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  • Derbyshire Challenge

    The Challenge

    With the introduction of the 100 there has emerged a new challenge for English counties. Not in the actual playing of the tournament but rather in coping with the effect it has on their squads and the one day Challenge Trophy.

    Over the years it has been a reasonably straight forward task to build a squad that can compete across all three competitions. Depending on the squad you kick off with you could concentrate on either first class or limited over matches and build a squad around your favoured format. A good first class team, for example, would hold perhaps eight out of your first choice one day and six or seven of your T20 teams. A few limited over specialists who reinforce the one day and T20 teams could be added while a couple of international signings would boost your T20 team where it was weakest. This would be much the same if you concentrated on any of the formats.

    From this season there is, for some reason, the 100. While a good first class team can still provide six or seven of your T20 players it will now probably provide no more than one, maybe two of your one day players because almost all players showing any serious aptitude in either of the limited overs formats gets hoovered up by the 100. If you concentrate on your T20 team then you will find yourself in the same boat, if not worse off.. It is not uncommon to find that you enter the Challenge Trophy with only just enough players to put out a OD team and are forced to field players who are is such poor form that you would never usually pick them or have all the LO aptitude of a camel.

    The outcome is a swelling of squad sizes, putting pressure on the budget, or encouraging a lack of interest in the OD competition.

    So the challenge is going to be taking the county with the lowest basic income and to see if it can be built into a side that can sustainably compete in all three formats.

    For this challenge step forward Derbyshire.

    With a basic income of 696,500 Derbyshire lags 37,000 behind the county with the next lowest basic income, Kent, and a whopping 305,500 less than Surrey who have a ridiculous 1,002,000 to play with. To put that into perspective the difference between coming last in the Championship and in each of the pools for for the limited overs tournaments as opposed to winning all three is 260,000 in prize money so even if we finished first in all tournaments and Surrey last we would still be 45,500 short of their spending power.

    The idea is not to see how long it takes to win a tournament or if I can take Derbyshire to treble immortality but if it is viable for a team with such a small basic income to be a competitive force in all three tournaments for a decent period of time.

    So what would you define as success?

    Personally I will be looking to be pushing for the top spot in the Championship and to finish no lower than third. So that means not battling with other mid-table sides to get to third but coming third because sightly better or luckier sides squeeze ahead.

    I would usually consider a limited-over semi final as a minimum for a true title-contending team. You can get to the quarters by the skin of your teeth but by the semi finals you usually have the four best teams. At this stage getting nudged out by a good performance on the other team is fine – it happens – but batting collapses or a good bowler conceding 1-60 in three overs is not and should be considered a failure rather than bad luck. I want to be winning at least one of the LO tournaments every year.

    Obviously winning every match in all formats every year is the goal but when is it not?

    The next thing to determine is how long is a sustained period at the top of the domestic completions? I will probably go for five seasons after winning the Championship and either the OD or T20 cup in the same year while reaching the semi final in the other limited overs competition.

  • #2
    The County

    First of all, I know nothing about the county side at all but the impression I have is that like the team I support, Glamorgan, they have in the recent past tended to dwell in the lower reaches of the domestic competitions with occasional bursts up the Championship or to a limited overs semi-final.

    One look at the past record kind of confirms this impression. 14th overall in the Championship six years ago is a long distant memory with finishes in the mid to lower D2 table the norm. Most of the OD and T20 finishes are around 7th in the pool though a T20 quarter-final three years ago and a semi last year bodes fairly well. A OD quarter back in ’14 is ancient history.

    So where to aim for in year one? I think that 3rd or 4th in D2 seems a good goal while to make it out of the group stage of the T20s would be a fair return. Goodness knows who I’ll still have for the OD tournament so I will take what I can get.


    • #3
      The Squad

      The initial squad is made up of 21 players, 19 domestic or Kolpak with one regular and one T20 international.

      I have sketch knowledge of the players so will have to assess the squad as-seen rather than knowing their history or the counties’ hopes for them. On first glance there seems to be some decent players in there and something to build on.


