Thursday, 19 May 2022

Nottinghamshire v Derbyshire day 1

Derbyshire 260 (du Plooy 57, Guest 51, Reece 49, Hughes 33 Paterson 3-36, Broad 2-36, Pattinson 2-85)

Nottinghamshire 22-0

Derbyshire lead by 238 runs

When most of the seam attack on your staff are either injured or coming back from injury, the last thing you want is to lose the services of your overseas star, as well as one of your all-rounders, before play.

So it was for Derbyshire today, Suranga Lakmal ruled out with an ongoing elbow problem, while Anuj Dal twisted an ankle in the warm ups. 

Then again, we don't plan to lose three wickets before we had fifty on the board either. Masood looked good once more but got a decent ball from Pattinson, Godleman's travails continued as he edged to slip, while the prolific Madsen was caught behind first ball from one that lifted but he could perhaps have left alone.

Last year's Derbyshire would have gone for 120 from there. The wicket had green tinges all day and batting was never easy, even if one side of the ground had a boundary within 'decent push' range. Plenty went past the bat, but they grafted, played nice shots and eventually got up to a position of respectability.

Guest again looked terrific, Du Plooy is getting back to his best and Reece played some sumptuous strokes. None went on to the big score we really needed, but Alex Hughes, a late addition to the side, grafted hard and the tail wagged pleasingly. 

It was encouraging against an all-international seam attack. I thought the home side overdid the short ball at times, but we got into line and battled it out. 

How our attack will do tomorrow is anyone's guess. When Sam Conners has played four times the first-class cricket of the other two, the biggest weapon they have is surprise. If Luis Reece can bowl his share it will help and if conditions stay the same, Alex Hughes, like Steve Mullaney, may nip it around.

All things being equal, not at all unhappy with that day. 

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Nottinghamshire v Derbyshire preview

There's always an additional excitement ahead of a derby match, especially this one. On the one hand you have Nottinghamshire, who think they are the best team in the country. Then there's Derbyshire and we KNOW they are... 

I jest, of course and recent history has seen us come out on the wrong side of these encounters far too often. The financial divide in cricket, the have and have not, are rarely more clearly marked than in this fixture, but for all their resources, their 'gun' players and their oft-supercilious attitude that does them few favours, this one may not be a foregone conclusion. 

Nottinghamshire are doing well, as you would expect, but they aren't running away with division two. Derbyshire are unbeaten, their batsmen in form and confidence high and only five points separate the two sides. 

Tomorrow we welcome and are likely to debut quick bowler Liam Hurt from Lancashire. Quite frankly, we have few options, with Scrimshaw and Cohen perhaps being kept back for the T20, Aitchison injured, Melton the extra overseas (and likely injured too as not in the second team) and Sidebottom now with a hamstring injury. 

Talent as he is, exposing Nick Potts to the Nottinghamshire batting would be brave or silly, at this stage, so Hurt comes in on, short term loan. He has impressed me when I have seen him for Lancashire and he runs in hard. I suspect him the only change from the last match, with Hughes and Potts the extra men after this eleven:

Godleman, Masood, Guest, Madsen, Du Plooy, Reece, Dal, Thomson, Conners, Hurt, Lakmal

There are five seamers in that side, with Luis Reece back in his bowling boots and that is a very welcome sight. 

The hosts have also named thirteen, namely:

Broad, Slater, Hameed, Clarke, Duckett, Mullaney, Moores, Patterson-White, James, Hutton, Pattinson, Paterson, Fletcher. 

They will fancy a win and it was no contest last year, but I don't expect to see a Mickey Arthur Derbyshire side to roll over easily. 

The forecast suggests rain on the second day which will take time from the game. Our batsmen will be high in confidence but will be tested against an attack likely to feature two international overseas bowlers, as well as the evergreen Luke Fletcher and England legend Stuart Broad. 

Nonetheless I am going for a draw here. There are runs, in both sides, but if the wicket offers help I have no concerns about the potency of Lakmal and Conners with a new ball, nor the quality of the supporting bowlers. 

One thing is for sure. Like you, I will be glued to my TV screen for much of the next four days. 

Do us proud, lads. 

Sunday, 15 May 2022

Derbyshire v Worcestershire day 4

Worcestershire 368 and 225-2 (Linby 105*, Azhar 60)

Derbyshire 565-8 declared

Match drawn

The result that I predicted came to pass today. 

I wasn't being negative in suggesting it would be so, merely realistic. The wicket was excellent for batting and remained so until the end of the game, but it was hard work for bowlers and we only managed one wicket today. 

Derbyshire have become a hard side to beat, as Mickey Arthur said was the first step to being a good side. We bat solidly down to number eight and I think we have a decent attack, when we can field one that is a first choice.

It was a bonus to see Luis Reece bowl again today, but with the visitors rightly taking no risks, it wasn't the most exciting of days to watch.

