance from Karl. Such a player would be much better value than a big name (and salaried) coach if we could get the right man - ideally someone retiring from Test cricket and available for a year or two. His signing would send out a message to other counties and would be a huge step in the development of younger players, who would look up to such a man.

Given the lure of the IPL, I can only think of one such player. While someone like Jacques Kallis or AB de Villiers would be fantastic, they can make serious money in India in a far shorter timescale than an English season. So too could the man that I have in mind, but the opportunity for one last challenge might just hold appeal for him, if, as rumoured, he retires from the international scene this winter.

Seriously, if Chris Grant could put together a package to persuade Ricky Ponting to come over, you'd be impressed, wouldn't you?

That would be my suggestion.

Sussex v Derbyshire preview

Back on the pitch tomorrow (actually today...) in a tough game against Sussex in the Pro 40. Sorry about the late post but we were all in Glasgow seeing Canadian rockers Rush tonight. Three hour gig, great musicianship and well worth every penny, even if I'm a little hoarse right now...

No doubt about it, we will have to be at the top of our game to win this one, with Sussex welcoming Michael Yardy back since their defeat at Derby to reinforce an already strong side. Lou Vincent could also appear, so we'll have work to do.

Thankfully we're welcoming back Steffan Jones and Jon Clare for this one and I would expect the following line up:

Hughes, Khawaja, Durston, Smith, Madsen, Park, Sutton, Clare, Rafiq, Jones, Groenewald

There'd be no disgrace in losing this one, but only a fool would write off this Derbyshire side following their form of recent weeks. The run has to end sometime, but whoever does so will need to earn it.

Good luck lads.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Please note...

It is fairly clear that feelings are running high at the moment from both sides of the fence regarding the events of the past week.

In response to many requests, I am running a poll which will give a reflection of the feelings of fans at this stage. Given the legal situation, none of us outside the club know the full story about the events of this week and we may not do for some time.

I am always delighted to see your comments, but please be aware that if you are posting suggestions or accusations  that I will, for fairly obvious reasons, be deleting them at this stage. While the system allows you to post as 'Anonymous' it is my name and picture on the blog and I can live without being cited in any legal issues. If you feel strongly about something drop me an e mail so I know who you are...

Peakfan36@yahoodotcodotuk. Remember to replace the word 'dot' with one, but I can live without more junk mail telling me of another relative who has died in Botswana leaving me all their money. 164 at the last count. I never realised I had such an extended family, nor that they were all so unlucky on the roads...

Regular readers will be aware that I was critical of the committee during the Amott affair, but I think criticism of them at this stage and suggestions of a petition to remove them are patently unfair and counter-productive.

We know from the media that there was little or no support for John Morris in the dressing room, for whatever reason. Chris Grant, in full possession of the facts, made a decision that he felt was right for the cricket club. Luke Sutton, commendably, was man enough to go to the media and tell the world the situation from the players perspective, taking some of the heat from the Chairman in doing so. We have not heard from John Morris but in the current situation we are unlikely to and that is his right.

I know no more than the rest of you, but I'll say this. Early in his tenure Chris Grant was big enough to make a massive decision, rather than sit on a fence. The rights or wrongs of that decision will probably come out in the course of time if the facts of the case become known, but for now I applaud him for his decisiveness.

It augurs well.

Poll on the Morris situation

In response to many e mails and comments, I have introduced a poll to see what people think about the John Morris sacking.

I look forward, as I'm sure you all do, to seeing the result of this one. Please note, as always the poll is locked down to one vote per person, so anyone with a particular axe to grind cannot, in any way, skew the result.

Get voting!

Friday, 13 May 2011

Derbyshire v Essex day 4

If any remaining sceptics needed proof of the spirit in the Derbyshire camp it was provided today with another excellent performance that, with better luck from the weather, would have produced a win.

We did the early work, keeping the target to under 230 with fine bowling. Greg Smith continued an impressive start to the season with four wickets, while there were three more for the talented Azeem Rafiq, a young man getting betterwith every match (get that loan deal lengthened Krikk...)

Yet 223 was not going to be easy on a wicket on which you were never really 'in'. When we slipped quickly to 29-3, old-style Derbyshire would have declined to 75 all out. Not these guys though. Dan Redfern and Wes Durston started the recovery before Dan was caught at short leg, then Greg Smith played some good shots before departing with the game in the balance at 118-5.

Then came the skipper, man enough to support the chairman and tell the world what has been happening. Slowly at first the runs started to come and the two would almost certainly have seen us to an easy win but for the weather. At 201 with the rain falling, Sutton departed to a shot he would not have played in normal circumstances but there was barely time for Ross Whiteley to get to the crease before the heavens opened and the game was declared a draw.

Wes Durston's innings deserved to be a match-winning one and was the latest in a sequence of fine knocks. An unbeaten 90 from 101 balls on a surface that gave the bowlers every chance was a great effort. That century isn't too far away.

The win points would have been useful and thoroughly deserved. The point (singular) had been made, however - the team is together, they're playing positive cricket and they won't lie down.

Full credit to all of them. Now for a big game in Sussex.

