Glamorgan 308-6 (Bragg 129, Palladino 3-62, Carter 2-83) v Derbyshire
All things being equal, Derbyshire did pretty well today at the 3aaa Coiunty Ground, on a day when the weather rendered anything less than five layers of clothing foolhardy, and those with less than three in danger of frostbite.
I felt sorry for the players, to be honest and the sight of Andy Carter and Luke Fletcher tearing in with only short-sleeve shirts on should have immediately qualified both for the final of Endurance. Both bowled very well, bent their backs and kept largely excellent lines and lengths, yet the wicket suggested from the start that there was little in it for them.
I am concerned for this year's championship, because the competition will be won by the groundsman who can produce a wicket that offers bowlers help but allows batsmen to score runs if they work. At the moment, too many are too heavily weighted in favour of the latter, as evidenced by Glamorgan declining the option to bowl and instead hoping to win the toss and bat. They did.
We omitted Cotton and Thakor from the thirteen in favour of Palladino and Critchley. Tony Palladino took three wickets and ran in with his usual commitment, his line and length improving as the day went on and rustiness left him. It was obvious that he has recovered from last year's knee problem and heartening to see.
Runs came more steadily as the day went on and the spinners had spells. The wicket was drier than expected, hence the team selection of two, but it will need to deteriorate quickly for batsmen to be unduly worried.
It was too cold to swing, too dry to move around and too easy for the batsmen for most of the day, but credit where it is due to our bowlers for maintaining discipline throughout the day. Early breakthroughs tomorrow would make things interesting, but there was little to suggest it tonight, even though Andy Carter took two in two in the final session and Wes Durston removed the excellent Will Bragg after a fine hundred.
A few observations on the day? I thought Hamish Rutherford captained with intelligence and set some interesting fields, not simply conforming to the coaching manual. Two short extras and two short mid-wickets were set for different batsmen and he impressed me.I also thought Derbyshire were more 'chirpy' in the field than I have seen for a while and that is a positive. Tom Poynton set the tone and Messrs Carter and Fletcher bristled with aggression. While not wanting to see us descend to the level of some county sides in the field, it was good to see us maintaining focus and a competitive edge to the end of the day.
As for the ground, the new look was excellent. The media centre is coming on well and is still on target for early July, while the new PA system is excellent. Previously one needed an ear trumpet and a seat below the speaker to make out announcements; now they were crystal clear - well done!
The club shop is a nice new addition and combines second-hand cricket books with merchandise, all served by a very friendly woman with a ready and regular smile - again, something to be applauded.
I loved the new boards outside the pavilion that showed the club's history timeline and that of the ground too. It gives a sense of where we have travelled from as we aim for something much better. All very positive and sincere congratulations to all involved in making the ground more like a stadium. The boundaries have come in quite a lot too - I'd guess ten to fifteen yards in place, which will doubtless be appreciated on T20 nights...
Finally, thanks to all those whose company I enjoyed today. It is always reassuring to see familiar faces as a new season dawns and it was a pleasure to talk to you all.
Who knows, next time I may not look like an extra in a documentary on Eskimos...
More from me tomorrow.