Kent 205 ( Northeast 85, Footitt 5-45, Palladino 3-19)
Derbyshire trail by 138 runs
Were the ghost of Oliver Hardy watching at the delightful St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury today, he would have doubtless have opined to his good friend, Stan Laurel, that it was another fine mess that we'd gotten ourselves into.
For the first two sessions of the day, Derbyshire largely controlled it. A third wicket stand by Northeast and Denly helped Kent to recover from Mark Footitt's two wickets in the opening over, while a fifty partnership for the ninth wicket between Haggett and Riley took Kent past two hundred and gave them a total that was more than looked likely at one stage.
Mark Footitt gave a timely reminder of his talents ahead of the Ashes series, while Tony Palladino produced exemplary line and length bowling to concede only one run an over in a spell that proved an admirable foil for the pace man at the other end.
In conditions that offered help to the seamers all day, both Tom Taylor and Wayne White will be disappointed, however, to concede over five an over and lose a little of the initiative that had been hard-earned in the post-lunch exemplary bowling from the openers.
Yet that loss of initiative was nothing compared to what happened next. While Kent lost their first two for two runs, we lost our first three without scoring. Matt Coles cut a swathe through our batting, which looked like it was intent on registering a binary total, as five of the top seven registered ducks.
It was a poor effort, albeit in conditions that helped seamers. Were it not for 35 from the returning Wes Durston, it would have been feasible for us to have been forced to follow on after a largely ignominious display. There is a crisis of confidence in our batting at present and it is surprising after the largely impressive displays at the start of the summer. We have little option but to go with the current personnel, given the injury situation and hope that a return to form is imminent.
What I won't do, under any circumstances, is to agree with a couple of knee-jerk comments regarding the coach being under fire tonight, or 'feeling the heat'. I posted them, because I believe that the blog should represent the feelings of other supporters, as well as me, but I totally disagree with that sentiment. He will, with those who work with him, be frustrated, but no coach can go out and bat for a player. You can give them all the preparation in the world, but out in the middle it is up to them.
What Graeme Welch needs is a run of good luck. Things happened off the field last year that impacted on performances until late summer. This season, the coach has endured an injury list of astonishing proportions and has seldom been able to field a first-choice side. That some of those injuries may have been the result of winter workload is something I am sure they will look at in due course, but there have been muscle pulls, breaks and fractures that have seen an inexperienced squad taken to breaking point.
These are not, as one poster calls it, excuses. They are a rational statement of fact for an unfortunate set of circumstances that we could ill-afford. I said at the start of the summer that we could challenge IF we had our share of luck. Few would suggest that we have had our fair share of good fortune in the early months of the season.
If we had a full squad, there are players right now who would be pulled from the firing line to regain form and confidence in the seconds. As it is, because of the absence of viable alternatives, they are having to try and do that in a struggling side. It isn't easy.
It is painful to witness, but they WILL come through this. As I have said before, we cannot fast track this evolution process, unless we bring in worthwhile Kolpaks. That's an oxymoron, unless their names are Steyn and de Villiers...
You find out who your friends are in adversity.
I think the same goes for supporters, too.