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County Cricket: Derbyshire v Kent preview

While it is early days in his tenure, I have to say that I like what I have seen of Graeme Welch.The results haven't matched the work and organisation thus far, but that will come. Especially when he carries through his promises to players to force the...

Graeme Welch, with Ian Bell

Graeme Welch, with Ian Bell (File Photo)

While it is early days in his tenure, I have to say that I like what I have seen of Graeme Welch.

The results haven’t matched the work and organisation thus far, but that will come. Especially when he carries through his promises to players to force their way into the side with performances in second team and league cricket.

That’s what has happened. So we find Paul Borrington, Scott Elstone and Alex Hughes replacing Billy Godleman, Wes Durston and Chesney Hughes for the game against Kent that starts on Sunday. All of them are deserved promotions, with strong performances for their club sides reinforcing excellent displays in the second team. While Elstone started on the staff at Trent Bridge, the others have come through the Derbyshire Academy and will allay the unnecessary concerns of some that their claims have been overlooked.

It is nonsense, of course. As I wrote earlier in the week, Welch rightly went with greater experience to start the campaign but that didn’t work in the matches so far. He may well revert to the personnel concerned at some point, but now is the time for the young guns to be given the opportunity that they deserve.

For Paul Borrington, it is another chance to show he has the ability to score runs at top level. In the final year of his contract, this is a big year for a player who has a sound technique and, as another player told me recently, definitely the mental toughness to succeed.

Opening batsmen have a tough gig. They go in to face big strapping bowlers when they are fresh and armed with a new ball, sometimes for just a few overs at the end of a day when it is crucial to avoid dismissal. Two summers ago I wrote of the importance of Borrington’s disciplined efforts to the promotion campaign and it is much easier for the middle order to come in to face a ball that is thirty overs old to a new one. Borrington’s self-discipline is capable of enabling that to happen.

Scott Elstone makes his championship debut. A month short of his 24th birthday, he needs a run in the side to show if undoubted talent can be translated to the county stage. A compact, stylish batsman, he scores quickly when well-set and offers an off-spin option and brilliant fielding in a natural swap for Wes Durston. Should he get going, the Derby faithful will enjoy watching an exciting player.

As for Alex Hughes, he looked a player of talent in flashes last season and a summer on looks to have progressed as a fluent batsman and seam bowler who is underestimated at your peril. I like and admire his commitment to the cause and am confident that he will become a stalwart of the Derbyshire side in the years ahead.

Gareth Cross makes his debut for the county too and will be a reassuring presence at number seven. I’m delighted to see Tom Taylor in the twelve-man squad, but would be surprised if he made the final side and feel he is there for the experience at this stage. Taylor has produced some excellent bowling this summer and looks a rich talent, though only a green track on Sunday will see us go with a five man seam attack. I expect David Wainwright to play, especially since the absence of Wes and Ches leaves us with only a debutant and Chanderpaul or Madsen  for spin.

The Derbyshire squad: Borrington, Moore, Madsen, Chanderpaul, Elstone, Hughes, Cross, Wainwright, Palladino, Groenewald, Footitt, Taylor.

As for Kent, they have announced the following twelve:

Rob Key, Sam Northeast,  Daniel Bell-Drummond,  Brendan Nash, Ben Harmison,  Darren Stevens, Sam Billings, Adam Ball,  Adam Riley, Mitch Claydon, Doug Bollinger, Matt Hunn

They are an enigmatic side, where runs are either a feast or famine. We need a little more in the wicket for the bowlers than there was in the Hampshire game and if that transpires have the attack to cause them problems.

Like all Derbyshire fans though, the greater concern is in the batting. Should some of the four new faces in the top seven fire, it will go a long way towards ensuring an improved performance.

Good enough to earn us a first win? With rain showers predicted for the first three days, I suspect this one will end in a draw.

But I hope I’m wrong.

Published with permission from Steve Dolman.

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