Graeme Welch happy as Derbyshire develop tougher edge

Derbyshire County Cricket Club 2016, Graeme Welch

Derbyshire County Cricket Club 2016, Graeme Welch

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Graeme Welch wanted Derbyshire to develop a harder edge to their game this season and the signs from the opening matches have been encouraging.

The county’s elite performance director was concerned the team had a reputation for crumbling when the pressure was on and although they go into Sunday’s home game against Sussex without a win, they are unbeaten in the first three matches.

In two of those, Derbyshire had work to do on the last day to prevent a repeat of the defeats to Lancashire and Surrey last season and while the pitches have favoured batsmen, there has been welcome evidence of the resilience Welch was looking for.

Centuries from Chesney Hughes last month at Bristol and on Wednesday at Northampton, where he shared a 215 run opening stand with returning captain Billy Godleman, prevented any possibility of the startling collapses which have undermined Derbyshire all too often.

Welch said: “People have this perception of Derbyshire which is what we are trying to change. They say if you stay in the game long enough they could have one bad session and lose the game.

“That happened against Lancashire and Surrey here last year when we capitulated so we’ve been working on our resilience and robustness.

“I think maybe we had a soft underbelly in the last couple of years , we got pushed and rolled over but I don’t think that will happen this season.”

Competition for places has undoubtedly helped with Ben Slater discovering that potential now has to be supported by increased productivity.

Although the 24-year-old left-hander started respectably enough with 42 at Bristol and 62 in arctic conditions against Glamorgan, it was not enough to keep him in the side when Godleman recovered from a fractured thumb.

Hughes had already stated his case with 96 and an unbeaten 137 against Gloucestershire so his 109 not out at Northampton means Slater could face a lengthy spell in the seconds.