I had the very great pleasure in attending part of the match against Middlesex last week.
It was a pleasure for several reasons. First off, I saw a competitive Derbyshire side play some good cricket on a track that always offered help to the bowlers. We could have lost in the end after John Morris gambled on a declaration, but the points left the county in a good position in second place in the table with this week's titanic battle against Kent ahead.
Secondly, I met some great fans while I was there. It was especially good to catch up with Chris, the man behind the excellent "In Morris We Trust" site. We've corresponded for some time but met for the first time last week and he's a top bloke and a 100% Derbyshire fan. We need fans like that, who will travel the country lending their support and Chris should be applauded for his efforts on behalf of the club.
I also had a long chat with Graham Wagg's Dad, John, who is one of the greatest characters I've met in a long time. He's a very, very funny guy and extremely easy to get on with. Both John and Chris will be pleased to know that my brand new Derbyshire baseball cap was worn around Blackpool on the way home this afternoon and improved the place a gazillion percent...
Finally it was great to spend a good bit of time talking with Derbyshire coach John Morris. Again, we'd never met, but one only needs to spend a short time in his company to appreciate how much he cares about Derbyshire cricket and how committed he is to turning the side around. He's doing it too, no doubt about it. The Derbyshire of two years ago would have folded from the first day 138-7 to 160 all out. The partnership between Steffan Jones and Tim Groenewald was both heartening and exhilarating, both men showing genuine talent with the bat.
Tomorrow, when I have a little more time, I'll give you my thoughts on the overseas situation for next year. What I'll say at this stage is that they are my thoughts. John Morris gave nothing away and nor did I expect him to do. Yet when I left the County Ground some time after the play had finished on Wednesday, I did so with a firm conviction that the County are in extremely good hands. Fourteen points clear of third place in Division Two of the Championship, with seven games to go we effectively control our own destiny and that with a young side. A draw against Kent next week would be no bad result as long as we can pick up perhaps two more wins somewhere. If the batsmen continue to show grit and application while the bowlers continue to bowl good lines and show discipline and patience, we could yet be celebrating by the end of September.
More tomorrow. Nice to be back!