It is always sad when a player leaves Derbyshire. For some, the opportunities never came or the talent simply wasn't there. As Jake Needham leaves the county game for a role within the club's marketing department, neither accusation can be levelled at him.
Spinners at Derbyshire have often been the afterthought, although the likes of Tommy Mitchell, "Dusty" Rhodes, Edwin Smith, Fred Swarbrook and Geoff Miller have all established themselves over the years. Jake Needham rose through the ranks at a time when a vacancy was there and England Under 19 selection confirmed him as a player of some talent. He could be a dogged tail ender and a valued night watchman, yet Jake's prime role was as an off-spinner and he never quite got to the requisite standard.
There were some lovely spells in one-day games, when his off-spin had a nice loop and the opposition struggled to get him away. A nice, easy action suggested someone who could bowl all day and Jake was also a very good fielder, which added value.
Yet the feeling persisted that containment was his forte and opportunities on spinning wickets were rarely taken. It is hard to do that, of course, if you're not getting enough overs to find rhythm and being tossed into the side and expected to bowl sides out in such circumstances must have been difficult for a young bowler. Jake struggled to turn the ball, toss it up and make batsmen work in the four-day game, perhaps loathe to give runs away, conscious that such profligacy might cost him a place in the side again.
35 wickets at 36 were far from bad figures, but the emergence of Tom Knight and Peter Burgoyne as young spinners of talent put a little more pressure on Needham, as did the signing of David Wainwright. The county sought coaching input from various sources in recent seasons - perhaps there were too many at the time, all with their own ideas, all perhaps filling the young bowler's head with too many theories.
I'm sure Jake will have a successful career outside the county game and will be a fine cricketer for Ockbrook and Borrowash, where he is captain, for many years. Establishing himself in the county game was beyond him, but Jake can leave it with his head held high, having given his best in the county colours.
Elsewhere Dimi Mascarenhas is telling anyone who will listen that we need an IPL style competition in England. Presumably we'll be starting in February to fit it in... I watched and enjoyed the IPL and loved the enthusiasm of the Indian crowds, the excitement of an audience of all ages and both sexes, the brilliant way it was presented and the sense of occasion.
Yet Mascarenhas' assertion is stunningly oblivious to the parochial nature of the county game, as I've said before on this blog. At the risk of stating the obvious, India and England are completely dissimilar countries in their cricketing make up and creating regional sides simply wouldn't work. Try as I might, I couldn't get eight - or even six - regional sides that would work or that, more crucially, supporters would want to watch.
Yeah, let's make a composite Yorkshire/Durham side. And a Middlesex/Surrey one. We could easily combine Derbyshire/Leicestershire/Nottinghamshire side that we'd all forsake local rivalries to support, folding arms and singing jolly songs with our erstwhile rivals. I am more likely to change sex this evening than to support such a side. The only merit it would have would be to save Nottinghamshire clerical time in signing the better players of their local rivals...
After the debacle of the Eurovision Song Contest, I have no hesitation in awarding Mr Mascarenhas' idea one less than Engelbert Humperdinck got on Saturday.
Tomorrow I'll preview this week's game against Gloucestershire, the latest in a long line of important games for Derbyshire. For what its worth, bearing in mind his centuries for the Second XI last week, I expect Matt Lineker to make his season bow in this one. Paul Borrington has had a decent run, has not been a failure by any means and has shared in good stands with Martin Guptill. Yet Krikk, for me, needs to let the peripheral players know that they will get an opportunity if they do the business in the Seconds and this is it for Lineker.
We'll see when the squad is announced tomorrow. And I'll see you then too.