Friday, 9 July 2021

Durham v Derbyshire T20

Durham 176-9 (Thomson 3-23)

Derbyshire 180-4 (du Plooy 47, Guest 34*, Critchley 33*, Wood 32)

Derbyshire won by six wickets

That was a good effort tonight by Derbyshire.

It was our highest winning run chase against Durham and the first time ever we have won a match off the final ball batting second (stat courtesy of David Griffin).

It came with a professional performance, the kind that frustrates a little. We KNOW the team has that in them, but too often this year they have lapsed into mediocrity.

I was impressed by how they dragged the home side back from a flying start, mainly thanks to an excellent spell from Alex Thomson, who mixed his pace and flight to get good figures. The skipper again bowled well and so too did FHP, but there were too many wayward and poor balls from the other seamers for comfort. Good catches were held though, which made the difference in the end.

The early loss of Luis Reece was a blow and when Came went after a couple of fine shots, Tom Wood and Leus du Plooy put on a record third wicket stand against Durham of 68 runs. They ran well and found the boundary regularly enough for us to be up with the required rate at half way.

When they both went in quick succession I was not overly confident, a state of mind that continued until the third last over. But Matt Critchley accumulated well and together with Brooke Guest brought the winning total down. 

A huge six over mid wicket by Guest was a game-changer, as the four overs of Potts went for 50. Eight were needed off the last, from the wily Ben Raine and it went to the last ball, when, with one required, Guest pulled him behind square for the winning four. 

Critchley and Guest showed no little skill and a lot of common sense in their stand of 64 from the last six overs. It was a fine captain's effort and another example of why Guest is a player who has emerged from this competition with his reputation enhanced. 

Well done guys. It doesn't change anything, but it shows what can be done when common sense and skill are harnessed together. 

Friday, 28 May 2021

Worcestershire v Derbyshire day 1

Worcestershire 336-7 (Haynes 97, D'Oliveira 71, Cox 49, Barnard 48* Conners 2-56)

v Derbyshire

Sam Conners took a wicket with the first ball of the innings for Derbyshire today, but after the first hour it was a day of graft for the bowlers in what became good batting conditions.

Conners bowled well in his first spell and should have had three wickets, but Leus du Plooy put down two catches at first slip, neither especially difficult and Fell and Libby survived, at least briefly.

A fine throw from Matt Critchley ran out Libby, who looked in good touch, but the only wicket in the afternoon was that of Ross Whiteley, who batted in unaccustomed dogged style before going at one that cut across him from Melton and being well caught at second slip by Madsen.

That was it for a long time as Haynes survived a sketchy start and a tough low chance to Guest to make his highest first-class score. He will be kicking himself all night after slapping an awful long hop from Critchley to deep square leg, where Melton held on to a really good catch. A century was three nudges away.. 

D'Oliveira also looked in little trouble before playing a shot from the Schoolboy Book of Slogging and hitting it straight up in the air. Thereafter Cox and Barnard hit merrily and it suggested the wicket now holds few alarms. It was a surprise when Cox nicked one to Guest in the day's final over, but fair reward for Aitchison, who kept line and length well all day.

It wasn't a great day for Matt Critchley, whose early spell was erratic, nor for Dustin Melton besides his catch. Both will have better days but the seven bowlers used all grafted on a lovely sunny day.

Meanwhile at Belper, there was a morale-boosting win for the Seconds against a strong Lancashire side in a T20 match.

Bowling first, they had the visitors out for 96, with Mattie McKiernan returning the excellent figures of 4-0-7-2 and Australian trialist Bailey Wightman 4-0-10-4.

The chase wasn't easy against a side featuring  Gleeson, Hartley, Hurt, Balderson and Blatherwick, but McKiernan made 45 from 29 balls as Derbyshire won with time to spare and six wickets in hand.

It stakes a T20 claim for McKiernan, who might well offer additional variety for Dominic Cork in the very near future.

We should see Ben McDermott bat tomorrow.

Let's hope it is worth the wait. 

