Thursday, 3 September 2015

Surrey v Derbyshire day 3

Derbyshire 313

Surrey 560 (Durston 6-113)

After a closely-fought first two days, Surrey stormed away with the third and left Derbyshire with a lot to do on the fourth to avoid a defeat that would seal their opponents a promotion spot and put them in poll position for the title.

To be fair, after a spirited batting effort they deserve it. In batting as long as they did, their intention will have been to ensure against batting again, though they must hope for a full day today and a limp second innings effort from us.

Work commitments stopped me following too much of today's play, but as Creweblade points out below yesterday's post, we would have been in big trouble without Wes Durston's marathon effort that produced career-best figures. Both Ben Cotton and Tony Palladino bowled with commendable accuracy, but Mark Footitt had a rare ineffective day and both Matt Critchley and Tom Milnes proved expensive.

Such is the game. It will be a battle tomorrow and the batsmen must be ready for a day of fielders all around the bat. A draw would be a good achievement and in its own way a marker of the fighting spirit in the side. There is nothing to play for but pride, but I hope that the spirit is strong.

I bet there's a few red rose fans rooting for us tomorrow...

In closing tonight, I omitted to mention earlier in the week that it was nice to see Mohammad Azharuddin back at Derby for the filming of the biopic of his life.

After considered thought, I can recall no Derbyshire batsman who made batting look so effortless, so easy, so joyful. Especially in his first season, Azha watching was a joy and he was a quite stunning player to watch.

There were times that he played the ball so late you thought it was through, but a late turn of the wrists speared the ball to the mid-wicket boundary. He moved little at the crease until he needed to, but when he did it was with purpose and footwork that a Strictly Come Dancing professional would have been proud of.

It was a privilege to watch him.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Surrey v Derbyshire day 2

Derbyshire 313

Surrey 227-5 

There's a good old game going on at The Kia Oval with both teams very much in it.

The Derbyshire tail wagged and took us to respectability, thanks to good efforts primarily by Messrs Palladino and Critchley. Chesney missed out on his ton, but did a fine job for the side and Wayne Madsen will have been quietly content on leading his side out to field.

Surrey's reply was very similar, with Burns making 92, four runs less than Chesney, and the rest making double figures in a solid effort. Much more rests on the game for them than us, of course, but wounded pride is a powerful force and I hope that we acquit ourselves equally well over the last two days of the game as we have in the first two.

It was good to see Matt Critchley getting a longer bowl today and the wicket of Steve Davies. Leg spin is the most difficult of spinning arts but the youngster has a bright future ahead of him with bat and ball. At times he will be expensive, but there will be others when he will learn to take full advantage of helpful conditions and bowl sides out.

More from me tomorrow.

Thanks for your continued support!

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Surrey v Derbyshire day 1

Derbyshire 209-5 (Hughes 85 not, Godleman 45, Slater 42) v Surrey

This was a typical end of season game, in that we started late and finished early.

In between, Derbyshire started quite well and had our near typical stumble in the middle and towards the end. Billy Godleman 'failed' and 'only' made 45, but the start that he and Ben Slater gave suggested that we might make more than we had by the close.

That the spinner, Ansari, took four wickets on the first day suggested that Messrs Durston and Critchley may enjoy a bowl later in the game, but we would have been in a lot more trouble had it not been for a severe case of dropsy affecting our hosts as Chesney Hughes played one of his more restrained innings.

It has again been a funny old season for Chesney, with one or two innings suggesting that he has turned the corner, before a handful doing completely the opposite. That he has talent a-plenty is undeniable, but next year is a big one for him and he will need to show that he can produce the goods more often than has thus far been the case.

He did well today, though and we are very much in the game at this stage. Tail end support is needed to push the score beyond 300, but we could just as easily fold for under 250...such is the lot of a Derbyshire supporter, the knowledge that it could very easily go either way.

Tomorrow will tell, but for now, let's reflect on a decent day and hope that we hold the edges a little better than our opponents.

More from me tomorrow.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Surrey v Derbyshire preview

My apologies for the lack of blogging this past weekend, but a combination of work and a need to get stuff organised for our imminent holidays meant I had very little spare time to comment.

Truth be told, there wasn't much to report. T20 Finals Day - or what I saw of it around work - was a disappointment, with a slow pitch hardly conducive to quick scoring or big hitting. Given that is a major part of it for supporters, the good crowd will have had limited fun, unless they came from Lancashire, of course.

Fair play to them for winning the whole shebang, but it shows that we just need to improve the fractions, the percentages, to compete more. We beat them at the 3aaa County Ground with some ease and with shrewd additions over the winter it is not unrealistic to think we could do better next year. I think the bowlers are already in place, although a second overseas player who can turn his arm over, or a Kolpak, would be useful. The nucleus is there, though and with another ten per cent we might escape the group stages next year for the first time since Gandhi was a lad...

