Dominic Cork taking the positives out of Derbyshire's Vitality Blast campaign
Dominic Cork, believes there are positives to take from Derbyshire’s Vitality Blast campaign, and hopes the experiences of this season will help the players in next year’s competition.
The Falcons won four games, making qualification for the knockout stages unlikely, before injuries and members of the squad isolating brought a premature end to their campaign.
However, despite key players such as Wayne Madsen and Alex Hughes missing through injury, along with overseas signings Billy Stanlake and Ben McDermott unavailable, the squad were able to compete with sides boasting numerous internationals, with Cork rueing missed opportunities against Notts Outlaws and Birmingham Bears, which could have closed the gap on the top four.
The Twenty20 Head Coach says improvements have definitely been made, after they won just once in 2020, and he’s confident that a fully-fit and strengthened Falcons side will challenge for the latter stages next year.
“When we look back, and it’s not the perfect way to end the campaign, I think we can be proud of some of the performances, and the improvements we made on last year,” said Cork.
“When you look at some of the games we could, and probably should, have won, I can be very proud of the guys when you consider the teams we’ve had to put out at times, against multiple international players. Overall, we’ve shown improvement and I can see that continuing next year and hopefully we can get back to Finals Day, because that’s what it’s all about.
“I wouldn’t be talking about it [the injuries and loss of overseas players] if I didn’t believe it, we’ve had some horrendous injuries and we lost two mainstay players in Wayne Madsen and Alex Hughes, they’re big losses, we also lost both of our original overseas players (Ben McDermott and Billy Stanlake), who we signed to take us that one step further in T20.
“I don’t want to make excuses, but they are the facts, people can see how many injuries we’ve had, and we’ve also had to re-jig a few players, Billy Godleman went through a tough time and we decided to leave him out, Critch became captain.
“We’ve had a pretty topsy-turvy time, so to take on the sides we have and compete, we should have beaten some former winners, I can look to the future and say that if we keep showing the improvements that we have, keep players fit and have our overseas players, we should be able to compete and move up that league table. Even finishing now, if you add two wins, you’re right in the mix, we should have picked up those wins.”
One notable moment in the campaign saw out-of-form captain Billy Godleman step away from first team cricket until the end of the T20 competition, with Matt Critchley taking over in the interim.
The 24-year-old won two matches, suffered one defeat and he was there at the end as the Falcons tied with Notts Outlaws at The Incora County Ground.
He was not the only player to show great development this season, as youngster George Scrimshaw’s 14 wickets at an average of 16.85 cemented his place on the team sheet.
Opener Harry Came formed an exciting partnership with Luis Reece at the top of the order, while home-grown batsman Tom Wood injured for part of the campaign, took his opportunity when he stepped in at number three, to replace Godleman.
Cork praised the work of the inexperienced players who stepped up this year, and says the future is looking bright if they can make good on the promise they’ve shown so far.
“I looked at a few options, but Matt really grew as a captain,” he added.
“You want your captain to lead from the front, and he absolutely did that, it’s all good signs for the future.
I think when Derbyshire are looking for a new captain in the future, Critch will be top of that list. He’s shown what he can bring to the side, with how he handled the captaincy and how he spoke to the team after games, no matter the result, he was excellent.
“We tried to give younger players an opportunity in 2020, and maybe they didn’t quite push on as we’d have hoped. Bringing Harry Came in to open the innings, with what he has shown, is excellent and bodes well for the future.
"Tom Wood has been around for a while now, and it’s often been a difficult decision to leave him out. He’s shown us what he can do, he’s performed well.
“George Scrimshaw is also a great prospect, I thought he was when he was at Worcestershire and I asked why he wasn’t playing for Derbyshire as a local lad, but he’s playing for us now.
"He fulfilled the role we set up for him really well, to bowl in the middle overs, keep it tight and take wickets.
“They’re just three players we think about, but we forget that the likes of Leus du Plooy and Matt Critchley are so young. Luis Reece was also excellent, I was proud of how they all played at times.
“The strengths and potential of this side are really exciting in all forms of the game. Obviously, we need to turn around results, but we’ve got something in T20, and with a bit of luck, I predict a bright future.”