"Lead by 99. 43 overs left today. Can we force a result?"
So ran a tweet from the club this afternoon as Hampshire, a side with a long and highly competent batting order, lost their third wicket to Mark Footitt.
I was almost tempted to reply "No" but decided not to bother. Irrespective of morning newspaper columns to the contrary, there was a greater chance of my 'doing a Lady Godiva' on a unicycle across the outfield than a result being forced today.
There was movement and there was an occasional erratic bounce as the game progressed, but neither happened with sufficient frequency for Derbyshire to bowl out a side that impressed me at the County Ground.
Hampshire bat long and have impressive, strapping quick bowlers who run in hard and bowl in the right areas. Kyle Abbott struck me as a very shrewd signing (if he stays fit) while Coles has the potential, if he learns from past mistakes, to become an England player. Tomlinson is a good, skiddy left-arm bowler and Ervine has been a steady county all-rounder for several years. They will be in the mix this summer, that's for sure.
Having said all that, Derbyshire had marginally the better of the game and can again take heart from their performance.I find it hard to believe that we can field as badly as on the first day again, while the batsmen and bowlers are slowly but surely finding rhythm and form.
There will be mild concern at the lack of runs in the 'engine room' of the batting, but this will improve, one way or another, with existing or new personnel. I'd have to say I'm not a huge fan of putting all the eggs in one basket in bowling and don't really see what four seamers offers if you pick the right three to begin with. There were times in this game when having a specialist spin bowler would have been handy, especially when Chesney appears to be bowling only a few overs in readiness for the one-day games. Worthy a bowler (and cricketer) as Wes Durston is, I don't see him as a bowler who will run through sides. A good foil for another spinner? Yes, most definitely.
Preparations now begin for the game at Worcester on Sunday. I don't expect major changes, but Graeme Welch will have a better idea of his new charges after the first two games. If he wants a fourth seamer, he could always bring in Alex Hughes for his namesake and David Wainwright could come in for Mark Turner to give a better balanced attack. Then again, he could leave things alone and hope for a wicket that allows for a positive result with the same side.
I've every confidence that Welch will soon get the first win under his belt and there are a good few positives to take down the road this weekend.