Tomorrow sees us play a return fixture against Surrey, the opponents on what was our worst display of the summer - indeed, many a summer - earlier this year. It was the only time I have left a day's play ahead of the scheduled close and our lads had 'gone' way before they batted that day. This is a chance to make amends and I hope that the players remember the hurt after that game at Derby.

Fresh from his second team heroics, Tom Milnes is named in the squad and deserves to make his debut, ahead of what I expect to be a move to us in the close season. He replaces the injured Alex Hughes, still struggling after the blow on the hand against Kent and deserves a chance to show what he can do at county level. I suspect he will do rather well, judging by his figures for Warwickshire in the top tier.

The Derbyshire squad:

Billy Godleman
Ben Slater
Chesney Hughes
Wayne Madsen
Wes Durston
Shiv Thakor
Harvey Hosein
Matthew Critchley
Tony Palladino
Tom Milnes
Mark Footitt
 Ben Cotton

I expect the final place to be between Ben Cotton and Milnes, but have no more idea than the rest of you on the fitness of the others. It is a decent mix of youth and experience and there will be some nice sub-plots in the game. Can Billy Godleman get four successive centuries? Can Harvey Hosein replicate last year's feats? Can several young players reinforce the positive impressions of the summer, while Mark Footitt uses the opportunity of a game in the Big Smoke, aka where the journalists are, to  stake a winter tour claim?

I hope the answer is yes to all of them, but our hosts welcome back Kumar Sangakkara in a strong side that is pushing Lancashire all the way for the title. With them promoted, next year should be a pretty even division two, whoever comes down. Their squad:

Gareth Batty (capt)
Zafar Ansari
James Burke
Rory Burns
Sam Curran
Tom Curran
Steven Davies
Jade Dernbach
Ben Foakes
Arun Harinath
Kumar Sangakkara
Gary Wilson

It will be a fascinating game and I hope that we acquit ourselves well against a determined side with talented players.

More from me tomorrow. In closing, just a heads up that the Peakfan family will be on their annual holidays from the coming Sunday, for ten days in the delights of Spain. While I will blog briefly in that time, when time and wi-fi availability fall into alignment, it will be as and when.

I will be back in time for our last game of the summer and should be down to see most of the Leicestershire game. It would be great to see old friends at that one, before autumn and winter fall upon us once more.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Second XI are cup winners!

Terrific win by the Second Eleven at Durham tonight, as they took the One-Day Trophy by ten runs over their hosts.

It was a well-deserved win for them, who had gone through the tournament unbeaten and contained a good mixture of youth and experience in the side. 69 from Chesney Hughes, 45 from Ben Slater and 41 from Wes Durston were the top scores, but Tom Knight's 32 and Matt Critchley's sensible 18 at the end saw us to a challenging score of 247-8 in 50 overs.

Durham's side also included players of considerable first-class experience but Phil Mustard struggled to get the ball away before being leg before to Critchley and when Tom Taylor removed the dangerous Calum Macleod for 41, the writing was on the wall.

There were late wickets and common sense bowling from Tom Milnes, who finished with 3-43 and the trophy will be heading back to the 3aaa County Ground.

Some will doubtless say 'it's only a second team' but the talent in that side leaves grounds for optimism, especially with a very young attack.

I would not be at all surprised to see Milnes engaged for next summer, as the lad has done little wrong since joining from Warwickshire on loan. Indeed, 22 wickets in seven innings confirms that he has done an awful lot right and the lad's record suggests that he might be worth a punt.

His limited opportunity at Edgbaston has left him with a batting average of 28 and, with a best bowling performance of 7-39, there's no concerns that the lad can bowl. Yes, we need experience in our side for next year, but at 22 Milnes may well be worth a contract.

That's for others to decide, but for now, enjoy the taste of success...I hope it is just an aperitif for the youngsters in that side.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Good luck to the seconds

I am sure you will all join me in wishing the Second Eleven the best of luck in their one-day final against Durham tomorrow.

They have played some fine cricket this summer and the icing on the cake would be a win in the final, on the ground of their opponents.

While the under 17s quest for silverware ended up short at the weekend against a strong Surrey side, the seconds could go all the way.

Bring home the trophy lads!

We're all rooting for you.

Edwin Smith launch a great success

It was a memorable night for both Edwin Smith and old Peakfan last night, as my new book on Edwin's career was launched at Chesterfield Library in front of a fine audience.

Several of Edwin's former team mates were in attendance, as was Derbyshire captain, Wayne Madsen, who happily chatted and posed for photographs as the books were sold and signed.

Edwin was in fine form and entertained the audience with stories from his career, then took questions from the audience.

