There's tight and then there's tight...
One game to go and FIVE teams could all join Kent in Division One next year. Sadly, after yesterday's horror afternoon against Yorkshire, Sussex look like joining the four unsuccessful sides in Division Two and my hopes of seeing Derbyshire at Scarborough will have to wait (till we join them in Division One).
Of all the fans, Northants may be the most confident as they play bottom side Leicestershire on their own patch. They're both strange sides, capable of batting well or dreadfully. Northants have done well in the absence of top batsman David Sales, but few would have thought them promotion candidates.
The same goes for Glamorgan. They're a side we often struggle against (check out this year's games as a reminder) but are a long way from a top side. They have three decent spinners and a track that helps them, mind. Something for us to think on next year - we have a good seam attack and need more spice in the tracks to help them.
Gloucestershire have to beat the runaway champions, Kent. Maybe their task will be easier as Kent have nothing to play for, but the champs won't want to end on a defeat. Gloucestershire look a good all round side, with strong batsman and a good seam attack, but they've had some horror shows this year, as evidenced by the six defeats, the second most in the division. Again, their home tracks tend to produce results, one way or another. One win in three matches is better than three successive draws in the points tally.
Which brings us to Essex. They bat well and bat low. Foster, ten Doeschate and Napier are dangerous lower order batsmen and they'll be boosted by the presence of Alastair Cook. Importantly they've got the best attacking bowler in the divison in Danish Kaneria and are probably the best equipped for Division One.
Yet can we beat them or they beat us on a Derby track that, if anything like the last one, will get better and better as the game goes on? Unless we sprinkle some fairy dust on the track, I'd have to say I don't think that at this stage I can see us bowling them out twice. I really hope I'm wrong, but...
By the same token, I think that they will find it hard to do the same to us. We're a good batting side now (I hope I don't regret that comment) and I'd be surprised if our track was something Kaneria would want to carry with him for the rest of his days.
So my prediction? My heart says Derbyshire, but will probably be wrong. My head has a feeling that Essex and ourselves will cancel each other out and Northamptonshire will sneak through on the rails to nick that second spot.
Not long till we find out now...