It was good to see Graeme Welch demanding more from the Derbyshire players ahead of the fourth championship game of the summer, starting at the 3aaa County Ground tomorrow against Sussex.
We have played steadily and batted with greater elan than has been the case for some time, but haven't really fired yet. We have three batsmen in division two's top twelve, yet have not yet achieved a match-defining first innings.
As Welch points out today, to win on the blameless tracks, you have to post 600 in the first innings, but then to bowl teams out twice you need a special bowler, the like of which we don't yet have. It is equally important to get those runs with reasonable speed, because otherwise there will be insufficient time to play with.
If the weather is kinder to the two teams for this coming match, there is every chance of a result. Neil Godrich seems to have got a better handle on pitch preparation than his counterparts at Bristol and Northampton, where they will struggle for positive results this season on early evidence. I was amazed to see Steve Rhodes commenting that the new toss idea was working this week, because it doesn't look like that to me, or many others.
We have a thirteen-man squad for tomorrow, which is the side from Northampton, plus Matt Critchley and Ben Cotton. Ben has done well with bat and ball for the seconds this week and will doubtless be the first in line when Luke Fletcher's stint with us ends. I'd be surprised if there was any change to the last game though, which most would consider a first-choice side at present. Our thirteen:
Billy Godleman (Captain)
Sussex were widely tipped to go straight back up this year, but with Luke Wright injured and Chris Jordan at the IPL they haven't had a full-strength side yet. Both miss this game, while Ajmal Shahzad has a side strain and may also miss out.
They still have plenty of good players though and with Kiwi Ross Taylor in their ranks, the New Zealand flavour will be strong. They have a strong batting side and in Steve Magoffin have a very solid bowler. Their squad:
Danny Briggs, Ben Brown, Harry Finch, George Garton, Lewis Hatchett, Ed
Joyce, Matt Machan, Steve Magoffin, Chris Nash, Ollie Robinson, Ajmal
Shahzad, Ross Taylor, Luke Wells, Stuart Whittingham.
It will be a good test for Derbyshire, but would be a very good game to win. That there is talent in the side is undeniable, but we need everyone, especially the bowlers, to be closer to their very best on a wicket that should give them a little more help than those on other grounds.
If we can find another ten per cent, I will go for a home win. There are a few people with points to prove and this is a good time to start doing it.