Thank you to everyone who came along for making it a special evening and please get in touch if you would like to buy.

The book is now available on Ebay - simply search under 'Edwin Smith'.

Photo shows: back row - David Millner, Peter Eyre, John Eyre, Wayne Madsen
Front - Peakfan, Edwin Smith, Brian Jackson

There's the basis of a good little team there, but I don't fancy my chances of either opening the batting or taking the new ball...

Thanks to all at Derbyshire County Libraries for making the evening one to treasure.

Photograph courtesy of Derbyshire County Libraries

Adieu to David Wainwright

It is always sad when a county favourite is released, although there was an inevitability about that of David Wainwright, which was announced today.

He had been a peripheral figure this season, struggling to recover from a pre-season injury which ultimately caused form to be elusive. His last appearance, which even at the time appeared a farewell, was against the Australians and his batting was, as ever, dogged.

The truth is that David always was a battler, a 'nuggety cricketer', as I have heard him described. There was a touch of the Fred Swarbrooks about the way in which he got his head down and tried to save a losing cause, but the harsh reality was that he perhaps didn't score the runs that his talent deserved.

As for his bowling, he never recaptured the form of that golden summer of 2012, when he won us matches, shut an end up as required and, crucially, gave balance to the side. He lost the control of that summer and seemed less able to bowl the maidens that are so useful to a captain whose seamers are going around the park.

More importantly, he didn't take wickets when he was expected to do so. At Southport, in favourable conditions, he was outbowled by Matt Critchley and then struggled to take wickets in second team cricket.

It was all very sad and inevitable. We seem set to go with Tom Knight and Critchley next summer, both of who crucially have time on their side but a lot of learning to do.

David Wainwright will doubtless score runs and take wickets in club cricket for many years to come, while supporters will remember his contribution to that title of 2012 and the 'magic ball' in last year's RLODC that set him off on something approximating a lap of honour of the County Ground.

He was a good cricketer and always gave of his best.

You can't ask for more.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Still tickets left for the Edwin Smith book launch

There are still tickets available for the launch of my book on Edwin Smith, which takes place at Chesterfield Library tomorrow evening (Tuesday) at 7.30pm.

It will be an opportunity to recognise the wonderful contribution made at all levels of cricket in Derbyshire by Edwin. As well as 1214 first-class wickets, he took thousands more in league cricket across the north of England and was also county coach for three seasons.

He is engaging company and good fun, something that I hope is reflected in the book, which contains many stories never previously in print about a range of Derbyshire cricket characters.

Containing the thoughts of many of Edwin's contemporaries in Derbyshire sides, as well as such luminaries as Geoffrey Boycott and David Steele, the book costs £14 and will be available on the night. Afterwards, signed copies can be obtained from me by using the contact details that you will find on the left hand side of this blog.

Unsigned copies can be obtained by calling the Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians on 01323 460174.

I look forward to seeing you tomorrow, when I will interview Edwin on his career, before we take questions from the audience and then sign copies of the book.

My thanks go to Derbyshire County Libraries for hosting the event. Call Chesterfield Library on 01629 533400 to reserve your ticket for the evening. They cost £3 (£2 concession)

Derbyshire v Kent day 4

Derbyshire 253 and 234-3

Kent 159 and 231-5 

Match drawn

My comment regarding the weather being the deciding factor turned out to be quite propitious today, when an absorbing day's cricket that ebbed and flowed throughout was ended by the rain at tea.

It came bang on cue, as given by the forecasters, yet stopped a game that could have gone either way in its tracks. When Rob Key and Sam Northeast were going well, Kent clawed back the ascendancy that had gone to us with two early wickets, but Tony Palladino's removal of the former slowed their progress.

Ben Harmison looked sketchy to start but had got into his stride before tea with three successive boundaries before he got too confident against Chesney Hughes' spin and edged to Wayne Madsen at slip. It was the last action before tea and, coming soon after Mark Footitt had induced an edge from an assayed hook by Northeast, saw Derbyshire go into the interval the more confident side.

Five down was effectively six, with Billings unable to bat, so with 98 needed to win and two new batsmen at the crease, the Derbyshire attack will have come out after tea for one final assault on the tail. With Alex Hughes off the pitch after a crack on the hand yesterday, along with Shiv Thakor, still hors de combat after his first day blow to the head, we were two bowlers light and the burden on the rest was considerable.

They did extremely well. Ben Cotton and Palladino ran in hard, but star turn was once again Mark Footitt, whose pace never dropped from the first over to his last and who bowled 24 overs in the innings. It was a top effort by the paceman and all three will sleep well tonight.

Given better weather, it is a game we would have won easily and the team can be pleased with a good effort over the four days.

Especially Billy Godleman.

That will live long in his memory.