Week three of the Championship campaign and Derbyshire sit six points clear at the top of the table. You have no idea how much I just enjoyed typing those words...
Confidence must be extremely high in the Derbyshire camp right now after two wins in remarkable circumstances. The bowlers look penetrative, albeit with a good deal of assistance from the early season tracks and the fielding has been of a very high standard. Yes, Tom Poynton put a chance down off the bowling of Tony Palladino in Cardiff, but I was delighted to see the young keeper standing up to the bowler, which showed a great deal of confidence. It is unrealistic to expect him to take a catch off a bowler of that pace at the stumps, but he deserves full marks for the initiative.
There have been a few comments about the batsmen being under pressure to perform, but I don't subscribe to that view. Very few players would have made runs at Cardiff on a wicket that was awkward throughout, while Derby is unlikely to be a batting paradise. Nor would we want it to be, surely? I'd sooner see us win games by scoring 250 than draw them with batsmen averaging 50 each. Such comments as "Kent have scored runs" are meaningless - Kent haven't played on the wickets that Derbyshire have and I'd bet anyone any money that they wouldn't have been prolific at Cardiff.
At Derby, Guptill, Borrington, Redfern and Whiteley all had good knocks, again in far from idyllic batting conditions. Durston and Madsen haven't yet got a big score, but you're not going to tell me that you would drop last year's top scorer and the captain? With no disrespect meant towards Chesney Hughes and Matt Lineker, I don't think they would have scored more runs than those in the side this far on the surfaces we have had. For me, that top six should now be settled for several matches and they will, in return, score increasing numbers of runs. We all know how good a prospect Hughes is, but he will get an opportunity when the one-day games start and needs to work on his game and score the runs to force his way into the side, just the same as Matt Lineker. At most times in the last five/six years such players would have walked into the Derbyshire batting line-up and we should quietly celebrate the fact that players of such quality currently cannot get a game.
This week's match against Leicestershire will not be a walk in the park, as local derbies rarely are, but if Derbyshire approach it in the same manner as the last two games they can win - despite a pretty dodgy weather forecast. We have to expect setbacks from the weather through the summer and need to do what all winning sides do - score runs at a decent pace to allow the bowlers time to do their stuff.
As supporters we need to back the lads - OUR lads - and watch them grow. I said pre-season that Derbyshire could do well in the Championship this year and not a single thing I have seen so far has changed my mind on that.
Roll on Thursday...