Although I’ve blogged about cricket previously, I’ve not really blogged massively about Derbyshire County Cricket Club, my team. The main reason for this is because of the excellent blog that already exists, Peakfan’s Blog by Steve Dolman. However, today I feel a ‘Falcon’s Blog’ is the order of the day.
At the start of the season, there was high hopes about Derbyshire’s chances. Last years short comings, the batting department, had been addressed with the signings of Neil Broom and Hamish Rutherford and, although the departure of Mark Footitt left a big gap in the bowling, the emergence of several quality pace bowlers and the signing of Andy Carter meant supporters were confident of a decent season.
At the start of August the team hadn’t won a game in the 4-day game, had been knocked out of the T20 competition and, barring a bit of a miracle, were going to be knocked out of the 50-over competition today too.
So what’s gone wrong? Well, in many ways there has been good progress. The T20 game saw the team get off to a flier. Injury to Wes Durston saw Alex Hughes skipper several of the early games to great success. Eventually a couple of one run defeats made the difference as, although having one of their better seasons in the format, the team fell two point short of a quarter-final place.
In the 4-day game, the issue has been an inability to bowl teams out twice. Andy Carter failed to make the expected impact, to the extent his two-year contract was cancelled in July and he moved to Hampshire. Tom Taylor, an excellent prospect, struggled with form before picking up a season-ending injury. Tony Palladino has been his usual steady self but, at 33, his best days are now probably behind him. Will Davis has looked a good prospect and Shiv Thakor enjoyed a stellar start to the season but generally bowling teams out twice has been an issue. Despite this, the batting has shown improvement although the returns from Broom and Rutherford have been disappointing. Chesney Hughes has made huge strides this season, Ben Slater has made three 1-day centuries and Billy Godleman and Wayne Madsen have been their usual run-machine selves.
Add to this the departure of Head Coach, Graeme Welch and things add up to a team that has not had a great year.
So how do things improve next season? Well recruitment is required. This year, Rutherford was signed as the overseas pro, but his returns – and the lack of wickets taken by the bowling unit – indicate that a strike bowler might be the preferred option. Finding one of course, is a different matter. Take out Rutherford and the batting still looks good. Ben Slater and Billy G are a good opening pair, then with Chesney Hughes, Neil Broom and Wayne Madsen you have a good 3,4 and 5, whatever order they play in. Another wicket-keeper, and one who can contribute with the bat, is a must. After Tom Poynton’s retirement we are left with 19 year-old Harvey Hosein -a fine prospect – but it is unfair to expect him to play every game of every format. Steve Davies from Surrey would be a great addition but finances would be a sticky issue there for sure.
Finally, a new head coach is required. John Sadler has taken over for the rest of the season and done well, however is he the best long-term choice? I don’t know and there are certainly better qualified people than me who will make that call. With Chris Grant, club chairman, at the helm, I am sure the future looks good. It might, though, take a bit longer than all us Falcon fans hoped.