Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Gloucestershire v Derbyshire day 4

Top of the league - and no, we're not having a laugh!

WG Grace, Wally Hammond, Gilbert Jessop, Tom Goddard, Tom Graveney - your boys took a hell of a beating...

Ah yes, a glimpse at the old Championship table gladdens the soul tonight, with Derbyshire TOP on 99 points and unbeaten at the halfway stage of the season.

It was on the cards of course with the overnight score as it was, but when I saw the dreaded "start delayed by rain" on teletext this morning I was ever so slightly concerned. Then Alex Gidman and James Franklin built a good stand until Tim Groenewald dismissed the dangerous Gidman.

Keeper Steve Snell kept the Kiwi company for some time, but when Jake Needham removed both Snell and the potentially stubborn Jon Lewis in successive balls it was only a matter of time.

Needham ended up with three wickets, all caught by skipper Chris Rogers and must now have cemented his place in the side as the first choice spinner. I've always rated Needham as a bowler with nice loop and flight and I think he's one of the better young spinners on the circuit. His batting also has potential, but if he emerged as a top bowler it would be far better than him being a bits and pieces man. His fielding is excellent and at 22 he has a lot of potential.

It was nice to see Graham Wagg getting a couple of wickets too. His radar seemed to be a little off in this game but no one would doubt his talent and he remains a player who can have a golden spell. He has a fair bit to do in the second half of the season to make it to another 500 run/50 wickets double, but I wouldn't bet against him.

Just like Steffan Jones in fact. Six wickets on his return as the strike bowler and willing work horse of the side is just what Dr Morris ordered. Derbyshire have failed to finish teams off this season but did do in this match and the coach's dilemma now is who to leave out if Nantie Hayward is fit for the match against Middlesex next week. All three seamers did well in this match and it is a tough, but nice decision for Morris to have to make.

Likewise we have found a new batsman and one who seems to be pretty good. I don't expect Wayne Madsen to average 177 at the end of the season as he does now, but I would expect him to be another 40-50 average player who will make a huge difference. How much he plays is down to the club reaching an agreement with his league club where he is captain, coach and professional, but I'd be stunned if he wasn't signed for next season at the earliest opportunity.

Finally a word for the skipper Chris Rogers, who handled his attack well and held three catches, the second of which was apparently a "blinder". Just need a double ton next week against Middlesex and you have my nomination for Mayor, Buck!

More on the Middlesex game in coming days, but for now let's just enjoy it. There is a long way to go this season, but Derbyshire are top of the Championship tonight.

Now, who's going to tell Atherton and Willis?

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