Kim Barnett hopes to secure two overseas signings over the winter as Derbyshire head into the 2018 campaign aiming to build on the positive results from last season.
The Club were quick to secure the services of former West Indies international Ravi Rampaul on a three-year deal in October and Barnett wants to strengthen the bowling department further before the start of the season in April.
Rampaul has featured in 133 international matches and alongside Hardus Viljoen, who returned the Club’s fifth best match figures in 2017 with 15-170 against Sussex, will provide a strong bowling unit in both four-day and limited overs cricket.
With the three formats coming in blocks throughout the summer, Barnett is targeting two further overseas signings to fill vacant slots at either end of the season.
He said: “We’re hoping in this next month to sort the overseas spinner for the second half of the season, to play in the T20 Blast and later four-day matches.
“We’re also looking for the 50-over seam bowler who will also do the first half of the season in four-day cricket. We’re hoping to get those two on board soon. I think getting an overseas player for the first half and another for the second are crucial. Both can bat so we’re quite excited at the moment and hopefully we can get them over the line.
“And obviously we hope to have John [Wright] back as he is important to continue the good work in the T20 Blast.
“Outside that, we’ve only got the second T20 player, which can wait for the time being and we will take more time on that.”
Leading recruitment and off-field strategy alongside Captain Billy Godleman, Barnett is aiming to strengthen ties between the first team and the Cricket Derbyshire Academy in partnership with the University of Derby to ultimately create a stronger squad with talented players coming through.
Barnett added: “We’re aiming to have quality over quantity within the squad. The beauty of having a smaller squad is that loan players are always available further down the line.
“You should be a first-team player if you are ready and a developing player if not. Ultimately, the Club needs to have a squad of around 14 for the first team, then with developing players.
“It gives opportunities for trialists and Academy players to play in the second team under Mal [Loye]. He needs some slots where it isn’t full of staffed players. For example, if you want to bring fast bowlers on from the academy, they need to be opening the bowling for the second team.
“It gives them the responsibility with the new ball to learn their trade. If you have too many staffed players, the juniors get pushed to one side.
“We want to continue to strengthen ties between the first team and the Academy. If we can have a high-quality first team squad and a high-quality group of players coming through, that is what we want.”
After three Specsavers County Championship victories in 2017, and a stellar T20 Blast campaign which saw Derbyshire reach a first quarter-final in the format since 2005, Barnett wants to see further progress as Derbyshire continue with a player-led coaching model.
He added: “We want to add to the three matches that we won away and if we can get two or three at home, we might be in with a chance in four-day cricket.
“The bowling was an issue in defending totals in one-day cricket and bowling sides out in four-day cricket. The overseas we’re looking at, plus Rampaul, Hardus, Will Davis and even a loan signing and you’re looking at a strong bowling unit.
“We want to be in quarter-finals and give ourselves a chance. We enjoyed the T20 Blast and we want to continue that. But we’d like to add a knockout game in the 50-over competition and around five wins in the County Championship. That would be further progress again.
“But ultimately, it’s down to the players out on the field. The coaching model we have, with Billy [Godleman] leading the squad along with the senior players, gives the side freedom to express themselves.
“From my point of view, it’s the better way. The off-field roles are there to provide support and help the players to become the best possible players they can.”
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