It might not have been pretty, but it was pretty effective...
Derbyshire batted all day to end it 161 runs ahead with three wickets in hand. All results are still possible, but in taking the game into the fourth day, Derbyshire have given themselves every chance of bowling on a wicket at its worst.
It may all be in vain, of course. We could still lose, with Surrey's experienced batting line up earning their money and taking the game from us on the last afternoon. However long we bat tomorrow, they need to go for the runs, as they are in danger of being cast adrift at the bottom with nowhere to go. A win for us leaves us only a point behind Somerset, our next opponents, in what becomes a game of monumental importance. A loss, I fear, leaves us with too much to do.
It was a good effort today on a pitch with variable bounce and offering help to the spinners. Neither Ansari nor Batty are close to front rank purveyors of twirlies, so it is hard to judge how well Wainwright and Burgoyne might do tomorrow.
I reckon that we need at least another forty runs and at that point Surrey may worry (nice rhyme, huh?). Chasing 200 in the last innings will be no picnic and will be a challenge psychologically, as well as technically. Amla, Solanki and de Bruyn will again be key and how we need Mark Footitt to have his radar locked on again and bowling at his fastest. If he could take a couple of early wickets, no matter how many they are chasing, it could set the alarm bells ringing.
I suspect David Wainwright will see early action with the ball and will be a tired man tomorrow night. He and Tom Poynton added a crucial 48 unbroken runs in the last session this evening, stretching the lead to 161 and suggesting, if no more, that we could still nick this one. I like Poynton and in his formative career he has suggested that he will be a valuable player for us in the years to come. He's prepared to get his head down, but can give it a smack if it is there to be hit. His batting average heads steadily northwards and has plenty of time to improve in the years ahead. Wainwright too has the right mentality and after a difficult season seems to be rediscovering form at a crucial time.
Once again Wayne Madsen was to the fore with a hard-earned fifty, before falling leg-before to one that kept low. While disappointed to be dismissed, he will have enjoyed seeing the ball misbehave and the Derbyshire players will be well aware that they have a chance tomorrow. Paul Borrington also battled hard and can be pleased with his efforts in the match on a difficult pitch.
So where's your money folks? If we could scrap to 200 in the morning I will fancy our chances, but less than that will be desperately close. Scoring hasn't been easy throughout the game and is unlikely to be tomorrow. Will Surrey be prepared to scrap as we have done, or will they stroll to victory on the back of some wild bowling as Derbyshire lose their mojo? Will they, conversely, collapse like a pack of cards?
I think a 200 target will win it, especially if we can make the runs/overs equation challenging tomorrow - and not give away as many extras as we did in the first innings, which was way too generous on such a track. Every run will count, that's for sure.
But whatever happens, this Derbyshire side have restored pride. The willingness to graft is heartening and will stand them in good stead for the future, whatever happens tomorrow.
My fingers are crossed though.