Our revival is encouraging, but will be tested at Trent Bridge this week. The Nottinghamshire attack is strong and there is more life in the wickets there than many places.

But we go into that match the only unbeaten side in the division. 

Something to be proud of, as we take small but positive steps. 

Saturday, 14 May 2022

Derbyshire v Worcestershire day 3

Worcestershire 368 and 59-1 (Lakmal 1-19)

Derbyshire 565-8 (Dal 114*, Du Plooy 62, Thomson 54, Reece 42, Sidebottom 31*) 

Derbyshire lead by 138 runs

Well as Derbyshire played today - and once again they played very well indeed - it is hard to see a positive result in this game.

With Worcestershire having to bat for 96 overs - or whatever the weather allows - and simply not yet out, we may need dynamite to dislodge them from a wicket that batsmen would likely carry around in their kit bag.

Derbyshire batted well down the order, with all ten making double figures, Anuj Dal making a career-best century and even Ryan Sidebottom contributing a career-best on one leg.

Dal batted splendidly, full of bustle and wristy strokes. Alex Thomson also played a fine innings after Reece and du Plooy gave early impetus.

197 runs on, Derbyshire would have hoped to see the odd ball misbehave, but little passed the bat all day and although Lakmal dismissed Pollock, who seemed to be netting for the T20, it will be a hard day's graft tomorrow, especially with only four front line bowlers.

I can't see any option bar a draw, unless more cloud cover offers the bowlers more than they have had all match.

Friday, 13 May 2022

Derbyshire v Worcestershire day 2

Worcestershire 368 (Conners 5-109, Sidebottom 3-76)

Derbyshire 274-4 (Masood 113, Guest 77, Du Plooy 23*, Reece 20*)

Derbyshire trail by 94 runs

What a difference a day makes, eh?

Last night we were all hoping that we could keep Worcestershire under 450 in their first innings. As it was, they struggled to get over 350,  as an early morning Sam Conners burst removed three wickets in two overs. 

They added only 42 runs for those last five wickets, Conners finishing with five for the second time in his career, while Ryan Sidebottom reinforced the positive impression he has made with another three.

The main concern was when Sidebottom limped off, midway through an over. We await news on the seriousness of his injury, which with the T20 around the corner we hope isn't too bad.

Derbyshire's openers survived until lunch and took their stand to 49 before Godleman played on. He was just starting to look in decent touch and his dismissal was a disappointment, but it heralded a partnership between lunch and tea which was as good as you could wish for.

Shan Masood progressed to another sublime century, while Brooke Guest scored 77. They added 158 together in 31 overs, the only tactic to slow them being to bowl short, with sweepers out on the fence limiting them to singles or well-judged twos. 

Masood's placement is so good that otherwise he would have raced past 150. Their running was excellent and for the second day in succession no wicket fell between lunch and tea.

Also for he second day running, three fell in the evening session. Masood also seemed to play on, before Guest played a little loosely and edged behind. Both had batted beautifully and although Madsen failed for once, his average now down to a 'piffling' 86, du Plooy and Reece batted with common sense until the close, when we ended 94 runs behind. 

The game? Well, it is wide open. Worcestershire will hope to do to us tomorrow morning what we did to them, while Derbyshire have two fine players at the crease and more to come.

At the rate we have scored thus far, by lunch we should be pretty much level if still batting and the game would again be set up for any result being possible. There is no immediate need to score quickly, but if we can bat until tea we will be in a strong position. 

A few stats to close: Guest is only 80 runs short of his tally for last season, while Madsen is only 150 runs away. Both have been in the most wonderful touch thus far. 

Meanwhile Masood the Magnificent has 826 runs in seven innings. Think about that and enjoy every minute. 826 runs in SEVEN innings. 

We may never see its like again. 

What a difference a day makes? 

What a difference a year makes.. 

Dal signs two-year extension

If ever a player deserved a new deal at a club it is Anuj Dal, who was today announced as staying with the county until the end of 2024.

He has hinted at his talent for a few years, even when the main reason for his selection in the side was his fielding. There were times when his batting flattered to deceive, when he would look good for a quick twenty-odd, then get out.

I saw him do that one day in the second team at Belper. Aneurin Donald made a brilliant century for Glamorgan, but Dal lost nothing in comparison, with quick feet, even faster hands and an ability to find the gaps in the field at will. 

It was magnificent while it lasted, but didn't do so for long enough. For a while it seemed he was destined to be in that sizeable 'talented, but not quite' bracket, which so many fall into.

He started to swim, rather than flounder at the end of last season, reeling off big scores and taking important wickets. My question then was could he start a new season, against better opposition, as he finished the last?

He has. A much-improved batting line up has left less opportunity to bat, but he still averages 46, while ten wickets shows his increasing value to the side as an all rounder. Perhaps the departure of Matt Critchley, leaving a void for that role, will be the making of him. 

