Northamptonshire 116 (Footitt 5-41, Cotton 3-26) and 245-6 (Duckett 132 not, Palladino 3-54 Cotton 2-52)
After two days in which they have played terrific cricket, Derbyshire stand just a good session away from wrapping up a thoroughly convincing win tomorrow. It should, however, be added with a cautionary note that a bad one could leave us with a tricky little run chase...
Ben Duckett responded to a difficult week, in which he was banned from driving for twelve months, in the best possible way and he almost single-handedly kept his side in the game. This came after Derbyshire's seamers made hay with some very good bowling.
Mark Footitt blew away the first innings, perhaps playing himself into the next Test 12. As I said in a Twitter exchange this afternoon, I will be very surprised if Mark plays for us against the Aussies this week, as England will surely not want them to effectively have a net against him. For me, if Mark is allowed to play, his chances of an Ashes call are slim, because they should want to keep his pace as a very secret weapon.
Only Graeme Welch stands ahead of him on five-wicket hauls for Derbyshire in the 21st century and I am sure the coach would be more than happy should he go ahead of him in the coming weeks. His pace and the angles from which he bowls are a threat to any side and as long as he doesn't get over-excited and strive for too much speed, I am confident that he could get people out at top level.
Ben Cotton did little wrong on his return to action either. It is the potential of the likes of Ben, Tom Taylor, Greg Cork and Will Davis that makes me excited for our future. Throw in others like Alex Hughes, Shiv Thakor, Harvey Hosein and Ben Slater and we have plenty to look forward to in the years ahead.
Nor did Tony Palladino, who remains a fine professional, just the sort to help young players as they find their way in the county game. I am sure that the young seamers pick his brains, as they should do a man with over 300 first-class wickets. It was a day on which the skipper could be rightly proud of his young side.
Of course they will have bad days - don't you at your work? Yet each season will see them steadily improve and we will reap the rewards of the recent, current and future Academy work.
We cannot afford to relax tomorrow. Duckett is still there and the dangerous Josh Cobb is at the crease with him, but questions will be asked if we fail to press ahead with a victory charge here, unless rain intervenes.
One final point on the day and it goes back to Cobb, a cricketer of some talent. Who is advising the lad? On what level has he improved his career prospects in moving from opening the batting and being skipper at Leicestershire, to batting at eight at Northampton? I know he is more of a one-day player, but if he was my lad I would be asking that question of his agent, sometime soon.
I will be back tomorrow, hopefully reporting on a fine Derbyshire win.