After a season that will go down as one of the poorest in Derbyshire’s history, it is difficult to look forward with genuine optimism but Billy Godleman is convinced there are reasons to be cheerful.
That is a difficult argument to present when the team has finished bottom of Division Two and fallen short in the one-day competitions but Derbyshire’s captain has been impressed with the emergence of the younger players over the last six months.
Ireland’s 30-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman Gary Wilson has already been recruited from Surrey and further signings are certain to follow although Derbyshire were disappointed to miss out on the promising spinner Callum Parkinson who opted to join Leicestershire.
But Matt Critchley, whose leg-spin in T20 cricket made a big impression on New Zealand Test all-rounder Jimmy Neesham, has signed a four year deal and is set to work with Shane Warne as part of a specialist coaching programme.
Harvey Hosein performed well with the bat and with the gloves in the final matches while Will Davis suggested he could provide the pace and hostility which Derbyshire lost when Mark Footitt moved to Surrey.
The 20-year-old was distinctly quick in last week’s game against Leicestershire and is one of the players Godleman believes will help Derbyshire improve their fortunes.
Godleman said: “We have young cricketers who have a lot of determination and a lot of talent. You only get the opportunity to grow and learn by having the chance to play first-class cricket and we’ve given our youthful players that chance.
“They deserve it and not only are they competing but they are making an impact on games and over the next 24 to 36 months it looks very promising for the club.
“Will Davis has got lots of skills, he can swing the ball both ways when the conditions are conducive but I think his main weapon is to bowl fast and nasty.
“He’s brilliant to have in the team because you can throw him the ball at any time and he will charge in for the team and give 100 per cent. He never wants to get off whatever’s happening and that is a very admirable trait to have. “
Wilson, who made his Surrey debut in 2005, will bring experience to support the younger players and joins a club that now boasts facilities to rival most on the county circuit.
That was not lost on probably the greatest player to represent Derbyshire, the legendary Michael Holding, when he officially opened the new OKI Business and Media Centre at the Racecourse end of the 3aaa County Ground.
“Anyone who played here in the 1980s like I did – wouldn’t recognise the ground – it’s a totally different ground,” said Holding.
“The club is getting better as far as facilities are concerned – and that means better product on the field.”