I always got the impression that Dave Houghton saw his bowling as a last resort, while Mickey Arthur sees it as a genuine option and threat. Certainly he wobbles it around just quick enough, varying that pace, to keep batsmen alert. He takes good wickets and showed a new string to his bow against Glamorgan, when wide yorkers helped to stem the flow of runs on the final day and save the game. 

I think he will be more often used in T20 than before. The only issue when he bowls, of course, is that he is not in his usual place at cover point, where he is brilliant. 

This year alone there was the catch to remove Ackermann at Leicester, the one yesterday to dismiss d'Oliveira.. the speed over the ground, often well into double figures on runs saved, even before he goes into bat. He sets a standard in the field and is up with the best I have seen in that cover point position. 

So it is right and proper that his deal is extended to the end of 2024. His batting and bowling averages will rise and fall respectively  in that time and he will remain an early name on the team sheet. 

Add in his role as PCA vice-chair and Mr Dal looks set to be involved in cricket for many years to come. His articulate interview with the DCMS during the racism investigations would have been the envy of many politicians. 

Well done Nuj. Keep it going. 

Thursday, 12 May 2022

Derbyshire v Worcestershire day 1

Worcestershire 326-5 (Haynes 133, Azhar 85, Sidebottom 2-76)

v Derbyshire

After winning the toss and inserting their opponents, Derbyshire will have hoped for more than two wickets by the tea interval. 

There seemed a loss of intensity in the late morning and through the afternoon, perhaps the first time I have seen that this summer. 

To their credit, they fought back with another three wickets in the final session, one of them a sensational grab from Anuj Dal. It just about got them back into the game, but they will hope for early wickets tomorrow and to keep the score to not too much over 400.

Sidebottom took two wickets but all three seamers were off the pace, for me. Control came from Anuj Dal and Alex Thomson but Haynes and Azhar batted very well and were largely untroubled in adding 187 for the third wicket.

There was a little green at the start of the day and that likely influenced the decision to bowl first, but too often the ball was in the wrong areas, even from the usually reliable Lakmal.

Not a vintage day, then, but the fight in the final session was still good to see.

Lets hope for more tomorrow, then bat for a long time. 

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Derbyshire v Worcestershire preview

Luis Reece makes a welcome and expected return to the Derbyshire squad for the game that starts tomorrow against Worcestershire.

He replaces Mattie McKiernan, while Nick Potts and Alex Hughes are also in the thirteen-man squad.

That notwithstanding, I would expect us to line up as follows:

Godleman, Masood, Guest, Madsen, du Plooy, Reece, Dal, Thomson, Conners, Lakmal, Sidebottom.

Durham welcome back pace duo  Dillon Pennington and Charlie Morris from injury and they will likely take their places in the final eleven, from thirteen named:

Libby, Pollock, Ali, Haynes, d'Oliveira, Barnard, Cox, Leach, Baker, Finch, Gibbon, Morris, Pennington 

The first three days look set fair, with a few showers forecast for Sunday. I think Derbyshire have a solid look to the side just now, which will improve further when Luis Reece returns to the bowling crease.

It is always handy to have a different angle in the attack and Michael Cohen's continued absence with injury and form is a blow. 

Yet there are four seamers, a front line spinner and a couple of part-time options, while the batting has fired for the first time in a few years. 

Worcestershire are a decent side and I think Pennington a fine bowler. But I don't fear them and nor will this Derbyshire side. If we can hold our catches, which will come from this attack

I am going for a win here. 

What do you think? 

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

Seconds fight back well

After being bowled out yesterday for 291, Derbyshire's second team were looking down a barrel today, when Nottinghamshire reached 184-1.

Yet the home side only took a lead of 50 on first innings, being bowled out for 341. Alex Hughes did best with 4-48, while Mattie McKiernan took 3-39 and George Scrimshaw 2-48.

It was a tough old day for Mikey Cohen, who had figures of 0-91 in his fifteen overs

Our first innings was built around a fine century by former Essex player Kishen Velani, who made an excellent 116, adding 152 for the last two wickets to take the side to a decent score.

Batting again, Derbyshire were 50-1, on level terms, by the close. Harrys Came and Finch are the not out batsmen.

The latter interests me, highly regarded in his time with Sussex and, with Velani, perhaps looking for - and deserving - another opportunity in the county game.

Performances such as Velani gave first time around can do nothing but impress. 

Friday, 6 May 2022

Weekend warmer

No cricket for Derbyshire this weekend then, which is a crying shame, but with the fixture list drawn up by the ECB, why should we be surprised?

There was a stirring win for the second team at Repton, where after being largely outplayed for much of the game they sealed an unlikely one-wicket win over Durham.

In a textbook 'stake a claim for a first team place' performance, Luis Reece followed 88 in the first innings with 166 in the second. With wicket keeper Harry Caton making an unbeaten 49 with four sixes and the winning boundary, while Josh Lacey of Ockbrook and Borrowash made 53, we chased down a victory target of 343 in 77 overs. 

