Cricket: Harsh words spur on Cork

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DOMINIC CORK and his Derbyshire team are relishing another opportunity to prove the critics wrong today, having been written off before their NatWest quarter-final win against Surrey and the semi-final triumph over Leicestershire.

"I read a lot of people saying that it's a waste of time us turning up and I like that," said Cork, who has been re-appointed to lead Derbyshire's campaign next season. "That to me is great, because hopefully we'll prove a few people wrong."

Cork, whose side were even written off by the Scotland coach Jim Love prior to Derbyshire's seven-wicket, second-round victory in Edinburgh, used psychology to spur on his side by taunting them with the harsh words of the Surrey chief executive, Paul Sheldon, prior to the quarter-final at The Oval.

"The one thing I did with the lads before the game against Surrey was to hold a piece of paper up which said that Paul Sheldon was claiming they had drawn one of the weakest sides in the competition.

"I told them that if that didn't motivate them then nothing would. This was a bloke who had never played cricket and he was writing us off!"

Phil Defreitas enters the fray against his former county having completed the transformation from young firebrand to elder statesman of the Derbyshire dressing-room.

The 32-year-old former England all-rounder would not have been the first choice as an example to younger players when he was first attracting notice both on and off the field in his formative years with Leicestershire.

Stories of dressing-room pranks, which made him less than popular with his Grace Road team-mates, plus rumours of more than one pane of glass being shattered in outbreaks of frustration, gave DeFreitas an unwarranted reputation as a troublesome character.

But, as he completes his fifth season with Derbyshire, who were rocked by internal strife throughout last season, he has emerged as something of a father figure for promising youngsters such as Robin Weston and Ben Spendlove.

"I enjoy helping the younger players," DeFreitas said. "When I first started, people called me the bad boy of cricket because of the things I got up to. If I can help younger players through that period of their career I feel pleased about doing that.

"That is something I felt I needed when I was a bit younger. I just needed talking to properly and someone guiding me and telling me what I should be doing."