When I saw that Marcus Trescothick had won the toss and elected to bat under cloudless skies at Taunton today, the thought crossed my mind that they may well have batted us out of the game by stumps.
Instead, after one of the most extraordinary days of cricket in my recollection, we close 117 runs ahead with five wickets in hand. By any standards you care to mention that was a remarkable effort by a set of players who are anything but predictable. Perhaps that's why I love the side so much, because you genuinely don't know what sort of display you will get. If we were to win all the time, like cricketing Harlem Globetrotters, it would be boring. Nice, mind, but boring..
This was real 'Derbyshire' cricket. Rekindling the spirits of Warren and Bestwick, Copson and Pope, Gladwin and Jackson, Ward and Rhodes, Tim Groenewald and Tony Palladino destroyed the home side after Mark Footitt had taken the wicket of their talisman, Marcus Trescothick. It was classic Derbyshire bowling...two runs an over, moving it around and making the batsmen play. Only a last wicket flourish by Chawla took the home side past a hundred, but this was a remarkable effort by our lads.
I'm thrilled for the two seamers. For Groenewald (left) a five-wicket haul is a fine way to celebrate the birth of his new baby, in the course of it taking his 200th wicket for the county. For Palladino (above) it was just reward for a lot of work to get fit after a couple of injuries this summer. Both men confirmed both their talent and that they will continue to be a wicket-taking force for us next summer, wherever we are playing our cricket.
It was all so astonishing after the run fests of our recent trips to Zumerzet and made me wonder how our reply would go. Rather well, was the answer, with youngsters Slater and Borrington leading off with a fifty stand that settled some nerves. Boz went to Chawla's first ball and he always looked the likely danger man, finishing the day with four wickets. Slater went on to a fine 45, but Madsen and Chanderpaul failed and the departure of Alex Hughes left us in no man's land at 127-5. It would have been feasible for us to have been bowled out for well under 200 at that point.
Which is of course when two keepers came together to take us to a fairly prosperous 220-5. There's been comments-a plenty on the merits of picking two glove men in the first eleven, but both can handle a bat and today the two good friends made hay while the sun shone and the shadows lengthened. Recent signs on Johnson as a specialist batsman are encouraging, while, as I wrote the other night, Poynton has steadily improved as the season has progressed and will always battle. His glove work continues to be of a very high standard and his vocal prowess undiminished.
I'll not get carried away yet. Somerset have good batsmen and they surely cannot do so badly the second time around. We won't want to chase 150 on a wearing pitch in the fourth innings against Chawla either. Yet the signs are good. If we could muster more runs and - crucially - bonus points tomorrow and get a lead of 200-250 we shouldn't have to score too many.
In my wildest dreams I couldn't have come up with today's scenario and it bodes well for this side, whatever happens in the rest of the match and the rest of the season. For the first half of the championship campaign we gave the impression of being new kids at High School. For most of the last month we've looked like the senior staff, playing as well as any side in the division. Progress, beyond doubt.
That was seriously, seriously impressive gentlemen. More of the same tomorrow will do very nicely.
PS The pitch inspectors will be there again tomorrow, concerned about extravagant turn and bounce on day one..but don't hold your breath on any points being docked for the hosts. If it did happen, it would really shake up the bottom of the table.
Now if it was at Derby....