Caton is an 18-year old from Ramsbottom CC and seems a likely lad, on this performance. With many of the Pathway players doing exams, the side featured a few trialists. 

But Reece must surely come back into the side for the next game. My only concern was that his knee might have flared up when he started limping in his last appearance, but that appears to be fine. 

Mickey Arthur said that he expected him to be bowling for the start of white ball cricket, which isn't far away now. His option of a change of angle will be a huge asset to the attack, as his batting will be to a line up that is doing well anyway. 

Who does he replace? Logically it has to be either Mattie McKiernan or Billy Godleman. The former would be unlucky after a fine century at Leicester, while dropping the captain would be a major decision. Yet so too would leaving out a bloke in such form.

Were it to be Godleman, the likely captain would surely be Shan Masood, who, in answer to various emails I have had on that subject, I expect to be named T20 captain in the coming weeks. 

He is the obvious, logical candidate, with 'previous' in Pakistan. I would be astonished if Billy was in the T20 side, where Reece would likely open with Masood. If that doesn't whet the appetite then nothing will! 

Elsewhere, Ryan Sidebottom's loan has been extended by a further month. For me, this allows bowlers to recover from injury, but also allows Mickey Arthur to have a longer look at him. 

On the basis of his bowling on the last afternoon against Glamorgan, the Warwickshire man might be a canny addition for next summer. A relatively inexperienced attack could do with another man who has been in match situations before and he as outstanding as Glamorgan went on the charge. 

By the end of the month, the Head of Cricket will have a very good idea of the longer term viability of signing him, as he seeks to put his own 'stamp' on the squad. 

As it stands, even with more injuries than would be their preference, they aren't doing too badly, are they? 

Enjoy your weekend! 

Sunday, 1 May 2022

Derbyshire v Glamorgan day 4

Derbyshire 368 and 349-3 (Guest 138, Madsen 135*)

Glamorgan 387 and 310-8 (Labuschagne 85, Northeast 81, Lloyd 49, Sidebottom 4-50, Dal 2-54, Lakmal 2-65)

Match drawn 

A terrific advert for County Championship cricket ended with the fielders around the bat, when earlier they had been patrolling the boundaries. In a game that ebbed and flowed and which they looked for some time like losing, Derbyshire fought back well to have a sniff of victory at the death. 

There was a time when 331 in 55 overs was challenging. Yet on a wicket where we hadn't lost a wicket in two sessions, where we had bowled rather poorly first time around and when the opposition has the world's best Test batsman, it seemed a little generous to me. Especially when we knew the Glamorgan batting strength from a successful run chase against a stronger Nottinghamshire attack

When many teams now chase 180 in twenty overs, Glamorgan needed to pace their reply and retain wickets in hand on a favourable batting wicket. Get to 170 in the first 35 overs  then take it from there . 

A lot of early runs came through a vacant third man, nor did we help ourselves with some poor catching. Labuschagne should have gone twice, first to McKiernan who spilled a routine slip catch, then to Guest who, wrong-footed, got to an edge with only one hand. Between times he played as you would expect a man of his stature to play. Brilliantly. Masood held a rasping catch to finally remove him, or he would have taken them home. 

Lloyd got them off to a flyer, Northeast anchored things well and the Welsh side got into a winning position. Yet canny bowling from Anuj Dal slowed their charge and the return of Sidebottom ended their hopes. 

I thought Ryan Sidebottom bowled really well, showing the benefit of experience, while Sam Conners, who has bowled so well this season, had an afternoon to forget. We came close to losing, but ultimately also to winning. 

Fair play to Mickey Arthur, who concocted a finish when one seemed unlikely. He promised brighter, purposeful cricket and delivered here. 

Earlier Guest became the first Derbyshire wicket keeper since Bill Storer in 1896 to score two centuries in a match. He batted splendidly and any concerns over his suitability for the role have been well and truly quashed.

Meanwhile Madsen moved level with John Morris on the all-time centurions list with another sublime effort. He really has returned to peak four-day form this summer and it augurs well for the rapidly approaching T20

 It was a fine game of cricket and an exciting finish.

After recent seasons, we will take that, eh? 

Saturday, 30 April 2022

Musings on two days in Derby

Three things stood out for me during my two days at the Incora County Ground. The style of Shan Masood, as well as how hard he is, to bat in only a short-sleeved shirt when even polar bears were donning gilets. Oh, and how amazing the sausage rolls are from the tea room. If you haven't had one of these 'Phat Pies' delicacies, do it soon...

In fairness and with tongue removed from cheek, there were a lot of standouts. I enjoyed watching the intensity of the Derbyshire players fielding drills, which looked ramped up several notches from previous years. There was also a greater cricketing relevance to what they did and I have never fully understood why cricketers play football and risk injury in doing so.

