It was a much quieter day today at the County Ground. Northamptonshire's attritional style of batting, accompanied by Derbyshire's accurate bowling, made it a not especially attractive day for those fans getting in for free on the memberships of friends and those who were not cricketing converts. Nor was the promised hike in temperature evident and the handwarmers were in regular use among the Derbyshire fielders. Indeed, at one point a couple of polar bears sought sanctuary in the tea room...
Yet there was still plenty to admire. For me the highlight was another beautiful display of wicket-keeping by Tom Poynton. His glovework was unobtrusive and efficient, exactly what you want from that position and he maintained his concentration throughout in an excellent day.
There was also a very accurate spell of slow left arm from David Wainwright, who looks an especially sound winter signing. Wainwright blotted his copybook a little by dropping a skied catch that he would take 99 times in a hundred, but it was otherwise a good day's work by him and he will do very well this summer.
Messrs Palladino, Groenewald and Footitt all bowled accurately and well, but there was little help for them from the wicket after the first half hour and they had to be largely satisfied by a good long bowl at the start of a season. Best rewarded, however, was Ross Whiteley, who took two good wickets, the first with the aid of a superb slip catch by Dan Redfern. Whiteley can be well satisfied by his first match of the year and on the evidence of the past two days may yet emerge as a genuine all-rounder.
In the morning I had great pleasure in watching the young talent of the Academy in the nets and there seems to be some really good players among them. They were all working hard under the tutelage of Howard Dytham and Andrew Harris and, like elsewhere in the club, the spirits seemed to be high.
Indeed, that was the most telling thing of my two days in Derbados (I don't think so...) I took time to sit in different parts of the ground and overheard a number of conversations, all of which were positive in their support of what is happening at the County Ground. I also thoroughly enjoyed meeting up with a number of readers and appreciated your kind words and company throughout.
Tomorrow I head back up north to see how the family are doing and am looking forward to seeing them immensely. By the same token, I still wish I was able to get to the County Ground on a more regular basis and genuinely envy those of you whose locale enables you to do so.
There's a good summer ahead at the County Ground. Once the polar bears and arctic wolves have moved out and there's at least a one per cent chance of mild sunburn, get talking to your friends and relatives and get them down to support the team. A more pleasant and committed bunch of lads you couldn't wish to see and their approachability is an object lesson for some of the so-called stars of other sports.
Well done to everyone at the club for the obvious work over the winter and sincere best wishes for the long and exciting season ahead.
As for the game, looking at the weather forecast and the state of the wicket I find it hard to see how a result can happen, unless one of the sides collapses unexpectedly. I don't foresee that happening, so my prediction is a draw - but with plenty of optimistic pointers for the season ahead.