It was another highly encouraging day for Derbyshire at the 3AAA County Ground today.
After Tony Palladino hit merrily in the first session, Mark Footitt made a characteristic early breakthrough with a caught and bowled from a leading edge. There followed a period of cricket that perhaps redefined the word 'attritional', with Mitchell and Fell batting with good technique and a fair share of luck.
That will increasingly be needed on a wicket that is showing signs of uneven bounce and any lead that we can grind out tomorrow will be invaluable on the final day. Once again there was little between the two sides and any neutral observer might well have thought that Derbyshire were the division's runaway leaders.
The afternoon session saw a fine spell from Alex Hughes, who looks to have added several yards of pace this summer. He should have had a couple of wickets, a dropped gulley catch by Billy Godleman helping the cause no more than the edge that flew between keeper and slip and should really have been Gareth Cross' ball.
Daryl Mitchell, an admirable opener, did sterling work for his side once more, but Footitt came back after tea with a spell of considerable pace that wrecked the innings. He and Wayne White bowled with excellent pace and control and the Worcestershire batsmen were hopping around as the erratic bounce made for an awkward time.
White was very impressive. There was a time when he bowled with good pace but also a tendency to a bad ball per over that cost his figures. Not today. He went for under two an over and deserved far more than the one wicket that he took. Joe Leach took a nasty clang on the helmet from a rising ball, while a concerted appeal for caught behind in the closing overs was so confident that it was almost in three-part harmony. The umpire ruled not out, though the gently shaken glove of the batsman suggested that a reply in the affirmative might have been closer to the truth...
Anyone wondering why we have re-engaged White, hopefully with a view to a longer stay, should have had their question well and truly answered today.
135 runs ahead, four wickets to take. This game could go either way but the first session tomorrow will be crucial. If we can get a lead in excess of fifty it will give us an excellent opportunity to force a win and the visitors will not fancy anything over 250 on the last day.
Good, confident, disciplined cricket. That's what we played today, the bowlers working as a unit to force the collapse despite a confident Worcestershire start. The season is ending too quickly, but the closing weeks have given plenty of cause for optimism.
In closing tonight, thanks to all those whose chat made today especially enjoyable. It was an absolute pleasure to talk to you and I hope to see you again at the end of the month for the season closer.
I can't wait...