It was also a pleasure to catch up with a few of the players before play. With Covid and family commitments I haven't been down to Derby for three years, but their ready smiles and friendly chats picked up where we left off. It genuinely remains a pleasure, gentlemen. 

It was especially nice to hear more than one tell me that both Shan Masood and Suranga Lakmal are 'special players AND special people'. Such men can help this club develop in the way that we wish. 

I must also mention the stewards at the ground. My childhood recollections are of dour 'jobsworths' who regarded their interactions with those attending as an unfortunate intrusion.  Every one I encountered had a smile and a ready word, which set the tone for the day. 

I enjoyed my look around the club shop, where I made a few purchases. The new T20 caps are really quite swish, while the bobbled beanie hat may just have kept my ears attached to my head on the bitterly cold first afternoon. That will be perfect for winter dog walks up here, although our fox terrier, Wallace, already has his eye - and nearly his teeth - on the bobble...

I am also grateful to Tom Skinner and Stephen Martin for facilitating my access to the Media Centre. I spent time walking around the ground and catching up with friends old and new too, but I was able to see behind the scenes of a very slick and well-drilled operation that is every bit as impressive as what Mickey Arthur is bringing to our cricket.

Having seen them at work, I can see why the county is so well-respected and returns spectacular financial results, even during a pandemic. I was able to chat with James, who coordinates the excellent county stream and also to meet one or two of the camera personnel who do such sterling work. It really is quite the eye-opener and what we supporters take for granted is the result of highly-skilled people doing their jobs to a very high standard. Done to a fraction of the budget of some counties, they set a very high benchmark for others to match. 

A chance encounter when parking my car on the second morning led to a fascinating chat with Charlotte from the Derbyshire Cricket Foundation. She has just been planting up a flower bed to the rear of the Media Centre and explained, between trips with a watering can, their plans for a community allotment on some spare ground at the club. What a fabulous idea that is and how nice it was to hear what terrific work they do. They are looking for volunteers with this project and I would have been interested , but a six hundred-mile return trip seemed excessively enthusiastic. 

Finally, I was grateful to CEO Ryan Duckett, who took time out of his busy schedule to walk around the ground with me and discuss some of the club plans. There was no detailed discussion on players and contracts, nor did I expect it, but I was left firmly of the opinion that the club is in very sound hands and is moving in the right direction.

On the field and off it, Derbyshire are a club to be reckoned with. 

Sincere congratulations to everyone involved for your efforts, together with a  thank you for the warmth of your welcome.

There was even time to chat cricketing heroes with writing and broadcasting legend Edward Bevan, while also discussing the respective merits of The Byrds and The Grateful Dead with writer Michael Henderson. Sometimes when one meets heroes they are found to have feet of clay, but not in those  cases, both men whose work I have admired for many years 

As two-day breaks at the cricket go, this will be hard to beat.

I think it is clear from the above that I am very grateful to everyone concerned. As well as those who stopped me to say hello on my circuits of the ground. I remain humbled by continued interest in the blog and thank each and every one of you.

Until the next time.. 

Derbyshire v Glamorgan day 3

Derbyshire 368 and 170-2 (Madsen 58* Masood 42, Guest 40*)

Glamorgan 387 (Labuschagne 130, Madsen 5-82)

Derbyshire lead by 151 runs

It was a special day for Derbyshire's two overseas players today.

Suranga Lakmal took his first five-wicket haul for the county, while Shan Masood duly set a new record for the most county championship runs scored in April. For clarification, Nick Compton scored 715 in seven innings in 2012, while Masood scored 713 in just six innings. Compton's tally included 236 made against Cardiff MCCU, also a first - class but of course not championship fixture. (figures courtesy David Griffin). 

He has four more innings to become only the ninth man in history to score a thousand runs before the end of May and needs 287 to do it. What a player he is! 

I got home to see the afternoon and evening sessions, so caught the business end of Lakmal's spell. He was terrific with the second new ball and looks a class act. His fitness level is admirable and he continually asks questions of the batsmen, even on wickets not offering undue assistance. It will not be his last such haul. 

As for the match situation, much depends on the rain due tomorrow morning and what time it takes from the game. At 170-2 we are 151 ahead and could feasibly set the visitors a run chase in the afternoon. There are no real demons in the wicket, however, and conscious of their beating Nottinghamshire recently, I doubt any target would be especially generous. 

As for the rest of the day, I am willing Billy Godleman a big score, but it didn't come again today. I will be very happy if he returns to his erstwhile run tallies in the near future. Meanwhile, Wayne Madsen made another fifty, his fifth in succession, while Brooke Guest confirmed the good impression he made in the first innings. Both batted stylishly and very well, bringing a much greater ballast to the county batting than we have seen in recent seasons. 

Labuschagne earlier made a stylish century for the visitors, but my gut feeling is that they needed to bat longer and put us under greater pressure than they managed with a first innings lead of just nineteen runs. 