Morris and Brown - the story breaks

My early morning radio interview today changed somewhat with the earlier revelations by Luke Sutton that John Morris had indeed ‘lost’ the Derbyshire dressing room and that the feelings of the players towards him were ‘overwhelmingly negative.’

As those who have been reading this blog since I started three years ago will know, I have always been a fan of Morris and I maintain that he brought a better quality of player to the club than we had seen for some time. I also feel that he has started the ball rolling and the next incumbent of the post may well reap the benefits of his work with an improved relationship with players and further recruitment.

John was always honest, sometimes brutally so, and as a man was very much in the ‘Marmite’ category, the sort of bloke you either loved or disliked. From today’s revelations it would appear the players were generally in the latter category, which made further contract negotiations pointless. That being the case, the recent excellent form has been especially worthy, as they have done it despite strong feelings to the fore.

What I find surprising is the concern expressed in some quarters over the departures leaving us in the lurch, which is far from the case. In Karl Krikken, a man very popular in the club, we have a Level 4 coach (the highest possible) who will keep things on an even keel for the rest of the season, hopefully making a case in that period for retaining the post on a permanent basis. He has able assistance from Steffan Jones, while James Pipe, the physiotherapist, is capable of helping out if required. With a fitness and conditioning coach in the mix too, the loss of a couple of people hardly leaves us short.

As one would expect from a man with his business background, Chris Grant has done a ‘roots and branches’ look at the club and perhaps felt himself that we were top heavy on that side. Just my opinion, of course, but when finances are tight it can come down to a decision on a coaching post or a player. What would you sooner have?

Nor does it leave the Academy short. In Howard Dytham we have another Level 4 coach who has a great rapport with young players and will do an excellent job for as long as required. Meanwhile Andy Harris has made a very good early impression with the Seconds, who looked set to win a second successive game today.

What I have found strange is the suggestion, voiced by Radio Derby’s Charles Collins among others, that Tony Borrington was likely to make a play for the leading role, which is utter nonsense. I think the idea emanates from the clumsily worded press release that suggested his involvement on the playing side, when his role, as I said last night, will continue to be as the link man between the committee and playing side. For a former player it is a logical role.

I spent a pleasant half hour chatting to Tony recently at Derby and he is winding down from a successful career in private education, now working part-time so that he can watch more cricket, primarily his son at whatever level he plays. At 62 he is hardly likely to decide to embark on a coaching career.

Late last night I also realised that I had been unfair to the committee. Having donned my deerstalker and re-read the chain of events it became patently clear to me that there could have been little, if any committee involvement. They meet on a monthly basis and would not have deliberately chosen the middle of a match nearly four weeks hence to break the news. While the timing was unfortunate, it happened. End of story.

It remains unfortunate, especially from a public relations perspective. The legalities will take some time but we will move forward as a club and come out stronger on the other side. Luke Sutton’s assertions on Twitter last night and in the media today have confirmed that the players, committee, coaches and chairman are together, which is good enough for me.

So in closing, a final thanks to John Morris and Andy Brown from me for their efforts over four years. It didn’t end satisfactorily, but they did take the club forward. The genesis of any future success could well have been in the John Morris era.

We should all remember that. But this is the Krikken show now.

Good luck Karl, and congratulations on the new role.

PS If anyone heard the interview this morning, I hope you didn't get the five second blast of Supertramp that I got in my headphones from somewhere when I was talking about the new coaches. I thought the connection had gone, so if I sounded slightly baffled when I was talking about Howard....er.....Howard in the Academy, that was why!

Blogger problems

Just to apologise for the disappearance of the last two days posts.

There's been a problem with the whole Blogger network and all posts from that period are currently unavailable. Their engineers are working on it and hope to restore them soon.

Just so that you know they weren't removed by me...

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Morris and Brown leave Derbyshire

I never saw that coming.

Top of the Pro 40, competing well in the Championship, playing the best cricket in a long time and the coach and his assistant leave.

I don't know what to make of this at all and I don't want to start hares down tracks about what has happened until more information becomes available.

At face value I'm disappointed at the timing, though apportioning blame for that without the facts is unfair. While I have no concerns with Luke Sutton and Steffan Jones taking over until the end of the season, assisted by Tony Borrington, a man who knows his cricket, I am worried about the workload on the skipper which is now massive.

That's it for now. I look forward to seeing your comments and I'll be back tomorrow.

For now, I'd like to say thanks to John Morris and Andy Brown. They worked hard and had started to turn it around.

Where we go from here I currently haven't a clue.

Derbyshire v Essex day 2

Derbyshire's President, Derek Morgan, once suggested that the Derby Telegraph used to have a block of type that was permanently available and read, reflecting on him replacing Gladwin and Jackson as first change "with the advent of Morgan the scoring rate increased appreciably."

That's what I'm finding right now, as most blogs (and I never thought this would be the case) seem to start "another good day for Derbyshire..."

Without doubt that's what today was. On a wicket that still seems to offer help to bowlers, our tail battled brilliantly to take the lead past 100 and a strong position. Note I didn't say "match winning" as there's a lot of work to do in bowling this lot out a second time. They bat long and with three England past or present in there have to put up a better fight in the second innings. Yet we've won two days of this game and the positive signs are oozing from the club right now.