      Billy Godleman, 31
      Defensive Opener

      FC: 32.36
      OD: 43.37 @ 78.5
      T20: 24.69 @ 117.9

      As the other experienced opener I feel a little concerned. Without any bowling ability he looks like a stop-gap until I find a better opener. One redeeming point is that he hasn’t been picked up for the 100 and has a good OD average, even if his strike rate is on the ponderous side. To be fair to the player he does hold the county record for the highest opening partnership with Reece.

      Thomas Wood, 25
      Defensive opener

      FC: 9.4
      OD: 44 @ 107.3
      T20: 16.5 @ 106.8

      2nd XI: 34.5
      OD: 40.69
      T20: 24.80

      To be frank, if I saw this guy on the market I wouldn’t look twice. His impressive OD and T20 averages are from just a couple of games in each format so his 2nd XI averages are a more useful guide, and they point to a player who will be leaving the club in the not too distant future. The only other option to open in FC cricket.

      Luis du Plooy, 25
      Average Agression batsman

      FC: 46.81
      OF: 58.28 @ 88.5
      T20: 33.91 @ 115.00

      The star batsman of the team, prefers batting at four and so he shall. At just 25 and a Kolpak player he will be something to build around and much will depend on him in the FC and T20 games. Being a decent player he will, of course, be playing in the 100, for Cardiff so his great OD average is of no use to me at all unless we reach the semis.

      Wayne Madson, 36
      Average Aggression batsman

      FC: 39.10
      OD: 41.54 @ 89.9
      T20: 30.26 @ 132.8

      To still be playing county cricket at 17 years after your debut is a fine achievement. A certain in the FC and T20 teams but playing for Manchester in the 100. Has a two year contract left to run so will have to find a replacement over the next couple of seasons.

      Ben McDermott, 25
      Defensive batsman, OD & T20 opener, Occ. Wicket Keeper

      T20: 30.02 @ 128.4

      The T20 signing, another steady strike rate and seemingly untroubled by the national side so should be available for the whole tournament.

      Neil Priestley, 19
      Defensive batsman

      2nd XI – 67.44
      OD – 32.29 @ 70.6
      T20 – 22.65@ 108.7

      An impressive 3 day average but OD and T20 averages and strike rates are poor. Could be a fixture of the FC team for many years if he can carry that average into FC cricket. Quite where he should bat will be an issue with other, more experienced, defensive batsman already in the squad.


      • #4
        Wicket Keepers

        Brooke Guest, 22
        Average Aggression batsman

        FC: 9
        OD: 20.50 @ 78.8

        2nd XI: 23.88
        OD: 20.18 @ 101.9
        T20: 17.64 @ 154.1

        I can only assume that he is an awesome keeper because his averages are awful.

        Harvey Hosein, 23
        Defensive batsman

        FC: 30.94
        OD: 23.17 @ 106.9
        T20: n/a

        2nd XI T20: 27.13 @ 109.1

        Been playing FC cricket for six years and racked up 46 matches but only 13 OD and 5 T20s. Should I take the hint? A first class average of 30 will ensure that he isn’t picked as a specialist batsman. Will have to start.


        • #5

          Luis Reece, 29
          Defensive Opener, RM bowler

          FC: 33.28
          OD: 29.29 @ 88
          T20: 26.56 @ 128.1

          FC: 25.82 @ 3.12
          OD: 50.74 @ 6.17
          T20: 26.00 @ 7.80

          Not a bad player to find in the squad. His FC batting average is not much to shout about but allied to his bowling average he is a dead cert for the team. Which is just as well since there is only one other opener with any experience on offer. Steady T20 strike rate too. He will be playing for London Blue in the 100 but with OD averages like that the only loss is that there are few other options. Unless his FC batting average improves, which seems unlikely with 68 matches under his belt, I can not see him as a bolt-on for opening the batting but a bowling all-rounder option for a few years to come.

          Fynn Hudson-Prentice, 24
          Very Aggressive Batsman, RFM bowler

          FC: 23.67
          OD: 33.50 @ 95.7
          T20: 18.80 @ 111.9

          FC: 25.80 @ 3.31
          OD: n/a
          T20: 29.09 @ 8.65

          2nd XI: 41.16
          OD: 30.97 @ 122.31
          T20: 22.41 @ 172.90

          2nd XI: 33.84 @ 3.50
          OD: 26.61 @ 5.76
          T20: 28.69 @ 9.12

          FC bowling average is a little flattering but if he can improve his batting he could be a useful batting all-rounder. High strike rates in 2nd XI LO matches suggests that he could be a useful lower order smacker and with some improvement his LO bowing could be helpful too. A FC possible but a LO probable.

