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Hughes proud to become leading T20 wicket-taker

Friday 2nd October 2020
& News
Written by Stephen Martin
Photography by: David Griffin

Alex Hughes is delighted to hold the accolade of Derbyshire’s leading wicket-taker in Twenty20 cricket, and says Steve Kirby’s coaching has been key in his recent success with the ball.

The Academy graduate broke Tim Groenewald’s record of 51 dismissals in the format during the win over Leicestershire Foxes last month, having become a key bowler in the middle overs over the last few seasons.

He finished the season on 53 wickets in the Vitality Blast, more than a quarter of which have come in the last two campaigns, after he claimed double figures as the Falcons reached Finals Day in 2019, and then a further four in 2020.

The 29-year-old is proud to have reached the top of the wickets column, but says the work of Assistant Coach (Bowling Lead), Kirby, has played a major role for him.

“I think it shows the time that I’ve been around the team, a lot of hard work has gone into it,” said Hughes.

“I haven’t bowled in every season that I’ve played, I’ve certainly become more of a bowler in the last few years and the wickets are coming more frequently now.

“It’s been a tough road, although I’ve got the most wickets, I’m sure I’ve also been hit for a lot of fours and sixes as well, Twenty20 cricket is very up and down, but it’s really nice to become the leading wicket-taker.

“The type of bowler I am, I haven’t got express pace so I have to make sure I’m making subtle variations and staying one step ahead of the batsman. My reading of the game has to be better, I can’t just bowl a bouncer at 100 miles-per-hour, so I have to out-think them.

“It’s all about learning my own game and talking with the coaches. Steve Kirby has been brilliant since he’s come in, he’s really upped the level of our bowlers, and how we think. I talk to him before every game, about pretty much every batsman about where I should bowl to them, it’s a very thorough process.”

Hughes was joined in the bowling attack this year by a number of inexperienced players, with Dustin Melton, Sam Conners, and Michael Cohen all making their T20 debuts for the club.

The all-rounder enjoyed the opportunity to offer advice and believes Derbyshire’s developing talents will benefit from the experience, even when they struggled against tough opposition.

“This year, I felt like I took more of a leading role, in terms of talking to the bowlers,” he added.

“Only from experience, they’re a lot more talented than I am, they bowl a lot quicker and I think they’ll be better than I am when they’ve played as many games as I have.

“It’s really encouraging, T20 is a tough format to get started in, but they’ll all get better for the games that they got slogged in, and those boys will come back stronger in the next couple of years and play a leading role.”

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