As I walked out of the ground this evening, there was much to reflect upon from an absorbing opening day's cricket.
On it, I thought Derbyshire did very well on a wicket where there was something for the bowlers all day. The quicks got steepling bounce at times and there was lateral movement too. Morris and McClenaghan bowled very well for the visitors, although the latter was guilty of some bowling that was also wild at times. Morris impressed me and ran in as hard at the end of the day as he did in the early session. The days final overs were bowled by McClenaghan and Shantry and I cannot recall seeing two left-arm seamers bowling round the wicket in tandem before. Curious...
I thought we largely batted well and was impressed by Ben Slater and Billy Godleman at the top of the order. Slater looks comfortable at this level and only needs a big score to 'seal the deal'. Godleman was on three after 75 minutes play, then opened up and played some good shots before falling to Morris.
The skipper looked cool, calm and classy, but then he usually does and it was a shame when he fell. Durston was a little uncomfortable against a barrage of short stuff but looked to have got through it when he was dismissed, while Chesney failed to make the most of a rare opportunity by misjudging the line and seeing his stumps rearranged.
Gareth Cross didn't last long and David Wainwright fell tamely, but Alex Hughes and Tony Palladino joined forces and took us past the 300 mark in a breezy, unbroken ninth wicket stand. Hughes continues to impress and has a new personal best in his sights tomorrow. He is a busy cricketer and I like his attitude more each time I see him. Meanwhile Palladino clumps merrily and perhaps plays the hook and pull as well as anyone in the side. While Wayne White looked like he needed matches, he will probably enjoy bowling on this wicket tomorrow, one which is dry and taking a little spin already. If we could get to 350 tomorrow, Worcestershire will have to bat very well to stay in the game.
Being honest, I didn't see much between the two sides today, which only illustrates further the strides made by the side in recent weeks. If we can get early wickets tomorrow, the groundwork for a win will have been well and truly laid.
Off the field it was a pleasure to chat to so many people once again - no names, no packdrill - and I remain impressed by the quality of personnel we have behind the scenes at the County Ground and their unfailing pleasant demeanour.
The members forum was interesting and afforded an opportunity to see the exciting development plans at the ground, excellently presented by Simon Storey, as well as hearing a range of questions neatly fielded in addition by Graeme Welch, Chris Grant and Jason Fage.
I shook my head at the query on why we released Tim Groenewald and the suggestion that he would have got us to the one-day cup final (he wouldn't) and perked up on hearing that Cheteshwar Pujara's short stint this year may be the precursor to a longer stay next season. I'd also clarify a point I made previously regarding Tom Taylor and Harvey Hosein - both have signed full-time permanent contracts and have deferred university entrance for the immediate future to give county cricket a good go.
Having those two available next summer will surely affect our recruitment plans. The potential of both is obvious and Hosein will be an admirable back up for Tom Poynton.
As for Taylor, he, Cotton, Cork and perhaps Will Davis will be pushing for regular senior cricket from an academy that appears to be bearing some excellent fruit.
The future is so bright, I gotta wear shades...
Thanks to everyone for their chat today - it really was a pleasure.