Each year Derbyshire start with hope and potential, often having rebuilt after a disappointing previous season, now with renewed vigour and a spring in their step. This season is different. There is still a spring in their step and there is definitely hope and potential, however there was no need to rebuild as last year was not a disappointment. There has of course been minor tinkering as with every county side, Shan Masood, last season’s prolific overseas player, has made the trip North, wooed by the promise of the bright lights of Leeds and Headingley, all rounder Alex Hughes has hung up his boots and moved into an off field coaching and analysis role, while Mikey Cohen and Dustin Melton have been released to find pastures new.
There have been arrivals to cancel out those departures, Zak Chappell has arrived from Nottinghamshire, the fast bowler becoming the latest player to achieve the East Midlands triple crown of playing for Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. He is a bowler of much promise who has had issues with injury in the past. He will be looking for a fresh start at Derbyshire after missing time whilst at Trent Bridge. The other non overseas arrival is middle order batter Matt Lamb from Warwickshire. His release by the Bears raised a few eyebrows and he will be hoping to prove those raised eye brows correct by scoring the runs his style and technique have promised.
The biggest change for Derbyshire will see Bllly Godleman relinquishing the captaincy after six years at the helm. He hands the rudder to Leus DuPlooy who took temporary charge last season when Godleman wasn’t fit to play. DuPLooy will team up with Mickey Arthur to move the side through Arthur’s second season in charge. Signing Arthur to Derbyshire was a coup for the county. Keeping him this off season amongst interest from international sides was probably an even bigger coup. Arthur is clearly building something at Derbyshire and wants to be a part of that, as do the players involved. If that hope and potential can be transferred into results then an improvement on last season’s finishes in respective competitions should be assured.
Ins: Zak Chappell (Notts) Matthew Lamb (Warks)
Outs: Alex Hughes (RET) Mikey Cohen (REL) Dustin Melton (REL) Shan Masood (Yorks)
Key Player :
Last season was a breakout year for Anuj Dal. In First Class cricket he scored 957 runs including three centuries, averaging 73.61 and took 34 wickets at a touch under thirty. He batted at seven in the order and gave real balance to the side, offering excellent lower order runs along with bowling first change – a wicket taking threat whilst also being able to keep it tight. When you factor in his fielding which is beyond excellent it is easy to see why he was such a key figure in the side last season. He along with everyone else connected to Derbyshire will be hoping that he can re-create his form from last season, as his runs, wickets and balance given to the side were crucial in the improvement shown by Derbyshire.
Player to Watch:
I genuinely felt I could pick one of a handful of players for this category, Sam Conners or George Scrimshaw who both represented England Lions in 2022, or either of the new signings in Zak Chappell or Matt Lamb who will have a point to prove. However I have chosen Brooke Guest the young wicketkeeper batter who had a breakout season in 2022. He played every match for the club, scoring 1,325 runs across all formats with 923 of those being First Class. He did this from the crucial position of three which he made his own and solved a problem for Derbyshire over the last few seasons. His keeping was also excellent with 76 dismissals across all formats. If he continues this fine form then do not be surprised to see him following in Conners’ and Scrimshaw’s foot steps and gaining international recognition before 2023 concludes.
How do you fill a Shan Masood sized hole in your team, a hole which has in it over 1000 First Class runs, over 500 T20 runs, over 200 List A runs, oh and T20 captaincy too? Well, you sign another exciting and up and coming Pakistani batter called Haider Ali. Ali is available all seasonand will play across all formats, Pakistan call ups allowing, and arrives in Derby with a First Class batting average over 54 and an exciting reputation in white ball cricket. Derbyshire supporters will be hoping that if he is half as successful as Masood was for them he will have a great season.
2023 will also see the return of Suranga Lakmal to the Incora County Ground, following his 2022 season being curtailed by injury. In the eight matches he played he took 15 wickets at an average around 40. However through most of this he was hampered by the injury which would ultimately end his season. Now fully fit and with a whole off season behind him, expect him to lead the attack for Derbyshire and mentor a young crop of fast bowlers. If he stays fit a bowler with the experience of 70 Test matches and 171 Test match wickets could be a game changer for new skipper Leus DuPlooy.
Potential Starting XI
- Guest (wk)
- DuPlooy (c)
How they’ll fare
Derbyshire should improve on last season. With the squad they have and the leadership off the field there is no reason they should not be challenging for honours. No one has won more T20 Blast games over the last four seasons than Derbyshire, however still that trophy eludes them, Finals Day should be a real target for the Falcons this season and once you’re there, it’s anyone’s trophy.
Last season saw Derbyshire finish 5th in the second division of the LV County Championship. Their squad is stronger this season, even without the prolific Masood so anything other than a top three finish would be a disappointment. In the List A tournament, who knows, toss a coin, pull names out of a hat, the competition is so affected by The Hundred that predictions are futile. However, of the two qualifying groups, Derbyshire find themselves in the kinder group so anything is possible.
LVCC Div 2 – Derbyshire CCC vs Worcestershire CCC 11am Incora County Ground, Derby
Season Odds (www.skybet.com)
LV County Championship 12/1
Royal London One-Day Cup: N/A
Vitality Twenty20 Blast: 25/1