Saturday, 25 June 2016

Kent v Derbyshire preview

Shiv Thakor is back in the Derbyshire 13 for their game against Kent at Canterbury, starting tomorrow.

The following squad has travelled:

Billy Godleman
Hamish Rutherford
Chesney Hughes
Wayne Madsen
Neil Broom
Shiv Thakor
Ben Slater
Tom Poynton
Rob Hemmings
Tony Palladino
Matt Critchley
Ben Cotton
Will Davis

If I was selecting the side on current form, the two to miss out would be Chesney Hughes and Rob Hemmings. Rob let no one down on debut, but there are stronger claims, while Chesney's recent form has been sketchy and Ben Slater, to be honest, is more deserving of a place. I'd open with Bill and Ben, then have Hamish at first drop.

As for the home side, they have yet to announce a team but having beaten us at Derby will hope to complete the double. I still think they bat better than they bowl, but we will need to up our game to get anything from this.

We can do though and, last night apart, we have played well in the last month. Let's not forget that we'd have likely beaten Worcestershire given four days of cricket.

I think, given a decent forecast, we can get the win points here.

Your thoughts are, as always, appreciated!

Questions being asked

There's a couple of questions being asked of me in your post comments and personal emails that I would like to take the opportunity to address on an otherwise quiet day.

The recurring one is why Tom Poynton hasn't yet been replaced by Harvey Hosein.

Tom is a lovely bloke, a very competent wicket-keeper and a batsman of talent, not always realised when he gets to the crease. He will play an occasional innings that hints of what he can do and that his batting skills are coming to the fore, then lapse into a run of mediocre scores. His glove work is generally sound, though a mistake or two has proved costly of late, according to reports.

The trouble is, Harvey Hosein has no real batting form to force his case. At 19, I don't think there's much between the two behind the stumps. I think Poynton, older and more confident at 26, keeps on top of the fielders better, Hosein has the greater potential with the bat. Yet Harvey has only played T20 cricket since the end of May, when he made 50 against Nottinghamshire, since when his scores have been 12 not, 1, 7 not, 10, 5 not, 0 and 25. The figures don't push his claim, even if the lot of a middle order bat in T20 is not a happy one at times.

I have seen both men keep well, and less so, but it is a high-profile role and, like goalkeepers in football, when a keeper makes a mistake it is usually critical. Harvey has time on his side and will, I think, be first choice for years once he establishes himself. He may well be good enough to bat five or six too, something that Tom won't, in my opinion.

Both are very good cricketers, they all are at this level, but their batting returns won't yet stop Derbyshire supporters looking around the circuit at other counties and the match-winning knocks their glove men produce and wishing. A more productive wicket-keeper with the bat wouldn't have changed much this summer from a results perspective, but come season end we have to look around and see if there is someone out there who could offer more, even if just as a stop gap until Harvey comes of age.

For what it is worth, I'd prefer us to play Tom in one-day cricket and Harvey in the championship. It is a compromise, but one that will help the youngster learn the concentration skills he needs for a top-level career. With respect, he won't do that playing T20 after T20 in the seconds and having to swing the bat when he does get a knock.

The other question is what I think of Hamish Rutherford and Neil Broom's efforts this year and have they been worthwhile signings so far.

The answer is no, they haven't. They seem lovely blokes and have good reputations, but the bottom line for any overseas cricketer is that you will be judged on your statistics and the number of matches you win for your side. A mid-twenties average is acceptable for a young lad making his way in the county game, but the expectations are much higher when you are brought from another country, provided with a car and accommodation and are well paid.

Both have shown what they can do in bursts, but to pluck two names at random, we could have played Tom Wood and Jon Tattersall in one and four-day cricket this year and they would have largely matched the return of the Kiwis. From the current staff, both Ben Slater and Scott Elstone may have averaged the same, or in Slater's case, likely better. None of them would be costing as much.

It's a tricky thing though. Amla, Dilshan, Rutherford - all good players with credentials, but disappointing returns. Where are you now, John Wright and Peter Kirsten. What we'd give for their like again.

