Buoyed by improvements in 2017, Billy Godleman is now targeting an improvement in performances at home in 2018 when the new season starts in April.
Derbyshire recorded three Specsavers County Championship wins in 2017 and reached the quarter-finals of the T20 Blast for the first time since 2005, and the Club Captain is hoping his side can to build on these successes this summer.
The three first-class wins saw some standout performances, including match figures of 15-170 from Hardus Viljoen and a debut five-fer from 16-year-old Hamidullah Qadri. But Derbyshire struggled to find the winning formula at home, something which Godleman wants to correct.
He said: “The remit from the Club and the ethos we strive for is to keep improving and taking strides in our development.
“It was only 18 months ago when we couldn’t win a game of cricket and we were fielding many guys who were very young and inexperienced, and some who were not skilled enough to play at the level.
“The last year, although we had some fantastic performances and I don’t see why that can’t continue, it’s been about identifying the right personnel and recruiting them to continue that development.
“The fact that we have not won a four-day game for three years at home suggests there is more than a lot of room to improve.
“We harbour ambitions of being a competitive side in this division, so we have to find the conditions, method and personnel to win at home.
“The next step is to make sure we are competitive at The 3aaa County Ground and I’m sure that will lead to wins.”
Godleman, with the help of Kim Barnett as Cricket Advisor, identified the pace attack as an area to strengthen in 2018. The Club brought in the experienced Ravi Rampaul as an all-format player and someone who can lead the line this summer.
Godleman added: “I’m looking forward to meeting Ravi and getting to know him as a person first and foremost.
“To have his skills and expertise with the new ball is going to be an incredible advantage for us. Not only is he a highly-skilled bowler, but he’s a seasoned professional. A combination of skill and experience is usually very helpful.”
Alongside Rampaul, Hardus Viljoen is set to spearhead the pace attack, with youngsters including Will Davis providing further seam options.
He added: “They are different types of bowlers, but both are incredibly skilled in the way they bowl. Everyone involved in the Club hopes we can get them both out on the park together as often as possible.
“It’s great to see Hardus performing so well out in South Africa and it shows he’s getting overs under his belt. But what is most important to the Club is that he is fit and fitting for the first game against Middlesex.
“Will [Davis] is a very talented young player and his challenge now is to perform over a substantial period of time.
“He’s been unlucky with injuries, which have stagnated his progress, but he’s working incredibly hard behind the scenes and I’m sure that will pay off.”
The Derbyshire squad returned to training in early January with the primary focus switching from fitness to skills-based work, something Godleman has missed over the winter.
“With the turn of the New Year, training generally goes quick now until April and the first game. We’re all excited, but we do understand it is only January and we’re trying to use the next three months as wisely as possible so that we’re prepared for the first game.
“There is still quite a high element of fitness involved, but the skill work really kicks in now. That’s the biggest earner out in the middle.
“I had a hit this morning and I’ve missed the feeling of bat on ball. It’s important for me as an experienced player that I’m aware of what I need to do before that first game. How I go through the gears in training has taken me many a pre-season to develop.”
Derbyshire face Middlesex in the season opener at The 3aaa County Ground, starting on Friday 20 April and the opening batsman is looking forward to playing against his former club and giving them a tough contest in Derby.
“Any first game of any season is a big game and Middlesex were the best team in the country 24 months ago.
“I don’t think the position they find themselves in now reflects a huge fall. They are still a highly talented team and have incredible resources. We are really excited for them to come up to Derby from Lord’s, which can be a culture shock, and we’re confident we can give them a tough game.
“One or two of my closest friends are still at Middlesex so it will be a nice experience personally to welcome them here and play them at The 3aaa County Ground.
“Members have the opportunity to see their own team, with new signings and hopefully a bolstered pace attack, and also some Test match bowlers from Middlesex. It all adds up to an interesting spectacle.”
Price freeze for 2018. Club Membership will once again offer one great value price for all in 2018. Join today for only £139, if purchased before 1st February Early Bird deadline.