John Morris says that his team are going for the win in an all or nothing attempt against Glamorgan, starting tomorrow at the County Ground.
I hope so, because they have done well to enter September still in the frame. They will need to keep a wary eye on the weather but one would hope that if we got four days a home win would follow. Realistically, the side may need to approach this as a 3-day fixture and push for the win points.
There's little news of the Derbyshire side. All we know is - nothing really. It would appear from the BBC site that Dan Birch has not yet recovered from injury so that may earn a reprieve for Rikki Clarke. Whether he deserves it is questionable as his batting form has been shocking and he's done little bowling of late.
The brave decision - almost too brave - would be to replace Clarke with the fit again Tom Lungley, who bowls so well at Derby. I was about to type that this would weaken the batting, but on recent form I'm not so sure. It would certainly improve the bowling resources and would be a bold signal of intent. While the same site says that both Tom New and James Pipe are in the Derbyshire squad, I have a feeling that Pipe will be back in the side. We should be grateful for the thoroughly professional job that Tom New did in Pipe's absence, and the lad let no one down.
My best guess at tomorrow's team would be:
Chris Rogers (captain)
Four good seamers and Wavell's wobblers to back them up, with spin from Doshi, Smith and Redfern. I think that Pipe is a place too high at six in that side, but there are precious few options for Morris. John Sadler might make a few, but Dom Telo has struggled in both XIs this season and isn't really an option.
As for the morning news about Clarke, I'm not sure what I think. Last winter I was really pleased when the news of his signing broke and I looked forward to the season and how he would do. In 40 years of watching the county, the only player who came close to the disappointment afforded by Clarke was Lawrence Rowe. The West Indian never made a century for us, but he played some beautiful cameos and at least finished the season with an average of 38. Rikki would give a lot for that right now and has patently not delivered. Added to the fact that he is probably the highest earner on the staff (with the possible exception of Chris Rogers) then we are entitled to feel short changed.
A fit, in form and fully motivated Clarke would have been a huge asset to this side. I know he has had house moves and babies to contend with, but there should have been some signs of form in his play and there have been precious few. I am sure that John Morris knows what will happen at the end of the season and could well appreciate having the extra financial "clout" freed up by cancelling Clarke's contract. It is interesting to see the name of Michael Vaughan banded about in the press as looking for a fresh challenge and while he is linked with Warwickshire (who isn't) the ex-England skipper would be an intriguing possibility.
Back to tomorrow's game and Glamorgan are missing the hugely talented England Under 19 bowler James Harris. Our regular bete noir Robert Croft is in the side, however and he must be looking forward to tomorrow as he always takes our wickets. Cynics may say that its because they have no one else, but what we mustn't do is take this for granted. I've played and seen enough cricket to know that it will turn you over if you do. Their listed squad is:
I would expect them to leave out Cosker, the left arm spinner and one of the seamers, either Shantry or Harrison. That would leave an attack of ex-Aussie Test bowler Gillespie, Wharf, Shantry/Harrison with Croft and Dalrymple for spin. They have a side with batsmen who can fire (remember Rees in the first game?) with Tom Maynard earning good reviews and Wallace an able wicket-keeper batsman.
Derbyshire should have the beating of them, however. A 10.30am start might make for early moisture and movement and that would be to the liking of our seam attack. We wouldn't fancy chasing a fourth innings total against Mr Croft, however, so this is set for a good game.
Come on lads!