The way that Redfern, Sutton, Rafiq and Groenewald stuck in there today was most impressive. I like the look of young Rafiq and if there was a chance of extending his loan I'd snatch Yorkshire's hand off to do it.
Bear in mind too that with him and Chesney (20) Redfern (21) and Whiteley (22) we're not doing our ECB money any harm either.

I don't know if the weather will allow a positive climax to this game or if we're yet strong enough to force a win from this position, but the Derbyshire team right now is playing excellent, positive cricket. The mails that I am getting regularly reinforce what I saw at Derby recently - this is a happy side who are 100% together and will take on anyone on equal footing.

We're not yet in mid-May and there's a lot of cricket still to play, but this is as good as most people have felt about Derbyshire in a long time. Congratulations to all involved for a fantastic effort.

Oh - and keep it up!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Derbyshire v Essex day 1

Another fine day for Derbyshire today, as they bowled out the much vaunted Essex batting for 179, prior to closing on  64-2 themselves.

It was a good day for Tony Palladino against his former county as he finished with three wickets, while there was also an excellent spell from Azeem Rafiq, who showed fine control and considerable skill with his bowling effort. Good support came from Tim Groenewald, who produced  a snorter  to remove Ravi Bopara.

Batting wasn't easy, but runs were possible with application, as Matt Walker and James Foster showed, but more good fielding and bowling from Derbyshire put them in the driving seat. We need application from the batsmen tomorrow, as Essex usually bat well in the second innings of matches, but a lead of 100-plus would do nicely.

A word about the pitch. I heard that pitch inspectors were asked along, but surely they can find no fault with this track after some of the nonsense that went on around the country last year. I would take a wicket like this every time, even if it meant early finishes, rather than the anodyne tracks in some places. Where is the appeal in a match where 600 plays 500 and the fourth day closes with the third innings in progress? Cricket should offer a challenge to batsmen, who have had it easy in recent years with law changes.

Another big day tomorrow, but I remain convinced that Masters, a canny bowler, is the danger. If we can see him off, we could be in a good position by tea.

Derbyshire v Essex preview

Back to the Championship for Derbyshire today and a tough home game against Essex. The visitors have one of the best batting line ups in the division and we will need to be at our recent best to get a positive result from this game. However, Essex are in this division on merit so I doubt our boys will go in with any negative thoughts.

England men Alistair Cook and Ravi Bopara lead the Essex batting, while South African Lonwabo Tsotsobe leads the attack with the evergreen David Masters. Their 12 is:

James Foster, Alistair Cook, Mark Pettini, Jack Mickleburgh, Ravi Bopara, Matt Walker, Adam Wheater, Tim Phillips, David Masters, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Maurice Chambers and Chris Wright.


Derbyshire recall Ross Whiteley to the 12, while Mark Footitt and Tony Palladino are fit, the latter presumably very keen to impress against his former employers. My guess is that Azeem Rafiq and Whiteley will compete for the last place, much depending on the look of the wicket. The Derbyshire 12 is:

Wayne Madsen, Wes Durston, Usman Khawaja, Chesney Hughes, Dan Redfern, Greg Smith, Luke Sutton, Ross Whiteley, Azeem Rafiq, Tim Groenewald, Tony Palladino and Mark Footitt.


It should be a good game and a win to take us up the Championship table would reinforce the feel good factor around the County Ground at present.

More later.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Monday musings

Isn’t it funny how, after three straight wins in the Pro 40, all is well in the cricketing kingdom of Derbyshire? Not a moaner raising a head above the parapet after three successive displays of genuine professionalism, the result of everyone doing their job. Batsmen have worked the ball around without panicking, bowlers have hit good lines and lengths and the fielding has been breathtakingly brilliant. What’s happened?


Well, for one thing John Morris’ work is starting to pay off. He inherited a weak squad and needed time to go through the ‘Calamity Jane’ or dead wood stage (there’s a musical joke in there…) To get rid of that in one, two or even three winters was a tough call, but he’s getting there now. In addition, considering he is working with a small budget and has to deal with people seeking second chances or an opportunity, he has an excellent success rate. Two out of three signed have been a success, while his coaching work with younger players is now starting to produce the goods. Dan Redfern, Ross Whiteley and Tom Poynton all look improved players this season, while others like Ben Slater, Matt Higginbottom and Hamza Siddique have done enough at respective universities to suggest they could be part of the next generation.

There will always be those who point to the failures, with Clarke, Doshi and Telo being most frequently mentioned in such despatches, but you still can’t fault the signings. In each case they satisfied the primary signing criterion – they were better than we had. There are plenty of reasons why moves don’t work out, especially when families are involved. In those three cases we were unlucky, but you can’t fault the thought process.

Take this winter’s activity. The early signs are that the signings of Luke Sutton and Tony Palladino will be great successes and that of Usman Khawaja inspired and opportunistic. John Morris was off his blocks quicker than Usain Bolt when he saw Khawaja included in the Australian Test team and picked up a player that others fancied but were too slow to get. While Mark Turner has yet to hit his stride, at least he is fit and playing, which is more than you could say for those he replaced. I’m confident that Martin Guptill will also do well, while our temporary signing, Azeem Rafiq has bowled tidily, fielded well and batted with dogged defiance. We’ve not yet seen Matt Lineker, but there was no real pressure on that one and the signs are that he is adjusting to regular cricket as a staff member.

