T20 BLAST PREVIEW: The onus will again be on Billy Godleman and Wayne Madsen as the Falcons aim to put their near-miss last season behind them.
Coach: Dominic Cork
Captain: Billy Godleman
Overseas: Logan van Beek
Last season: 7th in North Division
You can divide the Falcons' campaign into three equal parts. They lost their opening four games, twice to Lancashire, by some heavy margins to leave them on the back foot as far as net run-rate was concerned. They stormed back into contention however with five wins on the bounce but their campaign was ended by rain, with a no result and an abandonment curtailing hopes of reaching the quarter-finals.
Wayne Madsen holds the top order together
Wayne Madsen: In a campaign which is expected to be dominated by Derbyshire's experienced contingent, Madsen may have a vital role to play at the top of the order. A strike-rate of 130 with 15 half-centuries, three of which came last season. Even in his mid-30s he keeps pushing the boundaries, hitting his career-best score of 76 from 49 balls against Lancashire last July which helped win him a place in the Pakistan Super League.
Billy Godleman: Captain or not, few will have a greater influence on the 2019 season than Godleman. Averaged 51.50 in 2018 with a highest score of 77. Has already enjoyed great success with the white ball this term, striking three successive centuries for Derbyshire in the One-Day Cup to finish as the competition's top scorer. A double century in the red-ball game this term means he is among the most in-form players around.
The top of the order looks rock solid with Godleman and Madsen leading the way. Harvey Hosein has been terrific form in dispatches too and could be pushed up the order. But the real trump card comes with the ball.
The combination of youth and experience in the seam department could have proven to be lethal, but for the withdrawal of Australian fast bowler Billy Stanlake, who has been ruled out of his sting with the county through injury. The loan arrival of Darren Stevens adds match-winning experience with bat and ball.
Darren Stevens is a hugely experienced T20 campaigner
Beyond what is likely to be the top two the batting line-up looks thin on quality and a genuine pinch-hitter in the middle order, which could hinder setting substantial totals or chasing. Additionally, there are justifiable concerns over the spin department with Mark Watt and Leus du Plooy likely to do much of the leg-work.
The North Division is always a bit of a blank canvass in these white-ball competitions, and it has become even more blurred amid Durham and Nottinghamshire's troubles and what was an all-south One-Day Cup final. A top-four place is well within reach as a result if they can achieve greater consistency.
Strongest XI (with T20 Player Index ratings): Billy Godleman (371), Wayne Madsen (198), Mark Watt (289), Leus du Plooy (1605), Alex Hughes (351), Matt Critchley (428), Anuj Dal (886), Darren Stevens (790), Harvey Hosein (1291), Logan van Beek (620), Ravi Rampaul (341)
Fixtures: Jul 20 - Yorkshire (h), Jul 24 - Birmingham (a), Jul 26 - Nottinghamshire (h), Jul 28 - Lancashire (h), Jul 31 - Worcestershire (a), Aug 2 - Northamptonshire (a), Aug 9 - Durham (h), Aug 11 - Yorkshire (a), Aug 13 - Worcestershire (h), Aug 15 - Leicestershire (h), Aug 16 - Nottinghamshire (a), Aug 23 - Northamptonshire (h), Aug 25 - Derbyshire (a), Aug 26 - Lancashire (a)
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