Thursday, 17 July 2014

Gloucestershire v Derbyshire day four

Gloucestershire 356 and 219
Derbyshire 372 and 208-4 (Godleman 54, Chanderpaul 52 not)

Derbyshire won by six wickets

A fully professional team performance, with the emphasis on 'team'.

Derbyshire emerged from the final day of what was a terrific advert for County Championship cricket with the win points, thanks to a display in which every member of the eleven made a contribution over four days. While it would have been nice for one or two of the batsmen to go on to a bigger, more match-defining score, they made as good a team approach to run scoring today as they did first time around. The result was satisfying and, after a solid start given by Ben Slater and Billy Godleman, never in real doubt.

Tonight is a good night to be a Derbyshire fan and it's a great one to be writing a blog. At the start of the day, Gloucestershire's overnight batsmen looked to be taking them to a challenging lead, but sharp fielding by Ben Slater at short leg ran out Tom Smith, before David Wainwright and Wes Durston summarily disposed of the tail.

I said last night that it would be important to get bowlers on at the right time and at the right end and so it proved. The wicket was never one where a batsmen felt he could book in for bed and breakfast, but it was important to play shots and despatch the bad balls to keep the upper hand.

When it was our turn to bat, we did just that. We scored at just under four an over, building from that steady opening stand with two players, in Madsen and Chanderpaul, that you really hope to have at the crease in such circumstances.

When the skipper went, Wes came in and again played with freedom, almost in one-day mode. To be honest, he's a much better player when he does that. If he plays 'proper' cricket he tends to be less effective and looks a little ponderous, but if he comes off, as he did in both innings here, he scores with such speed that the game can change in half an hour. Throw in the balance that he gives the side and Durston's return to form is as timely as it is welcome.

I'll not suggest our troubles are behind us, especially when we're in T20 action again soon, but there appears to be the nucleus of a side coming together. Ben Slater looks like he belongs at this level, Wes is back in form and Alex Hughes looks a good cricketer at six.

Mark Footitt is closing in on fifty wickets, Tony Palladino is bowling accurately and well, while Tom Taylor looks better with every game. David Wainwright is taking wickets again while Gareth Cross hints at a return to the batting success he enjoyed at Old Trafford.

I'm pleased for Wayne Madsen, as well as for Graeme Welch and his coaching staff tonight. If you've not already done so, Ant Botha's interview in the Derby Telegraph today is well worth a read and outlines the way forward for the club.

Perhaps most of all tonight I am happy for Shivnarine Chanderpaul. Fast closing in on his fortieth birthday, which comes next month, he's perhaps not quite the player he was and there has been criticism from some quarters about his form this summer.

Yet he's still averaging sixty, which really tells you how good he was at his best. He finished it today with a straight six and whatever else happens this summer, it has been a privilege to see an undoubted great of the game in the county colours.

If this is his county swansong, it looks like he intends to go out with a bang.

But if it's not...who knows?

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