In the first of two interviews, Billy Godleman gives a Captain’s perspective on the 2017 season.
The opening batsman oversaw a first Specsavers County Championship win since 2015, one of three Derbyshire claimed in the Specsavers County Championship this summer.
The Club Captain first gave his thoughts on the county’s four-day campaign, which concluded with victory against Gloucestershire at Bristol. While progress had been made, Godleman was quick to highlight that work is still to be done, particularly on producing more positive results at Derby, as the Club look ahead to 2018.
He said: “Although it was my second season as Captain, it was my first season under the new model and we highlighted at the start of the season it was really important to get the right personnel and characters out in the field and playing for Derbyshire.
“The model is led by Kim [Barnett] with his vast experience and knowledge of the game, but the senior players have been instrumental in making the decisions. It is very much a whole team and squad effort, and the varying characters make sure they seek the right information from everyone across the squad.
“It was really good to finish strongly with a couple of wins, but I do believe how we played during the season we could have easily come away with four or five wins, as, at times, we put in really promising performances. There are areas we do need to improve on and we are very clear on them and what we need to do in the next six months to make that a reality out on the field.
“It’s been a very long time since we’ve won here at The 3aaa County Ground. To win three games away from home is a really good effort and if we can do more to cater the conditions here around our strengths as a squad, I’d like to think that we will be adding to the wins over the next two to three seasons.”
Matt Critchley and Hamidullah Qadri were among a number of young players who impressed for the Club over the course of the season, success that Godleman attributes to hard work on and off the field.
He added: “I was really pleased to see Critchley go on and put performances out across all forms to show the talent and skill that he has. He is also a really vibrant, funny and a helpful character to have in the dressing room so it’s good to see his hard work paying off.
“Then Hamidullah, I have known for a few years now playing club cricket alongside him before he was a professional and he is really impressive for his age – not just his skill but the way he thinks about the game and the way he seeks information from a variety of sources.”
The most notable improvement of the season came in the NatWest T20 Blast, where Derbyshire finished second in the North Group behind eventual winners Notts Outlaws. The memorable campaign included victories over Yorkshire Vikings home and away, as well as standout performances from Wayne Madsen which saw him top the PCA Most Valuable Player Rankings.
Godleman said: “It was fantastic to be a part of our T20 Blast campaign and to see the strides that the Club has made to finish second in a group which is really strong. Going from a team that can only register a handful of wins that is huge progress.
“Coming in as Specialist Twenty20 Coach, John [Wright] made a real impact not just out on the field but behind closed doors too and in the dressing room. To have his knowledge and stories in the dressing room was great, we were very fortunate to have John’s services.”
A Club-record eight wins powered Derbyshire to a first quarter-final in the format since 2005 and the input of new signings Imran Tahir and Gary Wilson were a big factor according to Godleman.
He said: “Imran is a real fan favourite and also really good for the dressing room. Out on the field he is a fierce and competitive player. He worked well under John Wright and with their influence, we were much stronger as a squad. The strides forward were clear to see and I know the squad would like to see them both return in 2018. Hopefully, that can happen.
“It was also a real benefit for the Club to have Gary here as an experienced Twenty20 player both in county and international cricket and I thought he did really well both as Captain and also with the bat, getting us over the line on a couple of occasions.”
Wins on the field were backed up by record crowds attending The 3aaa County Ground and Queen’s Park, vital support which did not go unnoticed by the team.
Godleman said: “The supporters really did help us win the game against Yorkshire when we defended a reasonably modest total at Queen’s Park. That’s one that we will live in the memory for a long time.
“Also, another great memory was the final game of the groups when we needed to win to qualify against Worcestershire and the fans’ support and energy, I can’t tell you how much that helps me and the guys.”
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