          Anuj Dal, 23
          Aggressive Batsman, RM bowler

          FC: 18.27
          OD: 36 @ 124.1
          T20: 13.43 @ 120.5

          FC: 20.11 @ 2.84
          OD: n/a
          T20: n/a

          2nd XI: 17.80
          OD: 15.71 @ 103.8
          T20: 9.41

          2nd XI: 44.66 @ 2.97
          OD: 57.25 @ 4.81
          T20: 38.15 @ 7.54

          If it was not for his FC average you would have to question why he is in any squad at all. Not in any sense an all-rounder but rather a RM bowler. Played 11 FC matches last year so that average is not built on the odd game when conditions suit but could be an indicator of his talents there. Even so his lack of adaptability in the LO formats don’t bode well for his long term prospects, especially with Reece in the team.

          Alex Hughes, 28
          Defensive batsman, RM bowler

          FC: 28.71
          OD: 23.67 @ 92.7
          T20: 15.98 @ 117.6

          FC: 49.57 @ 3.08
          OD: 44.14 @ 5.62
          T20: 34.06 @ 8.03

          A regular in the team for the last couple of years off the back of a good 2018 season but if I’m honest I can’t see that continuing. Must be considered and all-rounder because he’s put down so manufacturers overs but under what circumstances you would turn to a bowler with a strike rate of 96.4 I don’t know. As a comparison his 2018 season saw his bowling averaging 25.5 @ 2.93 in FC and 19.06 @ 8.10 in T20 cricket. Could he do it again?

          Mathew Critchley, 23
          Aggressive batsman, T20 opener, LS bowler

          FC: 28.06
          OD: 27.4 @ 103.4
          T20: 17.47 @ 122.7

          FC: 49.55 @ 4.29
          OD: 54.00 @ 6.56
          T20: 22.97 @ 7.81

          Unlike his FC and OD stats his T20 bowing average gives credence to the idea that he can bowl at all. He is, however, the best spinning option which could be an element in why the team struggles so badly. Will be featuring in the T20s with that bowling average though.

          Micheal McKiernan
          Average Aggresion batsman, LS bowler

          2nd XI: 33.29
          OD: 34.96 @ 81.30
          T20: 25.79 @ 129.3

          2nd XI: 40.37 @ 3.26
          OD: 39.67 @ 5.00
          T20: 36.66 @ 7.61

          A distinctly less than average batsman. I find it slightly offensive that he is classed as an all-rounder at all. I can, unfortunately, see him playing in the OD games.


          • #6

            Micheal Cohen, 21
            LF bower

            FC: 26.12 @ 3.99
            OD: 53.33 @ 5.00
            T20: 24.50 @ 6.68

            2nd XI: 23.48 @ 3.48
            OD: 27.46 @ 4.47
            T20: 17.23 @ 7.03

            A promising young left arm quick sir? Yes please! Good looking averages but expensive and will need to work on that. Could be a great player with a long future at the county, especially since he is a Kolpak player and can therefore be relied on to not get called up for internationals.

            Sean Abbot, 28
            RMF bowler

            FC: 34.16 @ 3.16
            OD: 24.88 @ 5.26
            T20: 21.37 @ 8.42

            The main overseas signing but I assume the OD and T20s were in mind while doing so because his FC averages are probably going to keep him out of the team. Expensive in the LO too but will most likely be playing a big part in both tournaments.

            Dustin Melton, 25
            RMF bowler

            2nd XI: 25.43 @ 3.06
            OD: 35.31 @ 4.54
            T20: 29.34 @ 7.08

            Another Kolpak from South Africa. Good three day average but will have to improve his LO strike rate to get into the side or to be kept on at all. Could be a good prospect.

