Monday, 8 June 2015
Kent v Derbyshire day 2
Derbyshire 86 and 169-1 (Hughes 82 not, Godleman 61 not)
Derbyshire need 63 runs to win
Just when you think you have seen it all in the game of cricket, the greatest of games produces something new to rekindle, for the umpteenth time, the 'Wow' factor.
Around the homes of the shire, vast helpings of humble pie must have been made and eaten tonight, after the vitriol that poured forth only 24 hours earlier. To be fair to many of the culprits, they have been quick to address that today and have returned, not to bury Caesar, but to praise him. And his forces, naturellement...
I was busy at work today and checked in on the score from time to time. When our tail wagged with the alacrity of an arthritic dog, some Palladino clumps excepted, I feared the worst. More so when the home side eased to 63-1, 182 runs ahead. I went into a meeting with heavy heart, returning to find the home side all out for 112, Wayne White having registered a career best 6-25. I actually logged out, then back into Cricinfo, just in case there was a malfunction.
I am thrilled for White. Those who have been long-term readers of the blog will know I advocated a move for his services a year ago, when he was cast adrift in the Lancashire second team. I even entered into a discussion with a Lancashire fan on Cricinfo when we signed him, his ability being questioned. I suggested (OK, it might have been more than that) he could be a key member of our side this summer.
There is much to like in Wayne. He runs in hard, bowls quickly, puts the ball in good areas and can be a handful. He has struggled with injury so far this summer, but fully vindicated my comments on our need for experience with what appears to have been a fast, awkward spell of bowling, well backed in the field. If he can rediscover his batting mojo - because he can handle the old willow - there is a quality all-rounder in there, still bursting to get out.
232 to win. Based on our first innings, it may as well have been 450, but I have maintained faith in the side. I wrote last night that we would come through the recent troughs and we did. We are better than recent displays have suggested with the bat, capable of solidity but frustratingly nosediving to mediocrity too often for comfort. There may be one or two in the squad who are perhaps just short of the desired standard for this level, but for most the greater challenge is consistency. They have proved they can do it, but need to do so more frequently and cash in when the opportunity arises and they have played themselves in.
In the final session, Chesney Hughes and Billy Godleman overcame first the early loss of Ben Slater, then saw off the new ball, proceeded to give us hope and ended the day having all but won it with an unbroken partnership of 163 runs. Chesney looks a different player this year, less anxious at the crease, more willing to wait for the bad ball. An average just south of 40 is his reward, by no means a bad effort with the better tracks of high summer to come.
As for Billy, he has made a good fist of captaincy and currently averages just under 60. He needs only cement his reinvigorated career with a century or two sometime soon to enjoy a self-satisfied smile. Captaincy has affected his game, but only for the better. The erstwhile struggles at Middlesex and Essex are disappearing into the distance and he may be coming to terms with this county cricket lark. At 26, some might say he should, but we all know it is a tough apprenticeship and some don't get that far.
Others, many of them on our staff, have some time to go before they get to that stage.
I hope there isn't one final twist in the tail of a memorable match, but don't expect one. Coles will give it one last whirl tomorrow morning, but the incumbent batsmen have shown there are few terrors in the wicket for those prepared to graft. We should all enjoy a merry lunch tomorrow, the Derbyshire boys an enjoyable trip back home.
What a difference a day makes...well done lads.