There are three types of transfer signing a cricket club makes. There’s the ‘big impact’ signing, they come in they score runs, take wickets, put bums on seats and then normally leave, get called up for international cricket, maybe cause a fall out or maybe eventually settle down.
Second there’s the ‘bomb out’, they come in, fail to take wickets or score runs, maybe get injured cause a fall out and then either retire or leave.
Finally the ‘under the radar’ signing, they come in, fit in without real fanfare, they score runs, take wickets, they progress and feel like they’ve always been at the club and before long they are a crucial part of the team.
I’m sure we can all easily name players who fit into the first two categories for our clubs, but the third are often more difficult to think of. At Derbyshire this season, one of these has emerged as he has become a crucial part of the team and feels like he has been at the club for years.
That player is Luis Reece, signed from Lancashire at the end of the 2016 season. An all-rounder who could bat anywhere in the top six, who could bowl left arm medium pace and who was regarded as a good fielder too.
There was no fanfare with the signing of Reece, but he came in, scored runs, took a few wickets and now, as we move ahead with the 2018 season, he is a crucial part of the team. Last season Reece moved around the batting order scoring 732 first class runs. This season has seen him announced as Derbyshire’s opening batsman and he’s made a good start to the season scoring an unbeaten 157 in their first championship game.
However, he is happy still to bat anywhere in the order and was keen to point this out, saying: “Anywhere between one and five doesn’t really bother me in red ball cricket, all I’m looking to do is contribute for Derbyshire and perform for the team.”
It isn’t just with willow in hand that Reece wants to contribute more this season and having taken four wickets already, he looks on course to eclipse last season’s tally of eight. This isn’t down to luck, it is something Reece has been working hard on over the Winter and talked about what he’d been working on specifically.
“I’ve put in a lot of work this winter on skills and control, it’s been a good winter in terms of trying to improve my action be a bit more skilful,” Reece said.
“I’ve hopefully put on a yard of pace as well from last year, if I am required then I can step in, put my hand up and get the odd wicket and give the big guys a rest.”
This season Derbyshire have fast right-arm fast bowlers in Hardus Viljoen, Duanne Olivier, Will Davis and Ravi Rampaul. Reece being left handed, he adds a different element to the attack and knows what he can offer the team saying.
“You want variation in in bowling attacks, you want people for all kinds of conditions, hopefully being left arm I offer a bit of diversity to the attack. It gives me a bit more, raises my stock, hopefully I can push to play as a fourth seamer and top order bat.
“It makes me a more valuable player to the side which is what I want and to be able to contribute even more to Derbyshire.”
For a sport which relies so heavily on individual performances it is always reassuring when you hear players talking about how their displays contribute to the team and the team ethic.
Reece talked at great length about the feel of the side, the atmosphere within the camp and the positive impact it has had on him, saying: “It starts at the top, with the coaches and the senior player who are all brilliant, they are so approachable and easy going, the young lads have got no excuse but to be the same.
“Wayne (Madsen), Billy (Godleman) even Gary (Wilson) who is new to the club are very approachable and easy to talk to. They are great role models to have as a 16, 17 year old lad trying to fit in the squad it perhaps a little bit different when I first started at Lancashire.
“Different atmosphere, I suppose a bit less egotistical, very much more laid back and family atmosphere, the boys are incredibly close and would do anything for each other cricket wise and we’re always looking to improve and help each other out as best we can.”
It’s a sign of how comfortable Reece has become at Derbyshire that he was happy to sign a new three-year contract, just one year after joining from Lancashire.
It was also no surprise that Derbyshire wanted to tie Reece down to an extended contract as well, especially after the contribution he made in the Natwest T20 Blast last season, where Derbyshire were undone at the quarter-final stage by a sparkling Shahid Afridi innings
That loss to Hampshire still hurts Reece and the rest of the team, but it’s one that they want to learn from and go one better this season.
“We want to go at least a step further and get to finals day and give the fans something to really celebrate.
“We know we’ve had a disappointing few years at Derby, we really want to get to a final in white-ball cricket this year.
“I can’t stress how hard the boys have worked this winter, both getting fitter and more skilful, which is what we want and what the fans want to see, to see us really pushing for a result, giving everything you’ve got when you’re wearing the shirt.”
To help get more skilful Reece spent part of the winter playing in the Bangladesh Premier League for the Chittagong Vikings where, batting alongside New Zealand international Luke Ronchi meant Reece learnt a lot.
He talked about his time with Ronchi with exuberance, saying: “I couldn’t help but admire and pick his brains as best as I could, watching him go about his business he’s second to none, he’s probably one of the most underrated T20 players in the world.
“He’s so talented and a great bloke, he was brilliant for me, giving me tips that I can take into my game and help. He’s just such a great professional and a massive help to me.”
It is doubtful many Derbyshire fans would have been looking at players two winters ago and thinking ‘we must sign Luis Reece!’
However there won’t be many Derbyshire fans or players who not talk highly of the contributions that Reece has made since his arrival at the club, whether it be with bat or ball, in coloured clothing or whites.
It just shows that sometimes the best players at your club are not those who shout loudest and get the most coverage, but those who settle in well and perform without a fuss, just like Reece has done at Derbyshire.