            Ben Aitchison, 20
            RMF bowler

            2nd XI: 29.76 @ 3.07
            OD: 35.02 @ 4.71
            T20: 19.50 @ 7.56

            Reading the averages I thought “What is this guy doing here?” and then his T20 averages. That’s what he is doing in the team. I could see him becoming a T20 specialist but he would have to be good enough to offset his deficiencies in the other formats and be cheap enough to fit into a squad that could has little financial space for specialists.

            Tony Palladino, 36
            RFM bowler

            FC: 28.57 @ 2.91
            OD: 37.70 @ 5.37
            T20: 21.93 @ 7.52

            The old county pro. Good, solid averages in FC and T20 though could probably do with a more attacking bowling partner to make the best use of his control. The only obvious candidate to open the bowing attack.

            Ravi Rampul, 35
            RFM bowler

            FC: 29.78 @ 3.31
            OD: 24.68 @ 4.89
            T20: 21.54 @ 7.58

            Another Kolpak, this time from the West Indies. Great LO figures but will be lost to the 100 for the OD pool stage. FC figures are hardly astounding but brings experience, if not and great danger for batsmen.

            Samuel Conners, 20
            RFM bowler

            FC: 22.06 @ 3.05
            OD: 75.00 @ 6.52

            2nd XI: 28.02 @ 3.36
            OD: 29.58 @ 5.17
            T20: 19.82 @ 8.33

            A good start to his FC career though only played two matches. Could be useful in the OD pool stage and the T20 figures look good, if expensive. Will have to bring that down to make the team as we don’t have any big hitters to haul in high totals.

            Last edited by cde; 11-07-2020, 10:12 PM.


            • #7
              Planning for Contracts

              I’ll look at the potential teams for each format and from there decide what we need to be looking for when we spend our remaining 50,000 and then determine if there needs to be one format to focus on.


              B. Godleman ©
              L. Reece
              W. Madsen
              L. du Plooy
              N. Priestley
              H. Hosein (k)
              M. Critchley
              F. Hudson-Prentice
              M. Cohen
              T. Palladino
              R. Rampaul

              Most of the team picks itself through lack of competition. Critchley is there to bat, if nothing else and Hudson-Prentice is given a go even though I expect little from his bowling. The main bowlers will be Palladino and Cohen I front with Reece and Rampaul.

              The main deficit is in the spin department but Priestley and Hosein offer little aggressive intent and the lack of a more aggressive opener could see a lot of slow starts


              B. McDermott
              L. Reece
              W. Madsen
              L. du Plooy
              M. Critchley
              F. Hudson-Prentice
              H. Hosein
              S. Abbot
              M. Cohen
              T. Palladino
              R. Rampaul

              A good bowing attack with the option of five known performers and two up and coming. The batting falls apart after du Plooy to be honest and looking at the bowling options being saddled with Abbot is a pain. Another batsmen instead?


              B. Godleman
              T. Wood
              M. Critchley
              F. Hudson-Prentice
              A. Dal
              H. Hosein
              A. Hughes
              M. McKiernan
              S. Abbot
              M. Cohen
              T. Palladino

              This is where it gets difficult and the team is essentially made up of least-worst options. There is a long way to go before the team can be really competitive in this format.

              Out of the three formats the team did well in the T20 last year and so that should be a priority since the extra income is very much needed. Another batsman is needed for the format. A reserve should be signed with this mind too but a spinner would be very welcome. Hopefully Abbot picks up an injury and we can have a more useful overseas signing. A more aggressive batsman would also be welcome.

              So the hope is to sign a youth player, either an aggressive batsman or spinner (even better an all-rounder), another T20 batsman and an overseas spinner, preferably an all-rounder, as a reserve.


              • #8

                There is barely a spinner to be had. There is, however, an aggressive opener with a sky-high three day average, his OD is ok but his T20 could be better. He wants 25,500 and gets offered 25,00

                Looking for an international T20 signing the only decent looking batsman willing to take what I can pay is Afghani batsman Noor Ali Zadran, he also gets offered 25,000.
                Lastly we go for Sri Lankan opener and OS Sheehan Jayasuriya as our reserve overseas player.

                All three eventually accept.

