A gradual but inevitable descent into cricket-based loathing and bile.

The County Championship Review of the Season – Part One: Mid-table Mediocrity

Posted on September 20, 2011 by in First Class, Opinion

Now that the dust has settled on the domestic season, it’s time for us to desperately try to remember what happened while England were thrashing everyone out of sight and come up with some reviews of the season. We’ve grouped the counties into lovely little threesomes and will post them up over the next few days. The first trio, definitely not chosen because they’re the only ones done, made up the middle of Division Two.


County Championship – 4th
Pro40 – 6th (Group C)
T20 – 8th (South Group)

Did the team achieve what was expected before the season started?

A surprisingly difficult question to answer. Er, yes and no. The exodus of established players at the end of last season saw many (this writer included) predicting a season of pretty much uniform misery but, in the longer form of the game at least, it actually hasn’t been that bad. Most supporters would surely have been happy to be told that we’d still be in with a slim chance of promotion going into the last couple of weeks of Championship fixtures. Limited overs cricket has been less kind. Finishing second-bottom in our groups in both T20 and the Clydsedale Bank 40 is a far cry from the glory days of trips to Lords for domestic finals. The much trumpeted arrival of Murali (who, shall we say, looked as if he has been enjoying his retirement) didn’t bring the hoped for results in T20. 15 wickets in 12 games seems a poor return on the no-doubt significant investment it took to get him, no matter how many tickets it shifted. Plus there was the now traditional indignity of getting walloped by Somerset in the 40-over match, a result made even more difficult to swallow by their ex-Glos contingent.

Emerging star:

Not exactly a bright young thing at the ripe old age of 26yrs and 205 days but Will Gidman’s all-round performance has probably made him our stand-out player this season. 43 wickets @ 22.23 and 892 runs @ 44.60 is a more than useful contribution. He seems to be thriving under his brother’s captaincy since his move from Durham.

Man on the way down:

Yet another senior man with a question mark over his name for next season due to our financially straightened circumstances is Hamish Marshall but, if his fairly anaemic figures for this season (355 runs @ 22.18 from 10 matches) are anything to go by, he may not be that big a miss.

Who’s leaving?

It’s…difficult to talk about…but….Jon Lewis is going to Surrey *sobs hysterically*

Prospects for next season:

Well it doesn’t look as if there’s going to be any more money available next season than there has been this and, as mentioned earlier, there are already stories around that we might struggle to hold onto Marshall and some other senior players. The already confirmed loss of Lewis is a really serious blow. Yet again this season he was our leading wicket taker (59 first class wickets @ 23.15) and it seems to be asking a lot for the other bowlers,as admirably as some have performed this season, to fill the void he leaves. The only reason for some slight optimism is that things looked comparably gloomy at the end of last season and we’ve done better than expected.

Gloucester starlet Gidman flicks a lovely little single to fine leg


County Championship – 5th
Pro40 – 3rd (Group A)
T20 – 7th (North Group)

If you were to search for ‘mediocrity’ in the dictionary and glance down, you would be confronted with Derbyshire’s 2011 team photo. Mid-table in Division Two of the Championship, mid-table in the Pro40 and rubbish in the T20 isn’t much to write home about.

The highlight of the season would’ve probably been when it ended hammering Leicestershire (at that point storming the league) in the second Championship game of the summer. Tim Groenewald, in an all-round performance Luke Wright would’ve been proud of, took eight wickets in the match and then scored an unbeaten 60 in Derby’s only innings. Interestingly, the Falcons’ Twitter feed recently asked for supporters’ highlights of the summer, the first suggestion being Martin Guptill and Ross Whiteley blasting the Nottinghamshire attack all over the County Ground. A perfectly reasonable suggestion, until you notice the fact that the Derby bowlers were then blasted all over place as well and Notts won fairly comfortably. It was that sort of season.

To be fair to Derbyshire, they are one of a number of Counties who don’t have the resources to be able to genuinely compete across the board, but whilst there are a selection of younger players who have impressed at points over the season, they don’t yet look ready to replace the more established experienced members of the side who have kept the summer together. Their top Championship run-scorer Wes Durnston and wicket-taker Tony Palladino are 30 and 28 respectively, and the team is largely made up of solid but unspectacular County pros.

As yet they’ve done no business for next season, there’s a chance Dominic Cork will take a break from his media work to play cricket for one more season after his release from Hampshire and return to the County at which he began his career, but in all likelihood they won’t be able to do too much in terms of bringing players in.. The important thing is that the younger generation are given the opportunity to continue their development. Derby don’t have the squad to realistically challenge for promotion in the Championship, so their only chance for some success is in the one day arena.

Tim Groenewald sums up Derbyshire's season


County Championship – 6th
Pro40 – 5th (Group C)
T20 – 7th (South Group)

After a winter of turmoil at Glamorgan, there were few optimistic faces around Sophia Gardens as they headed into this summer under the captaincy of new South African arrival Alviro Petersen. Now, with the leaves of Bute Park and Cathedral Road already brown, we can conclude that the season was inauspicious but that brighter times may be ahead.

The team were unspectacular in the T20, coming third bottom of the southern group with only five wins, though Petersen scored consistently and wily old Robert Croft (a full year older than Dominic Cork) took 15 wickets at fewer than six runs per over. In the CB40, they could take some local pride in coming above the team from the other side of the Severn, but they rarely threatened to challenge for the knock-out stage, although Petersen and Gareth Rees both made respectable contributions with the bat.

The performance in the county championship was little better, finishing sixth. However three batsmen did make it to 1,000 runs in first-class matches: Petersen, Will Bragg and Mark Wallace, with Rees not far behind. The bowling was consistent, if unexceptional. Dean Cosker led the way with 49 first-class wickets, supported by James Harris (44), though only Harris and Jim Allenby averaged below 30.00. It was Harris who took eight wickets in an early season encounter against Gloucestershire that they won by 189 runs. There was a brief period in May in which they beat Kent by an innings and Middlesex by nine wickets when they looked as if they could mount a challenge, but they soon found themselves adrift of the leaders and remained mid-table all season.

Turning to the future, Petersen will be replaced as overseas player by everybody’s favourite Australian spinner-cum-batsman Marcus North. The Welsh side will be North’s sixth county and though a bit of a joke on the international front, he should have the skill and attitude to score a pile of runs in division two. North had a mixed time on his last match at Cardiff: the scene of his 125* against England but also his failure to dismiss Monty Panesar or James Anderson in their resilient final wicket partnership in the 2009 Ashes. We of course need little excuse to refer to this…

Mark Wallace will be captain next year (their third in three seasons), but Mike Powell leaves after 15 seasons. If the likes of Rees, Harris, Bragg and Will Owen can continue to develop, then next season may be rosier. After all, they can’t keep relying on Cosker and Croft forever and ever.

It should also be noted, perhaps in an effort to gain more followers- and thus income- the one day side will be officially known as the Welsh Dragons. One thing is certain: Glamorgan are one of many counties struggling financially, despite hosting international cricket. After the embarrassment of having their 2012 Test match taken away from them, due to late payments to the ECB following the rain-affected Sri Lankan Test, the county will be desperate to secure an Ashes Test (due to be announced this week).

A pretty picture of Matthew Maynard

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