Monday, 2 May 2011
Yorkshire v Derbyshire
That's when Derbyshire were taken seriously by the cricket world, including the Sky cricket commentators. Its also the date when anyone who labels the side as 'rubbish' on any forum, including this one, officially becomes a laughing stock.
To add the icing to the cake, the win took us top of the league.
The Derbyshire side were, quite simply, magnificent. The batting, as I wrote in my halfway report, was professional and displayed skill and common sense in equal measure. Wes Durston (pictured) again looked a class act, while Wayne Madsen has a range of shots that will always make him a danger man in the closing stages. Their form in the CB40 this season has been oustanding.
Greg Smith struggled for timing but didn't give it away and worked it around. The strike rotation throughout was the result of what John Morris has been preaching for some time, working the ball into gaps and running hard. We lost a few wickets at the end but I was pleased to see the thought process that went into promoting Steffan Jones and Jon Clare for a hit. It didn't come off today, but you can't fault the idea.
Likewise the concept of opening the bowling with Wes Durston. I've written before that I thought he was underused last year by Chris Rogers and his bowling today was as good as his batting. There can be no higher praise, as he floated the ball in on a good length and made the batsmen play.
Even when the second wicket pair were going well they never seemed to be in control, but once Wes took the key wicket, an impressive Joe Root leg before wicket, the procession began. It was aided and abetted by one of the best fielding displays you could wish to see, with three or four catches of quite exceptional quality. Garry Park's goalkeeper-like dive to dismiss Lyth was stunning, but so to was the return catch taken by Durston off a powerful drive hammered back by Gale. Khawaja held two tumbling efforts near the end which was good to see, but Wayne Madsen's blinder at extra cover was simply extraordinary. Although they didn't say much on TV, mention should also be made of Luke Sutton's catch. Anything off the bottom edge is difficult and whether it lodged in his groin or fingertips, the skipper completed a fine display by hanging on.
Yet wherever you looked today there were heroes. Chesney's bowling again looked much improved, while Jake Needham bowled a steady spell and fielded well on the boundary edge. The death bowling of Steffan Jones and Jonathan Clare was excellent, with ball after ball hammered into the blockhole in a fine display. Park was, as always a livewire in the field and it was heartening to hear the commentators talk about an outstanding fielding side and a very focussed and happy team. That's OUR team...
Sutton deserves credit for martialling his troops well and keeping them on their toes with constant shouts of "get on it". The levels of fitness and concentration he showed were an object lesson to all and his team backed him to the hilt.
Not for a minute am I claiming that we are now world-beaters, but this weekend we have comprehensively beaten two Division One sides with their fair share of international cricketers. We have set a benchmark in performance that illustrates that on our day we can compete with and match anyone. There will be days ahead when we fall from those standards, when things don't go our way and when the result goes against us.
Yet we have now showed our true capabilities. Eleven players with varying levels of experience are playing as a team and today looked a most impressive and thoroughly professional unit.
Happy tonight? I should darned well hope you are. I certainly am.