Derbyshire CCC bosses to meet over Graeme Welch replacement

Derbyshire County Cricket Club 2016, Graeme Welch
Derbyshire County Cricket Club 2016, Graeme Welch

Derbyshire’s hierarchy are due to meet early next week to discuss the way forward after the shock resignation of Graeme Welch but at least his departure has not impacted on the team at a crucial stage of the season.

The reasons behind his decision to step down after nearly two-and-a-half years as elite performance director have yet to be explained but his exit was announced only hours before last Friday’s T20 home game against Leicestershire which was the first of three one-day games in five days.

To make matters worse, one-day captain Wes Durston had suffered a side injury which will rule him out for a month so a change had to be made on the field as well.

The appointment of all-rounder Alex Hughes was also a surprise but in Durston’s absence, he has led the team to three victories to set them up for Friday’s T20 game at Trent Bridge and Sunday’s 50 overs match against Yorkshire at Chesterfield.

Perhaps the decision to turn to Hughes was not the gamble it may have appeared given his experience in the role with the second team although he admitted he was still shocked when he was asked to take over.

“I knew Wes had been injured and I got a call saying would I be interested in doing it and I’m never going to turn a job like that down,” he said.

“I didn’t see it coming but I was very happy to take it on and up there with my debut, it was the proudest moment of my career.

“To get the win as well was a dream come true. It was a bit fuzzy at the start and I was obviously a bit nervous but I got to grips with it.

“It certainly helps when the team is playing fantastic cricket and having guys around me with more experience, I take heed of their knowledge and use them all the time so I feel like I’m not on my own out there which makes it a lot easier.”

Another test of Derbyshire’s one-day credentials will come over the next three days and Hughes admitted: “I would say they are two of the biggest games of the season, the T20 at Trent Bridge and then a Yorkshire side that we love to play against.

“I think in the last couple of years we have improved so I feel that with the additions we’ve got this season and the younger guys having more experience now we are shaping up as a very nice team.”

By the time Durston returns, the club may have appointed a successor to Welch but whatever route the board decides to take, chief executive Simon Storey accepts they must strike a balance between development and achievement.

“It’s a long-term game and along the way we need to see progress in terms of results and development of players, he said.”