Chris Rogers: Derbyshire County Cricket Club Captain
As the most fiercely contested battle in any sport, the Ashes, gets underway this month, Derbyshire County Cricket Club's Captain - who just happens to be Australian - fields some questions.
Over the years Derbyshire have had some wonderful overseas batsmen, such as Eddie Barlow, Peter Kirsten and John Wright. How do you feel about following them, and what do you think you have to offer?It is always an honour to be chosen as an overseas player, especially now that there is only one per county, and Derbyshire does have a proud history of overseas batsmen. To follow in their footsteps is obviously an honour and the challenge now is to become part of that tradition by helping making the side successful. Derbyshire is one of the smaller counties. What are the challenges of captaining the side?We do have a lower wage budget than many of our rivals which means that you can't always get the high profile players or those with outstanding first-class records. What we do have, however, is a lot of young players who are making their way so dealing with them and showing them the way to become good cricketers can be hard work but also very satisfying.You have also played for Leicestershire and Northamptonshire. How does Derbyshire compare?I only had three weeks at Leicestershire and that was one of the best three weeks of my life because of scoring the double hundred against Australia. However, last season was one of the most enjoyable I have had in cricket. I had not particularly enjoyed the season in Western Australia and was a bit disillusioned in many respects. Then I came to Derbyshire and had an amazing time both on and off the field. I became friendly with a lot of people and the cricket was as enjoyable as I have ever played. If I was lucky enough to get the spot I was always going to come back because I had enjoyed it so much during the first season.After an Australian summer playing for Western Australia in Perth, how did you cope with Derby early season weather?It can be hard for an Australian to not have the sun on you all of the time and that can affect you mentally. However, I am experienced enough to know what I'm going to get over here and you have just got to ride with it. When you have good days in England they are as good as anywhere in the world, but standing in the slips on those cold days early in the season isn't the most fun I have ever had.
Can you explain how you, the on-field captain, and Head of Cricket John Morris work together, both in the lead-up to matches and during the matches themselves?John and I are quite close. We talk a lot and we have a good relationship. I quite like the system over here which is like a football manager system where John gets to make a lot of the big decisions while I run it on the field. I respect John's decisions and 9 out of 10 of them last year were coming off which was great for the team.Your 248 against Warwickshire last season was the third-highest Derbyshire individual score of all time. Can you better it and break George Davidson's 113-year-old record?I guess if the opportunity came up it would be fantastic and I do think that the pitches we have at Derby this year will suit me, so I am hoping to make quite a few runs. Maybe on my day it might happen, but it is not really something I have set myself out to do. I have got other goals at the moment and being Captain it is more about team success and that is what I am focussing on at the moment.
Do you get to know the members and other regular spectators?A little bit. I have spoken to a few of them and there are a lot of passionate supporters who absolutely love coming to watch the team. I enjoy listening to their opinions.After an encouraging start to the season, can Derbyshire gain promotion from Division 2 of the LVCounty Championship this year?Without a doubt. The depth of our squad is as good as it has ever been, at least for the last ten years, and it rivals any other county in the division. We have got a lot of really good things happening here and if we can put it all together on the field there is no reason why we can't go up. Losing Charl Langeveldt, who was amazing for us last season, was a massive blow, but hopefully our replacement, Nantie Hayward, can do as good a job.Is it difficult for players to cope with so many different forms of cricket (4-day County Championship games, the 40- and 50-over one-day competitions, and Twenty20)?I don't think so. Not anymore. Twenty20 cricket has been around for a while now; it is just a question of adapting your mindset and practising the shots that you want to hit. If anything the hardest thing is going back to first-class cricket when you have to set yourself to bat or bowl for long periods of time.
Who are the young Derbyshire players to look out for this year?We have had a couple of very good pick-ups from other counties such as Garry Park who has been exceptional since signing for us from Durham during the close season. He is a very good player and definitely one to watch. We have also recently signed a few of our young players, namely Dan Redfern, Paul Borrington, Jonathan Clare and Jake Needham, on long-term deals and they are all exceptionally talented. Dan Redfern in particular is such a natural player. The way he bats is very uncomplicated because it is just pure skill; something I wish I had in many respects. He could be a very good player, it is just a matter of him learning the game and continuing to improve. It is the same with Jon Clare. He could be anything and I compare him to Andrew Flintoff in terms of what he can bring to a side. He has got a long way to go to reach that level but I think his batting could be better than Flintoff's one day.Can we dream of seeing a Derbyshire player representing England in the next few years?I think so. Obviously Graham Wagg has got close and was selected for the England Sixes side during the winter. He is an exceptionally talented bloke. I am really hoping that Jonathan and Dan (mentioned above) can kick forward and start pushing for higher honours. It is a long way for them to go but, in this day in age, the selectors like to go for young players and if one of them can show consistent outstanding form I am sure they will get recognised. Hopefully in a few years time it might happen.How do you and the players occupy yourselves on a frustrating day of rain?A few of the guys like to play a bit of poker or play a bit of music. Personally I like to just relax and read the paper or do a crossword or something like that. Really it is a case of trying not to expend any energy so just being as relaxed as you can and not worrying about what is going on outside.What do you like to do on your relatively few days off during the season?I am a big one for down time and I like to relax and try to regroup between matches. If the chance comes this year I will try to get away for a few days, maybe somewhere in Europe. Apart from that it is just a matter of trying to stay fresh for cricket.Will you get to Pride Park to watch Derby County when the football season starts again in August?Last year I got the chance to sit behind the owners at a game, which was interesting because they copped a fair bit of abuse after a loss on that particular day! I really enjoyed that though and I will certainly be knocking on Don Amott's door for a couple more tickets come August.