Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Derbyshire v Glamorgan day 3

Regular readers will hopefully be pleased to see that this isn't a description on how to make a dragon tail loom band...

For indeed, victory was ours this morning and we rise, at least for now, to the giddy heights of  fifth in the county championship, division two. With four games to go, it is unlikely that we will rise much further and possible that we could drop a place or two lower, but pride has been restored and funny things happen when teams get on a roll. With games to come against Glamorgan and Surrey away, plus Worcestershire and Leicestershire at home, there are plenty of games and points still to be won.

I had a look at the footage of yesterday's play on the ECB website and the bowling of Mark Footitt was top drawer stuff. I'm not sure how Jacques Rudolph - or indeed anyone - could have played the ball that removed him and it was no real surprise, in seeing such a ball, that we lost four wickets in reaching today's victory target. The value of yesterday's partnership between Tony Palladino and David Wainwright became quite clear and we'd not have wanted to be chasing over 150, that's for sure.

The batting is sure to be the main focus of winter recruitment, our current line-up functional rather than reliable. Eighteen batting bonus points in twelve matches, the least in the country, tells its own sorry tale and we need a couple more people in the batting order who can offer more than sporadic success. By the same token, players improve over the winter and there will be hope and expectation that this will happen with some current members of the batting order.

The main seam bowling looks excellent, but in such form Mark Footitt must surely attract higher recognition. It would also be extraordinary if he were to stay at this level of fitness and credit is due to the physiotherapy and strength/conditioning staff that have kept him that way in a golden summer. The player deserves the utmost praise, thoroughly rewarding the club's faith in him and running in hard to bowl fast all season.

It was interesting to see Notts Viewer's assessment of him below yesterday's piece, though the bowler's old frailties with fitness appear to run deep. Like a good few before him, I don't think Mark realised the work that is required to bowl quickly at first-class level in his younger days, but since back surgery sorted a bulging disc now has a core that finally supports his raw talent to bowl fast. The ability to do that is given to very few cricketers; that to sustain such pace for fifteen to twenty overs a day over six months is a precious commodity indeed.

Tom Taylor's emergence is gratifying, though fans should not expect too much too soon. My understanding is that the young player will be going to university next summer, important for his long-term career prospects but likely meaning that we would be short of his services in the early season. Graeme Welch will be aware that his work load needs monitored and more so that he needs greater back up than a group of promising tyros, especially if it means more work is to fall on that most willing and able of work horses, Tony Palladino.

All that is for the future, but for now let us enjoy the present. Focus switches to one-day cricket this weekend and whether, after a game against Worcestershire on Friday in the T20, we can make a better fist of fifty-over cricket.

I remain to be convinced, at this early stage of the squad's evolution, but I await their performances with interest.

In closing, a couple of weeks back I wrote that a change in Derbyshire's fortunes was going to need a special performance or two.

It is immensely gratifying to report that there has been a collective holding up of hands to do just that.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Derbyshire v Glamorgan day 2

Glamorgan 138 and 175 (Footitt 6-48, Taylor 3-27)
Derbyshire 241 and 13-1

Derbyshire need 60 runs to win

All of a sudden, Derbyshire have got quite good at this four-day cricket...

The "worst team in our history", as described by a fan on another site, who should really be ashamed, has now won, barring a collapse tomorrow that is surely beyond even our darkest days, two games on the trot and moved neatly up the table in the process.

We're not yet a great side and the discerning are well aware of the areas for improvement. But we weren't the worst one either, just a squad short of confidence. That should now be flowing through the side like water through a colander, today's cricket every bit as impressive as that of the first day.

One gets the distinct impression, to use a phrase that Graeme Welch is fond of, that we are now bowling as a unit and, crucially, playing as a team. The trio of Footitt, Palladino and Taylor complement each other nicely and, unlike last year and the early part of this season, the bowlers give little away and act as a mutual support unit in which one or another takes the lead.

If it doesn't always work, David Wainwright chips in and, with Wes Durston back in the team and form, we look a decent and balanced side again - at least in four-day cricket.

Today, the tail did remarkably well to steer us to a lead of over a hundred, despite losing the wickets of the two men most likely to take us to that position in the opening overs. David Wainwright, Tony Palladino and Mark Footitt (pictured) then batted with common sense and no little skill to take us to a position of strength, before Footitt unleashed himself.

