"I'm sorry but you are wrong, the declaration should've come a whole lot earlier and before lunch. If it was the other way round you would be lamenting the opposition. Pure and simple it lacks ambition, we've got nothing to play for and we decide to take the draw. It just shows we don't want to finish bottom and rather take the draw.
Take your Derbyshire CCC glasses off because whatever the decision they make you seem to agree and never seem to criticise."
Thus wrote Harry to me, this evening, disagreeing somewhat with my comment in the earlier piece and prompting this one before bed tonight.
I can only assume that Harry's not been reading the blog for too long, as there's plenty of decisions, team selections and performances that have received criticism from this direction in even the recent past. Yes, it would have been nice to have ended that game with the win points, but there was a strong possibility of a loss on a small ground with a fast outfield and against a long and powerful batting line-up.
Let's be honest, this isn't the strongest attack that we have ever had and outwith the opening bowlers there's little to worry quality batsmen on a good batting track. Had Mark Footitt not taken three in an over, I reckon that Bopara and Ryder would have given them the foundation for an assault that could have taken them very close.
What would people have said then? I have a pretty good idea and for a side low on confidence to emerge on the credit side of a draw on such a wicket is, at this stage, all that we can hope for. To be in the ascendancy for much of this game and then end up losing it would have been a contender for a crime most heinous. We need that like I need a course in cross stitch...
A draw doesn't redefine our season but a loss could have put another nail in its coffin. As for Harry's suggestion that we should have declared at lunch, had we done so, we'd have lost, plain and simple. I would have led the castigation tonight if we'd had them eight or nine down, but that was a good batting track and we had only taken four wickets by the close. Without the post-lunch runs/overs equation, they'd have needed around ninety from thirteen overs with two not out centurions and good batsmen to follow. If anyone fancies our chances in that scenario, you're a better man than I, Gunga Din. Surely you've seen us bowl in the T20 this summer?
As for that assertion that we don't want to finish bottom, Harry, why would we? If five points takes us a little more clear of a local rival, I'll gladly take that right now. There will come a time in this team's development when that's not the best course of action - perhaps if we're pushing for promotion another year - but right now I'm grateful for small mercies.
I will criticise Derbyshire, players, coaching staff and administrators alike, if I feel it is deserved, but not just for the hell of it.
And certainly not tonight.