Northamptonshire 438-7 (Libby 102, Kleinveldt 97, Levi 84 not, Duckett 60)
Northamptonshire lead by 114 runs
In a game bearing strange similarities to the recent one at Bristol, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that Derbyshire could lose this game tomorrow. The home side are 114 ahead and, if they can stretch that to around 200 in the morning session tomorrow, there is a chance that they could put us under pressure in the afternoon and evening.
Having said that, it really shouldn't happen. While a cluster of wickets went down after lunch on each of the first and third days, for the rest of the time batting has appeared to be a fairly uncomplicated affair. That the late order batsmen of either side have managed to register impressive tallies tells a story and I will be very disappointed if a side that bats as long as ours appears to do is bowled out on such a surface tomorrow.
Shiv Thakor followed up his unbeaten 83 with a three-wicket burst in the afternoon, which reinforced his claim for the number seven spot on a regular basis, but also gave us a glimmer of being able to dictate the pace and course of the game. Until then, Northamptonshire had scored steadily, but rather slowly. If they don't bowl us out tomorrow they might rue their decision to bat on, as a run chase on such a wicket might have been a nice prospect for them.
As it was, Rory Kleinveldt cemented his status as a good value overseas player by adding 97 runs to his three wickets yesterday. His hitting took the game away from us too quickly, with fearsome stick being handed out to the bowlers and especially Andy Carter, who went for 24 in one over. With on-loan Jake Libby scoring a century and Richard Levi nearing one at the close, the home side barely missed their injured players.
It wasn't a day that too many of our bowlers will look back on with any fondness, Thakor apart. Mind you, there aren't many tracks that bowlers will be looking forward to this year and I suspect there may be some horrific bowling averages around the circuit. They at least stuck at it well, conceding only 17 extras to the 41 that we were gifted.
Given the opportunity, of the first and second eleven games currently going on I would sooner have been watching the twos. They have an excellent game going on against Lancashire at Crosby, in which we were bowled out for 104, before bowling out the home side for 150, Ben Cotton taking 4-46, Tom Taylor 3-33 and Tom Milnes 2-26.
By the close, we were 123-3, a lead of 77, with Jon Tattersall making 48 and Greg Cork an unbeaten 39. For me, that's proper cricket, a fair battle between bat and ball, where the technique of batsmen is tested and the bowlers get encouragement, if they are bending their backs.
Against a strong Lancashire side, the Derbyshire boys are doing well. I hope that they push on to win their game, while the first team do all they can do now and save theirs with something to spare.
Could be a long and, it has to be said, fairly dull championship summer at this rate.