On this season's form, there's not a better left-arm bowler in English cricket than Footitt and his new-found fitness, coupled with a vastly improved radar and no loss of pace, makes him one of the most potent weapons in the county game. Only Saeed Ajmal has more wickets than him this summer and opening batsmen must be thinking of career alternatives when it all clicks, as it so obviously did today.

Quite simply, he destroyed a not insignificant batting order, ably assisted by Tom Taylor, whose own form has been quite extraordinary since he made his debut. It is tribute to the young man's progress that no one is mentioning Tim Groenewald  - and few of us would have seen that coming.

No chicken counting tonight, but if we don't seal the win tomorrow, look out for Peakfan's loom band site from next week.

Different author and perhaps a different target audience...

Postscript - if Mark Footitt doesn't get a Lions tour this winter, people at Lords should be ashamed of themselves...

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Derbyshire v Glamorgan day one

Glamorgan 138 all out (Goodwin 44, Hughes 4-46, Palladino 3-14, Footitt 2-37)

Derbyshire 142-6 (Durston 50, Slater 40) 

No doubt about it, that was a very good day for Derbyshire today.

It could have been better, had we held all of our chances and Glamorgan might then not have made a hundred. Yet it is churlish to be overly critical on a day that we have ended four runs ahead with four wickets in hand.

A green track was always likely to make it a good toss to win and, in contrast to the early part of the summer when a few of these went against us, Wayne Madsen won this one and must have enjoyed watching his seam bowlers make excellent use of the conditions.

Irrespective of the help being offered by any wicket, you need to put the ball in the right areas to succeed and our seam quartet did that admirably. Tony Palladino once again returned remarkably parsimonious figures in the finest county tradition and appears not to have been flattered by 14-6-14-3. If Les and Cliff were keeping a wary eye on events today, they'd have nodded approvingly at such excellent bowling.

There was good support from Mark Footitt with two wickets, but the star turn with the ball, at least in so far as wickets are concerned, was Alex Hughes (pictured). 4-46 from twelve overs wasn't the most economical bowling of the day, but he came on, bowled a line and ended up with career-best figures that were well deserved.

With James Harris and Michael Hogan in the opposition, we were unlikely to find batting much easier, but Ben Slater reinforced his positive impression of recent weeks and Wes blazed a typically vibrant fifty. Though the ever-dangerous Hogan got Slater and Tom Taylor in consecutive balls before the close, we ended up four runs ahead with justifiable hopes of extending that tomorrow.

We really need that tail to wag and if we can get upwards of fifty of a lead it will be more than useful in a game that already seems sure to produce a positive result. There's enough batting to come to ensure that we forge on tomorrow, 200 being the first target.

In closing tonight, it is worth mentioning that in a season that has not been one of the better ones in living memory, we have seen plenty of young players make sizeable strides forward. Slater, Hughes, Taylor, Cork, Knight, Hosein, Cotton - that's quite an impressive list.

I'd also suggest that both Tony Palladino and Mark Footitt are improved, especially in their lines and length, both much more economical than has been the case in the past, without loss of potency in either case.

While there have been plenty of comments about the cricket played this year, credit has to be given where its due and, even in such a short time that they have been in post, the coaches are showing improvements in their charges.

Give them a winter to work on the younger ones, add in the new players we seek and...who knows?

Postscript - congratulations to Gareth Cross on his 200th first-class victim behind the stumps. A telling time to make a serious contribution with the bat, eh?

Book Review: Touched by Greatness - the story of Tom Graveney, England's much-loved cricketer by Andrew Murtagh

Those of a certain age will recall Andrew Murtagh as a bustling, whole-hearted seam bowler for Hampshire in their successful period of the 1970s. With this book on the legendary England batsman, Tom Graveney, he proves himself an even better writer.

My earliest televised memory of cricket was a Test match in which England were playing the West Indies in 1966. It was the final match of the series in which we has been soundly beaten by a Sobers-inspired team of fine players. Yet for that last Test, Brian Close was recalled as captain and England recovered from a parlous 166-7 to make 527, largely thanks to Graveney, who made a quite magnificent 165, sharing a huge partnership with John Murray, who made 112. We then went on to win the game, which didn't happen that often against the West Indies side of that era.

