Monday, 28 April 2014
Worcestershire v Derbyshire day 2
Yes, it's brittle nature remains a concern, especially between five and seven in the order, but with two days gone there is very little between these two sides. Runs on the board are always worth more on such wickets and it must not be forgotten that the Worcester ground spends a fair part of each winter under water. Batsmen face the early season tracks with considerable wariness and anyone who prospers on them can count themselves as quite a player.
At which point, step forward Wayne Madsen. The skipper - Captain Fantastic, if you will - scored just over half of the team's score and ensured, with support from Shiv Chanderpaul and a healthily wagging tail, that we posted a decent tally and importantly took time from the match.
With more rain forecast, on and off, over the next couple of days, one of these sides will need to do something special to force a win. The speed at which Worcestershire made their evening reply suggested that they will not be scoring at four an over tomorrow and leaving us a tricky last day against Saeed Ajmal, a fine bowler.
It could happen, but it's unlikely. I felt for Dan Hodgson today, making his county debut. He will have run through that innings plenty of times but never come up with a scenario where he was leg before, first ball. That came after the early season struggles of Chesney Hughes and Wes Durston continued. With the seconds playing tomorrow, there will be a few people with justifiable hopes of forcing their way into the senior side in the near future.
We're not alone in the batting struggles, of course. There are plenty of teams and high quality batsmen struggling at this stage of the summer, rusty techniques and bowler-friendly wickets conspiring to make their quest for form an elusive one at this stage. Anyone who saw the ball that nipped back a long way to bowl Stephen Moore will hopefully appreciate the thankless task of facing a new ball in such conditions.
Which all makes Wayne Madsen's innings today all the more special. There are very few batsmen on the county circuit you would rate more highly than the Derbyshire skipper and I can't think of any I'd want fighting in our corner when things are tough. Except for Shiv Chanderpaul, and we already have him...
In the form of last year - and this, based on his efforts so far - Madsen can rightly entertain hopes of an England call-up. His South African background will not go down well with some, of course, but if you're looking at the ten best England-qualified batsmen on the circuit, Madsen must surely be in there.
Quite what would happen to our batting should he get the call is another question, but for his efforts on and off the pitch in his time at Derbyshire, there is no one more worthy than the affable skipper. It will be interesting to see how England's Moeen Ali fares tomorrow, a decent benchmark of Madsen's talents and efforts.
Wonderful Wayne Madsen. Thanks to him, we're still in there and fighting.