For me, the big signing was Luke Sutton. A Derby man through and through, he has created a strong team spirit in which every member, from senior to junior, seems to feel at home, knows their job and pulls with the rest.

All the batsmen have made telling contributions. Hughes, Khawaja, Madsen, Smith and Durston are an easy pick top five, but Dan Redfern has produced a string of promising innings at six in the longer game while Garry Park’s fielding and all-round skills cement that berth in the one day side. The latter has not yet had the big score in the senior team, but has hit lots of runs in the Seconds, a sure sign of a positive attitude and willingness to battle for a place.

The same goes for the bowlers. While we have not yet seen Mark Footitt due to injury, all the other seamers have produced the goods at times and bowled with great common sense and considerable skill.

A major factor in the success has been the use of spinners. Rafiq has done a steady job since his arrival but the revelations have been the use of Chesney Hughes and Wes Durston. I’ve written before of my disappointment that Wes wasn’t bowled more often last year, but he has become a key member of the attack this time, opening last week at Headingley in a fine all-round display. As for Chesney, the winter work has again brought dividends and he has bowled good spells in recent games. At twenty years old he has the raw ability to be one of the best players in the game and it only depends on how much work he is prepared to do in the coming years.

The there’s the fielding. Players have been quick to the ball and in getting their throws in. Catches have been held that were barely chances and the ground fielding has been of a standard rarely seen in county colours. In three weeks we have beaten three teams from Division One of the championship, which shows that the side is capable of anything if the attitude stays the same.

Cricket with purpose, innovation and commitment with more than a smattering of genuine talent have been the factors in our improved form. Our form may dip again, as the team’s relative inexperience and injuries are sure to become factors at some point. Sometimes when we mix it with the ‘big boys’ we may not have enough, but if the team continues to show its current level of commitment there can be no legitimate grounds for complaint from anyone.

Thumbs up from me.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Worcestershire v Derbyshire

Three in a row...

Another professional performance by Derbyshire, albeit one in which the early impetus from Hughes and Khawaja dissipated on a slow pitch as Wes Durston, for once, struggled. After Chesney's dismissal the next seven overs brought only 14 runs, but the target was such that a good couple of overs was all that was required to bring things back on track.

Hats off tonight to Usman Khawaja (pictured) for a disciplined, unbeaten innings that eventually saw the side home with eight balls to spare. It was good to see the Aussie import see it through and hit the winning boundary, finishing with 89 from 111 balls. The necessary injection of pace came from Greg Smith and Wayne Madsen and a fine win takes us clear at the top of the league.

Well as Khawaja batted, the win was equally the result of disciplined bowling and fielding in the Worcestershire innings. Tim Groenewald was the standout with an excellent 4-22, although the spin trio of Hughes, Durston and Rafiq bowled a collective 21 overs for just 82 runs. Rafiq also ran out the potential danger of Damian Wright in the closing overs and held the early catch that saw Moeen Ali out without scoring. It was an excellent performance from a young player who has had some undeserved stick from a few people and pleasing to see.

Although Tony Palladino was a little rusty on his return to the team, this was a good effort by Derbyshire. Next up in this competition is a visit to Hove to play the team that sits just behind us in the table, Sussex.
If we can win that one, we might just start fantasising.

As it is, that Netherlands defeat seems a long way away. Well done lads.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

1936 - May

It was 75 years ago tomorrow that Derbyshire began their Championship campaign in 1936 that would ultimately lead to their first and only Championship crown.

It was probably fair to say that the Derbyshire side of 1936 was not especially strong in batting. While individuals such as Denis Smith, Stan Worthington and Les Townsend got their fair share of runs, the uncovered pitches and high quality bowlers of the era meant that we were rarely awash with runs. Rather the side worked as a team and usually someone scored enough for the bowlers to work with.


Ironically Smith, a good enough batsman to play for England, was for most of 1936 horribly out of form and dropped down the order in an attempt to find some. There was really no one else to take his place until the amateurs became available in the summer holidays. Nor was there much cricket that summer for George Pope, an all rounder of considerable and growing talent and regular contributor down the order, who didn’t play after May with cartilage trouble.

The effective loss of two such players made it all the more remarkable that Derbyshire ended the season as champions and it looked far from a likely outcome when the season began under the traditional grey clouds in May. Indeed, had there been an early version of 606 or IMWT you could imagine the fans grumbling. The captain rarely gets any runs, Smith is hopeless, Mitchell is too expensive and Copson – well, he’d be alright if he was fit. I'm sure Derbyshire fans have always been somewhat intolerant...

Truth be told, fitness was a problem for Bill Copson for much of his career and he was not the most resilient of our long line of seamers. When fit, however, he was a handful and the club had taken steps to get him fit for 1936 by having him train with Chesterfield FC, strengthening the strained sacroiliac joint that caused him to miss much of 1935.

