I watched Sachin Tendulkar batting in the IPL yesterday and my Dad and I reminisced about how we saw the little batting genius make his first century in Indian colours, at Chesterfield some twenty summers ago.
Today I saw the first century in Derbyshire colours by Daniel Redfern and while the young Derbyshire batsmen is in no other way comparable to the Indian maestro, his strokeplay today was worthy of comparison with him or any other top player you care to mention. The way that Redfern and Ross Whiteley counter-attacked after lunch was quite breathtaking and total illustration of the aggressive style of play promised by Karl Krikken pre-season.
This, of course, is not all about hitting everything in sight but in marrying shrewd shot selection with sound defensive technique and both young players amply illustrated their talents at the County Ground. Whiteley was very circumspect before lunch but opened up afterwards in an innings that displayed his powerful strokeplay beautifully.
Most other batsmen struggled on a day where batting was never as easy as those two youngsters showed it to be in the early afternoon. Martin Guptill was playing straight and beautifully when he chipped one to midwicket, Wayne Madsen got one that jagged back and seemed to keep a little low and Paul Borrington seemed to be moving his feet well and middling the ball when Jack Brooks got him to edge to slip.
Brooks is a good player, albeit one with a lot to say for himself, with a few verbals in the direction of Redfern and an unnecessary/somewhat silly late bouncer at Mark Footitt. I wouldn't have chosen a bowler of the latter's pace to flex muscles personally and Brooks may be wary of batting tomorrow if Footitt has any kind of memory...
Wes Durston did well for a while but was pinned LBW, while David Wainwright also looked composed at the crease. Later in the innings there were useful runs from Tom Poynton, whose late runs may turn out to be precious in what looks likely to be a low-scoring game. Certainly Derbyshire would have taken an all out total of 286 after being 21-3 inside the first hour.
The value of Redfern and Whiteley's stand was seen as Northamptonshire quickly subsided to 28-3. Tim Groenewald and Tony Palladino both bowled with accuracy and hostility in their opening spells, with Martin Guptill taking a characteristically sharp chance at second slip to remove Newton. Had Redfern managed to cling on to a snick from David Sales, the visitors would have closed at 28-4. As it is, they will approach the morning session tomorrow with some trepidation. With the weather set to be a little warmer, the conditions may be more conducive to swing and the Derbyshire seamers are eminently capable of destroying their innings before lunch.
Mark Footitt bowled with real hostility in the last few overs and, if Sales is removed quickly in the morning, might be a handful for lesser batsmen in the early season conditions. Meanwhile Tom Poynton kept impeccably in that final session and can reflect on a very competent first day as the first choice wicket keeper.
Throughout the day there was a very positive "vibe" around the ground and such a commodity has often been in short supply at the County Ground. It looked a picture and the team seemed far more agile, lithe and "up" for the game than the visitors. I see a season of genuine potential ahead and look forward to reporting on it immensely.
In closing, two final comments. Thanks to everyone I met at the club today for your company and conversation. I enjoyed it immensely and look forward to tomorrow and another day of watching the Derbyshire young guns in full flow.
As the shadows lengthened at the end of the day and the cold returned with a vengeance after the afternoon sun, I watched a golden labrador gambol along the boundary edge without a care in the world. They're perceptive are labradors and I'm convinced that it must have been the guide dog of former Nottinghamshire batsman Mark Wagh, whose pre-season preview in a magazine barely worth mentioning suggested that Derbyshire had no players worthy of reference (I paraphrase, but you get the point).
If Wagh has a semblance of an idea about cricket then such crass comment barely adds credibility to his fledgling reputation as a commentator.
Maybe the dog should write it next time... the Falcons are flying.
Tomorrow, they might soar.