Redfern downplays title pressure
With six games remaining Derbyshire find themselves in unfamiliar territory as they sit top of LV= County Championship Division Two with a game in hand - but in-form batsman Dan Redfern has played down the pressures of being the league leaders.
The 22-year-old has had an excellent 2012 championship campaign, scoring 554 runs at an average of just over 50, which has helped his side move 14-points clear.
However, the left-hander insists that Derbyshire will not get carried away with their early success as they aim to return to the top flight for the first time since 2001.
“From now on, with us being at the top, teams are trying to chase us and are targeting us,” Redfern, who is set for championship action versus Kent at the County Ground from Thursday, told ecb.co.uk. “But we know that if we play our best cricket we can beat anyone.”
“Whether it’s Yorkshire, Kent or anyone we play now, it’s going to be a massive game. We’ve just going to treat it like another game, try to carry on from where we started when we left off in the first half of the season and try not to ‘big up the game’ too much.
Redfern has been delighted with his own form this season, which saw him claim his maiden first-class century on the opening day of the County Championship and another hundred the next month - respectively against Northamptonshire and Hampshire.
It has come as a relief to Redfern, who had compiled 15 fifties before he finally went on to reach his first three-figure score in the first fixture of the season, and now he hopes this can be the foundation for a very productive 2012 campaign for him and Derbyshire.
“I am really pleased; it has been going quite well for pretty much all our batsman at the moment,” Redfern said. “Our top order have done really well so it is nice to contribute to that.
“There has been a lot said that I get a lot of fifties but failed to go on to get those hundreds. It took me a while, but it has now given me a massive belief when I compiled my first century and I was delighted with that.
“That first hundred really stands out; it was on the first day of the season in probably tougher conditions and that was probably more satisfying as a team perspective and more personally - you are always going to remember the first one that little bit more.
“It showed that I can do it and then I was lucky to get another one at Hampshire and to get hundreds is now my main goal when I step out to the middle.”
Derbyshire are now without Martin Guptill, who scored 594 runs in his two-month stint at the County Ground, but Redfern is confident that overseas replacement Usman Khawaja can continue to fill the gap left by the New Zealand international.
“Guptill was brilliant for us and got us off to some great starts,” Redfern added. “But Khawaja is a world-class player like Martin. He got a hundred in the CB40 and he is in good form and we are sure he will continue the form that Martin had early in the season.”
Derbyshire next play today in the Clydesdale Bank 40 at home to Kent, a match in which Chris Durham could keep wicket having done so in the draw with Australia A.
However, having lost the services of Warwickshire loanee Richard Johnson, head coach Karl Krikken hopes to have Tom Poynton available for the championship clash after his abdominal injury.
Krikken said: "It's a shame Richard Johnson's spell with us was cut short. But we thank him for his contribution - particularly in scoring a brilliant 79 against Yorkshire - and I'm delighted he's notched a further half-century for Warwickshire since his recall.
"We're gradually easing Tom Poynton back into action and there's every chance he will make it to fitness in time for the championship match starting next Thursday. If that's the case, I'd have no issues handing the gloves to Chris Durham for the 40-over match. He's done himself proud so far.
"But if a full recovery for Tom starts to look unlikely, we will move to bring in a more experienced alternative ahead of the four-day match. Wicketkeeper is a specialist position and each county can only pick one, so there are always a few options to consider."