DERBYSHIRE Head Coach Karl Krikken has hailed his title-winning side.
Usman Khawaja’s unbeaten 72 at the County Ground led Derbyshire to a six-wicket victory over Hampshire on the final day of the season last Friday.
The result brought to a dramatic close a campaign which saw Derbyshire win six and lose just one of their 16 four-day matches. Their reward is the LV= County Championship Division Two title, along with top-flight cricket next season for the first time since 2000.
Krikken won the 1990 Sunday League and the 1993 Benson & Hedges Cup during his wicketkeeping days at the County Ground, but said this title was his best achievement in 26 years with the club.
“It’s the best feeling I’ve had at Derbyshire,” Krikken said. “Even though we won things here in the early 90s, I was an individual. With being a coach and working with the team all year, I’m delighted 20 fold.
“I’m so pleased for the players because they’ve worked hard this campaign and they thoroughly deserve it. Our success has been hard earned over the course of a tough season.”
Krikken praised the pride his young charges had demonstrated, and the 43-year-old says Derbyshire will continue to put its faith in youth as they embark on life in the First Division next season.
“If you play for Derbyshire you’ve always got a bit of an underdog mentality,” said the coach.
“All the players have shown so much pride in representing the club. We fight, we battle and we basically play as though we have a ‘proud to be Derbyshire’ sign wrapped around our necks.
“The chairman’s got to be thanked massively for formulating the policy of getting youngsters into the forefront of the squad. We’ll put our faith in youth, the coaching staff will focus on the Academy and we’ll put our efforts into keeping guys coming through.
“We’ve been planning for a little while; speaking to some players and thinking about which areas we’ve got to improve. But the people we’re trying to attract are under-25s who are hungry to play cricket.”