I hope, when we're looking back at this season at the end of September, that this game is seen as its nadir and the turning point.
Because it was pretty awful.
I can handle being beaten. Forty-six years as a Derbyshire fan prepares you for that. I'd no issue with defeat last week against Essex, because we fought to the end and were effectively beaten by a top innings by one of the world's best players.
That excuse can't be made here, because I don't see Worcestershire as one of this division's top sides. Yet their one innings was like the delightful ice cream in the middle of two very dry, somewhat unpalatable wafers produced by Derbyshire, with the exception of Wayne Madsen. He stood at the bridge of the good ship Derbyshire, as it sank quietly beneath the waves.
I take no real pleasure in calling it correctly. When asked by my wife how I thought today would go, I said we'd be all out by tea. So it transpired and it made for miserable following. Goodness knows how bad it must have been for the hardy souls who were there. Ajmal is a good bowler, but he only needed to bowl twenty overs.
I don't agree with all of what Rob has said below the previous piece, though full marks to him for putting his name to it. To say that we always showed fight under Karl Krikken is patently incorrect - remember Yorkshire, at Chesterfield? That inept effort, where Madsen also stood alone bar for support from the badly missed Tom Poynton, marked the turning point of last year's campaign and I think that this one will do the same.
Nor do I disagree with Graeme Welch in going with his experienced men at the start of the summer. It was a logical move and, let's not forget, he's very much working with the hand he was dealt in so far as personnel are concerned. He's a shrewd man and a good coach and I'm sure that he's now starting to see that some are perhaps not up to the requisite standard, either technically or mentally.
A contributor on another site asked why, if Madsen and Chanderpaul can bat on awkward pitches, the others can't. The answer, simply and honestly, is that they're not as good. Fine cricketers, as you have to be to play the county game, but not good enough to be consistent performers. They will have their days in the sun, but I think - indeed hope - that Welch will now want to see what else he has to work with.
Two such players were making their case very clearly in the second team match against Worcestershire today. Paul Borrington (121) and Scott Elstone (212 not out) each made centuries and should be pencilled in for the game against Kent in around a fortnight's time. Bozza is in the last year of his contract, while Elstone has a one-year deal and we need to know what they both have to offer.
We already know about Borrington, cry the cynics. But do we? Maybe he could be one of these later developers who finally realises that he can carry the vast weight of runs made at other levels into the first-class game. At a similar age, Wayne Madsen was a talented batsman in South Africa without consistent runs to back up those fighting his corner. At 23, Elstone has a rare gift of timing and scoring quickly (126 balls for his ton today, a double century in 211 balls) and should also be given an extended run. With handy off spin and brilliant fielding to offer, there's much to like about the Burton lad.
As there is with Alex Hughes, an all-rounder of abundant talent and energy who would bring much to a side, given time, in the middle order. Importantly, including these lads gives increased credibility to the stated long-term goal of producing local talent. There's plenty to be excited about in the younger age brackets, but they need time, as do the coaches, who lest we forget have been in post for less than four months. Supporters will, I feel, be more tolerant of the bad days of local lads who are learning their trade.
That's the thing with coaching. You can do all the work you like in the nets, but the bottom line is what happens to players when they get out into the middle. The poor championship form of Billy Godleman, Wes Durston and Chesney Hughes goes back to the start of last season, if we ignore Chesney's Headingley opus, and while improved form will see them get them another opportunity, we need to see what others can bring to the table when all are patently struggling at present.
This wasn't, as I saw it labelled, a 'must win' match. Three games into a season, such talk is laughable. Back in 1964, Worcestershire won the championship after winning only one game in May and June, before it all clicked for them. On the evidence so far, we need major improvement to replicate that and may need to use this one to rebuild, try players out and strengthen further in the winter with players identified by the wide network of the coaching staff.
There's a lot of cricket left though and plenty of time to turn things around with swift and decisive action.
Back to the nets and the drawing board. We need to be much, much better by the time the Kent game comes around and the break we now have couldn't have come at a better time.
Postscript - warm congratulations to Chris Rogers for an extraordinary unbeaten double century in the successful Middlesex chase of 472 to beat Yorkshire, achieved for the loss of only three wickets. A wonderful player, one of the best county imports in the past decade.
But we know that...