Ther rain may well have come at the right time for Derbyshire tonight, having made an unconvincing start to the pursuit of 221 against Northamptonshire.
With Chesney Hughes and Wes Durston back in the pavilion and just 19 runs on the board after six overs, there was a long way to go for Derbyshire when the rain called a halt to proceedings and the sides shared the points. Earlier there had been excellent bowling from the much improved Mark Turner, who could just become a potent weapon in the run in.
The best news today came from Southampton, where the game between Yorkshire and Hampshire, unless there is a contrived finish tomorrow, looks set to end in a draw. That will leave Derbyshire in a strong position in the County Championship, ahead of the game against the white rose county next week.
In the light of recent one-day performances I can understand there being a few moans and groans among the faithful. They do, after all, pay their money and are as entitled to an opinion as me or anyone else. Indeed Marc, below last night's post, raises a few concerns around the prospects for next summer and what might happen should we get promoted and play nine home-grown players per match.
The short answer is, of course, that we have no real option. The county game is dependent on ECB income and you get that by playing English-qualified players. All counties have gone down this path and, given that the ECB effectively runs and owns county cricket, it is the only feasible route.
Disagree? How many counties could survive without ECB money each season? You won't have to use too many fingers for that tally, trust me. Yes, we could reinforce the young squad for another summer with two or three senior players, but where will the money come from? Don't forget that we are a long way from being the most affluent county in the country and the limited money we have has to go a long way. Even with an outstanding marketing team behind the scenes, we are unlikely to be raising the money to sign a number of established players.
Marc says that the Academy has not yet produced established county players, but those of few counties have yet to do so and I would still argue that Derbyshire's is going firmly in the right direction. I can't argue with Marc that only Dan Redfern has so far cemented a place in the side, but Ross Whiteley will come again and there is enough talent among the likes of Knight, Hughes, Poynton, Higginbottom, Borrington and Burgoyne to be confident in the future. The next generation looks equally impressive, but we have to be prepared for periods of ups and downs, as that is what you get with youngsters. You also need patience. Redfern is enjoying a fine season at the age of 22, but this is his SIXTH summer in the side.
Derbyshire's Academy has produced several players of potential county standard in the past few summers and will continue to do so as sound structures have been established. There is no magic wand, however, that turns a young player into an experienced one overnight. All of them have to serve lengthy apprenticeships and will enjoy periods of success and failure within that time. There will be times to celebrate their success and times to tolerate their failures, because cricket is the greatest leveller of any sport you care to name.
Keep in mind though that this bunch of players has got us 28 points clear in Division Two. Keep in mind that next summer there could well be a player emulating the progress of Whiteley last summer and Poynton, along with Redfern this. They all develop at their own speed and we need to appreciate and accept that.
Irrespective of what happens in the remainder of the season, the players can be proud of their achievements this year, one in which we have started to change a few perceptions. More will be changed in the summers ahead, mark my words, but it will take time. There are areas we need to improve the side - at least one batsman is needed and a seam-bowling all-rounder would never go amiss, but no one is more aware of areas for improvement than the coaching staff.
There may well be departures too, but not many. For now let us enjoy an improved performance on Sunday ahead of one of our biggest games for years.
We have seven such games coming up in the next few weeks. Get behind our lads, because with that support they might just cross the finishing line in a very strong position.