I still recall the easy, languid style of Graveney as I watched on my uncle Geoff's old black and white television. That high back lift and high grip on the bat, as well as a technique that looked comfortable and organised. He always seemed to have so much time, a sure sign of a good player and his record confirms that he was much more than that.

48,000 first-class runs and nearly 5,000 in Test matches, both at a mid-forties average. Yes, he could play, but it was not so much the runs that he made as the way that he made them - it ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it, as the old song goes. Tom Graveney had style, grace, elan and the ability to make a dull day's cricket that much better, simply by taking guard.

The surprise is that he didn't play more for England, but as we in Derbyshire know all too well, the selection of England sides for  many years after the Second World War was riddled with bias and snobbery. A man prepared to stand his ground, Graveney upset officialdom at times and their response was to omit him from teams, in favour of others who weren't in the same league.

It was England's loss, but very much his county's gain, as Graveney gave first Gloucestershire and then Worcestershire sterling service. While some international players coasted through their county commitments, Graveney was often the difference between his county winning and losing games, his form for Worcestershire a major reason for their championship successes of the 1960s.

He later became a respected commentator, very much in the Jim Laker vein of letting the pictures do much of the work and chipping in when it was worthwhile.  Then, and somewhat ironically in the light of much of what had gone on before, he was elected president of the MCC, where his genial nature and willingness to talk to everyone, irrespective of their background, won him many more friends.

A book on a player of such importance is long overdue and it is to the credit of both author and publisher that it has seen the light of day. Tom Graveney is 87 and not in the best of health but the easy conversational style of the author and the excellent collection of photographs transports the reader back to a time when the player was in his pomp and the game seemed far more innocent than it does today.

A worthy addition to any cricket library and perhaps my favourite book of this summer.

Touched by Greatness - the story of Tom Graveney, England's much-loved cricketer is written by Andrew Murtagh and published by Pitch Publishing. It is available from all good book shops and is currently on Amazon priced £18.99

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Signing targets - the game we love to play...

With over two months of the season still to go, the game that all sports fans love to play is alive and well.

Who are we going to sign? That Derbyshire have substantial resources available, according to a recent interview with the chairman, has sent message boards and my email account into overdrive.

I've seen lots of names suggested, some of them players whose best days are well behind them. I sincerely hope that the days of Derbyshire becoming one last pay day for the imminently retired are consigned to the past, so I see no merit in some of the names being suggested for county colours.

There's also a few being named who are under contract and therefore non-starters. Jim Allenby, a name mentioned by a few people, is under contract until 2017, Richard Pyrah at Yorkshire until 2015 and old boy Graham Wagg likewise. So too Wayne White and unless we are prepared to 'buy out' their contract (unlikely, I'd suggest) they are non-starters.Having said that, all are good players, worthy of consideration otherwise. Then there's Michael Carberry or Nick Compton as openers, but both are under contract for at least another two years.

There are others who are in the second elevens of fairly ordinary sides, something that speaks volumes for their worth in changing fortunes at Derbyshire. There is, to be fair, greater merit in signing a second team player from Yorkshire than from Leicestershire and there are a handful of decent players on the fringes of the county circuit who might possibly improve our side. The question to ask, in each case for me, is simple - will they simply help us to be more competitive, or will they genuinely make us a better side with aspirations of success?

I see no point in signing an average fringe player just because we can and nor do we want to block the paths of young bowlers with the signing of only moderate players from elsewhere. Having had a taste of first team action in recent weeks, it would appear counter-productive to see Tom Taylor, Greg Cork and Ben Cotton all back in regular second team duty next summer - at least unless we sign someone special.

I've seen comments to the effect that we will struggle to attract the right players, but much will depend on the attitude of those players and what they want from their careers. There is much to like in the future-planning at Derbyshire and unless there were counties out there prepared to offer silly money  - against which one can never legislate - we can probably match most of them this winter if the right player became available.

Like most of you, I am unaware of everyone who is out of contract this Autumn, but of those who are, there's a handful who I feel would benefit us:

Will Gidman - a very good county player and a classic late developer. Released by Durham aged 25, this summer he has nearly 700 runs at 57, as well as 38 wickets at 21. Coming to his peak as a player and a fine cricketer who Graeme Welch, a fellow Geordie, should know well.

Nathan Buck - with 39 wickets at 28, Buck carries the Leicestershire attack. So much so that he has had a few injuries, but he would be an asset to any side and, at 23, is only going to get better. Like Gidman, I suspect Welch could improve him still further. Doubtless there will be interest down at Trent Bridge too.