                Sheehan Jayasuriya, 28
                LH Very Aggresibe batsman, OS

                FC: 41.81
                OD: 36.42 @ 88.80
                T20: 24.03 @ 125.9

                FC: 25.92 @ 3.38
                OD: 31.66 @ 4.54
                T20: 24.94 @ 7.30

                The sort of player required, rather than Abbot. Not so hot in the ODs but having him open and bowl could make a huge difference to the team. If only.

                Nope Ali Zadran, 31
                RH Aggressive batsman

                T20: 34.00 @ 114.2

                A pedestrian pace but better than some of my other options and was willing to accept the low wages.

                Justin Gow, 20
                LH aggressive opener

                2nd XI: 80.03 @ 68.6
                OD: 42.52 @ 97.6
                T20: 26.86 @ 150.8

                That three day average was the big draw. Being able to biff even just 21 at that sort of strike rate in T20s can also be useful. Will be coming in at three to pick up the pace and gain some experience before moving up to open in FC cricket. In OD will probably open from this season and in T20s could be best placed at 6 where some quick runs could win a match.

                Only the signing of Gow changes the line-ups considerably, Shifting Madsen to 5 in FC cricket and pushing out Critchley. This takes away any spin option but given how poor Critchley is in FC cricket I’m not really sure when I would choose to turn to him anyway.


                • #9
                  We start off the Season with six FC matches and first up is Leicestershire.
                  Derbyshire v Lancashire, County Cricket Ground

                  Godleman, Reece, Gow, du Plooy, Madsen, Priestly, Hosein, Hudson-Prentice, Cohen, Palladino, Rampaul

                  J. Malay, H. Azar. C. Ackermann, M. Cosgrove, N. Welch, P. Horton, l. Hill, A. Lilley, G. Griffthis, D. Kliein, W.Davies

                  Derbyshire 511 and 20-0

                  Leicestershire 302 and 228

                  Derbyshire win by 10 wickets

                  We won the toss and batted first. Godleman went quickly but Reece (72) and Gow (99) put up a 181 run partnership and laying the groundwork for du Plooy (124) and Madsen (90) to build a good total. The lower order tried to pile on runs but only lacking match time struggled to run away.

                  Malan smashes us about for 102 off just 124 balls but we chewed through the upper order. Griffthis and Kliein put on some quick runs but they couldn’t avoid the follow-on.

                  Steady progress was made through the wickets with the most resistance put up by Horton, Hill (59) and Lilley but we need just a handful of runs to wrap up the win.

                  Great start to the season, the top order doing exactly what is wanted when batting first. The inability to accelerate may be an issue in other matches but not in this. Good enough display from the bowlers though some batsmen were able to give us a good beating with seemingly little effort.


                  • #10
                    Middlesex v Derbyshire, Lords

                    S. Robson, N. Gubbins, S. Eskinazi, P. Handscomb, M. Holden, J. Simpson, D. Lincoln, J. Harris, T. Rolland-Jones, T. Murtagh, M. Cummins

                    Godleman, Reece, Gow, du Plooy, Madsen, Priestly, Hosein, Hudson-Prentice, Cohen, Palladino, Rampaul

                    Derbyshire 515 & 146-5

                    Middlesex 385 & 123-2


                    The pitch is flat with a little spin and neither team has a spinner good enough to win them the match so a draw is the most likely outcome. I consider swapping H-P and Critchley but it doesn’t seem worth it.

                    We win the toss and bat first, building a decent score. Madsen makes it to a century this time and Priestley falls in the 90s.

                    We make some inroads into the batting but Handscomb hits a century to put the brakes on our progress and they avoid the follow on.

                    We build a good total but err too far on the side of caution and set a too high target for the remaining overs. We can not force the wickets and the match limps to a draw.


                    • #11
                      Nottinghamshire v Derbyshire, Trent Bridge

                      B. Duckett, C. Nash, B. Slater, J. Clarke. S. Patel, T. Moore’s, S. Mullaney, S. Broad, L. Fletcher, J. Ball, M. Abbas

                      B. Godleman, L. Reece, J. Gow, L. du Plooy, W. Madsen, N. Priestley, H. Hosein, F. Hudson-Prentice, M. Cohen, T. Palladino, D. Melton

                      Nottinghamshire 555-8 dec

                      Glamorgan 583-6


                      Rampaul picks up an injury so Melton comes into the team. He will not be thankful that his FC debut was on such a dead pitch.

