Innovative Derbyshire show how to mix it with the big-hitters
DERBYSHIRE have struck another blow for the have-nots of the county game by showing that money isn’t the be-all and endall – even in the mega-bucks world of modern T20 cricket.
That’s the view of Kim Barnett, the county’s director of cricket, who struck an upbeat tone despite the county crashing out of the Blast at the quarter-final stage at home on Tuesday night.
John Wright’s side fell foul of a 43-ball exhibition of brutality from Shahid Afridi, who laid waste to the Derbyshire attack in an innings of 101, the fastest century in this season’s competition. That set up a score of 249 for the visitors – a total Derbyshire never looked like overhauling. They eventually fell 101 runs short to miss out on a first ever Finals Day.
That defeat, though, can’t take away from what has been an otherwise successful campaign for a county that upset the odds
by finishing second in qualifying from the North Group on route to just a second quarter-final in domestic T20 cricket.
That represents a huge amount of progress under the county’s new leadership regime.
Little wonder that Barnett, although disappointed at their exit, saw more reasons to be cheerful than mournful.
“I think we’ve shown what can be done with the right approach, something Northants showed last season, too,” he told TCP.
“Up to the quarter-final point, we had beaten Yorkshire twice, once at Headingley, which is no mean feat. We’ve got to be positive about the fact that we got there but it is disappointing that we didn’t use that home advantage in the last eight.
“It’s a learning curve and something we can take into the final part of the season and beyond. We’ve always known where we stand in the county game. Even when we were regularly reaching finals in the Eighties and Nineties, we knew where we were because of the finances available to us.
“This season, I think, has shown that everybody can beat everybody else and that has made it interesting for everyone.”
Glamorgan backed that up on Wednesday night by breezing into the last four at Leicestershire’s expense after their blistering form in qualifying.
Derbyshire, meanwhile, stood out with an innovative approach that saw Wright brought in as their specialist T20 coach, with the likes of Dominic Cork working alongside him with the short format bowling attack.
Both appointments inspired the perennial under-achievers in the Blast until ‘Boom Boom’ Afridi ruined the party. And Barnett sees their retention as the key to future progress.
“We know where we are at the moment. We’re quarter-finalists and to take that extra step we’ve got to improve that little bit more,” he added.
“I think if we can keep the same personnel then that gives you that consistency to take you to the next level. That’s something I’ll be focusing on over the winter.
“We want to be able to build on what has happened this year.”
Top recruitment: Kim Barnett
Specialist: Dominic Cork