Competition for places hotting up for Derbyshire ahead of pre-season tour

Derbyshire v Glamorgan, coach Graeme Welch helping his bowlers warm up before the start
Derbyshire v Glamorgan, coach Graeme Welch helping his bowlers warm up before the start

Graeme Welch says there is good competition throughout the squad as his thoughts start to move towards the starting XI for the season opener against Gloucestershire in April.

Elite Performance Director, Welch, has recently returned from Dubai, where he assisted Andy Flower in coaching the England Lions, and has been encouraged by the improvement in his squad during his time away.

Matt Critchley was also in Dubai with the England Lions, whilst Tom Taylor is currently in South Africa with the Potential England Performance Programme, and Welch believes that international recognition will continue to come for his crop of young bowlers.

“It was a great experience,” said Welch. “Just to see how England go about things was very interesting. I learned a few things but also reinforced what we’re doing well here in Derbyshire.

“It was a great experience for Critch. He grew on the tour. The lads took him under their wing well. He blended in to the group and you could see him grow as an individual and as a cricketer as well.

“There’s a lot of talent here and they’ve worked hard over the past couple of years. We’ve had Mark Footit in South Africa as well, obviously he’s gone to Surrey, but we feel like we helped him get there.”

Welch is also looking forward to welcoming Hamish Rutherford and Neil Broom into his squad after the conclusion of the domestic season in New Zealand and, with their help, Welch is confident of improvement this season.

“It will put pressure on the other batsmen,” he said. “The squad is looking quite strong. Hamish fitted in quite well. He and Broom know each other quite well. They’re both scoring plenty of runs at the moment.

“I hope they don’t score too many more runs out there. We’re looking forward to having them over. I think they’ll both fit in quite well. There’s going to be competition for places.”

He added: “I’ve been thinking about it (picking the first team) all winter. We’re in a good place. The lads have worked really hard through the winter and I’m looking forward to Abu Dhabi.

“It’s been a very good winter. We’ve allowed them a lot more time off because they’re maturing and they’re in charge of their own games. There’s a lot of good work going on at the moment.”