                      Notts won the toss and batted first, Duckett (173) and Nash (198) piling on 353 runs for the first wicket. We keep the rest below 50 with Gow taking 3-95 with his part time SLA.

                      After seeing our bowlers ground down we reply in kind and while they make some inroads Gow hits a big 269 and Madsen a 188 to put the brakes on and bat out the match comfortably.

                      A dull match but at least their bowlers took as big a hit to their form as mine.


                      • #12
                        Derbyshire v Durham, County Cricket Ground

                        B. Godleman, L. Reece, J. Gow, L. du Plooy, W. Madsen, N. Priestley, H. Hosein, F. Hudson-Prentice, M. Cohen, T. Palladino, D. Melton

                        C. Bancroft, A. Lees, N. Eckersley, D. Bedingham, M. Jones, F. Behardien, S. Steel, B. Raine, M. Wood, C. Rushworth, m. Salisbury

                        Derbyshire 239 & 321-3 dec

                        Durham 296 & 179

                        Derbyshire win by 85 runs

                        We won the toss and looked forward to another big batting performance but Wood’s 5-73 reduces us to 239 with only du Plooy passing 50. In reply Durham build some good partnership with Eckersley (99), Bedingham and Jones at their heart to pull 57 runs ahead with the best part of two days left to play.

                        In reply Godleman hits an unbeaten 150 with 70s for du Plooy and Madsen as we pull ourselves ahead and set Durham 265 to win in two sessions but with the pitch offering plenty of bounce. Eckersley hits another good 50 but Cohen takes 4-67 as we bowl them for 179 and our second win of the season.

                        A really good showing and very satisfying to come from behind to win. It should be noted that Gow took another couple of wickets.


                        • #13
                          You’ve made a good start with the squad you have. First season is always a struggle with lesser counties


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Jamesy1984 View Post
                            You’ve made a good start with the squad you have. First season is always a struggle with lesser counties
                            Thanks! Probably all down hill from here... ????


                            • #15
                              Glamorgan v Derbyshire, Sofia Gardens

                              N. Selman, C. Hemphrey, M. Labuschange, C. Brown, K. Carlson, B. Root, C. Cooke, A. Salter, B. Cotton, T. van der Gugten, M. Hogan

                              B. Godleman, L. Reece, J. Gow, L. du Plooy, W. Madsen, N. Priestley, H. Hosein, F. Hudson-Prentice, M. Cohen, T. Palladino, D. Melton

                              Derbyshire 352 & 245-4 dec

                              Glamorgan 271 & 195-8

                              Match drawn

                              We lose the toss and are asked to bat first with the morning and evening sessions overcast. Like or previous two matches on the road the pitch is flat with some bounce, making it difficult to force a win with no specialist spinner.

                              They get some early wickets but another century from Madsen (115) and 40s for du Plooy and Priestley help take us to a good total. The only bowler to really trouble is is van der Gugten who takes 6-89 off 37 overs. Selman, Brown and Cooke put up 50s but we bowl them without too much trouble and set about building a target.

                              Van der Gugten and Salter stop us running away with it but we give them 327 to win in two and a half sessions. It feels like it might be too high again but Labuschange will surely fire second time around. They start off the chase but what we need is a spinner to take advantage of the conditions. The key moments come just before and after lunch. In his first over, just before the break, du Plooy drops Labuschange off Reece. Then in his next over, after lunch, Hosein drops a chance from Selman, again off Reece. While the runs the acquire after their reprieves do not change the result Selman in particular takes some time to dislodge once they go defensive. The match ends with us needing two more wickets.

                              At the start I would have been pleased enough with taking wickets on a pitch so unhelpful to our bowlers, and a specialist spinner would have probably won us the match, however if we had taken those two chances another win could have been chalked up. I also, perhaps, declared with too much on the board for the time left in the match.

                              As to why there is still no Critchley or McKiernan in the team despite the need for a spinner the answer is that they have both been averaging in the high 30s in the 2nd XI while part time spinner Gow is averaging 26.29 in FC. While his economy is a sky high 4.45 Critchley’s is hardly much lower.

                              This is an obvious gaping hole in the team sheet.