In writing this review I looked up the word disappointing in the thesaurus, it gave me the following alternatives: depressing, disheartening, failing, falling short, frustrating, ineffective, mediocre and unsatisfying. Sadly this season I feel you could also add Derbyshire County Cricket Club under that entry too.
This season was always going to be difficult for the club who lost Mark Footitt over the winter and with him the 76 first-class wickets he took in 2015, and the ability to blow sides away.
They did move to replace him with Andy Carter, who moved to the 3aaa County Ground from down the A52 at Nottinghamsire after impressing whilst being out on loan the previous season.
The club also secured consistent overseas players in Hamish Rutherford for County Championship and Royal London One-Day Cup cricket and fellow Kiwi Jimmy Neesham for Natwest T20 Blast cricket, following a season of chopping and changing the season before.
Despite the loss of Footitt there was a sense of optimism around the club in pre-season, hoping that Carter could lead a fine young crop of seam bowlers to back up the runs which would inevitably be scored by Wayne Madsen and newly-announced captain Billy Godleman.
The seam attack was also bolstered by the signing of Luke Fletcher on loan from Notts, and with seven County Championship games in the first seven weeks of the season his experience was going to be vital for Derbyshire to mount a promotion push.
By the end of those seven games though, Derbyshire’s season in the County Championship was effectively over, failing to record a single victory, an unwanted statistic which they managed to sustain for the rest of the season, finishing rock bottom of Division Two.
The rest of the season was however undertaken under a new head coach in John Sadler as elite performance director Greame Welch resigned on the day of their first home Natwest T20 Blast game, a game which they won, and gave the side fresh hope that maybe the white ball portion of the season would go better than with the red ball in hand.
Welch was not the only person to leave throughout the year, as Carter also left before the end of the season, following spells on the sidelines and not playing for the first team.
In fact there were more comings and goings than an excited kitten with a new cat flap, as Scott Elstone and Tom Knight joined the list of departures from the club.
If the first class season was consistently disappointing, at least the 20- and 50-over games inconsistently the same, with moments which should give Derbyshire fans reasons to be cheerful, despite that not being reflected in the standings.
The emergence of Will Davis, the exciting quick bowler who is a real wicket-taking threat, is a boost, as is the development of Harvey Hosein as an excellent wicket-keeper batsman, scoring his maiden century for the club in the final game of the season.
Shiv Thakor is also fulfilling his potential following his move from Leicestershire two years ago scoring runs and taking wickets and of course the continued excellence of Madsen, who scored more than 1000 first-class runs for the fifth consecutive season.
All in all this was a season to forget for Derbyshire, with coaches and players leaving mid-season, more players leaving at the end of the season and not much success on the pitch to show for it.
There are however some green shoots of promise, and there will be again the optimistic feel at the club before next season if they can keep their young players together and supplement the side in areas of weakness.
Player of the Season – Wayne Madsen
If Derbyshire should be added to the disappointing bracket in a thesaurus, Wayne Madsen could be added to several sections, consistent, brilliance, emphatic and loyal.
Madsen makes scoring runs look simple when others around him have struggled. He scores runs consistently, making six centuries for the club this season and without his runs the season would have been even worse.
Breakthrough Player – Will Davis
Will Davis is young, quick and a genuine threat when bowling. He made his debut the season before against the touring Australians, but making his County Championship berth has seen him go from strength to strength taking 21 wickets, including best figures of 7 for 146.
If he continues to develop then, Derbyshire will have a player of real match winning potential on their books.
Could have done better – Neil Broom
Signed on a UK passport, the Kiwi came to the club on the back of an impressive season for the Otago Volts, but that form never materialised on English soil.
He has one more year on his Derbyshire contract and he will need to score significantly more than the 530 runs he amassed this season if his time at the 3aaa County Ground is to be judged as a success.
Need to work on
The club need to work on bowling sides out twice, they will need to bolster their seam bowling attack which failed to take 20 wickets in a County Championship match all season.
Tony Palladino cannot be relied upon to take all the wickets and will need help. The club has an exciting array of young bowlers in Cotton, Davis, Taylor, Greg Cork and Thakor but they will also need help if they are to bowl the side to victories next season.
They must finalise the coaching situation too, Sadler was given the role until the end of the season, and the uncertainty over whether he will continue needs to be eradicated quickly.
They have already moved to bring in Gary Wilson from Surrey, who can help develop Hosein and also add runs to a middle order short on confidence and runs, and for this the club should be applauded.
Next season the club must come out all guns blazing and play with confidence and believe they can win games of cricket again.
SSCC – 9th, Division Two
T20 Blast – 7th, North Group
RLODC – 7th, North Group
Leading run-scorers: SSCC: Wayne Madsen – 1292 @ 58.72; T20 Blast: Hamish Rutherford – 343 – SR: 142.91; RLODC: Ben Slater – 323 @ 82.00
Leading wicket-takers: SSCC: Tony Palladino – 39 @ 30.79; T20 Blast: Jimmy Neesham – 15 – Econ: 9.40; RLODC: Ben Cotton & Shiv Thakor – 10 – Econ: 5.45 & 6.53
Win %: 18.4%
Every club has poor seasons, what is important is learning from it, moving on and improving next season. They have players of great ability and potential in Madsen, Godleman, Thakor, Davis and Hosein, they must harness this and become a side to be reckoned with again.