There was no negativity, as it may have been perceived in some quarters, in my suggesting that Derbyshire would lose to Nottinghamshire last night.
It was a comment born out of realism. When we lost so badly and performed in such an ignominious fashion, as we did against Surrey, what real expectation was there of a win against our local rivals? The Surrey side we played was not far short of their second team, while Nottinghamshire have a team of galacticos, featuring seven players of international experience. It would have been easy to go gung-ho and say 'We can win this', perhaps shaking an inspirational fist for emphasis, but I like to think I base comments and forecast on more than crossing my fingers behind my back as I spout forth...
Yet win we did, in style. Indeed, after the dismissal of Rikki Wessels, the game always seemed to be there. Truth be told, it was there from the point when Hamish Rutherford injected the so-important 'oomph' into the first six overs. I said last week that I would gladly take him now for as much of next year as he can manage, so having shown his ability to play both the more restrained role and that of the dashing young blade I am even more convinced. Come to Derbyshire, build a reputation and get into your national side, lad. You know it makes sense.
Chesney's violent assault on the bowling will have entertained, but the greater common sense shown down the order was pleasing. Given a platform, there's no need for daft shots. Work it around, hit the bad balls for four and rotate the strike. When we got to 170, we had a shout, 200 was a terrific effort, made possible by everyone in the side. While the efforts of the top order in the Powerplay gave us the impetus, those of Messrs Hughes, Knight and Poynton in the last four overs took our score out of sight.
So which is the real Derbyshire? The timid, unprofessional outfit that lost to Surrey, or the slick, talented one that beat Nottinghamshire's finest? I guess we will need to wait and see. The words of Graeme Welch must have stung them last week, though they shouldn't need that to perform like they did last night. A reminder of professional obligations rarely does harm, though and perhaps it will serve as a catalyst for a strong end to the season. After all, there are three months of cricket to go...
I still maintain - and will continue to do so, be warned - that we need to factor in the youth of the side. Some of you scoff at the notion, but in your own place of work, how many of the key personnel are under 25 (unless you work in a creche...)? How many of the best footballers are under-25, rather than between that age and their early thirties?
Both Alex Hughes and Shiv Thakor bowled exceptionally well last night, Hughes also contributing key runs down the order. They have both come in for criticism, but both are learning their games and will have good and bad, perhaps not even in equal measure. They are 23 and 21 respectively. Tom Knight is 21 too and the staff is full of lads of similar age. They have not yet fully grown into their bodies, developed an awareness of what they can and can't do, mastered their game and realised what they need to do to compete regularly at top level.
Give them all another three years and we will see them fly. The ECB didn't select the age of 26 for making payments to counties fielding players under that age by accident. It was because by that stage there is every expectation that a player, if he is up to the requisite standard, will be pulling his weight on the staff. Not all of the current batch will get there, but we have a good chance of success.
It doesn't change the fact that we need players alongside them with the necessary combination of experience and talent. Rutherford and Rimmington did what you want your overseas players to do last night and we have not had that from those roles this year. By the same token, both have minimal experience of English conditions and each has had his own learning curve.
The frustration is that the perception of a season is based on narrow margins. We should have breezed a win against Northamptonshire in the championship and didn't. It was there for the taking against Durham in the T20 and we bottled it. We were awful against Surrey last week.
Yet we excelled against Gloucestershire, impressed against Lancashire at Derby and were something special last night. It is tapping into those wins for consistency, getting the right combination of youth and experience on the field and pressing the button for maximum commitment, EVERY time, that will dictate how quickly we progress.
The talent is there. No question. They just need to prove it, prove it again, then keep proving it.
That's how you become a good side.