Kim Barnett
Derbyshire Life|April 2017

As the county cricket season opens, Nigel Powlson meets the returning Derbyshire cricketing hero...

AFTER a disappointing 2016 season, Derbyshire County Cricket Club has turned to one of its most celebrated batting heroes in order to revive its fortunes.

In more than 20 years at the crease, Kim Barnett wrote himself into the county’s history books. He scored 23,854 first class runs for Derbyshire from 1979 to 1988 and more than 12,000 in one day competitions – more than any other batsman for the county. He was Derbyshire captain between 1983 and 1995. He skippered Derbyshire to a Benson and Hedges Cup Final victory in 1993 and the Sunday League title in 1990 and was part of the Natwest Trophy-winning team of 1981. Of the five major trophies claimed by the county in its 147-year history, Kim has played a key part in three.

So with Derbyshire finishing bottom of the second division of the County Championship without securing a single win and failing to make progress to the knock-out stage of either of the two one-day competitions in 2016, Kim was asked to step in.

He had returned to the club as president but last autumn was appointed Director of Cricket. The 56-year-old has accepted the challenge and hopes that his one-year plan will bring the county more success on the pitch in 2017.

He says: ‘It was obviously deemed by people higher up in the club that the cricket wasn’t looking great so as president I was asked to do a report looking at everything – the ground, signings, coaching, you name it. I looked at the structures that were there and not there and where the club was putting its money.

‘The board then asked me to take over this role of Director of Cricket – you get these grand titles but it’s really about strategy and planning – and as we have done what we needed to do over the winter it has now become about co-ordination of the departments.

‘It’s all very well making a report – what’s important is turning it around. But I was always reasonably confident that from September 2016 to September 2017 things could be done to make a major change and point it in the right direction for the future. I said I would do this for a year and then leave it with the relative departments to drive it forward. I’m trying to put a lot of effort into one year to give the players the best chance to sort it out on the field.’

Batsman Billy Godleman will take responsibility for the 50 overs and four day games but another Derbyshire hero has returned to give the T20 campaign a better chance. New Zealand international John Wright, who notched up nearly 15,000 runs for Derbyshire between 1977 and 1988, will bring his expertise to the 20-over competition.

Kim believes that despite the poor showing last season, Derbyshire weren’t as far away from success as results might suggest, with opportunities to win games in the limited over matches being thrown away all too often.

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