Josh Cobb - a mercurial player who has yet to translate his talent into weight of runs, Cobb still averages 35 in the championship this summer and is a very fine one-day player. I am concerned at a 'proper cricket' average of 25 but he would improve our one-day side considerably and has time on his side to improve. Fits the description of 'match-winner' very nicely.

Richard Jones - another seamer and no, I'm not advocating signing all of them! Jones is a fine talent but has had injury issues that now seem behind him, though he cannot force a way into Warwickshire's attack. Has been on loan at Leicestershire  and would be a good signing for a Derbyshire side that only has two senior seamers without question marks on their future.

Oliver Hannon-Dalby - in interviews has spoken  very highly of Graeme Welch and at 6' 8" the tall Yorkshire lad. like those named above, would improve the side. Crucially, he is another who, at 25, should only get better and needs first-class cricket.

Laurie Evans - the former Surrey man has done well at Edgbaston but has struggled a little this year. A mid-thirties career average highlights his ability but I have a feeling he may head back down south. Good in one and four-day cricket.

And one from left field...

Will Rhodes - young Yorkshire all-rounder of considerable potential who needs to be playing senior cricket sometime soon. At 19 he appears to be a fine talent, perhaps more advanced with the bat at this stage, but there is no obvious path into the Yorkshire side. I just wonder if the Yorkshire input to our coaching staff might have a role to play? A move would be cheeky, but why not?

I'm unaware of the overall contractual situation at Warwickshire, but Graeme Welch will know their players well. Likewise, we should have a good knowledge of available players in Yorkshire and I would be surprised if many of our winter targets were from the south of the country.

Well worth keeping an eye on - but then it will be a fascinating winter, as Graeme Welch gets a chance to mould his own team for the first time.

And as always, I'd welcome your thoughts.

Derbyshire v Glamorgan preview

There will doubtless have been a spring in the step of a few players after the result at Cheltenham this week and rightly so. It was a team effort to be proud of and one that gave them justifiable optimism for the remainder of the summer. From being down among the dead men, we can start to look - perhaps furtively at this stage - at a position of mid-table respectability.

Maybe the latter isn't the right word. because there's enough talent in this squad to be better than that, but the Gloucestershire game was perhaps the first one of the summer where we replicated the success of the 2012 summer. All the players did their bit and that's what happens in the best sides. There will be days when someone takes a starring role, but there are few games of cricket dominated by one man and most are won by an eleven that is greater than the sum of its constituent parts.

For all that this has been a largely miserable summer, I think that we will look back on it in time as the catalyst in our fortunes. A few players have been proven to be short of the level required for one reason or another, while others have made their first forays into what could well be successful careers.

Slater, Taylor, Cotton, Cork, Hosein, Knight - these are names that could form the nucleus of Derbyshire sides for the next five to ten years, alongside Alex Hughes and Tom Poynton, while more will emerge. All have much work to do, but Graeme Welch will be happy with the young talent at his disposal and now needs time to work with it and bring in others who can augment it over the next couple of winters.

For now, he will go with the eleven that did so well at Cheltenham and rightly so. The eleven thus lines up:

Slater, Godleman, Madsen, Chanderpaul, Durston, Hughes, Cross, Wainwright, Palladino, Taylor, Footitt.

For those who like their statistics, Mark Footitt needs six wickets to reach fifty for the first time in what has already been his most successful summer in the county game. Meanwhile, Shiv needs 18 to reach five hundred runs and has six fifties in his ten first-class innings so far. Hopefully this is the one in which he goes past three figures.

If we win this one, we can leapfrog both Gloucestershire and our visitors tomorrow, Glamorgan. They have some fine players, with South African Jacques Rudolph and Aussie Jim Allenby turning in consistent performances. William Bragg leads their batting, however and they bat long, with Mark Wallace a constant thorn in our side over the years.

Graeme Wagg returned from a side strain the other night but may be deemed not ready for a four-day game, so their former player James Harris, recently returned on loan from Middlesex, could open the bowling opposite the very impressive Aussie Michael Hogan, with spin in the hands of Dean Cosker, who seems to have been around since I was at school...

These are two well-matched sides and with a decent forecast over the next four days it should be a good game. Who will come out on top is hard to call, but if we can replicate the form and commitment of Cheltenham, we're good enough to win this one and continue a belated but important  move up the table.