We will see tomorrow. I am no betting man, but a positive result here - certainly in favour of Derbyshire - requires the weather to be kind and one or two people to produce something quite spectacular. 

That's a challenge right there...

PS Play was even briefly delayed by the distraction of disco lights, coming from the marquee. 

I have never written that before and suspect that few cricket writers have. 

Friday, 29 April 2022

Derbyshire v Glamorgan day 2

Derbyshire 368

Glamorgan 240-4 (Lloyd 84, Labuschagne 53*

Derbyshire lead by 128 runs

It was much more pleasant cricket - watching weather today at Derby, with the sun eventually breaking through and offering some warmth - albeit with the help of several layers of warm clothes and a beanie bobble hat until the afternoon. 

Derbyshire lost wickets steadily to seam and spin, but sufficient runs were scored in between times to take the score past a healthy 350.

Dal and Du Plooy both batted pleasantly after the early dismissal of McKiernan, but the continued movement suggested that the home side would be quite happy with proceedings. The increasingly impressive Thomson opened his account with a hefty blow for six over mid on and batted sensibly thereafter.

Lunch was taken at 360-8 and it appeared that an interesting afternoon was in store.

It was less so in reality. I think Glamorgan bowlers, a yard or two quicker than ours, got a little more help accordingly. Perhaps, with the sun out and no clouds it was easier, but the only wicket came when Salter was run out after a mix up with his captain, Lloyd.

The skipper continued on his merry way after tea, until he assayed a drive at Dal and was well caught by Madsen at slip. Northeast was soon edging Conners to the same fielder, who put down an easier, though not easy chance.

But in fairness I don't think we bowled especially well, with the exception of Lakmal, who ran in hard. Most overs contained a 'four ball' and though there was plenty of encouragement from the field, which remained chipper, I couldn't see where a wicket was coming from. There was no consistency of line and length, essential on such a pitch. 

In the end it was from a somewhat unlikely source. Madsen's gentle off spin trapping Northeast leg before as he went to sweep. When Carlson fell to a poor shot off Lakmal and was caught behind, Derbyshire were back in the game. 

It could go either way tomorrow, but we need to bowl much better. 

Thursday, 28 April 2022

Derbyshire v Glamorgan day 1

Derbyshire  282-5 (Guest 109, Madsen 70, Masood 60, Hogan 3-45, Neser 2-50)

v Glamorgan

A38 to Sir Frank Whittle Way, then on to the County Ground.

I have done it dozens - hundreds - of times over the years, yet the excitement never palls. Even on a cold, overcast day, the excitement is no less and I made sure to get there early, just after 9.30am today.

It afforded an opportunity to catch up with friends old and new, as well as to confirm that my forays from the Media Centre included my big jacket over a thick fleece. 

Derbyshire won the toss and opted to bat first against the all-Australian attack of Michaels Neser and Hogan. A keen attack too against the Derbyshire southpaws, Masood bravely the only man on the pitch, almost certainly the ground, in short sleeves.

The first ten overs were a challenge, but safely negotiated, before Godleman pushed at Hogan, who had probed nicely, and was caught behind. Both bowlers had beaten the bat and the dismissal was no more than Glamorgan deserved.

Guest came in to join Masood, who assayed nary an ambitious stroke in the first hour, playing straight and contenting himself with the now trademark tucks off his legs. One from the bowling of Harris flew to the rope, but it was a morning for accumulation, rather than speculation.

The advent of Harris and van der Gugten maintained the intensity of a keen and experienced seam attack, three of them in their thirties, with Hogan now 40.

Lloyd came closest to a breakthrough with a good shout for lbw against Masood, but Derbyshire got to lunch at 74-1, Guest having played the shot of the morning, a glorious cover drive for four. Masood was still there on 33.

He opened up after the interval, a flurry of boundaries taking him to yet another fifty. Yet the conditions were far from easy and Hogan caught and bowled him from a leading edge, ending a stand of 93 with Guest. The loud murmur of disappointment from the crowd reflected the mood and indeed surprise of the county support, yet the innings could hardly be considered a failure.

Thereafter, until tea was taken at 210-2, Guest and Madsen batted beautifully. Guest's footwork was good, his timing a joy to watch. Madsen's rich vein of form continued and a promising situation had been built.

Madsen was first to his landmark in the evening session, reaching a fifty that as always was worth watching. He continues to be a player of the highest class and went past 18,000 all-format runs for the county today. Only Kim Barnett, Denis Smith, John Morris and Derek Morgan now lie ahead of him. What a player he has been for Derbyshire! 

Guest duly reached his second century for us and his first at number three. It was made in challenging conditions that required a watchful approach, but nonetheless contained some sumptuous strokes. With this innings he would appear to have settled the debate over who bats three in this format. Once he got going he lost nothing in comparison to Madsen and I can offer no higher praise.

