Today saw a good bowling effort by Derbyshire at Chesterfield, the side bowling with impressive discipline to restrict Essex to 202-5 before rain ensured that there was no play after tea.
Mark Footitt started things off in his customary fashion with the early wicket of Ravi Bopara, before Tom Taylor reinforced his growing reputation as someone who takes good wickets by removing both Jesse Ryder and James Foster, international cricketers both. Alex Hughes chipped in with a very economical spell and the wicket of Ryan ten Doeschate, while Tony Palladino fulfilled his stock bowler role admirably, conceding only two an over in twenty-three overs of bowling.
I wrote last night that there would not be much between the respective first innings and at this stage that looks likely to be the case, even though it would appear that Essex are likely to have a lead of some description. Young opener Nick Browne has done well for them with a personal best score and we will hope to make early inroads tomorrow as soon as the weather allows the game to resume.
The game so far has clearly illustrated why I like the Chesterfield wickets, as there's a reward for bowlers who are prepared to bend their backs, while short boundaries and a generally quick outfield reward those batsmen who are able to get in and are prepared to play strokes. 250-350 is par for modern Queens Park wickets, but we will hope to get Essex out for some way short of that top figure tomorrow.
The game is very open at this stage and it would be nice to see Derbyshire battle to the ascendancy. What is certain is that we need more contributions than we had in the first innings and a lengthy batting line-up needs to assert itself much better than has been the case of late.
Essex will not fancy chasing over 250 in the last innings, but we will need to see if the Derbyshire batting has the skill and gumption to set them anywhere near that total. It's time for the real Shivnarine Chanderpaul to stand up and while the passing years have reduced his ability to play huge innings on a regular basis, I hope that there are a few more in the tank over the remainder of the summer.
Second innings here would do very nicely...