As always, I await your thoughts with interest.

Postscript - for those who have suggested elsewhere that this is our worst-ever summer, I suggest that you look at the fortunes of our county in 1920. We used 38 players that summer and lost seventeen of our eighteen matches, the other being abandoned without a ball bowled.

Our highest run-scorer just topped five hundred, while Arthur Morton (700 overs) and Sam Cadman (500) carried the attack and bowled more than everyone else combined.

It was the nadir of our fortunes and Cadman subsequently became the county coach responsible for the successful side that came together in the late 1920's and were a force in the 1930's.

As I've said before, time, gentlemen, please...

Postscript 2 - Glamorgan squad:  J Rudolph, W Bragg, M Goodwin, C Cooke, B Wright, J Allenby, M Wallace (capt), J Harris, D Cosker, K Bull, W Owen, M Hogan.

Congratulations to Harvey Hosein

The progression of young cricketers at Derbyshire has again been emphasised by the two-year professional contract awarded to Harvey Hosein yesterday.

I first heard his name mentioned around three years ago, when a good judge of cricket talent told me that the young lad (at that time) had 'fantastic hands' and could handle a bat. The person concerned is not known for hyperbole and so the comment stuck with me. Three years down the line, having kept an eye on his progress in the leagues and lower elevens between times, I can say that the potential is considerable.

He's already been working with Bruce French at Loughborough and the specialist coaching that he will get from Simon Guy will hopefully help him make the step up to the senior squad an easier transition than might otherwise have been the case. Nor should the work done by Howard Dytham be overlooked in his progression.

We should not be too hasty, however. At seventeen he still has schooling and could have university lined up thereafter. While Graeme Welch has suggested that he could make his senior debut before the end of the summer, we may have to wait before he is a genuine and regularly available contender for the gloves with Tom Poynton.

Of course, Derbyshire will know his future plans and they will largely dictate the contract situation of Gaz Cross at the end of the season. The latter is gradually getting into batting form, while his glove work, one poor game excepted, has generally been of a high quality. Unless Hosein eschews further education at this stage and is therefore available to us from April to June, I suspect we will see an offer made to Cross to stay on for at least another year.

Whatever else happens in the close season, it would appear that our wicket-keepers are not going to be a source of concern.

Well done Harvey!

Photograph courtesy of Derby Evening Telegraph.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Lancashire v Derbyshire T20

It was always unlikely that we would give a Lancashire side that was close to full strength a close game tonight, but all things considered a young Derbyshire side acquitted itself fairly well.

A young attack took some stick from a powerful batting line up that got off to the ideal start through Ashwell Prince, but they stuck to their task well and it was only the last couple of overs, when Lancashire scored 35 runs, that took the score outwith any realistic hopes we may have held by that stage.

Nonetheless it was good experience for young bowlers in front of a large partisan crowd and they will learn from it. If nothing else, Ben Cotton and Greg Cork now know things that they have to work on over the winter to be better at the requisite skills another year.

The batting could easily have collapsed after the home side's assault, but to their credit we gave a good account of ourselves and managed not far short of ten an over. We again made decent use of the Power play and, having been critical of this area of our game in early season, I will accept that improvements have been made. The effect of these on our final total, as in the last game, is patently obvious.

With the championship game against Glamorgan starting at Derby on Sunday, Graeme Welch rightly decided to rest his seamers from yesterday's success at Cheltenham and that decision will hopefully pay dividends in due course.

More on that game tomorrow. Tonight was another T20 defeat in a horrible season, even by our standards, for that competition. Yet in adversity there were glimpses of lessons being learned and improvements made.

That's all we can hope for at this stage.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Gloucestershire v Derbyshire day four

Gloucestershire 356 and 219
Derbyshire 372 and 208-4 (Godleman 54, Chanderpaul 52 not)

Derbyshire won by six wickets

A fully professional team performance, with the emphasis on 'team'.

Derbyshire emerged from the final day of what was a terrific advert for County Championship cricket with the win points, thanks to a display in which every member of the eleven made a contribution over four days. While it would have been nice for one or two of the batsmen to go on to a bigger, more match-defining score, they made as good a team approach to run scoring today as they did first time around. The result was satisfying and, after a solid start given by Ben Slater and Billy Godleman, never in real doubt.

