Derbyshire all-rounder Luis Reece admitted it was ‘gutting’ to see director of cricket Kim Barnett – the architect of his move to the club – leave last month. 

Barnett, who scored over 23,000 runs for the county as a player, made the Lancashire product his first signing when tasked with rebuilding his former side in 2016. 

Hailing Reece as a ‘standout’ performer at the end of last summer, Barnett then announced a three-year contract extension keeping the player at the County Ground until 2020. 

So it’s no surprise the 27-year-old found Barnett’s acrimonious July departure a real wrench. 

“Kim has been brilliant with me, he’s the one who brought me to the club so from a personal point of view it’s been gutting to see him leave,” said Reece.

“At the same time hopefully someone else can come in and continue the great work he did. 

“Derbyshire have taken little steps forward in all competitions over the last couple of years and Kim has been at the forefront of that.  

“The boys are excited to keep the county growing and get it back among the big teams in the big parts of tournaments, bringing some pride back to the county.

“There’s plenty of experience and quality in that dressing room to hopefully put the off-field stuff aside as best we can.”

Indeed, in the immediate aftermath of Barnett’s departure Derbyshire embarked on a five-game winning run in the t20 Blast and secured a four-day victory over Northamptonshire at Chesterfield. 

Reece has been a tormented spectator in that time, unable to contribute to the county’s charge in all competitions after picking up a foot injury set to keep him out until September. 

The issue first arose when Durham overseas star Tom Latham’s drive struck him on the foot in a One-Day Cup game and it was exacerbated against Yorkshire – his last appearance on 30 May. 

The frustration was further compounded by Reece’s fine early-season form, that saw him open his account with an unbeaten 157 in the County Championship against Middlesex. 

“It was one of those times in your career when bat and ball had been going nicely and at that stage you want to keep turning heads,” he said.

“I got to the point when I was doing that regularly but the sport chucks things at you from all directions at any time.

“I’m hopeful I will be able to play some sort of cricket in one of the best summers we’ve ever had. I suppose that’s made it extra frustrating.”

Earlier this month, Reece took the short trip to Repton School to work with youngsters who might be prevented from playing the game they love in a totally different sense. 

The left-armer was on hand to share his expertise with bat and ball at the national festival of Wicketz, a Lord’s Taverners project using cricket as a tool for change, from August 6-8. 

Reece revelled in being a part of the scheme that aims to establishing community clubs in hard-to-reach, deprived areas where opportunities to play sport are lower than average.

“I looked after a variety of age-groups and young cricketers with talent who just want to have an opportunity to play cricket,” said Reece, who worked with kids from 16 UK regions. 

“It’s a very special scheme – everyone should be given an opportunity to play but some people aren’t lucky enough. 

“They’ve come down with a massive smile on their face and to see that is very rewarding. 

“I’ve been lucky enough to spent a bit of time with them in the nets and a few technical pointers that will hopefully help them enjoy the sport more and progress."

Using cricket as a tool for change, Wicketz is aimed at hard-to-reach youngsters aged 8-16 within areas of high deprivation across the UK, by engaging young people who live in communities where there are few opportunities to play the game regularly.