Former England stalwart Mark Butcher is adamant the fact Derbyshire are still toiling away in LV= County Championship Division Two should not stand in Mark Footitt’s way of international stardom.
Derbyshire finished last season on a high but in truth were below the standard required for an instant return to Division One.
They finished with the fewest batting points in Division Two but boasted the most prolific bowler in the form of left-arm quick Footitt – who ended a remarkable summer with 82 Championship wickets to his name at an average of 19.12 – ten more victims than any other bowler in 2014.
Footitt finished with 106 dismissals across all formats and many expected the 29-year-old to unleash his pace and left-arm action on the international stage after earning a spot in the England Performance Programme fast bowler’s camp in South Africa over the winter.
An abdominal injury curtailed that experience but Butcher believes Footitt’s chances to shine in an England shirt are only just beginning.
“With left-arm quick bowlers being all the rage, there are a couple of those guys to watch this year and Mark Footitt is one,” Butcher said. “The two or three times I saw him last summer, he was very, very lively indeed.
“Obviously, ideally, you would want all of the best players to be competing in Division One and you only pick from there for England but that’s not the way it is.
“Until something drastically changes, that isn’t the way it’s going to be. Selection has always been fraught a little bit with the idea you have to make judgement calls that aren’t always backed up by statistics.
“The England captain has hardly played a game in Division One, so it’s not necessarily a problem for Footitt.
“There are so many players in the pool but when it comes down to guys bowling genuinely quickly, guys bowling over 90mph, like Footitt, it doesn’t matter what division they’re bowling in.
“If you go up a level or down a level, it doesn’t matter – you’re still bowling fast. With those types of guys, it makes it slightly easier to make a judgement call.”
Derbyshire finished last season’s Division Two campaign in fourth as Hampshire and Worcestershire earned promotion, and Butcher fully expects Footitt and co to be back in the equation this time around too.
“I think Surrey will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season and Lancashire will be very disappointed if they don’t go straight back up,” he added.
“I think Derbyshire will be a good side as well and I guess Essex will fancy their chances once again.
“I would be surprised if Surrey, Derby and Lancs weren’t battling it out for promotion right at the very end.”
Keep up to date with the LV= County Championship this season with Mark Butcher’s weekly match previews and highlights of every game. Visit ecb.co.uk/lvcc to discover where Test stars are made.