I cannot fault the thought process of the signings, but in neither case have we yet had the evidence that the value is commensurate to the cost. You look at someone like Wayne Madsen, each year since he has been  'taking the place of a local lad' he has averaged 58, 34, 27, 37, 41, 39, 47 and this year 55. They are quality statistics, befitting a quality player and others must aspire to similar.

Good second halves of season required in both cases for me to be convinced.

Elvaston CC book launch - 15 July

I'm also thrilled to be doing an event with Edwin Smith at Elvaston CC on Friday 15 July.

I will be talking about the new book, then Edwin and I will chat about his career and answer questions from the audience. It will also be the last chance to pick up a copy of Edwin's biography, with final copies on sale on the night.

It is hoped that the evening will see the only two living men to take a thousand wickets for Derbyshire together again, which will be really special.

Elvaston Cricket Club is on Stable Drive, Elvaston,  DE72 3EP and tickets for the event are £3, with proceeds going to the club's Defibrillator Appeal Fund. There will be a bar and food available, with the evening starting at 7.30pm.
Tickets are available from the club, or by calling Andy on 07722 485213.
I do hope that you come along, say hello and enjoy a fun evening of cricket chat, as well as supporting a very worthy cause.
Sincere thanks to Andy for all the organisation!

Chesterfield Launch

There will be autograph opportunities a-plenty at the launch of my book on Derbyshire CCC on July 11 at Chesterfield Library, 7pm for 7.30pm.

Various Derbyshire players will be in attendance (no names, got to turn up to find out who...) and the evening represents a great opportunity to hear a short talk from me about the background to the book - and the blog - then answer questions, along with those great names from the club's history.

There will then be a chance to buy the book and get it autographed by some of those whose tales are told within its pages. It should make for a cracking evening and tickets seem to be going well.

They are £3 and are available from Chesterfield Library by calling 01629 533400. Alternatively, you can pop in and pick one up from the library.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Friday, 24 June 2016

Derbyshire v Nottinghamshire T20

Derbyshire 114

Nottinghamshire 120-3

Nottinghamshire won by 7 wickets

Call it a hunch, as Quasimodo may once have said, but I had a vibe that tonight may be 'crash and burn' for Derbyshire and so it transpired.

For the first time in a long while I was unable to follow the game in some form or another and only saw the score three times. The first was at the end of our Powerplay, when too much damage was done and we looked to be digging a hole. Then I saw the final score and it would appear that we used JCBs to speed the process.

The end was swift and conclusive and it would appear we batted poorly tonight.

The hour being late and my not having followed the game, it is not appropriate to comment further except to express disappointment at a poor effort.

I look forward to the comments of those who were there and will respond tomorrow, when I perhaps have a little more time.


Thursday, 23 June 2016

Derbyshire v Worcestershire day 4

Derbyshire 467-5

Worcestershire 164 and 294-6 (Cotton 2-34, Davis 2-87)

Match drawn

In the end, as I suggested may be the case last night, the wicket was simply too docile and a good batting side held out for a draw.

Yet there were real positives for Derbyshire, in the bowling of Tony Palladino and Ben Cotton, followed today by Will Davis.

The young seamer took two wickets in one especially hostile spell and could have had a third. Following on from his fine display against Australia last year, when he took 3-63, Davis has shown he can take wickets at this level and is very much a bowler with a future. I am sure he will get further opportunities before the season is out and seems to have leapfrogged Tom Taylor for the time being.

No disgrace in a draw - yes, we might have won with a more experienced attack, but we might not have had the potency and legs in them that we hope for tomorrow against Nottinghamshire in the T20.

It looks like the same team for me, with a question mark over Shiv Thakor that I hope is positively resolved with tomorrow's fitness test.

The visitors squad lines up:

Ball, Christian, Fletcher, Gurney, Hutton, Lumb, Mullaney, Patel, Russell, Smith, Taylor, Wessels, Wood.

Tough opposition and in that respect very like the last three games.

We acquitted ourselves well in all of them.

Now to go one step further...