Although confident after several strong seasons, 1936 began inauspiciously. At Southampton, the ninth wicket pair salvaged a draw from Hampshire after we had been set an unlikely 387 to win, Tommy Mitchell and Harry Elliot batting out time after the attack had been on the end of a rare pasting. A win against Oxford University followed, but in the next match at Gravesend the regular batting frailties were evident against Kent, when the game was finished on the second day. Leg spinners ‘Tich’ Freeman and Doug Wright bowled us out twice, for 119 and 99 and Kent, needing only 42 to win, did so by ten wickets.

When the team returned to Derby and the first home game on May 16 their supporters cannot have been too impressed and would have been less so when we were bowled out for just 175 by Surrey, Albert Alderman top scoring with 77. Copson and Mitchell then brought us back into the game as they reduced the visitors to 116-7, but Barling led a recovery with 95 and the visitors totalled 218, a lead of 43.

Derbyshire’s second innings was even worse than the first, and despite 43 more from Alderman they were all out for 136, leaving the visitors just 94 runs for a win in two days. Grumblers corner must have been in full spate at that point…

At 49-2 the visitors were cruising at tea on the second day, with just 45 needed for a straightforward victory. Most of the spectators went home, only the diehards remaining to witness a likely defeat.Yet what followed was perhaps the pivotal session of the season. What happened during that interval has disappeared into the mists of time, but when the players returned, Copson bowled like a man inspired. With pace and lift accompanied by a perfect line and length he ripped through the Surrey batting, taking 7-19 in fourteen overs,  the visitors subsiding from 73-6 to 77 all out as we won by 16 runs. His post-tea spell was 6-8 in seven overs and the batsmen had to play almost every ball. The only not out batsman, Laurie Fishlock, was beaten five times in one Copson over, while England man Alf Gover was last out, caught behind off Copson.

The win was extraordinary yet Derbyshire secretary Will Taylor probably bemoaned the loss of a day’s income at the same time that he enjoyed the win. Losing two out of the first three fixtures, having had the worst of the opening game, would have been a bitter blow.

The confidence boost, akin to that received by Derbyshire in last weekend's draw at Leicester, was evident as the action moved to Chesterfield. Thanks to Les Townsend’s unbeaten 182, Derbyshire totalled 387 before Mitchell and Copson blew the visitors away for just 129, taking nine wickets between them.

Following on they did better but the wickets were evenly shared as they were bowled out for 233, giving Derbyshire victory by an innings and 25 runs.

The final fixture of May saw the action move to Bristol and a game against Gloucestershire that was a good battle. Copson took another four wickets as the hosts were bowled out for 164, although the success was tempered by a slip by George Pope, that saw him out for the rest of the campaign. Derbyshire, thanks to battling knocks from Alderman and Elliot replied with 193 before Mitchell’s five wickets on a turning wicket left us a tricky 95 to win.

The target was reached with aplomb, however, Alderman and Smith sharing an unbroken stand in ninety minutes to take us to a ten-wicket win, again with a day to spare.

Derbyshire were up and running.

Three successive wins steered the county from the dangerous waters of the early fixtures to calmer seas. By the end of the month we sat fourth in the table and valuable momentum had been gained.

Worcestershire v Derbyshire preview

This is an interesting game, with the home side performing well this season after last year's against the odds promotion. Having lost a lot of big names, the players pulled together and produced a team effort that Derbyshire will hope to emulate.

There's no news yet on their side but a batting line up packed with hard hitters will be a danger. Vikram Solanki is only 105 runs from 10,000 List A career runs and will dream of doing that in one innings, while 50 list A games between the two sides have seen them win 26 and us 23.

Unsurprisingly, there's only two changes to the side that did so well last weekend for us. Tony Palladino is in to replace Steffan Jones, while Azeem Rafiq replaces Jake Needham. What is encouraging for me is the form of people outside or on the periphery of the team, keeping pressure on those in possession. While there's no place in this game for Dan Redfern, his batting this year is much improved and he is moving forward, while Garry Park had two good innings for the Second XI. Matt Lineker batted well too and Ross Whiteley scored runs and took wickets. Such competition for places is healthy and augurs well. A complacent player won't produce the returns of one who has to work at his game.

That team in full, offering at least eight bowling options:

Hughes, Khawaja, Durston, Smith, Madsen, Park, Sutton, Clare, Rafiq, Groenewald, Palladino.

Same as last week will do nicely lads...

Friday, 6 May 2011

Good win for Seconds

The Second XI under Andy Harris won by nine wickets against Leicestershire at Ashby.

The club site reports on the first two days, but on the final morning Derbyshire's seam attack of Evans, Whiteley and Sheikh bowled out the home side for 121, leaving a target of 174 to win.

This was easily reached with nine wickets in hand, a very good performance.

Talking of young players, and I note on IMWT calls for Tom Knight to play against Worcestershire on Sunday. While I have high expectations for the lad, based on his recent exploits, its asking a lot of him to bowl at serious hitters like Solanki, Moeen and Kervezee. I don't know, maybe the coaches think he could cope, but it strikes me as a tall order. Seven wickets against students is one thing, that's a sizeable step up for the lad.