Neser finally got his reward for some excellent bowling by pinning Madsen leg before, the stand broken after 161 runs. Both he and Hogan threatened all day and Derbyshire's seam bowlers will have enjoyed the regularity with which the ball beat the bat, despite the home side's impressive tally.

Guest finally went for 109, bowled by an excellent ball from Hogan, who belied his years all day. Conners didn't last long in the evening gloom, a night watchman experiment that failed and three wickets had fallen for six runs to the second new ball. 

The umpires brought them off for bad light soon afterwards, but Derbyshire will still be fairly happy with 282-5.

Hopefully we can build on that tomorrow. 

Wednesday, 27 April 2022

Derbyshire v Glamorgan preview

It's like the night before Christmas for me tonight, as I look forward to the next two days at the Incora County Ground before heading back north on Saturday.

I hope to catch up with a few old and new faces and if you see me do please say hello. Having had to put in for my annual leave before the fixtures came out, these are the only dates that work for me, sadly. So I intend to make the most of them!

Derbyshire welcome back Ryan Sidebottom to a fourteen-man squad and he might replace Nick Potts, but the youngster has acquitted himself well so far. Similarly, Luis Reece will be keen to get back in the side after missing out at Leicester, but Mattie McKiernan deserves his place after making a maiden century there.

Decisions, decisions. Nice ones to have to make, but Mickey Arthur will need to make them tomorrow.

Squad: Godleman, Masood, Guest, Reece, Madsen, du Plooy, Came, McKiernan, Dal, Thomson, Sidebottom, Potts,  Lakmal, Conners.

In this battle of 2nd v 3rd, Glamorgan bring a 13-man squad that features the excellent Marnus Labuschagne. The match up between him and Shan Masood should be worth the admission fee, but Michael Neser is proving an astute overseas signing and Tim van der Gugten remains a fine bowler, as does James Harris.

Their squad: Lloyd, Carlson, Cooke, Cullen, Harris, Hogan, Labuschagne, Neser, Northeast, Salter, Sisodiya, van der Gugten, Weighell. 

It will be a tough game, but offers a realistic assessment of our chances of a high championship placing. We have benefited from the wonderful form of Shan Masood and Wayne Madsen so far, but they can't score big every time. If others can come to the party with the bat, and if we can continue to take regular wickets as we have been, then this could be a special summer. 

Be assured, however our supporters see the threat of Neser and van der Gugten, theirs will be equally concerned at the thought of facing Lakmal and Conners. 

We are progressing nicely.. 

See you tomorrow, all being well!

Sunday, 24 April 2022

Leicestershire v Derbyshire day 4

Leicestershire 213 and 250 (Kimble 54, Parkinson 49, Thomson 3-50, Dal 2-16, Lakmal 2-57)

Derbyshire 531

Derbyshire won by an innings and 68 runs

Derbyshire had to wait until mid-afternoon to seal the victory that looked likely from day one, but eventually the introduction of Anuj Dal saw the last wicket taken with his first ball.

It was a professional performance from start to finish and it was fitting that two former county players, Callum Parkinson and Will Davis, were at the crease at the end. The old Derbyshire vanquished by the new. 

Leicestershire fought well, with Parkinson cruelly missing out on a half century that was fully deserved, and Kimble offering stout resistance, but Billy Godleman rotated his bowlers constantly and well to get those last four wickets.

Two were taken by Suranga Lakmal, who led the attack with discipline, energy and perseverance, while the other went to Mattie McKiernan, who had a terrific all round game that he will remember. 

It was a team performance that takes us to second in the table at the time of writing, a point behind Nottinghamshire.
A world way from expectations, perhaps and there will be challenging days to come. Yet it shows what is possible when a coach can provide a structured environment for players to flourish.

It is no coincidence that we have seen a return to the Madsen of old, nor that players like Dal, Thomson and McKiernan are showing massive improvement. Nick Potts has emerged too, raw, but obviously capable of wickets at this level. 

After three matches, we look a proper team, with competition for places and two very good overseas players. 

Who knows where it might lead? 

Saturday, 23 April 2022

Leicestershire v Derbyshire day 3

Leicestershire 213 and 146-6 (Kimber 33*, Thomson 3-36)

Derbyshire 531 (Masood 219, McKiernan 101, Madsen 94, du Plooy 61* Barnes 5-101) 

Derbyshire lead by 172 runs

With good weather forecast, Derbyshire go into the final day of the game tomorrow needing four wickets for a first championship win of the summer.

It would be no more than they deserved, having dominated the game from the start and played some very good cricket. 

Mattie McKiernan duly completed a maiden century full of excellent strokes today. It was well deserved and he would be unlucky to be left out for the Glamorgan game after this display. 

Leus du Plooy looked more himself too, making important and very good runs, while the tail slogged it around with varying degrees of success to finish with a lead of 318 runs. Ed Barnes did well to finish with five wickets, but it was tough going for the home bowlers. 

