We will have an overseas opener at the start of the season and a number three for the second half then, with Martin Guptill and Usman Khawaja again (and thankfully) in harness.
For the T20, I would see Khawaja opening, although there may be merit in keeping him at three and allowing Wes Durston and Chesney Hughes to open and perhaps take better advantage of the Powerplay. Yet I don't want to give the impression that T20 is exclusively about big hitting. The best sides generally have a couple of boundary clearers (Durston and Whiteley come to mind) but at its most basic, an innings comprises 120 balls. If you find the gaps and time it right, there is technically two a ball and few teams score 240 runs...
Last week I said that Peter Kirsten and Dean Jones were the best two all-round batsmen I have seen at Derbyshire. By that I meant that they could play and, irrespective of the match, the wicket or the bowlers, keep the runs ticking over. Jones, especially in one day games, was a master of pacing his shots so there was two each time and a side could easily score 180, often a match-winning score, by such tactics. Wayne Madsen is another skilled in it and my viewings of Khawaja in the Big Bash (where I saw all his innings) suggest that he just needs to do that a little more.
Like Chris Rogers he is not a powerful man, but Derbyshire's tactic should be for Khawaja to be the man around who the innings is built. Where he is often out is in trying to muscle the sixes, an easier thing to do if you're built like Chris Gayle or Andrew Flintoff. For regular-sized blokes it has to be timed really well, but I remember Chris Taylor in his time at Derby, who had a very clever method of chipping the infield and falling short of the outfielders. Two a ball...twelve an over.
I'm not privy to the contractual niceties of Derbyshire players, but it could be that Khawaja had a condition in his that he played T20. He's not an accepted talent at the format, but after thirteen knocks wouldn't be expected to be. Like anything else in life, you only improve by doing things on a regular basis and how nice it would be if he acquired those T20 skills in Derbyshire colours.
I read in the Derby Telegraph earlier that the club will have a contingency plan if he ends up selected for Australia A, something that could feasibly happen. What that is I don't know, but if we can get Martin Guptill and Usman Khawaja involved in most Championship and 40-over games this summer there will be few sides look forward to facing us in 2012.