Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Gloucestershire v Derbyshire day 3

I've never been the sort of bloke who takes anything for granted, but logic suggests that if the promised weather materialises tomorrow, Derbyshire should wrap up a seriously impressive victory over Gloucestershire sometime before tea.

It could, of course, be considerably sooner, but while the formidable Alex Gidman is still at the crease, Derbyshire will know they have work to do. James Franklin will also sell his wicket dearly, but with the hosts still requiring 337 to win and only six wickets left, most punters would fancy a flutter on Derbyshire, if they could get odds to make it worthwhile.

That we have done so well in this game owes a lot to a fine team effort, but honourable mention today has to go to Wayne Madsen, who set a new benchmark for Derbyshire debutants by hitting a magnificent unbeaten 170. He was dropped on two or three occasions, but that should not detract from a wonderful effort from the South African.If he hasn't earned himself a contract after that knock I would quite frankly be astonished. He may be unable to play in all of our matches for the remainder of this year due to his contract at Unsworth in the Central Lancashire League, but perhaps the club could supply a replacement professional to them to allow Madsen to get more experience of English conditions.

We should not get carried away of course. He would appear to be a player of great potential, but he's not Bradman. There will be days ahead when he fails, just the same as any other player, but he has shown himself to be someone who can bat for a long time while keeping the scoreboard moving. Gold dust, quite frankly.

Today he was well supported by Wavell Hinds and Greg Smith, who both played cameos at a pace that enabled Derbyshire to declare in mid afternoon. With the weather as it is, Chris Rogers had to allow stoppage time in his calculation for bowling them out, as well as the fact that a good batting side couldn't do as badly a second time.

When Spearman and Ali posted 70 for the first wicket there might even have been a thought that Gloucestershire could make a go of it, but once again the Jones boy came up with the goods by removing both. Jones of Derbyshire seems a different beast than Jones of Somerset and the thought of Hayward and Jones opening the bowling is quite exciting. Having said that, Tim Groenewald produced an excellent spell of his own, which included the big wicket of Marshall, clean bowled for a duck to complete a miserable match in which he was run out in the first innings and dropped several catches. When Groenwald also dismissed the dangerous Taylor cheaply, Gloucestershire were facing a second successive defeat.

John Morris in the Derby Telegraph this morning mentioned the great impact that Steffan Jones has had on the dressing room. I wrote last night that I would be keen to sign him for next season and I can't think many would disagree. He's a player that fans love - Mr 100%, usually fit, extremely approachable and with a lot of talent. There'll be few better seamers on the market this winter and I don't think he'd need a lot of convincing.

This has so far been a highly impressive performance by Derbyshire. They have batted sensibly, bowled well and held their catches. If you do that in most matches you will win a lot of them. If tomorrow sees the expected Derbyshire win, we will have reached the halfway point of the season unbeaten in the Championship and top of the table.

The moans and complaints of the 20/20 campaign are a long way away just now. Morris' signings - Rogers, Park, Madsen, Hinds, Jones, Groenewald - are all producing the goods, while Hayward took wickets on one good leg in the last match. It augurs well. There's a lot of cricket still to be played this season, and two matches against Kent will be crucial in determining the end of season placings, but with a number of players in good form - add Smith, Redfern and Pipe to the above - there's no reason why Derbyshire should not have a major role to play in the final shake up.

Great, isn't it?

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