If Derbyshire’s 2023 season was represented as a meme, it would undoubtedly be someone shrugging their shoulders and saying meh. The County Championship saw them fail to win a match, the Vitality T20 Blast saw them fail to qualify for the quarter finals and the Metro Bank Cup saw them fail to qualify for the elimination stages. However there were still bright sparks for the supporters to get excited about.
Wayne Madsen fell just six runs short of breaking the record for consecutive half centuries in T20 cricket, having to make do with a share of the record of five consecutive scores of 50 or more. George Scrimshaw, although soon to be departing for pastures new at Northamptonshire, made his full England debut taking 3-66 against Ireland at Trent Bridge. Luis Reece re-established himself at the top of the order and in the process scored four consecutive centuries across four innings versus Glamorgan and forged an impressive opening partnership with Harry Came. Alex Thompson emerged as the top quality spinner the club have been looking for since the departure of Matthew Critchley, becoming the clubs top wicket taker in the County Championship with 31 wickets. The club will be hoping that these sparks can turn into full blown flames next season.
There will of course be dampeners to those flames. 2023 skipper Leus Du Plooy is heading south to the big smoke and a new county in Middlesex and will be taking over 1200 First Class runs and his captaincy with him. Billy Godleman the former skipper has also been released after ten seasons, along with Mark Watt, Tom Wood, Mattie Mckiernan and Archie Harrison. They have already announced some replacements as Pat Brown, David Lloyd, Aneurin Donald and Samit Patel will be joining the squad for 2024.
Mickey Arthur will hoping these new additions will help Derbyshire to turn the close games they either lost or drew this season into victories. On several occasions had the weather not intervened, or the Falcons run out of time, those victories may have been forthcoming, alas they were not. Arthur will be hoping for a third year bump and see the improvement in results he saw in his first year. Another season like this one for the club and people may begin to ask questions.
LV= CC: 6th – Division Two
Vitality Blast: 5th – North Group.
RLODC: 8th – Group B
LV= CC: Leus Du Plooy – 1236 runs at 82.40
Vitality Blast: Wayne Madsen – 547 runs at 48.33 (SR 153.03)
RLODC: Luis Reece – 392 runs at 49.00
LV= CC: Alex Thompson 31 wickets at 35.83
Vitality Blast: Zak Chappell – 26 wickets at 18.03 (9.34 rpo)
RLODC: Sam Conners– 12 wickets at 34.16
Player of the season: Luis Reece Reece didn’t start the season in the first choice championship side. By the end of the season he had scored over 1000 First Class Runs with four centuries and five fifties and took twenty wickets at an average just a shade over thirty. In the Metro Bank One Day Cup he was the side’s leading run scorer with 392 runs and claimed 11 wickets with his left arm seam bowling too. In T20 he also contributed with 268 runs and three wickets. He is a genuine all format cricketer, all round cricketer, opening the batting and offering left arm seam bowling, coming on first or second change. The club also made him their player of the season and it is hard to argue, with him also scooping the most recent PCA player of the month award. These performances secured him a new two year contract moving forward and the coaches, players and supporters will be hoping for another bumper season to help propel Derbyshire towards success.
Breakthrough Player: Alex Thompson This season Thompson confirmed what a lot have people have known for a long time, he is a high quality spinner and lower order batter. At the start of the season he was playing second team cricket, by the end of the season he was the side’s number one spinner, having beaten out international competition from Scotland’s Mark Watt, the leading wicket taker in the County Championship and had secured a brand new two year contract. He is tall and gets genuine turn and bounce and all at Derbyshire will be hoping to see him go from strength to strength in 2014.
Could have done better: When you look at teams who compete for trophies, their overseas players often win them those trophies. Derbyshire’s overseas players this year have been mediocre at best and negligible at worst. Haider Ali scored just 481 runs at a touch over 32 and Suranga Lakmal managed just eight wickets at an average of over 54 in First Class cricket. To push for promotion this isn’t enough return from an overseas pairing. Ali fared better in the white ball game, which is to be expected being a predominantly short form oriented player, but still did not set the world alight. With Mohammed Amir already announced for next season, and one more overseas to come, Derbyshire will be hoping for a much better return on their investment in 2014.
Need to work on: In the First Class game Derbyshire simply have to find a way to take twenty wickets in a match. They will be hoping the arrival of Mohammed Amir will help with this, along with the ever dependable Sam Conners, however more must come from other bowlers too. A full season of a healthy Anuj Dal and Luis Reece will help, but if they are to achieve the ambitions the club has laid out, then they have to find a way to win cricket matches. In the white ball game they have to find ways to turn close matches into comfortable wins. They will be hoping adding the experience of Samit Patel can help them to do this.
What’s next? With Leus Du Plooy heading for the capital and the home of cricket, Derbyshire will need a new club captain. Brooke Guest deputised in the Metro Bank Cup this season, while Du Plooy was away playing in The Hundred so would appear to be the front runner. Although the arrival of David Lloyd from Glamorgan, with all his captaincy experience may see him win the job. It is rumoured that Samit Patel’s move from Trent Bridge will see him given the captaincy for white ball cricket, but that is yet to be announced.
Apart from that a winter of coaching and improvement is required and the Derbyshire hierarchy will be hoping that the world class coaches that they have can make the gains with the players to achieve their ambition of promotion and winning white ball trophies.