Derbyshire prove T20 cricket is not beyond them
Well, I was wrong and am happy to admit so. Derbyshire showed last night that they CAN play T20. The trick now is for them to replicate that committed display on a regular basis. It is a long time since I saw such a uniformly disciplined display by a Derbyshire side in the field and for that, both the players and coaching staff deserve credit. We looked a decent side last night with the reappearance of five senior, experienced cricketers, each of who played a part in the team success. You cannot undervalue such experience at this level of the game.
That's not to say that I advocate a return to the old days when we gave a last pay day to a range of old lags from the county circuit. If everyone is fit, we have a nice blend of experience and youth, but for the latter to flourish, they need a strong environment to do so. This summer we have been hit with an astonishing amount of injuries and it has left the senior team with an uncomfortably youthful look.
There are times in games when such youth needs and looks to experience to guide them through troubled waters. Look at our 'classic' players, like Chris Adams, John Morris and Kim Barnett - all emerged through a side where their occasional indiscretions at the crease were covered by experienced players and they were able to learn from them.
Amla and Dilshan's masterclass T20 batting
I am sure they all watched last night how Hashim Amla and Tillakaratne Dilshan rotated the strike and kept the score moving without resorting to overly-flamboyant swipes and slogs. At times the running might have enjoyed better communication, but they took ten an over in the power play, almost without breaking sweat.
While not matching his feats on the world stage while he was with us, it was a joy to watch Amla last night. His timing was a thing of beauty and he had so much time to play his shots. Not since the halcyon days of Wright and Kirsten has there been such a pairing and the only disappointment was that it it ended when it did.
Dilshan is a fine player. He mixes pace, line and length, the occasional ball gets more of a 'tweak' and he is a canny bowler, especially in the early overs. When Rimmington returns we have solid experience at that crucial time, though both Ben Cotton and Shiv Thakor continue to impress.
A possible tweak
Perhaps most rewarding last night was hearing the commentary team's comments on us. It was no longer patronising, but there was respect for the improved facilities, the use of young players, the recruitment of big names AND the performance. Special mention to Dominic Cork who remains supportive of what is going on at the club and still looks fit enough to bowl four overs himself. He has become a very good commentator, one with the rare gift of adding to the picture, rather than waffling away and detracting from the viewing experience.
I can see us winning more games, but then I can see us losing some. Every team does, but there is one 'tweak' I would like to see in our batting.
I expect Dilshan and Wes Durston to open from here, with Chesney (if what looked like a back issue allows it) at three. If we lose early wickets, for me it makes sense for Billy Godleman to go in next and anchor the innings, at least until Wayne Madsen returns. Someone needs to do that in T20 and the best sides in the format have a player who bats through. Of course, if a more flamboyant bat gets going it is fine and dandy, but Godleman can score quick enough and also prevent us sliding to 60-5, which we seem to do.