In the time that it took me to drive from my parents house to Scotch Corner today, Derbyshire were blown away by a Durham side that look like deserved champions. They have a fine seam attack – the best in the country by some distance – a solid batting line-up and a fine fielding side. They don’t have an overseas player either, so good luck to them in showing other counties how it can be done.
Yes, it was disappointing to be bowled out so quickly, but I feared the worst when I saw how Tony Palladino was taking wickets in the morning. Onions in particular looked set to be a handful and so it transpired. If he isn’t on the plane to Australia it will be a major error, as he is a bowler of the very highest class and simply ripped through our inexperienced batting line-up.
It was a return to the fallibility of early season, but at least with mitigating factors. It also clearly illustrated that our recent form, laudable and impressive as it has been, has papered over some cracks in a side that needs an overhaul before next summer. Perhaps the players were aware of events at Taunton, where the home side’s impending win was making our situation increasingly parlous.
It is patently obvious that we need another batsman of experience in the side, at either five or six. The Wes Durston of last season was ideal for the role, but he has some work to do over the winter months to restore technique and confidence. Other personnel may be required too, depending on departures over the coming weeks and months, but supporters need to be realistic.
A cursory glance at the Forum since my return has seen a sadly typical knee-jerk reaction. I can understand frustration, but to suggest, for example, that there was no investment in the squad last winter is so incorrect as to be laughable. Between new players and improved contracts, over £200K went on to the playing budget, but top players cost around £100K, with no guarantee of success – isn’t that right Surrey?
Of course we need to strengthen, but until we know where we will be playing, it is a guessing game as to how. Most clubs have yet to announce their retained lists, but with finances tight, there will be players of the right quality and price on the market. Fans should remember, however, that the club could lose sponsorship, membership or marketing income if we are relegated and will perforce need to cut their cloth accordingly. Equally, any strengthening will need to be done carefully, so as not to block off the route to a senior role of one of our better young players. The signing of David Wainwright, for example, won us promotion last year, but has done little for the career progression of Tom Knight.
There’s time for all that at season-end. We’re sixteen points behind Somerset now, so need something special from our last game against Warwickshire, while Nottinghamshire do us a favour (please). Cue a result pitch at Derby…
It will be tough though. A result pitch will probably see three batting points the summit of our ambitions (or two runs short of it, if I turn cynical for a moment) and a win therefore bringing us a maximum of 22 points were we to manage it.
Can Nottinghamshire keep Somerset six bonus points or less? Three for bowling, under 300 when they bat? Can we beat Warwickshire? All will be revealed this week. Meantime I must change the music in the car. Believe by Cher, You Sexy Thing (I believe in miracles…) by Hot Chocolate…maybe Always Look on the Bright Side of Life by the Pythons.
Its a long shot, but it is still a chance, going into the last game. Keep behind them and let’s save the rest until the fat lady has had a last little warble.Published 15 Sep 2013, 02:38 IST