Derbyshire v Bradford/Leeds UCCE Day 3

In so far as the game was concerned it was pretty much a non-event, with Derbyshire’s attack eventually comprising Rafiq and Knight, with a little help from whoever else was left who could run up without a limp.


As it turned out, however, we got a fair amount from the game, with Chesney Hughes making a composed century on the last afternoon while Dan Redfern made another good impression. One twenty, the other twenty-one, yet they both seemed like seasoned veterans compared to Tom Knight.

At seventeen years I doubt the youngster has ever bowled more than his 45 overs in the UCCE innings and seven wickets for 153, allowing for tiredness setting in towards the end, is a remarkable effort for one of such tender years.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Fantasy Cricket

I've added a link to the Fantasy League table on the useful links section to the left of the page.

You'll see I am sitting neatly mid-table at this juncture. Quite possibly where I'll be come September...

Interesting trialist

Nice to read details of a successful young trialist on the club site, taking five wickets against Leicestershire, who included ex-Gloucestershire batsman Kadeer Ali as a trialist of their own.


For those who like to know such things, Ali (not Alex as reported) Evans plays his cricket for Carlton in Edinburgh and spent last winter playing grade cricket in Adelaide for Northern Districts. This was on a sponsorship arranged under the auspices of Terry Racionzer, the former Sussex and Scotland batsman who is CEO of Schuh, the successful shoe retailer with its base in Edinburgh.

Evans is a tall 22-year old who is apparently bowling well and quickly this season, though whether he is ‘fast’ as labelled in the press up here, or fast medium is a moot point. Either way, his was an impressive performance and I’d guess a Scotland recall for the youngster, who currently has one cap, is not too far away.

On the basis of that spell of bowling I’d guess Derbyshire would want another look at him sometime soon…

PS On a ‘claim to fame’ note I once bowled the forementioned Terry Racionzer with a well-flighted delivery in a Scottish counties fixture a good few years back. The fact that my four previous well-flighted deliveries, in the last over of a fifty-over innings, had gone for 4,6,6,4 is inconsequential to the story…he fell to my cunning plan. Ahem…

Derbyshire v Bradford Leeds UCCE day 2

The broken finger sustained by Steffan Jones yesterday is a big blow to Derbyshire, especially in the one day game. It also adds to John Morris’ problems with his seamers and highlights how important it is for them to be rested when the opportunity presents itself.


Jones is likely to be out for a month, which would see him fit for the T20, but added to the existing injuries of Tony Palladino (hamstring) and Mark Footitt (ankle) it leaves Morris with only Jon Clare (thankfully recovered quickly from his own hamstring injury) the currently erratic Mark Turner, Atif Sheikh and the reliable Tim Groenewald. My understanding is that Palladino should be fit soon and that Footitt is not far away, but it also shows the merits of having a pool of seamers to dip into.

Given the above I wouldn’t see Jon Clare bowling too much in the current game, which will thus become a workout for spinners Knight and Rafiq and a chance to lock on the radar for Mark Turner. Losing two seamers in one match would veer from unlucky to careless otherwise.

Seam bowling is a heavy workload in the modern game. It always was, of course and old-timers will talk about the thousand-plus overs bowled in their day. Yet there was no expectation of throwing yourself around in the field then, with the injuries that go with it. Nor were there many bowlers who hung around too long with the bat, a quick slog usually being their goal. Now, numbers 1-11 all have a role to play and one only needs to look at the efforts of the last three at Leicester to see the difference that can make to a game and a season.

Who replaces Jones in the one-day side is debatable. We all saw his unerring ability to ‘hit the blockhole’ against Yorkshire last weekend and who can do that will be occupying John Morris’ mind over the coming days. A visit to Worcestershire on Sunday is no place for erratic bowling and their top three of Solanki, Moeen Ali and Kervezee will be ruthless on anything off line and length.

Maybe Morris will go for an extra spinner and include both Rafiq and Needham, as well as Chesney Hughes and Wes Durston. That would leave seam in the hands of Groenewald, Clare, Smith and Park and leave our side reminiscent of the India one of the 1970s, stylistically if not in talent. Useful as they are, Wes Durston is no Prasanna or Venkataraghavan, while Chesney has got a little way to go to reach Bishan Bedi standard…

Not a Chandrasekhar in sight sadly, but Tom Knight bowled a long spell today for four wickets, suggesting that he has talent in abundance. At the rate of his progress he will soon be in the side on merit as first choice spinner.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Derbyshire v Bradford Leeds UCCE day 1

A fair day for a below strength Derbyshire side today, with 305 a decent first innings score.

Wayne Madsen would be disappointed to mark his captaincy debut with a third baller, but it happens. Paul Borrington and Chesney Hughes might well have appreciated more time in the middle too, but the students stuck to their task well. There was a maiden fifty in Derbyshire colours for Usman Khawaja too, though the import may be disappointed to miss out on a century against one of the less demanding attacks.

It was especially pleasing to see Dan Redfern make his season highest, though I still think we'll see his maiden century this year. He looks to have sorted out a few things in the close season and is a balanced, poised player. There was a nice 49 from Tom Poynton too and the traditional late humpty from Steffan Jones before he retired with an injured hand.

