I hope you all had a great Christmas and are now ready for the fun and frolics of the New Year.
There's little cricket news to report right now, although there was a pretty good article by Rob Steen on Tony Palladino over on Cricinfo. I know what the author means when he talks about our first "first class" trophy since 1936, but to disregard the various one-day trophies won by all counties since the advent of the Gillette Cup seems a bit silly. Either that or Mr Steen didn't do his homework, which would be surprising and unlikely for a writer of some talent.
It certainly wouldn't go do down well in Lancashire, where it's all they won until a couple of seasons back...
There was a low-key hoo-ha over Nottinghamshire's refusal to allow three of their players to participate in this years IPL, though I am with the county on this one. They employ the players and to lose Hales, Lumb and Patel for the key early weeks of the season would put them at a severe disadvantage. Don't for a minute think that I have much sympathy at any point for our neighbours, but the principle is key and remains so, irrespective of the county. Essex lost Bopara, Shah and ten Doeschate last summer and never really recovered from their slow start.
I've watched a fair few Big Bash games in recent days and also saw the T20 games between New Zealand and South Africa. I was looking out for players of ability that might interest counties but I've seen little in the Aussie competition thus far, aside from some trusty old veterans. The Adelaide Strikers came close to beating the Melbourne Stars today and would have won but for a bizarre idea of batting Kieron Pollard at five. Surely you want the men most likely to score quickly at the top of the order, maximising their time at the crease? Pollard slammed an unbeaten 65 from 43 balls but it was too little, too late as they lost by eight runs. With Pollard not getting in until the ninth over, it is fairly obvious where the problem lay.
As for South Africa B (which it effectively is) against New Zealand, I've been impressed by Henry Davids as a bustling, muscling opening batsman, though his rise is as marked as the fall of Richard Levi. The latter seems to be carrying too much weight for me, while he only seems to play through the leg side. Justin Ontong looked a fair player too, confirming his good recent seasons as a hard hitter, useful spinner and fine fielder.
New Zealand looked poor though and are missing too many players. Take Guptill and McCullum from that side and they would struggle in division two of the Championship.
It confirmed that there are not too many options of genuine quality out there for those counties still to secure the services of an overseas player. I remain hopeful that Derbyshire will secure the services of a good one though and I am sure that Messrs Grant and Krikken have spent a lot of time speaking with agents and players in recent months.
Maybe the early New Year will bring good news.
I hope so.