Good literary references in the heading there, as news breaks today of a pitch panel being convened at the end of this game, also known as mid-afternoon today.
For all the brave protestations of Wayne Madsen in today's Derby Telegraph, there was not a hope of two of our batsmen making a hundred to change the game on wicket which was referred to as being 'like a fourth day track on day two'.
Such hope disappeared when the two batsmen most likely to do it - the skipper himself and Marcus North - were both back in the hutch during the first hour. It is, to be honest, the sort of wicket where you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. Play your shots, get away with a few and then perish attempting something ambitious to be labelled irresponsible, or retreat into your shell, block it out for twenty overs, take no risk and eventually go, having made no substantial inroads to the deficit. Take your chances and play your own game would be my attitude, fortune sometimes favouring the brave.
If, again to use the skipper's words, there were chunks coming out of the wicket on the first day, then it is difficult to get away from the fact that the home side prepared a result track. Fair play, they're neither the first or last to do that and the end result was always going to be decided by a toss that they could have lost, but it's not doing the game any favours when good professionals, but unashamedly dibbly-dobbly bowlers, like Darren Stevens can just drop it on a length and wait for things to happen.
Cricket is about a fairly even battle between bat and ball and I am no more in favour of moribund Taunton-esque tracks as they once were, than of wickets where games last not even three days when four are scheduled. It might add a few more points to the club's tally (at least until the pitch panel nick them again) but does little for the reputation of the club and the game.
Remember back in the days of Kim Barnett's captaincy? Teams used to turn up at Derby in the expectation of green wickets to start the game, but knew that they would settle down as the game progressed. The first morning saw the ball zip about, but those of a certain vintage, such as I, well recall Barnett leading from the front and blazing away in complete disregard to the conditions. The difference was also that runs could be made by those with the right technique and shots.
The games were great and well-balanced, the scores normally 200-275 per side and the results shared between home and away sides as the toss evened things up, but they produced cricket that was worth packing a picnic for. I'm not so sure a wicket that is bad on day one and then deteriorates badly by the second justifies the same statement, unless as a supporter you exist only to see your team win and would be happy seeing them smack a bowling machine around.
I'm not excusing Derbyshire's batting, which was insipid and distinctly average, but I won't go along with those who suggest that the side has no talent, because the records of most of those involved belies that. What I would say is that we're collectively lacking in confidence at present and there's no quick solution to that, unless Paul McKenna does cricket courses. The erudite comment of Martin Moseling, a Kent fan, below yesterday's piece is as always worth a read.
All the Derbyshire players can do is work and keep working. Sometimes a couple of good boundaries is all that's required to make you realise you can still bat; a brilliant catch lifts a team, as does a fine spell of bowling. I don't subscribe to the media obsession of building up and knocking down. The recent stupidity over Roy Hodgson being a case in point. After the first World Cup game he was a man to lead us from the dark ages into the promised land of adventurous football. After the second, most wanted him sacked, ignoring the fact that there wasn't a single worthwhile candidate to replace him.
It's the same with Derbyshire. Graeme Welch needs time, the players need an arm round their shoulder or a critical word, depending on what motivates them and we need to be patient, because, to quote the Hollies, the road is long, with many a winding turn...
We need one of those Eddie Barlow Inspirational Performances, that we give the award for each Autumn .
So, after this game is finished, one of those players has to step up to the mark and provide it, sometime soon.