When the 2014 season ended with more positives than it had started, there was so much hope for Derbyshire. Sure, they hadn’t quite lived up to the hope that was there when they spent some time in the first division but since relegation there had been progress. Changes had been made throughout the club, they were attracting international names and Derbyshire had every right to consider themselves ready for another shot at promotion.
How wrong they were. Far from promotion contenders, the side managed just three wins in the season and is back in the position to which they are arguably most used – hovering near the bottom of the table. It’s incredibly disappointing for the county that had such high hopes; particularly considering three of the matches could’ve had a better result.
It isn’t just the long version of the game, either. Derbyshire expected to improve in the Natwest Blast, one area that was awful in 2014, and at the very least equal the impressive performance they gave in the previous season’s Royal London One-Day Cup. They did neither of these things either.
It’s probably fair to say that Derbyshire’s T20 Blast performances were better than the results suggest, but the results are what count. The Falcons finished bottom, again, hold the worst T20 record of all the counties and are one of just two sides to never reach Finals day.
In the first ever RLODC, Derbyshire reached the quarter-finals only to be downed by their old foes at Trent Bridge. Nevertheless, it was a good showing for the side; they were finally being considered as serious opponents. Reaching the same stage in 2015, perhaps even progressing further, was a realistic goal. It didn’t happen.
They finished third from bottom, although it was in the competition that we saw their best cricket. You could say they were unlucky against Yorkshire but if seeing Gloucestershire, whom they also came very close to beating, win the title, gave them some comfort it was not comfort well deserved. That match was lost due to a misunderstanding over the rules, or possibly a blunder, but either way it was an embarrassingly amateur display.
So what went wrong in 2015? Why did Derbyshire seemingly go backwards after so much promise? In the past couple of years, they have had influential and experienced overseas players, but this year none of them really stayed long enough to do the same. Consistency was a big issue. Players seemed unable to capitalize on the positives from one game and use them in the next. There were a handful of matches that may have had better results in the LVCC, but then performances against the division’s top sides were simply awful.
Finally, it’s a fairly youthful squad, which may have had an impact, and the departures of players like David Wainwright, Jonathan Clare and Wayne White have only made it look more inexperienced. There’s nothing wrong with a largely young side supported by one or two with experience, especially if those youngsters have promise. The problem is, that eventually that promise has to become more than just promise. We can only hope that next season shows a vast improvement, because no one involved wants to see another season like this one.
LVCC: Eighth in Division Two
RLODC: Seventh in Group A
Natwest T20 Blast: Ninth in North Group
Leading LVCC run-scorer: Billy Godleman (1069 runs)
Leading LVCC wicket-taker: Mark Footitt (76 wickets)
Win % (all competitions): 28
Player of the Season
Although perhaps showing some of the inconsistencies that have plagued many of the Derbyshire players this season, Mark Footitt continues his place at the forefront of the Falcons’ pace bowling attack. His work ethic is admirable and the evidence is in the 76 wickets he took in the LVCC this season. Having declined to extend his contract, which ends at the end of next season, it remains to be seen what Footitt’s future will be.
With a fairly long playing career behind him at the age of 26, including several years of varying success with Derbyshire, this season Billy Godleman seems to have matured and become a major Derbyshire player. He stood in as captain while Madsen was injured, showing good leadership qualities; he passed 1000 runs in the Championship and made his first One-day century. He is exactly what the Falcons need to see more of.
Could’ve done better
How do you choose just one player? The whole side is dispirited and seems mentally exhausted. Wayne Madsen, generally a fantastic leader, showed fewer of his great leadership moments than usual this year; Wes Durston was excellent both as captain and player in the shorter formats, but his four day efforts left a lot to be desired and Chesney Hughes had his usual explosive moments but they were fewer and further between.
With the possible exception of Billy Godleman and Mark Footitt, everyone could’ve done better. Specifically, it’s time the young players with a season or two of experience started living up to the promise we’ve been hearing about.
Need to work on
Consistency is the word. There were pockets of positives to be found in this side, particularly in the shorter formats, but they need to be capitalised upon. Individual players gave inconsistent performances, which meant the team was unable to follow one win with another.
Before the final LVCC game, against Leicestershire at Derby, captain Wayne Madsen called for a “complete performance” from his team. That is exactly what has been missing throughout the season – complete performances. There were too many rued opportunities; too often they had to draw positives from yet another defeat. The lack of a ruthless streak cost them dearly.
Tweet of the Season
Resident Derbyshire photographer David Griffin was recognised by the Club at the end of the season.
— dgriffin photography (@dgriffinpix) September 27, 2015
It’s difficult to give too many points in this season of might-have-beens, but with a nod to some half decent performances in the shorter formats and for finally bringing out the best in Billy Godleman it’s 3/10.