Cricket: DeFreitas to take the reins

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The Independent Online
Sussex 200-9 dec

Derbyshire 233-9

Match drawn

No play yesterday left Derbyshire's committee time to reflect before they meet tomorrow in the hope of establishing a way forward following Dean Jones's shock resignation as captain and overseas player. Among the decisions they are likely to take is to entrust the reuniting of a disenchanted dressing-room to their experienced England bowler, Phillip DeFreitas, who is ready to accept the captaincy at least for the remainder of this season.

Given his own reputation for volatile temperament, it is an appointment few would once have predicted but DeFreitas believes that after 13 years in cricket, 11 of them as an international, he has acquired the necessary knowledge and maturity. "I have led the side before as vice- captain, but I had not really given much thought to doing the job full- time," he said. "That's something that will obviously change now, although I'm not the type to lie awake worrying about it. It's a hard job to be captain but I've served under the likes of Mike Gatting and David Hughes in successful teams as well as Kim Barnett here. There are plenty of people in the team who I can look towards for help."

DeFreitas shudders at the idea of being called a veteran. However, at 31 and with 44 Test caps behind him, not to mention more than 100 one- day internationals, he is a little old for the "angry young man" image that has followed him since his early days at Leicestershire. "The more you play the more experienced you get. I'm more mature now and I feel I'm a better player than I ever have been. In any case, I'm a great believer in the fact that if you have 11 guys all working for one another and pulling in the same direction, the team virtually captains itself."

Achieving that might not be so easy. The confrontational leadership methods favoured by Jones left the Derbyshire dressing-room deeply unhappy, with opposition to the former Australian Test star not limited merely to the "senior players" he blamed for his departure.

Peace has yet to be made with Barnett, fined a total of pounds 1,500 for breaking a ban on public comment imposed on the players, while the future of the coach, Les Stillman - Jones's supposedly close ally - is far from certain.

It is understood that the players have insisted that Stillman issues a rebuttal of the comments made by Jones. The official line is that Stillman's position is unaffected but a switch to second XI and scouting duties is likely to be permanent with the present second-team coach Andy Hayhurst taking charge of the senior team. Whether Stillman can accept this effective demotion remains to be seen.