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The day dawns

Steve Dolman
FEATURED WRITER
Feature
24 Sep 2013, 14:02 IST
Boyd Rankin made it to the England Ashes squad

Boyd Rankin made it to the England Ashes squad

Scheduled day off for old Peakfan today and tempted as I was to make the six hundred mile round trip for day one, family obligations dictate otherwise. Still, at least I can keep a closer eye on things than in the working environment.

It is apparently grey and overcast at Derby today. The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, as described by the great John Keats, is upon us and it’s hard to imagine anything else at this time of year.

Back to first-class matters and I was pleased to see two Derbyshire alumni in the Ashes squad. I’m not convinced that Boyd Rankin is a better bowler than Graham Onions, to be honest, but cricket thinking seems to be going the way of football. Better to have a lesser bowler bringing it down from the height of a modest mountain than a good one skidding it through. I appreciate the rationale is to make things more complex on bouncy, Australian pitches, but such thinking flies in the face of success by bowlers of more subtle stature like Dale Steyn, Malcolm Marshall and Harold Larwood, to name but three.

Rankin is an improved bowler, beyond doubt, to the erratic tyro who ensured that wicket-keepers were kept on their toes in his time at Derbyshire. I hope he gets selected though, because as the county that gave him his start in the game, we will then get money from the ECB accordingly.

The same goes for Ballance, who I think is a terrific player. I have every confidence that he will play the international game for years to come and will be a huge asset to the England side. He has looked a player of class for several seasons, but has now married the art of looking good to the unquestionable skill of making that count.

Around the county circuit, there’s been more bad news for Leicestershire, where the old saying ‘it never rains but it pours’ is shortly to become ‘it never rains but there’s a perpetual monsoon’. Stalwart Claude Henderson is gone, Matthew Hoggard is also going, while Josh Cobb and Ned Eckersley have both been fined by the club after being arrested by police on a drunken night out.

I think it is sad when players of unquestionable talent endanger their careers by failing to realise they are seen as role models by young supporters. As such, their conduct has to be, if not squeaky clean, at least showing more than a modicum of common sense. I accept they are young lads (though not, at 23 and 24, that young) but they should know better.

Eckersley has had a fine season, with over 1200 first-class runs at an average of 53. The jury is still out on whether he will continue with his wicket-keeping or become a specialist batsman, but the news that he is considering a career elsewhere is interesting. I’m sure that he won’t lack suitors and the lad can play, beyond doubt. Hey, we need another wicket-keeper.

Cobb can play too, another who appears set to move in the winter, which probably leaves Elsie, the tea lady, in their first-team squad. In one-day cricket, he is a dangerous customer with the bat and bowls handy leg-spin, but he strikes me as their version of Dan Redfern. Talented, mercurial beyond doubt, and a player who looks brilliant on his day, but who sometime soon has to start realising the obvious potential. For all his talent, Cobb has averaged 14 in the championship this summer and in over a hundred first-class knocks averages just 23 – six less than Redfern. Maybe a move would be the making of him, but he will need to get his head down and work at it, for sure.

Anyway, half an hour to the start and ‘Dad’s taxi’ is set for its second trip of the day. See you later folks, hopefully with good news.

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