Friday, 23 August 2013

Derbyshire v Middlesex day 3 - what relegation?

With a few ever so slightly nervy spells along the way, Derbyshire duly wrapped up a second remarkable victory on the trot at the County Ground today, beating Middlesex by 56 runs.

That's the current second and third teams in the country that we have beaten in consecutive matches and I'd suggest that only Yorkshire are playing such purposeful cricket as we are at present. It is an extraordinary turnaround for a young side, robbed of several senior players by injury but getting through on effort, willpower and no little talent.

We may yet go down, but those who a few short weeks ago were decrying the team as rubbish, the worst side ever to represent the county, a rabble and much more are now wiping considerable quantities of egg off their faces. We're still not the best team in the country by a distance, but we're playing the brand of cricket that characterised the early period of last summer. We're not a great batting side, but we're getting enough runs together collectively to win. We're not a great bowling side, but there's enough variety and novelty value in the attack to keep people guessing. We're not the best fielding side, but we're catching more than we were and again can draw on that magical team spirit that does so much for any side.

Full credit to Middlesex, who, as I suggested last night, fought all the way. Ollie Rayner had perhaps his greatest-ever game, yet ended up on the losing side, while Gareth Berg got them to the point where most of us started to wonder if things might not go the way we planned.

Yet they did. Judging from the number of overs bowled I don't think Tim Groenewald was fully fit after yesterday's injury, so a greater burden was placed on Mark Footitt (pictured), who responded magnificently. Mark has had his critics, especially with regard to his one-day bowling, but this must surely go down as his best season. He has bowled with consistent pace and has the ability to bowl over and round the wicket with no diminution of pace, further testimony to his improved fitness levels.

Matt Higginbottom was less effective today, but took the key wicket of Berg, while Peter Burgoyne bowled a long and controlled spell and took the last, among three wickets. Add in the sparingly used Alex Hughes and the attack had a very youthful look that ended up doing the business.

A couple of contributors have made the point that we cannot rely on them throughout the run in and they are right. I take my hat off to Karl Krikken for a team selection that he got spot on, even if a second spinner might have been useful today. He will need to look carefully - and he will - at the team on a match by match basis. Palladino, Clare, Wainwright and Knight could all come into the mix over the next few games, while the Poynton v Johnson battle will merit regular scrutiny. We could accomodate another bowler or batsman if Johnson kept, but that might be to the detriment of his batting, while Poynton's keeping remains a very high standard.

There's time for all that though. For now let us celebrate a team that has gone from being unlikely to see a win all summer in some eyes to sitting outside the relegation places. Somerset got lucky today and would have lost to Warwickshire bar for bad light, while Surrey look like getting little from their game against Durham. We can rest a few legs for the coming YB40 games if need be, ensuring that key personnel are fit and well for The Oval next Thursday.

Oh, and the Second XI beat Durham by ten wickets too, Borrington and Elstone knocking off the fifty-odd runs required in jig time and keeping Steve Stubbings' side atop the table. Good times huh?

Well, yes, apart from the pitch for last week's YB40 against Durham causing us to be docked two points from next year's fifty-over competition. Those nice people at Lords listened to the commentators and saw fit to punish us for a sub-standard pitch. To be fair, it wasn't great, but Durham did win the toss and opt to bowl, which was hardly indicative of them expecting it to be like North Pier at Blackpool in the second innings either.

So we take it on the chin, while raising a mental two fingers in the direction of Lords. Maybe that's just me...

Maybe we shouldn't have beaten them today.

Postscript - on the subject of pitches, top marks to Neil Godrich and his team for an outstanding four-day track in this game. You could make runs if you worked at it. You could take wickets if you bowled in the right areas.

You cannot ask for more.

And while handing out accolades, there have been excellent photographs through the season, but especially in recent weeks, on the club's Twitter feed. Full marks again to David Griffin, for capturing key moments so well for those of us unable to get to matches.


Marc said...

Terrific win.It may not have been perfect in every aspect but that doesn,t really matter. I said back in April we would need four wins to stay up and we are now halfway there. We may do it with three but why not be greedy?.

I fully agree with you regarding Footitt. I would have no hesitation in picking him for four day matches as i,ve said before. He offers something different and the most pleasing thing this season has been his level of fitness. I would give him a new two year contract without a doubt.

Burgoyne didn,t let us down and Higginbottom has nothing to be ashamed about either. Hopefully a few days rest will see Groenewald fit as he is a really important cog in this teams workings. Now is perhaps not the time to think about the Surrey game but just to enjoy being out of the drop zone. Surrey are making a codswallop of their match at Durham and it,s going to rain tomorrow.What a shame!. I,m going to enjoy this weekend thanks to a great team effort. I,m really starting to believe we can turn this round.

Tim, Chesterfield said...

Today's result made my day. Thankfully I was with a client at the time with an interest enough to encourage me to look at the score as we edged to victory. Footitt for me has earned a new one year deal though only to play the longer game. I still don't think we have the side right. Poynton's place must be in danger - Johnson has done enough with the bat in this game to justify his selection and there's simply no good reason why he can't keep wicket at the same time. It would allow us to strengthen the batting - probably with Durston whose bowling can also come in handy.

Well done to all, the hard work really does start here - how lovely to have those 'fashionable' counties twitching more than a little.

Anonymous said...

Lanky have often had pitches at Liverpool that players cant bat on but the ecb wouldn't dream of taking points off them, at any opportunity they take points off us.


Mark said...

Credit to the lads for showing some real battling qualities, why so late in the season though?. I think we've badly under performed for the first 4 months of the season, and are now showing the country what we're capable of. Madsen leads from the front as always, what a player, and some really good contributions from the younger lads aswell of late. 2 more wins should see us safe shouldn't it Peakfan?.

Peakfan said...

Two wins will Mark. One and decent bonus points/draws might, but we don't want to lose this next two and winning one would be gold dust!

Anonymous said...

Peak fan,

I've been massively critical of Mark Footitt, but today I must hold my hands up. He was excellent. Pace, bounce and aggression. Maybe I've been too harsh, on today's showing he's a good 4 day bowler. Well done Mark.

From what I saw of Higginbottom today, although he only got the single pole, I was impressed too bees not express pace, but he's got - dare I say it - a bit of Glenn McGrath about him, finds a good line and length and doesn't give too much away.

Massive win, very proud of the lads. The great escape IS on. Come on lads.

Cheshire Chris