Wayne Madsen - Derbyshire cricket's Captain Fantastic
PUBLISHED: 13:31 07 May 2015 | UPDATED: 13:31 07 May 2015
As the cricket season gets underway, Nigel Powlson talks to Wayne Madsen about what's in store for visitors to the 3aaa County Ground
Derbyshire captain Wayne Madsen has every reason to be optimistic about the 2015 cricket season. Fine late season form in 2014 means the club goes into the new campaign with big ambitions on the field and ground development plans in Derby have created a buzz off the pitch as well. And with South Africa-born Wayne now qualified for England, he can’t wait to get started and give the England selectors a few headaches as well as Derbyshire’s opponents.
In many ways the season finished too soon for Derbyshire in 2014. After relegation from the top tier of the County Championship the season started poorly as the club struggled to readjust and Derbyshire didn’t win a game until they visited Leicestershire in mid-June. But after that victory, they were the form team of the division, picking up five more wins to finish fourth – only one win less than champions Hampshire. Early season disappointment in the T20 format also gave way to a late summer improvement in the 50 over game and a quarter final appearance in the Royal London Cup.
Wayne said: ‘We did get some momentum going and we didn’t want the season to end with the cricket we were playing. We were really strong at the back end of the season, not just in the way we were playing but as a squad as well. We were able to take that into the close season. We have had a very good winter not only as a team but as a club with all the ground developments going on. It’s exciting going forward.
‘When you see all the things that are going on around the ground, and the pride in the place, as a player that gives you a lot of encouragement as well. I took a look around the new pavilion and the facilities are first class, with all the other things happening it all bodes well for the club. We feel we are improving on the field and our off the field staff are doing the same. As a club we are moving forward.’
The return of New Zealand batsman Martin Guptill, fresh from the ICC World Cup, is a further boost to Derbyshire’s chances.
Wayne says: ‘He’s a great bloke and a world class player both with the bat and in the field. He was here in 2011 and 2012 and had a huge impact, playing a massive part in us winning division two of the County Championship. So it’s great to have a player of his quality coming back. It’s also not just what he does on the field but off the field as well.’
Derbyshire prepared for the season with some warm weather training, flying out to Abu Dhabi in March.
Wayne says: ‘It’s near impossible to train outside in England at that time of the year, you might get a couple of days here and there, but we need consistent training outside and Abu Dhabi gives us that. Cricketwise we are very fortunate with the facilities we have out there.’
Wayne was born in Durban, South Africa, but has been a resident in the UK since 2008 and this season qualifies to play for England.
For the popular Derbyshire captain that means that 2015 is a year of opportunities, especially given his form over the last two seasons and the lack of consistency in the current England line-up.
He was handed a contract by Derbyshire in 2009 after hitting two centuries in his first four games. His average of 57.78 in his first County Championship season showed just what a talent Derbyshire had snapped up. Appointed captain, he led Derbyshire to the club’s first trophy in two decades as promotion to division one of the County Championship was secured.
Although 2013 would prove a tough year for the club, it was still a season of personal triumph for Wayne. Even though Derbyshire were relegated he led from the front. He was the first player to reach 1,000 runs in division one, eventually scoring 1,221 in total, and was duly named Championship Cricketer of the Year by the Cricket Writers’ Club.
Last season, he notched up back-to-back hundreds in the Royal London One Day Cup, taking Derbyshire to their first quarter final for nine years. If he can display that kind of form again this season then he will give the England selectors something to think about.
Wayne says: ‘It’s not something I have been able to think about before as I haven’t been qualified. Now that has come, it’s an exciting prospect for me as a player. I have shown some consistency in terms of form and that’s why I think it’s a big couple of months for me. If I can get some big scores in April and May then I believe I have a chance of putting my name in the hat and then it is obviously up to the selectors.
‘I consider Derbyshire to be home and when I go back to South Africa, that’s on holiday, because home is here. Derbyshire is home turf and a beautiful part of the world. I love being able to get out on a walk and there is some beautiful countryside around here.’
