As the song goes, things can only get better for Derbyshire after last season’s troubled campaign and the county believes it is equipped to make an impact this summer.
The batting and bowling departments have been bolstered with quality and experience which former captain Wayne Madsen reckons will help the team move forward in 2017.
Tomorrow’s opening County Championship match against Northamptonshire at Derby will give supporters the chance to gauge just how much improvement has been made but Derbyshire certainly look in better shape to compete across the board.
“We didn’t win a game in championship cricket and for us realistically, things can only improve,” Madsen said. “The important thing is to get our name in the winning column first up and then we can build from there.”
The loss of Mark Footitt and injuries put a strain on what was a relatively inexperienced attack but the arrival of South African fast bowler Hardus Viljoen and the signing of his countryman Imran Tahir should change that.
Tahir’s leg-spin will be a big weapon, particularly in one-day games when he arrives at the end of June, with Sri Lankan all-rounder Jeevan Mendis filling the overseas berth until then, while Viljoen will provide the hostility that was missing last year.
“It’s going to have a huge impact for us. We’ve added strength in depth and experience in Hardus, Imran and Jeevan and the signings we’ve made will give us a much better chance of taking 20 wickets.
“We’ve got a strike bowler now and it gives us that extra firepower that we need in the attack. When we’re looking for a wicket we can give Hardus the ball because he’s got that pace that takes wickets and he will also help the other bowlers so it will give us that little bit of x factor which is crucial.
“He did very well for Kent last year, and that experience of playing in English conditions will stand him and us in good stead. “
Derbyshire has signed another South African, 33-year-old batsman Daryn Smit on a two year deal to bolster the batting after successful seasons with Ramsbottom in the Lancashire League and a double hundred for the 2nd team at the end of last season.
He is a player Madsen knows well and one he rates highly. “He’ll add huge value to the team with his personality and his experience in the game.
“It will be great to play with him again and he will be good for the team all-round because he can bowl leg-spin and he can keep wicket as well if necessary.
“He’s a tough cricketer, he’ll bat long periods when he needs to in the championship and he’ll score quickly in one-day games. I think in the middle of the innings we could work really well together.
“Fresh faces bring in fresh energy and will add that little bit extra that we need to bounce back and be successful this year.”