With Azeem Rafiq and Tom Knight in tandem in the late evening, our spin twins had an average age of 18.5. At 17 Knight must be our youngest spinner since Fred Swarbrook. If he gets as good as Fred I'll be quite satisfied, though if he gets as big as Fred it will be tinged with concern...

It was steady stuff too from young Knight (pictured), the only disappointment being the club site referring to him as an off spinner, when he bowls slow left arm. The boy is even more talented than I thought if he can do both. I don't want to be picky, but Knight's picture on the club site is clearly Tom Poynton, who also appears as himself but younger under his own name. Two blokes who look the same and an offie who bowls slow left arm...time for a lie down!

Hopefully they'll sort it soon and I can report on a debut wicket for Knight tomorrow.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Derbyshire v Bradford Leeds UCCE

After the excitement of the weekend it is back to more mundane matters for Derbyshire as they start a three-day game against Leeds/Bradford Centre of Cricket Excellence.


The game presents an opportunity for a few people to have a bowl who have thus far been peripheral figures, the likes of Atif Sheikh, Ross Whiteley and Jake Needham probably being in contention, although the fact that there is also a Second XI game going on might see a stronger than usual side take the field.

I would assume that Matt Lineker is in line for a game, as well as the returning Paul Borrington, while Garry Park might enjoy a run out and a chance to get some runs under his belt. Mark Footitt might also make a season debut alongside Mark Turner in what, with Sheikh, would be a slippery attack.

Our opponents are also likely to field two of our players, with Ben Slater and Matt Higginbottom in line to play against their county.

For others it is an excellent opportunity to charge batteries ahead of the next round of serious stuff, starting at Worcestershire on Sunday.

Monday musings

I'm not sure whether to start tonight by thanking the club or Twitter for the 40 Tweets that bombarded my phone this afternoon and made it sound like something was dying in the office. I wouldn't have minded but 39 of them gave a blow by blow account of yesterday's match and the other said "good draw on Friday." Where they got to between times I haven't a clue as my phone has been on for two days, but today they chose a quiet post-lunch spell to spew into my phone like an especially spewy thing..technology huh?

Anyway, while the result at Yorkshire yesterday was due to an excellent all-round performance, the performances of Wes Durston and Wayne Madsen once again caught the eye, as they have in each Pro-40 game this season.

Durston’s sure footwork and powerful blows dovetailed beautifully with that of Madsen (or Madsden, as Paul Allott kept calling him) while their running between the wickets was, on the whole excellent. There were a couple of close shaves, but the pressure they exerted led to Yorkshire making a number of errors.

It was good to see, with Durston’s hoik of Rashid into the stand at deep mid wicket trumped by Madsen’s straight drive from Wainwright, which saw the ball land on the roof of the stand and roll into the street beyond. Yet their placement of the ball and timing of it so ones became twos was equally eye-catching and perhaps even more meritorious. You can’t always find the boundary, but if you keep working the ball into gaps there are runs to be had. You could see what the team have been working on and it was gratifying.

The undeniable fact is that if you hit a single off 75% of the balls in Pro-40 you’ll get 180. Add in your more profitable hits and your innings is on the road to success. Push and run may have been the basis of Tottenham’s football success in the 1950’s under Arthur Rowe but you can do pretty well at cricket with a variant too.

Neither Chesney Hughes nor Usman Khawaja has really got going yet but it is evident that when they do someone is going to pay. The commentators yesterday pointed out ‘flaws’ in their respective techniques but these are young players for who one has to make allowances. Maybe Hughes doesn’t always move his feet as he should and perhaps Khawaja does get squared up, but when the former is in the next breath compared in style to Chris Gayle and Matt Hayden and the latter is the bright hope of Australian cricket there can’t be too much wrong…

What the two of them managed in both weekend games, of course was to give us a brisk start. That is so important in one day cricket, especially in the early powerplay, and it takes some pressure off the later batsmen, even if they get out, like yesterday, in the process.

Greg Smith has been in fine form this season yet struggled to time the ball at Headingley. Nonetheless he supported Durston well, ran hard and worked the gaps in a battling display that boded well for the long season ahead. Times were that he’d have perished going for the big shot, but it was interesting listening to Luke Sutton yesterday. Derbyshire knew Yorkshire only had five bowlers and targeted the spinners as they couldn’t rotate them. We used six bowlers and didn’t need to turn to Park or Smith.

The only one of the top six who didn’t get in was Garry Park, who perished in the deep in the final over having had no time to play himself in. Yet Park, the most admirable of fielders, changed the game with his stunning catch to dismiss Adam Lyth. When you add in his useful seam and potential for runs it is hard to overlook him in a one day side, where he is often worth twenty runs with his brilliance in the field.

Fast forward a couple of months to the T20. Assuming that Clare, Groenewald and Jones (plus Palladino to give them a breather) for their hitting ability are the seamers of preference, where do you fit in Martin Guptill? Logically he would replace Needham/Rafiq, leaving spin in the hands of Hughes and Durston and with Smith and Park as back up. How’s this for a notional side?

Guptill, Khawaja, Durston, Hughes, Smith, Madsen, Park, Sutton, Clare, Groenewald, Jones.

