Tuesday, 12 May 2015
Derbyshire v Northamptonshire day 3
It confirmed my belief that we are witnessing the start of something special at the club, a theory borne out not just from events on the field, but from who is not currently involved for one reason or another. Palladino, White, Clare, Durston, Poynton, Wainwright and Godleman, senior players all, are currently missing from the line up, which largely comprises youngsters who are perhaps five to ten years from their peak.
All the batsmen contributed today, with Chesney Hughes the star turn with a century. I watched him yesterday and was very impressed with what I saw. He looked tighter and straighter in defence than I had seen before, happy to let balls go through and to take his time. Like a few others, I have felt in the past that he has been most vulnerable when he gets to twenty, perhaps the concentration wavering a little. This looked a new Chesney, still capable of punishing the bad ball, but better equipped to handle the good one.
It creates another dilemma for Graeme Welch of course. With Billy Godleman serving the last match of his two-game suspension, both Chesney and Ben Slater (94) served notice that they weren't giving up their slot for him. And so the battle for places goes on - and it is heartening to see.
The great Amla will be disappointed with only 21 runs from the match, but Scott Elstone and Shiv Thakor played the type of breezy knock that was required in the circumstances, while the skipper anchored one end to ensure there were to be no alarms. In such a young batting line-up, much depends on Wayne Madsen, but he rarely lets us down and is starting to churn out the runs once more.
Late in the evening, under the pressure of a 'pair', Harvey Hosein came into bat and scored faster than anyone, making an unbeaten 46 from 38 balls. It showed his fearlessness, similar to that displayed by Matt Critchley on day one and confirmed the selfless attitude instilled in their young charges by the coaching staff.
At which point it is time for a plaudit, so take a bow John Sadler and Ant Botha, because we currently have nine players averaging over thirty with the bat, some by a considerable margin. It is tribute to the work done by Sadler, the batting coach, whose talents in this area are already being spoken of in wider circles. One of the youngest level four batting coaches in the country at 33, Sadler, according to people I spoke to over the last few days, has a rare skill of stripping down technique to the basics and encourage people to play naturally and with confidence. It is no guarantee of constant success, as no one manages that, but what I saw of the Derbyshire players when I was down looked different, in a better way.
In each game so far, one of the young players has put his hand up and scored the runs when needed, something that is a delight to see. We may have injuries, they may be young, but by crikey, they have a fighting instinct, for sure.
In the evening. Mark Footitt ran in like a whirlwind from the City end and removed both opening batsmen, opening the door a little for tomorrow's denouement. It should not be considered a formality that we will win, by a long chalk, as the visitors bat long and well. Equally, Footitt aside, the average age of our main attack is twenty, although 'veterans' Chesney Hughes and Scott Elstone (both 24) may turn their arms tomorrow.
Game on, then. There can be little wrong with the wicket, after our score today and we will need to winkle them out if we are to win. Which leads nicely to my final comment for tonight.
As supporters, we need to accept that the other team is entitled to play well and ours can be bettered. Against good teams, we will come off second best on occasion, when there are partnerships between fine players that we simply cannot break through.
Such a case happened yesterday. We didn't play badly, although the intensity dropped a little as I said at the time. It enabled Josh Cobb and David Willey, two of the best limited over batsmen in the country, to cart us to around a little. They played well and deserve credit for doing so. I will bet my bottom dollar they aren't the last to do so either, because it happens in cricket.
We did the same to Northamptonshire today.
Let's hope we can finish it off tomorrow.