Their openers started steadily, but the advent of Thomson started the slide. The off spinner looks the real deal this year, likely with the confidence of a niche in the side. Here, as at Lord's he bowled beautifully, varying his pace and getting at times both turn and bounce. 

When his return saw a stunning caught and bowled to remove Swindells, the day could scarce have gone better. The home side got bogged down and when Dal removed the dangerous Ackermann, baffling him with a change of pace, the writing was on the wall. 

Only Mulder, briefly, threatened a fight but Potts removed him with a quick delivery and Derbyshire looked very good. 

At 146-6, the home side need to produce something sensational tomorrow. Derbyshire just need to keep doing what they have so far in a very impressive display. 

Has anyone else noted greater urgency in the field? More frequent bowling changes, sometimes just an over here and there, keeping the batsmen guessing and on their toes? Innovative field placings, generally more purpose? 

It is like watching a totally different team to last year, yet with a couple of exceptions, the personnel hasn't changed. 

What a difference eh?

Friday, 22 April 2022

Leicestershire v Derbyshire day 2

Leicestershire 213

Derbyshire 437-4 (Masood 219, Madsen 94, McKiernan 63*, Du Plooy 16*)

Derbyshire lead by 224 runs

I think the English language  lacks sufficient superlatives for Shan Masood.

Suffice to say, as someone tweeted earlier, that in making 91, 62, 239 and 219 in his first four innings for the county, he has broken record after record.

The first Derbyshire player to make back to back double centuries, he has made more runs in four innings than all but two of our players made in all of last season. He is only the second Pakistan player to make successive double centuries in first-class cricket and is the first Pakistan opener to make a double century in County cricket. Now he has done that twice.. 

You get the picture. He is wonderful to watch, with an uncomplicated technique, exquisite timing and unfailing placement. His running between the wickets is exemplary and he deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the great overseas players in the county's history.

He and Wayne Madsen became the second pairing, after the legendary John Wright and Peter Kirsten, to share back to back double century partnerships. This is the Madsen of old and watching cricket gets no better than watching those two this afternoon. It was vibrant, majestic, wonderful cricket, after Brooke Guest was the only wicket to fall to a bowler all day. 

Madsen looked set for a century when he tested his running against the fielders arm and was well run out by the direct hit of Ed Barnes for a fine 94. It was an unnecessary risk when he was in total control, but it shouldn't mask an innings of the highest quality. 

Mattie McKiernan came in next, keeping the left/right pairing going and he batted delightfully for the rest of the day, registering a career-best score. He should have been caught, but the swirling wind made the catch far from straightforward. There were some powerful strokes as he fully justified his elevation in the order, as well as the confidence of Mickey Arthur in his abilities. 

Du Plooy kept him company for the rest of the day, looking a little sketchy  but surviving to the close.

Derbyshire scored 401 runs in an exhilarating day of batting. One would expect them to hit it around tomorrow in the first hour or so and take an existing lead of 224 over 300 before bowling again. With the odd ball keeping low and a little bit of turn, one would hope that we don't see a repeat of the last game, but it would surprise me. 

Fantastic cricket from Derbyshire. No one will argue with that. 

Nor the magnificence of Madsen and Masood. 

Thursday, 21 April 2022

Leicestershire v Derbyshire day 1

Leicestershire 213 (Evans 63, Mulder 39, Conners 4-62, Potts 2-32, Lakmal 2-52)

Derbyshire 36-1 (Masood 20*)

Derbyshire trail by 177 runs

It was a fine old day for Derbyshire at the Uptonsteel County Ground today, bowling the home side out for 213, then replying with 36-1 by the close.

The inclusion of Mattie McKiernan in place of Luis Reece was a pre-match surprise, though Luis limped his way through the last game and erring on the side of caution makes a lot of sense. McKiernan took a big wicket before lunch with a fine ball but may have more bowling in the second innings, as may Alex Thomson.

It was all about the seamers today. I thought that Sam Conners bowled really well after an erratic start, while Suranga Lakmal offered control without the best of luck. Two wickets in the afternoon were good reward, as they were for Nick Potts, who ontinues to make a big impression. His first was the special one of Colin Ackermann, brilliantly caught at point by the diving Anuj Dal, who was superb in the field all day. I really should have that sentence on copy and paste... 

He also bowled well and is another who keeps the batsman playing. While the Leicestershire tail wagged a little, there can be little disappointment in bowling out a team who opted to bat first, just after tea. 

It could have been better, Guest being less assured than some days behind the stumps, though there were some difficult wide balls to take and the pitch appeared to have variable bounce at times. 

When our turn came, Godleman was out before the close and looks a little out of sorts at present. It seems more crease occupation than anything overly assertive from the skipper and I hope we see him back to his best sometime soon.

Yet the imperious Masood looked good against two international bowlers in Hendricks and Mulder, remaining to start tomorrow in the company of Guest.

If we are still batting tomorrow night, we should be in control of this game.