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Weekend warmer: Martin Guptill icing on cake of very strong Derbyshire side

Steve Dolman
1.41K   //    07 Feb 2015, 04:48 IST
Martin Guptill of New Zealand bats during the One Day International match between New Zealand and Pakistan at McLean Park on February 3

So memberships at Derbyshire are up on the same time last year...the Gup Factor seems to be having quite an impact. While it is easy to pin the credit for this on our overseas batting star, I think the reality is that supporters realise that he will be the icing on the cake of what appears increasingly likely to be a very strong Derbyshire side.

You know why? Because I don't think anyone, hand on heart, could call a first-choice side for this summer right now. There are quite a few unknowns - will Jon Clare be fit, will Tom Knight's bowling have come on, will the young seamers come through - but they are all positives.

When was the last time that we had four seam-bowling all rounders, like Thakor, Hughes, White and Clare? Or two very good wicket-keepers, as in Poynton and Hosein? Or the quantity of seam bowling that we enjoy? Who will partner Martin Guptill? Who will get the nod in the middle order - and equally, be unlucky to miss out?

The depth and talent in the squad is impressive and the transformation in a few months quite remarkable. Wind back to early/mid summer last season and there were moans when Tim Groenewald left the club and results were hardly going our way.

Welch unafraid to make the big calls

Not any more. The emergence of Tom Taylor, Ben Cotton and Greg Cork would not have happened had Graeme Welch not made the brave decision to let Groenewald, a worthy player and good club man, leave the club, ultimately for Somerset. It may not have seemed so at the time, but it may well turn out to be a defining moment.

It showed that Welch is unafraid to make the big calls and, as was shown by subsequent events, he was absolutely right in that decision. He will doubtless be decisive in his selections this summer and he will ensure that this squad is perhaps better prepared than any in our history.

Of course, what matters is how it translates on the pitch. The pre-season tour will be important for staking a claim to an early season place, but by crikey they're going to have to play well to keep them this year.

All of which suggests that if you haven't got a ticket yet, you would be well advised to do so sometime soon.

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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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