One look at the group in which Derbyshire find themselves for the T20 tells a tale. Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Durham and Yorkshire will be difficult matches, while the games against Leicestershire, theoretically easier, see us pitched against the the reigning champions - though granted few would see them as a side likely to retain that crown.
Only a supreme optimist would expect us to win such a group, and qualifying would be a remarkable feat for a young and emerging side. Yet looking at the talent within our squad there is no reason why we should not be, at the very least, competitive.
Key to our fortunes will be the performance of our overseas stars, Usman Khawaja and Rana Naved. Khawaja is widely regarded as one of the most gifted young batsmen of his generation in Australia and will doubtless score a lot of runs in the second half of the Championship season, yet it is the challenge of establishing himself as a T20 player that will be watched as closely back home. He is a wristy, classy player, yet with little evidence so far of a short-game technique. Only one fifty in T20 games is something he will aim to improve on and he has been dismissed too often playing big shots that are far from his natural game.
For me, Khawaja would be best employed in the opening role played so well by Jacques Kallis - a man who knocks it around, scores a boundary here and there and rotates the strike, allowing bigger hitters to reach or clear the boundaries. If he can do that and bat through 20 overs for 60-70 runs we should usually get a decent score - as long as he scores in excess of a run a ball, a pre-requisite for this game.
Then there is Rana Naved, a cricketer I have long admired but never considered Derbyshire could lure to the County Ground. He is a big game, big occasion player, an entertainer - exactly what we needed. He is a go to bowler, someone who can come on at the start or end of an innings and give little away in the style of Charl Langeveldt. Yet he is more, because Naved is a personality and, as a batsman, someone who can easily change the direction of a game in a couple of overs.
For me, Naved has to bat high in the order, probably around five. If he gets out, that's the way it goes, yet if he got going, any target is attainable. In last winter's Big Bash semi-final against the Sydney Sixers, Naved was inexplicably kept back till number eight by his captain, only coming in at 109-6 with 21 balls to go and 45 needed. He scored an unbeaten 30 from 14 deliveries and may well have nicked the game had he not lost the strike in the last over.
My first choice side for the T20s? You may disagree, but here it is, in my preferred order:
Three good seamers in Naved, Clare and Groenewald. Three spinners in Wainwright, Durston and Hughes. Good depth to the batting and considerable potential. I considered Gary Park in the middle order, but find it impossible to omit Dan Redfern in his current rich vein of form, while Ross Whiteley's detructive ability could be a real asset. There is a school of thought that he should bat higher, but no one scores faster than Wes Durston and there are possibilities in that Derbyshire engine room.
I could see Tom Knight coming into the side with his slow left arm on slow wickets, but the side above for me is the strongest that we can put out for T20. Mark Footitt could have been a useful weapon and Mark Turner may get games through rotation, having bowled well last week against a strong Warwickshire side.
We just need to use some common sense. You can't hit every ball for four, but rotating the strike, timing and placing the ball and running hard can often be of equal benefit. The team will be good in the field and has enough talent to compete against the best - we just need a liberal dose of intelligence to go with it.
Let the games begin...