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Derbyshire: A view towards the new season

Steve Dolman
650   //    22 Mar 2013, 20:45 IST
Usman Khawaja and Ross Whiteley of Derbyshire celebrate victory and the title during the LV County Championship match between Derbyshire and Hampshire at The County Ground on September 14, 2012 in Derby, England.

Usman Khawaja and Ross Whiteley of Derbyshire celebrate victory and the title during the LV County Championship match between Derbyshire and Hampshire at The County Ground on September 14, 2012 in Derby, England.

With England releasing their three Warwickshire players for some championship action before the start of the summer’s hectic international schedule, Derbyshire will face Chris Woakes in the season opener at Edgbaston.

Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott won’t play in that fixture though, doubtlessly giving them an excuse when we go there and whoop them…

I’ve thought long and hard about the realistic ambitions for Derbyshire this summer, and I predict a decent, solid championship campaign. As I see it, the only thing that can derail us is a spate of injuries, which would expose an inexperienced second tier to the requirements of the senior squad.

Yet, there is talent. Outwith an expected first-choice squad, we have batsmen like Chesney Hughes, Paul Borrington and Ben Slater. We have Alex Hughes and Peter Burgoyne as young all-rounders, Tom Knight as a specialist spinner, and Matt Higginbottom and Ali Evans as seamers. Division one may be a tougher place for these young players to make their names, but they are indicative of the quality of young talent in the club, largely home produced.

It is some considerable time since one could look at a Derbyshire side and expect our opponents to worry what player X might do to them, but there are plenty of ‘player Xs’ in this side. Any of our top six can take a game away from opponents in differing styles; David Wainwright could bowl as well as any spinner in the country; Palladino and Groenewald will be a match for most openers on the circuit. I don’t think that many people within cricket will look at a trip to Derby as easy win points this summer. Nor will they take it for granted that a couple of early wickets will expose a fragile underbelly and long tail as in previous years.

In a couple of weeks I will present my pre-season preview, but I look at the division we’re in and see teams that we are eminently capable of beating. Perhaps beating the likes of Nottinghamshire, Warwickshire and Somerset might, at this stage, need a concerted team effort, allied to our opponents having an off day, but it could happen. Third bottom would do me fine, but I think this set of players is capable of much more than that.

Further afield and it is encouraging to see the BBC getting behind county cricket with live commentaries on all  county championship, Yorkshire Bank 40 and T20 matches. It is excellent news for those who perforce need to follow the team from afar for much of the time and my only hope is that the commentators concerned do the job to the requisite standard.

I stopped listening to the Radio Derby commentaries when they were on because the quality was, to be honest, not especially high. Jocularity and fun is an established part of cricket commentary, as Test Match Special has shown for many years, but it has never been to the detriment and the expense of the action. On too many occasions wickets were being missed through inane chitchat about favourite bands and songs. Such things are fine at the right time, perhaps filling in breaks in play, yet when you hear a commentator say ‘Oh…someone’s out…I’m not sure what happened…’ it is frustrating, to say the least.

If Charles Collins is Radio Derby’s commentator of choice for our coverage, I hope he drops his attempts to become a ‘personality’ with such bon mots as ‘Thanks mother for the onions’ and sticks to telling us what is happening on the field of play. That is really all there is to it…

Personalities develop given time and familiarity with an individual’s work.  Familiarity only happens when one enjoys that work and goes back for more.

Here’s hoping that Radio Derby do a very good team and club proud.

Enjoy your weekend. I’ll be back at some point during it with a book review and the latest ‘From Distant Lands to Derbyshire’,

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Steve Dolman
I work in retail and have been published in the Derbyshire Cricket Yearbook, as well as having a book in print on a different subject.
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