Old Peakfan and his family landed safely in Gods own county this evening and saw a controversy breaking out between the county club and the Derbyshire Society of Hot Cake Manufacturers.
Apparently tickets for Friday's game against our dear neighbours are selling at a rate outstripping the latter's own produce and they are far from happy. Not that the club will worry unduly, as they can look forward to a bumper night of income and a pretty good forecast at this stage.
All that, of course (and I jest, just in case anyone doesn't realise) means that our lads will play on Friday in front of what appears likely to be a sell out crowd and a great occasion. It is well deserved, because whatever the shortcomings of our four-day game this summer, we've played some good one-day cricket and some terrific stuff in the T20. Apart from a bad over from Mark Footitt at Leicester and another one last night, we've bowled with purpose, common sense and great skill so far. In fairness to Footitt, he had Katich first ball last night and that could have given him the boost for the spell, but instead a very good player of fast bowling, brought up on quick bouncy tracks, gave him some stick.
The second over that brought him a wicket at Leicester was less effective last night and I think that he is the one player whose place is under threat for Friday. To some extent, Mark is like the little girl with the curl - when he is good, he is very, very good; when he is bad, he is awful. There's no middle ground and if the radar goes it tends to do so big time. Against his former team, who know him so well, he may be a gamble that is not worth taking and there could be a few options to replace him.
Top of most people's lists would be Alex Hughes, who is nearing fitness and would offer good depth and power to the batting, brilliance in the field and useful overs with the ball. It is to his very great credit that he is a name on most people's lips and notional team sheets after a handful of games and I don't worry about the occasion getting to him at all.
Another option may be Ross Whiteley, who is almost recovered from a side strain. We all know that a fit and in form Whiteley is as big a hitter as anyone and despite a lack of form this summer, slapping a few balls around in T20 might be a good way of restoring lost confidence. You can tell players that their feet, head and hands are in the wrong place as a coach, but sometimes the player just needs to go out and hit it as hard as they can to rediscover what made them good players in the first instance.
Then again, there is both Peter Burgoyne and Tom Knight. I feel that with Groenewald, Morkel and Clare we have enough seamers. Durston and Wainwright are good limited over spinners. Is Redfern good enough to handle Nottinghamshire's much vaunted batting? Is Chesney Hughes able to bowl a few overs? If the answer to both of those questions is no, then we perhaps need another specialist spinner. Burgoyne is perhaps the better all-round option, but Knight has a good track record in T20 and has bowled well recently in the second team before injury.
It will be a big call for Karl Krikken. Perhaps another question is the fitness of Jon Clare, who didn't bowl a full spell last night and appeared some way from full pace. If he is unfit, then perhaps Whiteley or Hughes may play in his stead, leaving the spinners to fight it out for the other place.
Whatever the decision, these are heady times for the club. By a growing consensus we have perhaps the two biggest names in the tournament as overseas stars and both have done very well. I can write little about Chanderpaul that hasn't already been said and he is a diamond. As for Morkel, his use of the new ball has been key to establishing early control, while his influence on and off the pitch cannot be overestimated. We have not yet seen him unleash the range of shots we know he has, but our Friday opponents will be wary of the damage that he can do once he gets his range.
Yet they will also be aware that Durston and Hughes can inflict damage at the top and the former seems to enjoy their bowling. Madsen is another who plays with great common sense but has the shots to rack up the runs on the right track. Derbyshire bat deep, as Yorkshire found out last week, though we'd prefer not to replicate that batting effort again, thanks very much...
Nottinghamshire will also be wary of Tim Groenewald, who is a cricketer for who I have the greatest respect. Over his time at Derbyshire he has missed precious few matches and he usually uses the new ball well and with great intelligence. He will have a key role on Friday, that's for sure and any repetition of his bowling effort last night will be appreciated by the home support.
I'm not going to suggest that we will hammer Nottinghamshire. I'll not even say that we will beat them. Their batting line-up is international quality and, while the bowling is less convincing, they are a team that cost a lot to put together and logically should win more matches than they lose. I think T20 is their strongest suit, yet they somehow fail to win the competition, year after year.
Friday will be a great game of cricket and I hope that our added experience from Shiv and Albie helps us to compete, put our visitors under pressure and makes a real game of it. If it does, then you never know what can happen. We're on a roll and I hope that it continues for some time yet. Even if we lose, we're still in a very strong position in the group.
If we win...oh boy...