I love you Nottinghamshire. No, really, I do...
OK, I forced myself to say that, because it looks increasingly like we'll need a favour from the East Midlands giants (that's the last one...) to retain our top tier status this summer.
After today's play, Somerset look set to beat Surrey at Taunton and with a favourable forecast for tomorrow would have to make an unholy mess of their final innings to lose. Either that or Surrey would need to bowl much better than has been their modus operandi of late. We can only hope that Zander de Bruyn and Steven Davies show form commensurate to their salaries and get support from the tail, as our game seems to have nowhere to go.
There's two options for it tomorrow. Durham have sixteen overs left to rack up more bonus points and could logically get to 350. That might allow us the opportunity to get an extra bowling point with two more wickets. Alternatively, they could declare overnight and allow us to set a target, but risk batting last on a track that is offering more to spin - though not enough, I suspect, to force a win for the home side.
For what it is worth. I can see them pushing for the bonus points, batting on to 400-450 (if they can) and hope to bowl us out again in around 50-60 overs. I'd be surprised and disappointed if they did, as they only have one occasional spinner in the side. The greater danger will come from Onions and Rushworth, an excellent new ball pairing, but for me this game should be a draw from here.
We bowled well with little luck today. The ball at times did too much and a couple of loud appeals failed to go our way. Yet the fielding remained good and fine catches were held by Tim Groenewald and Tom Knight, who fielded all day in the place of Richard Johnson. Durham actually scored slower than we did, something that the not overly perceptive critics of our first innings might care to note. Palladino and Wainwright both bowled well without success and there was little between two teams that, on paper, are almost a league apart.
Off the pitch, the big news, as reported by the Telegraph today, was that Mark Footitt has rejected a contract offer and asked to speak to other counties. It has led to the usual outpouring of invective from the Forum, that completely neglects the fact that the player is perfectly entitled to do so. Given the size of the respective playing budgets, I'd hazard a guess that Mark would be offered perhaps three times his Derbyshire salary to play for Surrey, who are 'leading the chase'.
Notwithstanding that he may need that to live in London, can anyone reading this say they wouldn't at least discuss something of that nature? I enjoy my job, but if someone offered me thrice the going rate for it I'd be out of the door faster than Usain Bolt, assuming the location suited. What Footitt will doubtless size up is that he may or may not be a first choice there, will almost certainly be in division two and will lose access to a team who have got him fitter than ever before this summer, as well as a bowling coach in AJ Harris who deserves great credit for his work with the player.
If he goes, so be it, but he should be thanked for his efforts this summer, not castigated. I hope he stays, but departure offers opportunity to someone else, the wheels will keep turning and the club will go on as it always has.
Finally tonight, thanks to the many people with who I spent a convivial time at the cricket today. You know who you are, but your company and kind comments made a slow day on the field extremely pleasant. I hope you all winter well and, as with everyone else, I thank you for your continued support of this blog.