Tonight is a good night to be a Derbyshire fan and it's a great one to be writing a blog. At the start of the day, Gloucestershire's overnight batsmen looked to be taking them to a challenging lead, but sharp fielding by Ben Slater at short leg ran out Tom Smith, before David Wainwright and Wes Durston summarily disposed of the tail.

I said last night that it would be important to get bowlers on at the right time and at the right end and so it proved. The wicket was never one where a batsmen felt he could book in for bed and breakfast, but it was important to play shots and despatch the bad balls to keep the upper hand.

When it was our turn to bat, we did just that. We scored at just under four an over, building from that steady opening stand with two players, in Madsen and Chanderpaul, that you really hope to have at the crease in such circumstances.

When the skipper went, Wes came in and again played with freedom, almost in one-day mode. To be honest, he's a much better player when he does that. If he plays 'proper' cricket he tends to be less effective and looks a little ponderous, but if he comes off, as he did in both innings here, he scores with such speed that the game can change in half an hour. Throw in the balance that he gives the side and Durston's return to form is as timely as it is welcome.

I'll not suggest our troubles are behind us, especially when we're in T20 action again soon, but there appears to be the nucleus of a side coming together. Ben Slater looks like he belongs at this level, Wes is back in form and Alex Hughes looks a good cricketer at six.

Mark Footitt is closing in on fifty wickets, Tony Palladino is bowling accurately and well, while Tom Taylor looks better with every game. David Wainwright is taking wickets again while Gareth Cross hints at a return to the batting success he enjoyed at Old Trafford.

I'm pleased for Wayne Madsen, as well as for Graeme Welch and his coaching staff tonight. If you've not already done so, Ant Botha's interview in the Derby Telegraph today is well worth a read and outlines the way forward for the club.

Perhaps most of all tonight I am happy for Shivnarine Chanderpaul. Fast closing in on his fortieth birthday, which comes next month, he's perhaps not quite the player he was and there has been criticism from some quarters about his form this summer.

Yet he's still averaging sixty, which really tells you how good he was at his best. He finished it today with a straight six and whatever else happens this summer, it has been a privilege to see an undoubted great of the game in the county colours.

If this is his county swansong, it looks like he intends to go out with a bang.

But if it's not...who knows?

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Gloucestershire v Derbyshire day 3

Gloucestershire 356 and 137-5 (Marshall 43 not)
Derbyshire  372 (Madsen 80, Chanderpaul 73, Slater 70, Durston 58)

Gloucestershire lead by 121 runs

With a day to go in an absorbing, probably perfect game of four-day cricket, all three results are possible.

Today was a very good day for Derbyshire, who did very well but perhaps could and should have done better. Of the home side's first innings of 356, 260 runs came from two players, leaving the rest to struggle, on the whole. Conversely, we had four batsmen who made fifty, but none of them went past eighty, something with which they will be disappointed. While the innings marked a far greater concerted effort than we have seen for much of the season, to go from 314-4 to an all out 372 was a little disappointing. More importantly, it let our hosts back into a match we were walking away with.

The final day is nicely set. Gloucestershire are 121 runs ahead with Hamish Marshall their main hope for setting us a tricky - i.e. 200-plus - total to win. The game reminds me of our run chase at Taunton last year and I suspect we're going to need a big effort from someone, as well as a collective effort, to get past the winning post.

Choice of bowlers will be key. There's something in it for seamers and spinners, but it will be important to get the right man at the right end, and quickly. Marshall and Howell could yet put the game beyond us and it will be interesting to see how we approach the target tomorrow.

The wicket isn't easy, but, as Ben Slater said last night, if you can get in it is possible to score runs on it. A fourth day track is likely to have your name on it at some point, so it is important that we don't take the attritional route and allow the bowlers to dominate and set attacking fields. Wes Durston played his natural game today and it was absolutely right for him to do so. He's a better player when he plays his shots anyway, always easier if the spadework had been done by the early order batsmen as it has been in this match so far.

We need to be batting by lunch. I'd suggest that we are currently in the box seat of this game, but need to be ready to battle from the first ball tomorrow, work through the tail and then be ready to chase around 175-180.

More than that and I'd be wary of our chances, but there's a lot to play for tomorrow.

And there is enough talent in this Derbyshire side to finish the job, if they show the requisite self-belief.