Warming to the task
Posted in Domestic Cricket
With the 2011 season a matter of hours away, Derbyshire, like every other county, are full of promise and optimism for the challenges that lie ahead.
With a full winter of gym work and indoor net sessions behind us, we have found ourselves counting down the days before we face Gloucestershire at Bristol in our LV= County Championship curtain-raiser.
After the disappointment of finishing bottom of Division Two in 2010, everybody at the club is eager to get out there and ensure that 2011 is a huge improvement in all forms of the game.
That is probably why it was decided that a pre-season tour to Barbados would give us the best preparation. None of the players were too disappointed with this decision, especially given the weather in Derby in March.
We were joined by Hampshire, Warwickshire, Essex and Yorkshire, as well as Barbados, an Island Tourism XI and the University side, in the Barbados pre-season tournament based at several of the best club grounds and the Kensington Oval. We were very keen to put down the first markers of the new season in this T20 competition.
After a couple tough days of training at the North Stars ground we took on Essex in our play-off match. Our aim was to win the tournament but also give all of the bowlers and new signings a good run-out in a competitive game. The beauty of the tour was that there were other county sides involved, ensuring the competition was of a high standard.
After an exciting rain-reduced match with Essex that saw us win from the last ball, we advanced to the semi-finals. We then beat the University side the following day to set up a ‘local derby’ with Worcestershire in the final.
We lost early wickets in that match but rallied to set them 142 to win. They chased the score required after fully utilising their powerplay overs but we came away from the weekend pretty happy with the way we'd played over the course of the three matches.
Although we hadn't achieved our main objective of winning the tournament, we had experienced three competitive matches, which allowed several of our squad the chance to participate and get their seasons started.
During the rest of our trip we enjoyed equal measures of training, matches and the local weather. Early-season preparation in Barbados with the sun on our backs makes us fully appreciate what we call ‘work’.
After a couple more trips out to North Stars CC we tackled Hampshire in a two-day friendly at the Kensington Oval, which was called a draw after some inclement weather. That too provided both teams with very useful match practice.
The organisers of our trip had scheduled in some combined games for the squad members that weren't selected for the counties’ ‘main’ games, which again permitted all of the squad to get some match time. These matches were no less competitive and allowed some young local talent the chance to play alongside and against some county players.
Like everything, all good things must come to an end and we said farewell to the beautiful island of Barbados. But we each came home better for the trip, well practised and hopefully ready for the start of the domestic season.
Since our return we have been practising hard in very different temperatures, but with the same intensity so that we are completely prepared for what lies ahead.
Unfortunately, we have been cursed with same nasty and untimely injuries during those practice sessions, which must leave the coaching staff scratching their heads and hoping for better luck when the season does kick off.
On a brighter note, we played and beat Surrey in a Clydesdale Bank 40-style match this and have opened our doors for the annual photo call.
All that remains now before the start of the competitive season is for first-team selection to take place and the team to hit the motorway down to Bristol ready for tomorrow’s opener.