There will be more than a few thoughts running through Karl Krikken's mind this weekend and the decisions that come out of them will be crucial to our prospects against Middlesex.
While Derbyshire will start Tuesday's game as underdogs, the players and coach will be well aware that they gave them a good game at Lords for a couple of days, before one horrendous session cost them dearly. The visitors are in contention for the title, but then again, so are Sussex and we beat them in our last game with relative ease.
Having thought long and hard about it, I still feel we really need this to be a spinner's track and I've not changed my mind since last night's game against Durham. By the same token, we can't have it turning right angles from the first session, or the pitch inspectors will be down at the ground faster than you can say 'Muttiah Muralitharan'. Neil Godrich has a fine line to tread in getting the wicket just right, like Goldilocks' third bowl of porridge.
Why? Middlesex are challenging for the title because Finn, Murtagh, Roland-Jones, Collymore and Harris have nearly 120 wickets between them. Ollie Rayner, their sole spinner of note, has seventeen wickets in eight matches. I'm not going to pretend that Wainwright, Durston, Burgoyne and Knight are channeling the skills of Indian legends circa 1970's after Thursday night, but they do represent, for me, our best chance of success in this one.
Of course, it is not as clear cut as that. It would help considerably if we won the toss and could bat first, but there's only 50/50 on that one, as is always the case.We also need to bat well, there being nowhere to go if we are rolled over for 175 on the first day, even if the toss goes our way.
Yet the key man in the intervening period is James Pipe. Is Chanderpaul fit? Is Wes Durston? Will Tony Palladino get through four days of cricket after a stomach strain? For that matter, will Jon Clare emerge from another injury-ruined season?
Clare is an enigma. He's a lovely lad, a dangerous batsman and a bowler who hits the wicket hard and on his day would be a shoo-in for a first choice side. Yet his body is the biggest obstacle to him developing as the cricketer we all thought he would be when he burst onto the scene in 2008. He only played nine championship matches over the following two seasons, but had an excellent 2011. Last summer he again did well and despite missing a third of the matches was a key player in the championship win.
This year he has missed around half of the matches and not looked close to his best form with bat or ball for much of the time. Maybe he needs to replicate the winter work of Mark Footitt, another whose career has been blighted by injury but who has maintained a level of fitness this summer that is highly commendable. Maybe he has just been unlucky.
I hope that Clare gets himself fit for another summer, as our side is undoubtedly the stronger for him being in it and at the peak of his fitness and game. At 27 he is coming to a crucial part of his career and where it goes from this point will be largely down to him.
I think that we will play three seamers - we have to, in case one goes lame - but the final place will be dictated by Wes Durston's fitness to bowl perhaps fifteen or twenty overs. We know that Chesney can't bowl this summer, so Durston opposite Wainwright will be key on what I expect to be a slow, turning wicket. If there's any doubt, then I suspect Peter Burgoyne's superior batting might get him the nod at six in this side:
It would be tough on Burgoyne or Alex Hughes to miss out, as both had good games at Sussex, but I would see that as my most likely eleven. As I said the other night, I feel Tom Knight the better spinner at the moment, but if we need another one his inclusion would leave us with a long-looking tail. Some might say that Durston's championship form this summer doesn't warrant selection, but he's due an innings and has shown form with bat and ball since the Sussex game.
We're all experts after the event. It is easy to call a bad selection or a poor bowling change, a bad shot or a missed catch with the benefit of hindsight. When you have to make a judgement call in advance of a game, or on the spur of the moment, it is massively different. Karl Krikken makes decisions based on fitness reports, seeing players in the nets, being aware of their mental state and a gut feeling. All of us can only go on the latter.
It will be tough, but that's top tier cricket. We have the ability to win it, as the team have shown on various occasions this summer, but the all-important question has to be answered.
Which Derbyshire will turn up?