Thursday, 27 May 2021

Worcestershire v Derbyshire day 1

Worcestershire 336-7 (Haynes 97, D'Oliveira 71, Cox 49, Barnard 48* Conners 2-56)

v Derbyshire

Sam Conners took a wicket with the first ball of the innings for Derbyshire today, but after the first hour it was a day of graft for the bowlers in what became good batting conditions.

Conners bowled well in his first spell and should have had three wickets, but Leus du Plooy put down two catches at first slip, neither especially difficult and Fell and Libby survived, at least briefly.

A fine throw from Matt Critchley ran out Libby, who looked in good touch, but the only wicket in the afternoon was that of Ross Whiteley, who batted in unaccustomed dogged style before going at one that cut across him from Melton and being well caught at second slip by Madsen.

That was it for a long time as Haynes survived a sketchy start and a tough low chance to Guest to make his highest first-class score. He will be kicking himself all night after slapping an awful long hop from Critchley to deep square leg, where Melton held on to a really good catch. A century was three nudges away.. 

D'Oliveira also looked in little trouble before playing a shot from the Schoolboy Book of Slogging and hitting it straight up in the air. Thereafter Cox and Barnard hit merrily and it suggested the wicket now holds few alarms. It was a surprise when Cox nicked one to Guest in the day's final over, but fair reward for Aitchison, who kept line and length well all day.

It wasn't a great day for Matt Critchley, whose early spell was erratic, nor for Dustin Melton besides his catch. Both will have better days but the seven bowlers used all grafted on a lovely sunny day.

Meanwhile at Belper, there was a morale-boosting win for the Seconds against a strong Lancashire side in a T20 match.

Bowling first, they had the visitors out for 96, with Mattie McKiernan returning the excellent figures of 4-0-7-2 and Australian trialist Bailey Wightman 4-0-10-4.

The chase wasn't easy against a side featuring  Gleeson, Hartley, Hurt, Balderson and Blatherwick, but McKiernan made 45 from 29 balls as Derbyshire won with time to spare and six wickets in hand.

It stakes a T20 claim for McKiernan, who might well offer additional variety for Dominic Cork in the very near future.

We should see Ben McDermott bat tomorrow.

Let's hope it is worth the wait. 

Friday, 14 May 2021

Essex v Derbyshire day 2

Essex 412-3 (Lawrence 152*, Westley 106, Browne 59, Cook 58, Stanlake 2-91)

Derbyshire 35-3

Derbyshire trail by 377 runs

It was all very underwhelming from Derbyshire in the field today, as they were hammered to all parts by Essex.

Equally underwhelming was the first sight of Billy Stanlake. Call me old-fashioned, but I like my overseas professionals to know their run ups by that stage of their career. I fully appreciate that at 6'8 your strides are lengthy. I also acknowledge he hasn't played in England before, but he looked undercooked this morning.

As one former professional messaged me at one point, he will need to sort his length pretty quickly, as few balls endangered the stumps. By extension, two modes of dismissal are ruled out for him, which may be fine in T20, but amply illustrated his lack of four-day experience.

The wayward start seemed to disillusion the side and the body language wasn't great. It doesn't take away from some sparkling home batting, in which Lawrence shone, but there was too much poor bowling with no one exempt.

The only control was at the start of the first changes by Melton and Hudson - Prentice, but Essex were away by then. Two wickets for Stanlake in the early afternoon hinted at better, but the carnage started when Lawrence and Westley came together in a fine stand of 221.

Essex batted like it was an RLODC game, but it was all too different when our turn came. Opening with spinners Harmer and Lawrence because of the light, they quickly removed the Derbyshire openers and looked to be bowling on a different wicket. When du Plooy, badly out of touch at present, soon followed, we were in big trouble. 

It was all too depressing to watch and promises to be a tough weekend. 

Friday, 12 March 2021

Sponsors sought

Less than a month until the cricket season starts (less if you count friendly matches) and I hope your excitement is building by the day, as mine is.

