Sorry about the lateness of the blog tonight, but Mr and Mrs Peakfan have been married for 23 years today. We went for an intimate Chinese meal for...er... four (the kids came too) and had a nice time. Now, after a cracking feed and prawn crackers a-plenty it's time to reflect on the day's cricket.
As the old song goes, what a difference a day makes. Surrey 309-3 overnight, were all out for 362 with man of the moment Tim Groenewald returning his best figures for the County, a superb 6-50 in 24 overs that tell of his accuracy as well as penetration. Groenewald's recent emergence as a bowler of real quality highlights the effectiveness of John Morris' close season recruitment last year. He now has 21 first class wickets at 19 each, as well as averaging a very handy 24 with the bat. He was ably backed by that most willing of work horses, Graham Wagg, a little more expensive than normal but happy to bowl and bowl.
When we lost the early wicket of Wayne Madsen, then Garry Park went for 15, there were thoughts of a real battle, but Chris Rogers, aided by the promoted Greg Smith, took us serenely through to stumps with an unbroken partnership of 122. Rogers batted steadily at the start and I'm always happier to see him do that than go off like a train, when he can sometimes get out playing too loosely. Despite missing the first three Championship matches Rogers is now our top scorer for the season and averages just under 60. Having said that, Greg Smith is also having his best season and batted in the same vein as in the Pro 40 game earlier in the week. Smith could feasibly make his 1,000 runs this year and we really need both to kick on tomorrow, see off the opening bowlers and take us to a good lead.
There are, of course, two ways we could play this one. One is to declare at roughly the Surrey total and aim to win on a last day run chase, an option if the pitch is still good. The alternative is to aim to score maybe 550 tomorrow then get the hosts in again (and more importantly get Ramprakash out again). Whichever option is chosen will be dictated by the first seassion tomorrow, when a steady start could spark an afternoon run spree.
It is important that we do win this. Gloucestershire are well set in their game against Essex and should win tomorrow, while Kent lost to bottom side Middlesex, despite the last wicket heroics of Simon Cook and Amjad Khan. The division is wide open, but make no bones about it, Derbyshire are playing some REALLY good cricket at the moment, some of their best in a long time. When batsmen and bowlers both do their job, there's no limit to where it might take the side.
I don't know about you, but I'm enjoying every minute!