Friday, 20 December 2013

Huge debt of gratitude due to Karl Krikken

Had he decided to throw his hat into the ring for the role, the chances are that Karl Krikken would have been a strong contender for the post of Elite Cricket Performance Director at Derbyshire CCC. By no standards could his tenure have been deemed a failure - indeed, he led the county to a trophy, that memorable second division title in 2012.

Yet Krikk opted not to apply for the new role, for reasons known only to him. Maybe his pride was hurt, maybe he didn't want the hassle of interview preparation, maybe he has something else lined up already. The usual confidentiality clause over the parting means we shall perhaps never know, but the undeniable truth is that we are losing the services of a loyal and admirable club man, one who has served us well  for twenty-seven summers.

As a wicket-keeper, he was unorthodox in much the same way that Kim Barnett was with the bat, but equally effective. Ignoring the edgy, non-stop technique behind the stumps, with a rolling gait that compared to a farmer in wellingtons trudging through a muddy field, he had as good a pair of hands as any of his contemporaries. That goal-keeping stance, the subject of disparaging comment among cricketing purists, enabled him to get across to some catches, especially down the leg side, that others wouldn't have got anywhere near. His agility, allied to that glove work, made him a worthy part of an illustrious lineage that went through Harry Elliott, George Dawkes and Bob Taylor.

He was as good a batsman as any of them and played a number of pugnacious knocks, often against the clock or as declaration approached. He batted selflessly and an average of 22 was respectable for a player who generally batted at seven or eight in a side with some handy players.

After retirement as a player he took over the club's fledgling Academy and was responsible for the start of a procession of players into the first-class game. Critics would say that few of them have become established county cricketers and that's a fair point, but Krikk's affable persona, his passion for the game and his technical knowledge served him and them well.

Much as it did when he took over the senior role from John Morris in 2011. Taking over such a position mid-season was never going to be an easy gig, especially when the role saw him dropped into a dressing room where a few people were unsettled. It is to Krikken's eternal credit that he poured oil on troubled waters, smoothed ruffled feathers and turned things around sufficiently to enable the memorable division two title a year later.

He was aided by some shrewd overseas recruitment. Martin Guptill had a massive influence on early-season fortunes, while Usman Khawaja, while perhaps just short of international class, played important knocks when they were most needed. Last winter saw the signing of a genuine legend in Shivnarine Chanderpaul and all three, importantly, proved to be team men with talent, a combination that not all counties manage to secure.

Last season saw relegation confirmed in the last game and Krikken had his share of issues to contend with, before a late-season resurgence almost saw an escape of Houdini magnitude. Injuries to key personnel didn't help, there were off-field issues with a couple of players and the team seemed surprisingly in awe of their opponents at the start of the summer.

Crucially, there were a few occasions where we seemed tactically naive or undercooked, the team outflanked as much as outplayed by opponents of negligibly greater talent. Some of it could be written off to inexperience, but there were occasions where strong situations were squandered and the undeniable fact was that, despite those sterling late-season efforts, we were relegated.

Ongoing naivety - some might call it carelessness - also cost us in the one-day game. Having looked a decent T20 side in the early games for just about the first time since records began, good bowling efforts left victories there to be had against Lancashire at Old Trafford and especially against Yorkshire at Chesterfield. We only needed to work it around and rotate the strike to take the points, yet it proved a task too far. It was a disappointment, especially when large crowds turned up, encouraged by early displays, then it all went horribly pear-shaped against Leicestershire, in a display that could only be described as awful.

Such issues are, I think, behind the change to the coaching set up. There's not that much between Derbyshire and the better sides, as some of the cricket we played last year suggested. Perhaps it comes down to better preparation, a change in emphasis, a different approach, better use of technology. Had he thrown his hat into the ring, Karl Krikken might have been a strong candidate, with a wider-ranging remit and a different structure. So that it is clear, I fully support the move to overhaul the coaching set up, further evidence of an ambitious club that is not prepared to simply make up the numbers. To fault the process is to accept mediocrity and I think our squad is better than that. We needed to get the best man for the role and this exercise should ensure that we do that.

Of the expected candidates, my choice would be Graham Welch,  a coach of growing reputation who is known to make innovative use of technology as well as being a fine coach and excellent man-manager. I think that 'Pop' would be the man to build on the ground work of Karl Krikken and it will take a good man to top him in an interview process. Chris Adams will have his supporters and did an excellent job at Sussex, but external events conspired against him at Surrey and ultimately cost him his job.

More on that in due course, but for now, it is only fair to say thanks to Karl Krikken for a job well done. In the evolutionary process of our club, John Morris started the ball rolling from some pretty dark times, while Karl Krikken gave us a first taste of success and our highest championship placing for some years.

The next man has to take it on, but for now it is time to thank Krikk. He gave it his all and no one can ask for more.

3 comments:

Marc said...

First things first and I too wish the bloke all the best for the future. He,s been a great servant for the club,something which I think we all recognise and appreciate.

I confess to being a little surprised by his decision to quit,but as you say,he obviously has good reasons which may only come to light at a later date. I had a number of issues last season,as you well know,but I would never say he did anything other than his best,even though I often disagreed with him. I think the doubts surrounding his position was somewhat self inflicted,though there were a number of factors which were beyond his control,not least injuries. In the end there were too many glaring errors,perhaps even for those above him to ignore and after such a dreadful first half of the season,his back was very much against the wall. There were times when leadership seemed to be lacking when it was needed most and Krikk often wore the appearance of a man overtaken by events.

In saying that,he did a lot of good for the club and that will always be remembered. We now have to trust those charged with the job of finding a replacement. There appears to be some solid candidates and it seems the decision will be made sooner rather than later. I,m looking forward to the future but feel more than a tinge of sadness for Krikk.

Shaun said...

Don't agree with you on everything Peakfan, but without wishing to sound sycophantic, this article beautifully sums up recent events on and off the field as well as Krikken's huge contribution. I'm sure we are all waiting expectantly and perhaps a bit nervously for the next announcement(s).

Anonymous said...

It is a real shame he's left and it must be a wrench for him after 27 years. Whatever issues there were last season he did an excellent job overall and no doubt goes with everyone's best wishes.
I think the club choosing to advertise the director of cricket must have played a big part in all this; as I've said before it seemed to indicate a lack of confidence in Krik. It was hard to see how he would have been anything other than a diminished figure if he did stay on.
But from the sounds of it there are some excellent names on the short list so looking forward to seeing who is chosen!

Spireite Tim