When Derbyshire set about improving their record in T20 cricket, it was not just the appointment of a new coach the club hoped would make a difference.
There is no doubt John Wright’s credentials in the Indian Premier League marked him out as a man with coaching skills in the 20-overs game and the players were quick to acknowledge his influence after victories in the opening matches.
But some new faces on the field have also clearly given the Falcons some credibility in the NatWest T20 Blast after defeat at old Trafford on Sunday was followed by another successful run chase at Worcester on Wednesday evening.
It was always likely that the leg-spin of Imran Tahir would strengthen Derbyshire’s hand but other newcomers such as Hardus Viljoen, Matt Henry, Luis Reece, Gary Wilson and Daryn Smit have made significant contributions at key times.
Smit’s authority and agility behind the stumps have impressed and his explosive batting cameo against Yorkshire proved pivotal in the final analysis.
The South African agrees the newcomers have lifted confidence heading into Friday’s meeting with local rivals Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge and Sunday’s contest at Edgbaston before the Falcons embark on three consecutive home games starting with the return against Lancashire on Tuesday evening.
He said: “I think more than 50 per cent of this team have not played T20 for Derbyshire so in a sense that’s not a bad thing because it’s almost like a bit of a fresh start, there are no old wounds or scars or previous memories that are hurting.
“You say winning becomes a habit and likewise so does losing. So often when you lose and lose, you get into a winning position and that habit takes over and you lose but again I think having more than 50 per cent of new faces stands us in good stead because there are no concerns about past habits.
“It’s a fresh looking team with some new energy and that’s probably showed in the way we’ve performed and the brand of cricket we’re playing. We’re not getting ahead of ourselves but there are certainly lots of positives that have set us up well for the remainder of the competition.”
The Wright stuff has also rubbed off on Smith and the rest of the Falcons squad.
“I think he is just so positive, even if it’s just about the weather!” Smit said. “Everything is just great in his words and expressions and that’s flowing into everyone’s performance and mindset.
“The way they are approaching their cricket , the way they’re batting with no fear, the bowlers are backing their plans and executing it well and in the field we are attacking the ball. I’ve no doubt it’s that positivity that is rubbing off on everyone else.”