So, at the end of it all there was a second defeat of the season for Derbyshire, but anyone expecting gloom and doom chez Peak will be disappointed.
This game was a magnificent advert for county cricket. It ebbed and flowed like the tide and Derbyshire were very unlucky not to win. Had Jon Clare not missed the entire second innings, Luke Sutton most of the match and Ross Whiteley the final session we could easily have ended up victors.
Of course, to do so more often there is something we need to learn fast - how to bat well in two innings. Scoring under 200 in the first innings of a four day game will always put you on the back foot and there were a few players who contributed to their own downfall with poor shot selection.
Yet there were positives. A lovely knock from Wes Durston, an encouraging one from Dan Redfern and some interesting cameos from Ross Whiteley with bat and ball. I was also encouraged by the performance of Tom Poynton behind the stumps, who seemed tidy and alert, always geeing up the side. The Derbyshire XI were more 'chirpy' in a nice sense of the word than I have seen, while the fielding was of a very high standard, some fine catches being held.
One concern is the fitness of Usman Khawaja, whose leg injury seems to be a major hindrance. At one point today he chased a ball to the boundary at a pace I'm used to seeing my club team mates do, though a pulled muscle that you don't want to aggravate will do that to you.
Conversely, I was very impressed by Tony Palladino. With a lithe, lively action that gathers pace from a smooth run up, Dino looks an outstanding signing by John Morris. That he can bat is an added bonus, but how Essex could afford to let him go is beyond me. We've won the lottery with this lad, mark my words.
Speaking of which, we've now picked up Yorkshire all rounder Azeem Rafiq for a month, which I would again suggest a very shrewd piece of business. Aside from his Twitter issue, which earned the boy unfortunate press, he is a player of talent who suffers in playing in a side that also has Rashid and Wainwright to choose from. As a former England Under-19 skipper and still only 20, Rafiq offers talent with bat and ball, already having a first class century to his name.
The signing suggests that all is not well with Jake Needham's technique after his South African winter, but John Morris may even think of a double-pronged spin attack. While we have Tom Knight in the Academy, it would be asking a lot of a 17-year old to step into first class cricket on a regular basis. Rafiq would offer balance to the side and is better than what we have. While Wes Durston bowled tidily today, neither he nor Chesney Hughes look like they might run through sides on a helpful track.
Anyway, that's it for now. I got back this evening after a four-and-a-half hour drive and Mrs P thought I'd been in the Caribbean. "No" I replied, "I've been in Derbados." That line would have been even better had I thought of it myself, but full credit goes to Luke Sutton for coining the phrase on his Twitter account.
It was a lovely few days. The weather was spectacular, the cricket excellent and the company convivial - thanks to all who made it so. If you've not had the pleasure, Derbyshire have some very affable players and a Chairman who is passionate about the place. In answer to a reply from the other night, I'll not blog what Chris Grant told me as it was between us and I don't break confidences. Suffice to say that if his plans for the club come to fruition the future is so bright we'll all need to wear shades.
Now, where's that after sun? That's not the northern lights you see, its the glow from my sun burned left ear...