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Derbyshire v Worcestershire day 3

Derbyshire 467-5 (Godleman 204, Madsen 109, Broom 93)

Worcestershire 164 all out (Cox 40, Cotton 4-28, Palladino 4-32)

and 24-1 (Cotton 1-6)

Day three of this game (day two of cricket) was a day of such total Derbyshire dominance against a very good Worcestershire side that it was hard to believe. Bear in mind that we had an attack of two regulars, two championship debutants and part-timers. What a funny game this cricket is!

Before lunch we added 148 runs for the loss of Billy Godleman, who made a career-best 204, and Neil Broom, who was unluckily, or carelessly out for his second ninety-odd of the summer. It was heartening to follow from afar, even though it appeared a prelude for a long session in the field against a talented batting line-up.

When I came back from a short meeting at work, Ben Cotton (pictured) had already got three back in the hutch, a talented three in Mitchell, D'Oliveira and Clarke. This season looks like it may go down as big Ben's breakthrough year, as after a slow start, albeit on dead wickets, he has bowled with hostility and skill in the past few weeks. A few months short of his 23rd birthday, it has started to 'click' for the tall seamer and he is starting to look the real deal.

As for Tony Palladino, he just keeps on running in, moving it around and getting people out if they don't maintain concentration. His accuracy is a lesson to all the youngsters coming through and four wickets for him too were apparently reward for a fine spell of accurate seam.

There was a first championship wicket for Will Davis, a proud moment for a talented young bowler,but if criticising his greater expense, keep in mind that the lad is 20 and three years back in his development from Ben Cotton. Rob Hemmings produced a tidy spell too, in his first day in the field among the big boys and at the same age.

It was all so very encouraging. Whether they can finish the job off by taking the last nine wickets tomorrow is a moot point. By all accounts the wicket hasn't changed that much and there was as much careless batting as accurate, skilled bowling to blame for the visiting demise.

Yet first sessions at Derby, especially if there's a little cloud cover, can be a challenge. If Tony and Ben can get among them with early wickets - and importantly, we hold our catches - then a first championship win is a possibility.

Who knows, we might even see one of our young tyros start to make a name for themselves.

It keeps getting better for John Sadler and his young side are playing some terrific cricket.

Let's finish it off tomorrow lads.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Derbyshire v Worcestershire day 2

Derbyshire 319-3 (Godleman 157 not, Madsen 109, Broom 28 not)

v Worcestershire

Captains Fantastic combined for Derbyshire at the 3aaa County Ground today as they recovered from 13-2 in the fourth over after being put in, to a position of considerable strength. This was largely thanks to a superb partnership between Wayne Madsen and Billy Godleman (pictured), which added 251 runs for the third wicket.

After being inserted, on a wicket that offered early help after yesterday's rain, Hamish Rutherford and Chesney Hughes both went early, in a new look Derbyshire side that rested Shiv Thakor, Matt Critchley and Alex Hughes ahead of the T20 matches, while giving Ben Slater a middle order berth and championship debuts to Will Davis and Rob Hemmings, after good displays in the second team.

None were needed today, as Wayne's 21st county century and Billy's career-highest score set a new county record against the visitors for the third wicket. They are both very good players and key to our prospects going forward in this form of the game. While Billy was set back a little by the hand injury at the start of the campaign, he is right back to his best now .

Both offer a solidity we aren't used to of late in the batting order and it must have made for a delightful day's cricket for the Derby faithful. We now have four batsmen (those two plus Chesney and Shiv) averaging over fifty, which is encouraging.

So too was Neil Broom's smaller knock as the day came to a close. He's not had an easy baptism into the county game, but then the wickets take some getting used to and he's not the first to find that. We'll probably see more of him next year, but he has plenty of time left before September to make an impact.

In closing tonight, there was another interesting trialist in the seconds, who were playing Northamptonshire today.

Charlie MacDonnell played against us and made a century for Durham MCCU earlier this summer, one of several good innings he played for them after a prolific summer for Buckinghamshire last year. He's the latest to have trials at the club and hopefully we could see one of them in line for an opportunity next year. Certainly Jon Tattersall has made a decent fist of an extended trial.

