Lancashire 292 and 36-3 (Taylor 2-13)
Derbyshire 274 (Durston 85, Godleman 76)
Lancashire lead by 55 runs
At the end of day two of what appears an absorbing contest on a good cricket wicket, one thing is clear.
If Lancashire can be reasonably used as a benchmark of the best that the division has to offer, then Derbyshire are set for a good season. The visitors are 55 runs ahead with seven second innings wickets left. The key partnership is the current one, between the two of the visiting side's three Kolpak players. If we can dismiss Petersen and/or Prince early tomorrow (ideally both) then we should not have to chase much more than 200 in the final innings. I suspect that we'd prefer the chase to be under that, if at all possible, given that five of our wickets went to spin.
You would have got long odds, were you inclined to visit your local bookie, on Guptill, Madsen and Thakor all getting ducks today. These things happen and do to everyone, but the fact that Derbyshire still came close to parity on first innings speaks volumes for the battling spirit in the side.
At 26-3, with our two best batsmen back in the pavilion, long-time supporters might even have feared the follow-on, but Billy Godleman and Wes Durston first stabilised the innings and then became more expansive, unfurling a full range of strokes to seize the initiative. It was a fine start to the summer for both batsmen, Godleman making an early positive statement in a big season for him. To be fair, it merely confirmed the positive 'vibe' about his game from the tail end of last summer, as he and Wes put on 148 in just 32 overs.
Durston in such form is a delight to watch and it is encouraging to see him in the runs at the start of a summer in which he will skipper the side in T20 matches. There was encouragement too in the late runs of Alex Hughes and Harvey Hosein, who with support from Tony Palladino took is to within 19 of the visitors tally.
'This is a big last eleven overs for Lancashire' wrote someone on Cricinfo's live feed. Indeed it was - and they struggled. Having bowled Reece in the first innings, Mark Footitt did for his opening partner this time, while Tom Taylor, given the new ball, responded in the best way by having Reece caught behind and night watchman Peter Siddle caught in the slips. This, coming after he summarily ended the visitor's innings this morning, made for a fine day for the young seamer.
It is all to play for at the middle of the match. With a good weather forecast, a positive result, one way or the other, seems likely and that first session tomorrow is huge in a fledgling season.
Aggression. Attack. Achieve. They're not the right words for the 3aaa County Ground's sponsors, but they're pretty close to what we need tomorrow.
The game is there for the taking after two good days of cricket. Games can be won from such positions and we have worked hard to get here.
Who is going to step up and do the business?