With the signing of Billy Stanlake I am quite enthused. The batting should take care of itself, but the pace of Stanlake, Cohen and Melton, the potential of Aitchison, Conners and Potts and a raft of all round talent makes our bowling an intriguing and potentially potent mix. So good, in fact that I couldn't name a first choice eleven right now, always a good sign!

To matters in hand and I am keen to secure a few sponsors for the blog for the coming summer. There is a vacancy for a company (or individual) to sponsor the entire blog and have their logo as a click through in both the header and the side bar, while fairly inexpensive line adverts are also available. These can be for six or twelve-month periods and are a good way to promote your business and support the blog at the same time.

I am also happy to write a feature on your business and publicise through social media.

Do please get in touch by email peakfan36@yahoo.uk or by sending me a direct message on Twitter, where I can be found @Peakfanblog.

Thank you in advance for your interest!

Thursday, 24 September 2020

Dean Jones

The desperately sad news today of the death of former Derbyshire overseas player and captain, Dean Jones, has cast a shadow over the world of cricket. 

'The Professor' was a thinker, analyst and commentator on the game which he graced for many years. He was one of the finest Australian middle-order batsmen and even now would likely get into an all-time one-day side from that country. 

His time at Derbyshire was short, but memorable. 

The dressing room of the mid-1990s was full of talent, yet a strong-willed and disparate bunch of players often seemed to lack direction. The atmosphere could change as frequently as the wind direction, but one had the feeling that if someone could galvanise this group of players they could do something special.

There had been a number of blunt-speaking players in our legendary team of the 1930s, of course, but Arthur Richardson had overcome any personal shortcomings as a player to lead the side with considerable skill to top three positions in 1934 and 1935 before taking the title in 1936. Something similar looked feasible in 1995, but a dressing room that was all too easily fragmented needed a strong leader.

Enter Dean Jones for the 1996 season, as close to the stereotypical Australian as you could wish for. Hard as nails, blunt and with a never-say-die attitude that was just what the doctor ordered. With the benefit of hindsight it was never going to last, but it was, without doubt, magnificent while it did.

Jones was a fixture in a fine Australian side and came with the reputation as being perhaps the best one-day batsman in the world, a title for which only Michael Bevan could challenge him. By the end of the 1996 season, 'Deano' had confirmed himself as an outstanding player, but proven it across all formats. He had also, despite a brusque, often confrontational persona, managed to turn a side of talented individuals into a team that came tantalisingly close to championship success.

Jones scored 1502 championship runs at 52 that summer, but he inspired Chris Adams to over 1700 runs, while Kim Barnett contributed 1400. Adrian Rollins passed a thousand too, while Karl Krikken averaged 40 from almost 900 runs down the order. Individually and collectively, there have been few seasons when Derbyshire have batted better. Jones added a further 1151 runs at 68 in the one-day games. 2653 runs in a summer led firmly by example, which was the Deano way. 

Having addressed Derbyshire's perennial weaker suit, an attack featuring Devon Malcolm, Dominic Cork and Phil de Freitas was always likely to win games. Jones set bold fields, encouraged and cajoled his charges and finished the season with a side that managed second place behind Leicestershire. With his friend and coach from Victoria, Les Stillman, Jones became an instant hero. Younger players loved him, older ones, for a season at least, tolerated and responded to his way of working. 

As a batsman he had all the shots, strong on anything short, unforgiving on the overpitched ball. His footwork was quick and precise, with perhaps his strongest area between mid-wicket and mid-on. A strong bottom hand, like MS Dhoni today, often saw any bowling shortcomings treated savagely in that area. 

 Yet it was his running between the wickets that seemed an even stronger suit and so impressed me. When he was batting, ones became twos, twos became threes... Derbyshire looked professional, challenging....good. We took quick singles, where previously batsmen might have held the pose of a correct defensive stroke. It was magnificent to watch.

Like Peter Kirsten before him, Jones played himself in and worked the ball around before unveiling a wide array of shots. He was not a stylist, like Mohammad Azharuddin, but generally looked to be balanced, composed and in control at the crease. In over forty years of cricket watching, he remains the best pacer of a run chase I have seen, never seeming to panic if the run rate mounted. He worked the ball around, timed his shots so there were two to a boundary fielder, chipped over the infield and clubbed it to and over the boundary . He would have made a fortune in the IPL, so it is ironic that his death, from a heart attack, came while employed as a commentator on that competition. 

