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Weekend County update - Billy Godleman and Ryan Sidebottom in focus

Steve Dolman
730   //    09 Mar 2013, 20:28 IST
Billy Godleman

Billy Godleman

If his interview with Billy Godleman is Tom Holdcroft’s parting gesture to Derbyshire County Cricket Club, he has done a very good job.

Tom left for pastures new recently and it is appropriate to thank him for an outstanding job in the club marketing team. His tasks were many and varied, but he did them all with a smile on his face and with the utmost professionalism. While club publicity rightly focuses on Chris Grant and Simon Storey off the field, it should not be forgotten that the likes of Crofty, Nathan Fearn and Jake Needham do a very good job in the marketing department, as the winning of awards over the last few seasons has amply illustrated.

I’m sure that we will see him down the County Ground again, but for now he goes with a big vote of thanks for his excellent efforts.

That interview with Godleman shows why the talented batsman chose Derbyshire and it is telling that his relationship with David Houghton was important. The Derbyshire batting coach wants him to play more like he did when he was 18, relaxing more at the crease and being unafraid to play his shots. It is obvious that he is seen as a key component of the one-day, as well as four-day sides and I have a feeling that the County Ground could be the making of the lad.

To a great extent he has ‘snuck in’ under the radar this winter, most of the publicity having rightly been garnered by the legend that is Chanderpaul. Yet if he can form a solid opening pairing with, presumably, Wayne Madsen, it will go some way towards helping us to become established in the top tier.

For a middle order batsman there’s a big difference in coming in to bat with a few runs on the board and shine gone from the ball. If we’re going to make the runs required to force wins this summer, the lead given at the top of the order will play a major role.

Don’t be surprised to see a batsman of obvious talent score runs this summer as it progresses. Like all of you, I will watch his progress with considerable interest.

Elsewhere, Yorkshire have said that Ryan Sidebottom is likely to be rested from 40-over cricket this summer, which is an eminently sensible move. Given that this is the last summer of the competition in its current form, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few counties use it for development purposes if they lose a few early games – and that includes Derbyshire.

Of course we will take it seriously and a trophy is a trophy, but the competition also offers an opportunity to blood young players such as Peter Burgoyne, Alex Hughes and Tom Knight among others, all of who may not necessarily be seen as part of a first choice championship side at this stage. However, exposing them to a good level of senior cricket, especially away from the manic nature of T20, is part of their continued development. So too is ensuring that bowlers who are key to four-day success aren’t overworked.

Burgoyne and Knight, in particular, could find themselves in the T20 side, especially given the proven strategy of slow bowlers being more difficult to get away. That side, in my opinion, will be less experimental, as attracting sizeable crowds will be important for the club this summer, something you can only realistically expect to do by fielding your strongest team.

The club’s forums with regard to the proposed new structure have now finished and would seem to have been a success. I just hope that those who attended listened to the rationale behind the proposals and then voted in support. News of the result of this vote is the first key result of the summer for me. A vote in favour allows the very able people in charge the mandate to move us forward.

Without that support, I will have very strong reservations about the viability of our medium to long term future.

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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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