Alex Hughes has been one of the success stories for Derbyshire in 2017 and his impressive progress was recognised this week when he was awarded his county cap.
The 25-year-old has emerged as a key performer in both four day and limited overs competitions so it was a richly deserved accolade for a very popular cricketer.
The presentation ceremony in front of the timber-framed pavilion at Queen’s Park on Wednesday was the highlight of an otherwise deeply frustrating first two days of the Division Two match against Kent when a wet outfield prevented any play.
It was also significant that Hughes received his cap at Chesterfield where his development as a batsman was marked by a century against Durham in early July.
This season, he has scored more than 650 first-class runs at an average of 35, came top of Derbyshire’s Royal London One Day Cup averages and is regarded as the club’s best fielder.
“The main thing is I’ve been consistent throughout the season and I’ve played in every game so far in all formats which has always been my target,” he said.
“In the past I’ve played a lot of one-day cricket but this year I’ve almost, fingers crossed, completed a full season of first-class cricket.
“I love playing cricket and every time I put on a shirt I feel it’s an honour and I’m very happy that I get to do this for my job.
“The hundred here at Chesterfield earlier in the season was significant because although I was getting some runs I wasn’t getting the big scores so that helped me kick on.”
Hughes has not been as effective as a medium-pace seamer this season but he intends to remedy that by working with bowling coach Tony Palladino over the coming months.
“I will do a lot of work this winter with Tony on my bowling and hopefully become an all-rounder again because I’ve missed bowling this year,” he said.
Hughes has played his part in moving Derbyshire forward this season after a poor 2016 when they failed to win a County Championship game.
This season, they have two victories although the prospect of no play in the game at Chesterfield would mean another summer without a home victory in the Championship.
Coming on the back of the loss of three days to a wet outfield in the match against Glamorgan at Derby two weeks ago, it has been a soggy end to the home programme as chief executive Simon Storey accepted.
Speaking after the abandonment of the second day of the Kent match, he said: “It’s unfortunate and really disappointing.
“There’s been an extraordinary amount of rain in the last couple of weeks and it really poured down on Monday night and that has put paid to cricket on Tuesday and now Wednesday.
“I think we clearly need to look at how we get the best out of Queen’s Park but we are always going to be committed to an out-ground that has been part of our history for over 100 years.”
The Kent game was scheduled to have been played at Derby but was moved because of concerns that a Boyzone concert at the County Ground last Saturday could have damaged the outfield.