Two days ago, Derbyshire looked shoo-ins to win their third game of the Championship season, but their hopes came to naught on a County Ground track that ended up flatter than the worst notes of an X Factor contestant.
It is something that the very talented Neil Godrich and his grounds team will somehow need to address if Derbyshire are to genuinely maintain a promotion challenge this season. We have to have sporting pitches that offer something for batsmen and bowlers alike - in short, we need result pitches. Short of their losing concentration, there was little that the bowlers could do to get batsmen out, given regulations do not currently allow the use of flame throwers and howitzers in favourable batting conditions...
Still, full marks to Gloucestershire for showing the batting ability that I referred to in my match preview. I was mildly amused by a comment on the Forum tonight, when someone complained that Gloucestershire had not set Derbyshire a target. Why should they have done? When you force a team to follow on, you're effectively telling them that you have them down and intend to keep them there. When that team then digs themselves out of a hole by a resolute batting display, it would be silly to expect them to then give you another chance to win with a sporting declaration, especially at the stage of the season when sides are still jockeying for position.
No complaints from me on this one and I'm pleased that no one has come out with the old "can't finish teams off" line. Michael Holding and Ian Bishop in their fiery pomp might have given us a chance, but little else would have produced a positive result today.
Still, four games in we sit clear at the top of the table and few would have expected that pre-season. Challenges will continue to come along as the season progresses, but if the team works as they have so far they need fear no one in this division.
Tomorrow we play our first one day game of the season at Worrmsley against the Unicorns. The opposition line up is not yet known, but Derbyshire take the following squad:
Martin Guptill, Chesney Hughes, Wayne Madsen, Wes Durston, Dan
Redfern, Ross Whiteley, David Wainwright, Jonathan Clare, Tom Poynton
(Wicketkeeper), Tim Groenewald, Tony Palladino, Mark Turner and Mark
I'd expect Tony Palladino to have a well deserved breather and both Mark Turner and Mark Footitt to play, leaving the final place between Jonathan Clare and Tim Groenewald. Chesney Hughes comes in for his season debut and should open with Martin Guptill in an exciting pairing.
In previous seasons games against the so-called minnows have been a problem for Derbyshire. How many times have Scotland and the Netherlands either given us a scare or beaten us? In its own, early season way tomorrow's match will be another benchmark of progress. It doesn't matter about the opposition - if we play at our best, we will win.
Simple as that.