All-rounder Alex Hughes is ready to make his mark as a red ball bowler this season after a productive winter under new Head of Cricket, Dave Houghton.
Following Hardus Viljoen’s departure, there is an onus on Hughes and Luis Reece to take wickets and complement the likes of Logan Van Beek, Ravi Rampaul and Tony Palladino in Derbyshire’s bowling attack.
Hughes was a key player in white ball cricket last summer, particularly in T20 where he was top of the bowling averages with 17 wickets, and now wants to replicate that success in the county championship.
The 27-year-old has been working over the winter with bowling and assistant coach Steve Kirby who has made some minor adjustments which he believes will help him deliver more consistently.
“Kirb’s [Steve Kirby] has given me some new ideas and changed my action slightly,” he said. “Nothing major but it will help my consistency.
“When you bowl at my pace you’ve got to be accurate so it’s been about trying to get rid of the bad balls and as long as I can put the batsmen under pressure for as long as possible, that’s my job in the team and if wickets come, all the better.
“I’m not sure if I’ll get Hardus’ role of bowling at 90mph – well maybe not this year! – but I’ve been bowling well throughout pre-season so I feel I can make an impact with my little medium pacers.
“Last year in the one-day games I bowled a lot more and towards the end of the red ball season I was successful.
“We had four front line bowlers that we played throughout the first half of last season which didn’t give me much opportunity and I understood that.
“But we might go for a different team this year and we have a couple of all-rounders in myself and Reecey [Luis Reece] who can offer options with the ball so if I get the opportunity I’ll be buzzing to go.”
Hughes is also hoping the influence of new head of cricket Dave Houghton will result in increased productivity with the bat.
“Dave is a really good person to talk to about cricket in general. He’s got so much experience and is a such a well respected figure. When I first came here in 2012 he was assistant coach so I did my apprenticeship underneath him.
“Now I’m a more experienced player and know my game more, I think you understand cricket a lot more so it’s almost better trying to take things from him now.
“When I’m in a batting session with him, not only is the technical side good but how to approach the game is also invaluable.
“He tries to make it as simple as possible, simplify your technique, simplify your game plan to be able to perform well. That’s the key to batting, it’s about watching the ball and he’s superb to work with.”
Derbyshire are often tipped as outsiders on the county circuit, but Hughes believes that if they will perform at the top of their game they are able to challenge.
“We haven’t got as much money as some of the teams we play so we know we have to fight as hard as we can.
“We know we can beat any team in the country, it’s about being consistent with our performances, you can’t have many off-days, and we have to be on it all the time.”
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