So this is it.
Six months of training and playing come to a conclusion at the County Ground over the next four days, the conclusion of which will decide the division in which we play our cricket next year.
While eyes and ears will naturally be drawn to events at Trent Bridge, the Derbyshire players should largely ignore goings-on there. All they can do is their best. If they win, it might be enough to keep us up; then again, it might not. Should both events occur it will be cause for celebration; if they don't we shouldn't be to down-hearted.
Our late-season form has been worthy of a top-level side. Sadly, our early-season cricket had no sparkle, no pzazz and none of the fight that has so characterised the efforts of the past month and for much of last season. Having survival hopes dashed now would be cruel, but we mustn't forget those early issues and must learn from them so that, come what may, we're ready next time.
Karl Krikken has announced a fifteen-man squad for tomorrow, namely:
There's little point in attempting to second guess the side for this one. Will Chesney Hughes return? Will we go exclusively with seam? Will we rise to the occasion or subside, somewhat sadly?
I think a win is a massive 'ask' against a Warwickshire squad that includes England men Boyd Rankin (congrats on the Ashes call-up, old Derbyshire boy) and Chris Woakes. They are missing a few players, but there's plenty of talent in their squad and they will want to finish strongly. Their squad:
Varun Chopra (Captain)
Stuart Poynter (Wicketkeeper)
You pay your money and take your choice on this one. I hope we win and I hope we stay up. I'll be happy as a sand boy if we manage it, but have a feeling that the fates might conspire against us somewhere along the line, either at Derby or Nottingham.
Should they do so, we can at least reflect on an excellent last month and look forward to a strengthened side competing strongly next summer.
Then again, that could happen in the top tier, just as easily...
Give it your all, boys. We can ask no more than that.