I read a couple of pieces on Mark Footitt's England call-up yesterday.
One was from Graeme Welch, who said that Mark's selection for the England tour of South Africa was more to do with Derbyshire than Surrey. The other was from a friend, ever the wag, who said that Mark must have improved since he left Derbyshire...
Welch is almost right, yet I would have said that the selection had everything to do with Derbyshire and nothing to do with Mark's new home. Unless, of course, that contribution can now be measured in his being closer to where the journalists are, never to be umderestimated in national side selection process.
Were it not for Derbyshire, Welch and an outstanding fitness and conditioning team, it is quite possible that Mark would have been out of the game at this point. They were not exactly queuing around the block when he left Nottinghamshire, where he was acknowledged as a bowler of pace, but variable accuracy and disappointing levels of fitness.
Indeed, he took only 23 wickets in four summers at Trent Bridge, which increased to 49 in the following three years at Derbyshire. Then, at the age of 27, it all clicked and his final three summers brought 202 first-class wickets. It was a combination of factors - growing into his physique, being properly coached, getting fitter than he had ever been before and feeling appreciated.
The latter is important for any cricketer - indeed, anyone in any working environment and I just hope, for Mark's sake, that it is replicated at both The Oval and in the England set up. We all know that he can still lose his radar on occasion, but he is increasingly likely to produce the spell, or the ball, that will challenge the very best.
With the retirement of Mitchell Johnson from the international arena, Mark has the potential and, hopefully, the opportunity, to become the fastest left-armer in the international game. I hope that they look after him and I hope he goes on to do so.
If he does, it is down to his hard work and that at the 3aaa County Ground. Nothing else.