Derbyshire coach Karl Krikken says hard work on tour of Barbados shows county can compete in division one
THE weather reports from England have been justification enough for Derbyshire's decision to spend two weeks of their pre-season in Barbados for the fourth successive year.
But it has not only been about beating the chill.
This is also a time of essential graft for the players as they get ready for the new challenge of Division One in the LV County Championship and from what he has seen on the tour, head coach Karl Krikken returns home today more convinced than ever that he has a squad strong enough to handle the step up in class.
"Have I got everything I wanted from this tour? Yes – and more," he said.
"I'm very pleased with it. I'm pleased with the application and attitude of everyone, to a man. The lads have behaved impeccably and I have been proud of them. We have had a meeting and I told them so.
"Even on the first day against Notts, when we had the wrong end of the stick, the guys' attitude in that last session, even though we only had three fit bowlers to pick from, was superb. No-one moaned, they got on with it and worked hard.
"It only proves even more to me that we can hold our own, if not win this competition.
"We have said we will grow as a side and that will take three or four years to do. I still believe we will be a better side in three or four years' time.
"I was really pleased with how we performed in the t20s, really pleased with the two days against Northants and it was magnificent against Notts. I'm just really chuffed all round."
Though this is only early pre-season and Krikken knows there is only a limited amount to be read into performances at this stage, there was a value in setting a marker against two clubs who are now seeing Derbyshire through different eyes – as divisional rivals.
They faced two of the counties they will play in their first three Championship fixtures in April, winning one of two t20s against Warwickshire and, though they were well beaten in the t20 final by Notts, Derbyshire gave as good as they got over two full days at North Stars.
"We are sizing them up and they are sizing us up," added Krikken. "You could hear the Notts bowlers talking about how they are going to get Madsen out and we were obviously taking notes on what they do."
Individual highlights of the tour were Chesney Hughes' silky century and Jon Clare's fiery second spell against Northants, Ross Whiteley's wonderful clean hitting for 63 off 38 balls and Mark Turner's sublime final over in the t20 victory over Warwickshire, then Wes Durston's hundred, spectacularly completed, and Wayne Madsen's solid 50 against Notts.
There were other encouraging pointers in Billy Godleman's opening efforts against Northants, Ben Slater's mature response to being cast in at the deep end and the all-round performances of both wicketkeepers, Tom Poynton and Richard Johnson.
Derbyshire could have done without the succession of minor injuries that made physio Jamie Pipe the hardest-working man in the West Indies, with Paul Borrington having to fly home early after taking a blow to the side of the head and Dan Redfern facing a consultation with the specialist over his broken finger, but that too goes with the territory of a pre-season tour.
"You want Redders playing and Claresy and the rest playing, of course, but just like in the season, you do pick up niggles and injuries and you can't help that," added Krikken.
"You just have to get on with it and the players who have come in have done a decent job."
Derbyshire will – hopefully – move on to three days in Somerset and two days at home to Notts to complete their pre-season. The weather might have other ideas but even if the worst comes to the worst, the work the squad has done in Barbados will be invaluable.
"We wouldn't have been able to get anything close to practice as good as this in England," said Krikken. "Even if we had a bubble built over the square at Derby, we would be running through slush.
"It's snow and rain at home, so this might be our last cricket outside for a while. We are hoping it will start to clear up by the time we get home but you never know.
"There's a long time to go until the first ball of the season but the work we have done here will stand us in good stead. It's been a good tour."