Derbyshire captain Wayne Madsen believes his team is no one-hit wonder, and that they have what it takes to challenge for a place in Division One of the LV= County Championship this term.
A swift return to the top flight of English cricket is the ultimate aim for Madsen’s men, following on from the disappointment of relegation in 2013 after just one season, and with three wins to their name.
But while their title-winning exploits of 2012 may be tough to emulate, in the face of what is expected to be a challenging and hotly-contested Division Two campaign, the South African batsman is full of optimism.
Speaking at the club’s media day last Friday, he said: “In terms of the four-day game our goal is to get promoted, but there are some good teams in our division and we are going to have to play some very good cricket.
“It was a difficult start to last season, but one of the great things to take out of it was how we bounced back and we created that belief that we were meant to be there. Winning three games towards the back end of the season was a great achievement for us.
“And we have learned a lot. We learned a lot as individuals, but ultimately as a team we gained belief that we have got the quality to be there.
“We are not really to be underestimated like we were a couple of seasons ago. Teams are going to be expecting a lot more from us and we are going to have to show them what we are about, be switched on and really be up for every single game if we want to be successful and get promoted back to Division One.”
Following the postponement of their season-opener at Leicestershire last weekend, as a mark of respect following the tragic death of wicketkeeper Tom Poynton’s dad in a car accident, Derbyshire will start their season at Chelmsford this Sunday against Essex.
Winter acquisition Stephen Moore, the former Lancashire opener, joins a host of familiar faces in the Derbyshire line-up, while prolific former Aussie international batsman Marcus North is added to the books alongside the returning West Indies batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul as the club’s two overseas extras.
30-year-old Madsen said: “There is something special about this team. I believe we have a good mix of experience and youth.
“When we won Division Two we had quite an inexperienced team, but we have gained a lot of experience over the past 12 months with more senior players on board. Also it’s great to have Chiv back as well.”
The four-day game aside, it is the limited-overs discipline where Madsen is hopeful of big improvement.
“We have a huge expectation on what we want to achieve in one-day cricket,” he said. “We’ve set a lot of goals in Abu Dhabi, in terms of Twenty20 and one-day cricket. We played some very good one-day cricket out there, and we want to take that brand that we are developing and creating into the season, and if we can do that I have no doubt we are going to achieve greater levels of success. Getting ourselves to the knock-out stages is the starting point.”
And the club captain will also be looking to take his own game to the next level too, even after a stand-out performance last season which saw him become the first man to score 1,000 LV= County Championship runs in the season as well as being named Championship Player of the Year.
He added: “I realise there’s going to be some expectation. I set high standards for myself and I’m going to go out there as I usually do, with personal expectation to perform.
“Obviously, I’d like to achieve even greater things than what I achieved last season, but your whole objective as a person and as a player is to improve through your career and that’s what I’m looking to do. I’m consistently trying to improve my game and I want to take it to the next level again.”