Another fine day for Derbyshire today, as they bowled out the much vaunted Essex batting for 179, prior to closing on 64-2 themselves.
It was a good day for Tony Palladino against his former county as he finished with three wickets, while there was also an excellent spell from Azeem Rafiq, who showed fine control and considerable skill with his bowling effort. Good support came from Tim Groenewald, who produced a snorter to remove Ravi Bopara.
Batting wasn't easy, but runs were possible with application, as Matt Walker and James Foster showed, but more good fielding and bowling from Derbyshire put them in the driving seat. We need application from the batsmen tomorrow, as Essex usually bat well in the second innings of matches, but a lead of 100-plus would do nicely.
A word about the pitch. I heard that pitch inspectors were asked along, but surely they can find no fault with this track after some of the nonsense that went on around the country last year. I would take a wicket like this every time, even if it meant early finishes, rather than the anodyne tracks in some places. Where is the appeal in a match where 600 plays 500 and the fourth day closes with the third innings in progress? Cricket should offer a challenge to batsmen, who have had it easy in recent years with law changes.
Another big day tomorrow, but I remain convinced that Masters, a canny bowler, is the danger. If we can see him off, we could be in a good position by tea.