Derbyshire all-rounder Luis Reece looks ahead to the new T20 season
PUBLISHED: 00:00 10 July 2019
As the team prepares for T20 Blast, Derbyshire County cricketer Luis Reece gives an update on the current season and his own fund-raising efforts for charity
Luis Reece had just scored a century when Derbyshire Life caught up with the all-rounder to chat about the forthcoming T20 season but sadly his efforts against Glamorgan in the County Championship were in a losing cause.
Derbyshire lost a tight and exciting game by two wickets. The visitors chased down the required runs despite losing eight wickets and with the overs running out.
Luis said: 'It was disappointing after working so hard to fall just short. We played some good cricket and I was able to stick my hand up and score a few in the first innings which is always personally quite nice.
'The four-day game is still the toughest cricket to play. That was a match that both sides thought they could win at different stages and it was a good advert for that format of the game and just shows how the drama can build to provide such a tense finish.
'The bigger crowds and the TV draw you into the 20 over game but in four-day cricket you are testing your skills over a longer time and you get great satisfaction in winning games and in those personal milestones. It's very rewarding as you have to invest so much time and effort into it. It's still the pinnacle of the game.'
Sadly, the Glamorgan result was another case of nearly for Derbyshire which has been the recent pattern - where if the close calls had gone in their favour things might have been different.
Derbyshire have yet to make it to T20 finals day at Edgbaston but were just one game away in 2017 losing a quarter-final to Hampshire. They were blown away by one of the greatest T20 Blast knocks of all-time with Pakistan international Shahid Afridi scoring a century off just 42 balls. It was a brutal display that bludgeoned Derbyshire out of the game. But it might have been different if Afridi hadn't been dropped in the eighth over with the score on 98.
Last year, Derbyshire got off to a poor start in the competition, losing the first four games, and never recovered despite going on to play some good cricket in the competition.
One of the factors counting against them was the absence of Luis Reece, who suffered a metatarsal injury forcing him to miss the bulk of the season.
This year both he and Derbyshire are looking to push hard for a place on finals day.
He said: 'The games come thick and fast and you tend to get into the zone. The crowds and rapid intensity of the game make it very enjoyable. To play on TV and in front of big crowds is what every sportsperson wants to do, and cricket is no different.'
Former Derbyshire and England bowler Dominic Cork will be heading the T20 coaching this season, something Luis is looking forward to.
'He has been with us a couple of years assisting with the coaching so the boys are very familiar with him and know how good he is with the playing group. He brings an energy as well as his skills and experience, and I'm sure we will all respond really well to him. His hunger for success is infectious.'
Joining Derbyshire for the T20 Blast season will be Australian fast bowler Billy Stanlake.
Luis said: 'Somebody who bowls at 90 mph from the height he has won't be nice for any batter to face. I certainly won't be queuing up in the nets to face him! Hopefully, that pace will starts us off in games really well.
'We have done well in white ball cricket in the last couple of years and I'm sure Billy will add to that. We all want to make finals day. We fell agonisingly short two years ago when it was all down to Afridi and that has made us really hungry.
'We had a bad start last year but pulled things around and fell just short again so the boys will be looking to get off to a good start, build momentum and get things rolling. If you do that you will be somewhere near.'
Luis being on the sidelines, with his foot injury, didn't help the Derbyshire cause in 2018.
'I'm not a great watcher,' he said. 'I wanted to be out there with the boys. I came down to every game I could do last year to try and support the boys. I want to stay fit this year, get out on the park and hopefully repeat 2017 and put in some match-winning performances and help Derbyshire win some cricket games. But I think there's plenty of talent in the dressing room so that if someone is injured there are others who can put their hands up and step into those positions.
'We beat some good sides last year and we should take confidence from that and hopefully, when we start we can hit the ground running.'
2019 is big year for cricket with a World Cup in England bringing all the best players to the country and an Ashes series to finish the international season. With no major football tournament, it's a good year for cricket to grab the sporting limelight.
Luis said: 'It's great there is so much exposure for cricket this year and the England white ball team is so good it has to help encourage youngsters to get out there and want to be part of that. The England boys on TV will inspire the next generation to come through which is what all sports people want to do - entertain the crowd and inspire young people to take their place one day.'
Adding to the excitement next year will be the start of the 100-ball tournament which aims to bring a bit of IPL-style glamour to England.
Luis said: 'I'm sure there will be a big buzz around the launch of the new tournament. There are some people who aren't sure how it will go down so the first year will be important in terms of how the competition will be taken. But it's new, exciting and it's where cricket is going at the moment, getting more intense and fast paced.'
Big hitting and big scores are the order of the day in white ball cricket now but has the pendulum swung too far in the batsman's favour?
Luis said: 'The batting side of me says "no". In 50 overs it used to be that 250 was a good score, now you are looking at 350, 400 and beyond and things don't seem to be slowing down.
'One-day cricket is a bit of a bowler's graveyard at the moment. It may be something they look at to see if they can bring reverse swing back into one-day cricket or change the rules. But English one-day cricket has been so free and fast and no-one is sitting in the middle periods being bored so I think that's a good thing. A few years ago, people were milking the middle overs and spectators switched off a little bit between the power plays. Nowadays the positive approach means people remain engaged.
'When people get going, they keep going and there's no longer any element of playing safe and sometimes it's very hard to stop. The way cricket is going, whatever score you post you don't feel safe, but I think that's exciting for the fans as no-one thinks at the halfway stage that the game is dead and buried.
'In 20-over games it's about entertaining the crowd and they want to see sixes and big scores. You can understand why the format is set up like that and why the fans love it.'