If Wayne can find top form then that can only boost Derbyshire’s hopes of success this season, so is promotion back to the first division of the County Championship a priority?
‘It’s one of them,’ says Wayne. ‘The other thing we want to do is improve our 20 over cricket. It’s a big part of the club and we get a lot of people down to watch those games. We need to improve our form from last year and getting into the quarter finals is also a priority. We haven’t done it for a long time now, and it’s a part of our game we think we can improve on quite rapidly.
‘After the type of form we showed at the back end of last season, then getting back into division one is something we feel we can achieve and then become a consistent first division team. That’s what you strive for as a county and as a team and that’s what we are looking for. We showed last year that we can string championship wins together and that’s what you need if you are going to be competitive.
‘We have the ability in the squad and it’s starting with a bang for us. At the start of the season you want to do well at all three formats, ultimately it doesn’t always happen but there is no reason why it can’t. It was the quarter finals in the 50 over competition last year and we believe as a squad that we can go even further in that as well. We have optimism as a squad in all three formats.’
The future for English cricket
The poor performance of the England cricket team, especially in the short forms of the game, has led to many commentators believing that we are getting left behind and that strong international competitions like the IPL and the Big Bash are now the proving grounds for top international players, with England’s best missing out.
Derbyshire captain Wayne Madsen believes there is some truth in this view. He says: ‘If you ask many players they will still say that the County Championship is up there as their main competition as a cricketer, the four-day challenge is the toughest of them all. But each format has its unique points which we enjoy as cricketers.
‘Unfortunately, as a country, I feel we are falling behind. When you look around the world and see the IPL and the Big Bash, these are the stand out competitions. We do need to address how we are going to go ahead here in terms of the format. Do we go for franchise cricket like those nations have done? Personally I believe the best way forward is to have a smaller number of teams and a shorter time period where we can attract the best players in the world.
‘To play the competition as we do now over three months, I know as a captain that it’s hard to lure the best T20 players to come, especially for the type of wages they would want.
‘We need our time slot that fits into the international calendar like the IPL and the Big Bash have at present. That’s what I think needs to happen.’
Ground development at Derby
Derbyshire fans will notice big changes at the 3aaa County Ground for the start of the season. A £1 million investment in a state-of the-art new cricket centre of excellence, a new conference and events centre venue and upgraded members’ facilities are just the start, with a further £3 million in facilities proposed between now and the summer of 2017.
Further projects will include a new media centre to support coverage of county cricket, floodlight upgrades and the creation of improved spectator facilities.
Chief executive Simon Storey, said: ‘We have a robust growth model and a strong foundation of delivering a surplus each year and that will continue into the future.
‘The commercial growth we stimulate by hosting big fixtures, unlocking new sources of revenue and attracting visitors to the city will mean we are contributing more to the local economy than ever before, providing more job opportunities. We’ll play an increasingly important role in helping our local community take part in sport and fitness activity. This will also help towards our ambitions for success on-the-field by encouraging more local youngsters to play cricket and providing them with top quality facilities and coaching.’
The plans were further boosted after Derby City Council approved a £2.4 million investment.
Leader of Derby City Council, Councillor Ranjit Banwait, said: ‘The creation of state-of-the-art facilities at the 3aaa County Ground is a flagship project for Derby. Transforming the 3aaa County Ground to an international standard facility will reinforce Derby’s reputation and, alongside the iPro Stadium and the iconic Derby Arena, place us firmly on the international sporting map.’
An LV= County Championship game takes place at Derby from 10th May to 13th May, with Northamptonshire the visitors to the 3aaa County Ground. Gloucestershire are the visitors from 31st May. The first NatWest T20 Blast fixture of the season is on 29th May against Lancashire, and Durham are the visitors on 5th June.
To buy membership, six packs or tickets please call 0871 350 1870 or visit derbyshireccc.com