No one can deny that Derbyshire’s season hasn’t got off to the start they would have liked. Winless in the County Championship and last season’s troubles, of not being able to take wickets, have followed them into this season like that annoying friend at a party that you just can’t shake off.
They do have mitigating circumstances: Will Davis their home grown fast bowler, who started the season well by taking thirteen wickets in his two appearances, is now injured as is Winter signing Hardus Viljoen who is yet to play a first class game for the county.
The management team have clearly recognised that something needed to be done, and last night the club have announced the signing of Connor McKerr from Surrey on an initial 28-day loan deal.
McKerr is South African but holds a UK Passport, so can play as a domestic player and has been doing so for Surrey Second XI this Summer. What’s more, he has impressed, taking 10 wickets in his last two appearances for the county’s second string.
McKerr has also represented South Africa under 19s on eight occasions, with best figures of 2 for 23. Derbyshire will be hoping McKeer can bring this wicket threat to a bowling attack that has failed to take the required 20 wickets in all bar one of its first las matches this season.
McKerr is a like for like replacement for the injured Viljoen, standing over six feet tall and showing genuine pace and wicket taking threat. He goes straight into the squad to face Nottinghamshire away at Trent Bridge starting on Friday.
Director of Cricket Kim Barnett was keen to point out that the decision to bring in reinforcements came from the players, saying: “The Captain, Vice-Captain and coaching staff felt the squad needed the impetus of a quick bowler.”
They clearly have signed that fast bowler, with McKerr reportedly able to bowl at over 90mph.
“Conor comes highly recommended and has represented South Africa at youth level, impressing with his natural pace,” Barnett said, “Running in at over six feet tall, he can provide that strike bowling option that we currently lack, with the injuries to Hardus Viljoen and Will Davis.”
McKerr also appears to be excited at the chance to play for Derbyshire, as he tweeted: “Exciting few weeks! On loan with Derbyshire for some first class exposure! Can’t wait for this opportunity.”
In reply to Derbyshire’s tweet, announcing his signing, he added: “Can’t wait to be part of your squad!”
Derbyshire will not be able to wait either, and will be hoping the excitement and fresh impetus that a new signing can make comes up the M1 with McKerr and has a positive effect on the bowlers, and on the squad as a whole.
He could not ask for a bigger challenge in his first match for the club, though, away at the current Division Two leaders Nottinghamshire who are unbeaten in their five games so far this season. However, he will not be a bowler many of the Nottinghamshire players know much about nor will they have prepared to face him, which may help him and Derbyshire in this match.
Whichever way this game goes, or the next 28 days go, for McKerr and Derbyshire no one can deny that the club have been proactive in trying to find a solution to their wicket taking problems. We shall all wait to see how the move turns out for the club and for McKerr himself.