The 'season of Deano' was magnificent yet, like all good things, it could not last. He returned for 1997 but went home in June, the dressing room once again split into factions. Senior members of the side found his abrasive style of leadership hard to deal with and a player with a track record of fall-outs back home decided he simply didn't need the hassle. His departure set off a chain of events that arguably took fifteen years from which to recover, ensuing winters seeing the gradual departure of key members of a very good side.

Whatever his personal foibles - and we all have them - cricket history will see Dean Jones as an outstanding player. His many fine Test innings, including the legendary one at Madras where he ended up on a saline drip after eight hours in the intense heat, confirm he was much more than a one-day scamperer. While he was batting, irrespective of the match situation, you always felt there was a chance of salvaging something. That is a rare and special gift for any player.

His commentary career was not without controversy but he came through it and was respected as an honest and thoughtful analyst and commentator on the game that he graced for many years. 

Rest in Peace, Deano. 

You will always be a legend in Derbyshire. 

Friday, 20 July 2012

England’s missing turn


England has made this series into a battle of the quick bowlers – but in doing so they risk negating their home advantage.

It may seem rather odd to criticise England after an excellent opening day. But England may have already made one crucial mistake this Test match: not playing two spinners.
Perhaps England’s management, normally possessing such enviable equilibrium of temperament, was simply unable to ignore the hype about this series being a battle of pace. Perhaps the two Andys simply didn’t conceive of a strategy that few in the media had so much had contemplated. Yet if England do beat South Africa in this Test series, they will owe virtually nothing to home advantage.
Undeniably, England possess a coterie of quicks that, cumulatively, cover it all: devilish late swing, express pace, ferocious bouncers, canny reverse swing and, above all, sheer relentlessness. But, despite what an underwhelming first day may have revealed, so do South Africa. This series should be a salivating shoot-out of the quicks, the sort of which Test cricket lovers have been denied since the retirement of the great pace-bowling pairs – Donald-Pollock; Wasim-Waqar; and Ambrose-Walsh – in the late 1990s.
But home advantage isn’t meant to be about providing the best possible spectacle. It should be about providing the home side with the greatest chance of winning – something England’s strategy may not have done.
In any analysis of the two sides, there are legitimate debates about the superiority in batting and fast bowling. But there is no comparable debate where spin bowling is concerned. For all the intoxicating excitement of watching Imran Tahir’s variety, no South African would choose him over Graeme Swann. Indeed, it is most questionable whether they would choose him over Monty Panesar.
Boldness is seldom a quality associated with the England hierarchy, but now would have been the perfect time for it. With the first Test at The Oval, England had an opportunity to genuinely surprise South Africa. For all the hype about a pace war, there was nothing stopping the management from pressing for a pitch a la The Oval in 2009, when Graeme Swann’s eight-wicket haul underpinned England’s reclaiming of the Ashes. It may in fact prove that this wicket is not too dissimilar – in which case Panesar would have been a perfect selection.
True audacity would have resulted in Panesar replacing Ravi Bopara in this side, allowing England to field three quicks and two spinners. Given that there is a strong argument that England’s two top spinners are both the Test match superior of Tahir, and his replacement, Robin Petersen, has not played a Test in over four years, it would have been the best way of giving England a genuine home advantage.
On his recall in the UAE last winter, Panesar showed he is a high-class Test match performer, taking two five-wicket hauls against Pakistan. Given the manner in which Andrew Strauss preferred him to Swann against Pakistan’s right-handers, Panesar may have been a potent weapon against South Africa’s powerful trio of right-handers – Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis and AB De Villiers – in the middle order.
If England are unable to force a win in the opening Test – and indeed even if they do – they may reflect that they missed an opportunity to give South Africa’s batsmen a challenge they genuinely would not have been expecting. But if the series is one-all before the final Test at Lord’s, perhaps then it will be Monty’s turn.