Given fine weather and decent wickets that side should get some bums on seats and, irrespective of results, offer excellent entertainment. Though not a fan of the format, I’m excited by the potential of that line up!

PS One thing about the commentators, tempered somewhat by their newfound respect for Derbyshire. No, make that two...
 
Could they please note that we are DerbySHIRE, not Derby. And could Bob Willis please, just once, sound excited and/or interested? In the words of my old Dad, he always sounds like he's found a tanner and lost a quid and a sigh is a heartbeat away.
 
Lighten up dude! You're watching the chosen ones for God's own county!

PPS Yorkshire fans not happy on 606. One says conditions were difficult for spinners.
Maybe yours bud, but Ches, Wes n Jake did us proud.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Fantasy Cricket continued

OK... you all know the fantasy team starts Hughes, Khawaja, Durston, Smith, Madsen, but the Telegraph league is set to roll this week.


I've started a new post so you all see it and the unique league URL is:

http://fantasycricket.telegraph.co.uk/county/league/view/8000901

£5 for one team or £10 for three. If we get fifteen teams in our league we get medals for the overall champion, best batting side and best bowling side. I don't know where I'll put them all... :-)

There's two teams so far (cheers Stephen for stopping me being a Billy no mates...) so let the euphoria of this weekend wash over you and get over to the site, pick your team(s) and let battle commence.

Get in there soon guys!

Yorkshire v Derbyshire

Remember the date. May 2nd, 2011.

That's when Derbyshire were taken seriously by the cricket world, including the Sky cricket commentators. Its also the date when anyone who labels the side as 'rubbish' on any forum, including this one, officially becomes a laughing stock.

To add the icing to the cake, the win took us top of the league.

The Derbyshire side were, quite simply, magnificent. The batting, as I wrote in my halfway report, was professional and displayed skill and common sense in equal measure. Wes Durston (pictured) again looked a class act, while Wayne Madsen has a range of shots that will always make him a danger man in the closing stages. Their form in the CB40 this season has been oustanding.

Greg Smith struggled for timing but didn't give it away and worked it around. The strike rotation throughout was the result of what John Morris has been preaching for some time, working the ball into gaps and running hard. We lost a few wickets at the end but I was pleased to see the thought process that went into promoting Steffan Jones and Jon Clare for a hit. It didn't come off today, but you can't fault the idea.

Likewise the concept of opening the bowling with Wes Durston. I've written before that I thought he was underused last year by Chris Rogers and his bowling today was as good as his batting. There can be no higher praise, as he floated the ball in on a good length and made the batsmen play.

Even when the second wicket pair were going well they never seemed to be in control, but once Wes took the key wicket, an impressive Joe Root leg before wicket, the procession began. It was aided and abetted by one of the best fielding displays you could wish to see, with three or four catches of quite exceptional quality. Garry Park's goalkeeper-like dive to dismiss Lyth was stunning, but so to was the return catch taken by Durston off a powerful drive hammered back by Gale. Khawaja held two tumbling efforts near the end which was good to see, but Wayne Madsen's blinder at extra cover was simply extraordinary. Although they didn't say much on TV, mention should also be made of Luke Sutton's catch. Anything off the bottom edge is difficult and whether it lodged in his groin or fingertips, the skipper completed a fine display by hanging on.

Yet wherever you looked today there were heroes. Chesney's bowling again looked much improved, while Jake Needham bowled a steady spell and fielded well on the boundary edge. The death bowling of Steffan Jones and Jonathan Clare was excellent, with ball after ball hammered into the blockhole in a fine display. Park was, as always a livewire in the field and it was heartening to hear the commentators talk about an outstanding fielding side and a very focussed and happy team. That's OUR team...

Sutton deserves credit for martialling his troops well and keeping them on their toes with constant shouts of "get on it". The levels of fitness and concentration he showed were an object lesson to all and his team backed him to the hilt.

Not for a minute am I claiming that we are now world-beaters, but this weekend we have comprehensively beaten two Division One sides with their fair share of international cricketers. We have set a benchmark in performance that illustrates that on our day we can compete with and match anyone. There will be days ahead when we fall from those standards, when things don't go our way and when the result goes against us.

Yet we have now showed our true capabilities. Eleven players with varying levels of experience are playing as a team and today looked a most impressive and thoroughly professional unit.

Happy tonight? I should darned well hope you are. I certainly am.

Yorkshire v Derbyshire half way

I'd have snatched your hand off if you'd offered me 245-8 before the game.

Wonderful batting, once again, from Wes Durston and Wayne Madsen, with good sensible support from Greg Smith. The commentators revised their 'good score' from 190 to 220 and we ended up with that.

Great, professional effort. The working around of the ball was an object lesson in one day batting and if we can bowl and field better than Yorkshire the win is there for taking.

Of course, that's what we now need to do, so lift it boys. Good work so far!

Fantasy Cricket

At Chris' request I've set up a league on the Telegraph site for all Derbyshire fans.

Its name is the IMWT and Peakfan Blog League

Pin number is 8000901

Join as soon as you can - look forward to seeing you there soon!

15 teams and we even get medals for the end of season - and only a fiver a go!

http://fantasycricket.telegraph.co.uk/