MacDonnell's 84 today did him no harm and we just need Tom Wood to get the same opportunity now and see what he can do. It was also good to see Tom Knight batting higher in the order too and making runs - I hope that tomorrow sees him bowling a few overs and rediscovering the mojo that made him a very exciting all round talent.

More from me tomorrow - enjoy your evening!

Monday, 20 June 2016

Derbyshire v Worcestershire day 1

No play today - rain.

Can't find anything more to say tonight really.

We're going to have a good old-fashioned three-day game now. Declarations before the close, last afternoon run chases and all that.

Lots to like!

I'll be back tomorrow, hopefully with some cricket to report on.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Yorkshire v Derbyshire T20

Derbyshire 153-9 (Thakor 30, Neesham 29, Hughes (A) 23)

Yorkshire 67-3 in nine overs

Yorkshire won by one run (D/L)

Another defeat for Derbyshire, but another very good performance from a young team who made the home side work home for their eventual win. One run by Duckworth-Lewis; it was that close.

Three defeats in the T20 this year, but each has been within a hairsbreadth of victory. Last over at Northampton, last ball against Warwickshire, one run against Yorkshire. There will be ultimate disappointment, but no disgrace in losing so narrowly to such a strong side. If you look at that Yorkshire side, they would probably fancy their chances against most international teams.

In the continued absence of Wes Durston, we again struggled through the Powerplay, but there was a better look to this side. We had the extra bowler and it enabled Broom and Rutherford to open together - not successful tonight, but you want your better batsmen in early. It also allowed Shiv Thakor in at four, a sensible use of a batsman in prime form.

Shiv, Jimmy Neesham and Alex Hughes all played good hands down the order, although 153 was always going to be a struggle to defend. Losing the toss again was crucial, but the bowlers set about their task well.

Led, it has to be said, by Wayne Madsen. I had said pre-season that we didn't use his spin option enough and he's had more bowling this year. Three overs for 17 was a fine effort and included the wicket of David Willey.

Matt Critchley also bowled two fine overs for just 13 and the wicket of Lyth, while skipper Alex Hughes bowled just one over for three runs and effected a brilliant run out of Kane Williamson, to end a brief partnership where the second and fourth-ranked batsmen in world cricket were batting together.

At 67-3 from nine overs, Yorkshire were one run ahead and had their England men, Joe Root and Jonathan Bairstow together, with Ballance in at six. That's an all-international top order, but they far from had the game their own way.

Chris Grant sent out a tweet this afternoon, re-tweeting from the Yorkshire chairman Steve Denison that Dickie Bird had predicted Yorkshire 'knocking them off in 15 overs'. It came with the hashtag 'confidence'. I'd replace that with #arrogance, because they would have won, but nowhere near that easily. Win with grace, lose with dignity - that's always been my maxim and sadly not one that some teams adhere to.

In closing, it was good to see Azeem Rafiq back in cricket today. We had him on loan at Derbyshire two or three years back, but my understanding is that he 'lost it' for a while and had the dreaded 'yips'. Good to see a fine cricketer back, still young enough to make an impact on the game.

And as I am on an airport run to pick up my son tonight, there's just time to acknowledge an unchanged Derbyshire squad from that which played Sussex last time out, for the four-day game at Derby, starting tomorrow. That squad:

Billy Godleman
Chesney Hughes
Hamish Rutherford
Wayne Madsen
Neil Broom
Shiv Thakor
Matt Critchley
Tom Poynton
Tom Taylor
Tony Palladino
Ben Cotton
Will Davis

Worcestershire's squad sees Mark Fell return from his battle with testicular cancer and it is great to see the lad back in the game. I wish him well - though not TOO well!

Their squad:

Mitchell, D’Oliveira, Clarke, Fell, Kervezee, Kohler-Cadmore, Whiteley, Cox, Leach, Henry, Barnard, Shantry

Let's hope the encouraging form carries into the long format.

See you tomorrow.