"Whether the wicket eases is going to be a moot point, but it is hard to believe that Essex could bat as badly again, irrespective of the quality of the Derbyshire bowling."
So went my blog last night and my sooth-saying appears (sadly) to be alive and well. The reality is that one of the world's best international players showed his quality and, if not totally batting us out of the game yet, made it difficult for us to win it from here.
Certainly we'll need to bat with greater application than was shown in the first innings. There were some poor shots among the dismissals yesterday, while the tail folded with alarming speed this morning, leaving Shivnarine Chanderpaul high and dry at the other end.
There may be some who suggest that he might have shielded the lower order better, but he did all he could, having listened to the radio commentary. He turned down early over singles and left his partners only one or two balls to face. The problem was that they couldn't do so.
By the same token credit has to go to David Masters, one of the best county bowlers of the past ten years, for bowling straight and pitching it up, thus giving himself the best possible chance of taking wickets. He got good support from Graham Napier, another good county pro and then their batters took it away from us.
That's the thing with modern county cricket. If you play a side like Essex without their international players, things are a lot easier, unlike the old days when internationals played all the matches when there wasn't a Test match. You might say we're unlucky running into Alastair Cook, a player with a point to prove, but those are the breaks and you take it in the chin and fight back.
The first two days sum up beautifully the greatest of games. Yesterday we played excellent cricket and got our rewards. Today, we weren't so penetrative but ran up against a very good player who on the day was in the zone. There's not a great deal you can do when that happens except keep plugging away.
It will need a big and much improved batting effort to win from here, but the game is still alive. No titles are won and lost in the first game of the summer but after winning the first day of the game, we were not really at the races in the second until the final session.
Room for improvement then, but we'll come across few better players than Alastair Cook this summer.