Derbyshire 242 and 360 (Hughes 140, Milnes 56, Hosein 52 not, Broom 42)
Gloucestershire 331 and 10-0
Gloucestershire need 262 more to win
Sadly, rain that is forecast to move in from midday today looks set to have the final word in an absorbing contest, in which Derbyshire fought back heroically yesterday.
That they took the game into a final day was down to a fine team effort, led by Alex Hughes, with a wonderful, career-best innings of 140. Alex has struggled for a regular place this summer and putting him in at three has met with some criticism and a little bemusement, from me as well as others. Yet here he showed he has the game for the role and, given greater opportunity, may grow into it.
Whether his bowling will become good enough for him to be seen as a genuine four-day all-rounder is a fair question, but he has much to offer as a cricketer and his one-day contributions have marked him as one to watch. Even there, this summer he has only got in with a couple of overs to go, but perhaps John Sadler has discovered a niche for a very talented player to get into the side on a more regular basis. I hope so, as I like what he brings to the side.
Neil Broom lent good support before chopping onto his stumps, then after tea Harvey Hosein produced a battling innings to register a second first-class fifty. When Hughes departed, Tom Milnes came in and played a cavalier innings of 56 from 53 balls.
Milnes is another who has had his critics since his move from Warwickshire, but in the season's closing weeks he has shown himself capable of taking wickets and scoring runs at this level. Graeme Welch suggested that he saw some of himself in the young Milnes when he signed him from Warwickshire and it may be that next summer could see his career blossom.
It was a good effort by Derbyshire, and came despite only the second career 'pair' for Wayne Madsen, who got a reported brute of a ball to be out third ball. It just shows that anything can happen in the greatest of games.
With the expressed and obvious need for greater experience in the Derbyshire side, there is also a need for young talent to be encouraged and nurtured. Thus, the presence of some interesting trialists in the second eleven in their game against Nottinghamshire may offer pointers to 2017.
Former Lancashire all-rounder Luis Reece took four wickets on debut, while Gurjit Singh Sandhu, formerly of Middlesex, took three as Derbyshire bowled out Nottinghamshire for 84.
In Derbyshire's reply, young Australian Josh Clarke made a round hundred. Clarke, a left-hand bat, has made a lot of runs and taken many wickets with his slow left-arm in recent summers in the Derbyshire Premier League. I understand that he is keen to play county cricket and that we may be looking at him qualifying to do so. One to watch, for sure.
So too is South African wicket-keeper Daryn Smit. At 32, Smit is an established, talented and somewhat unusual performer in Durban, home of Wayne Madsen. He has a mid-thirties career batting average, with six centuries and over thirty fifties. He has similar averages in the one-day formats, but also has over a hundred first-class wickets with leg-spin - and more in the one-day game - to go with over 300 first-class victims behind the stumps. He has also been Dolphins franchise captain, and is a well-respected cricketer who has scored a lot of runs and taken many wickets as a league professional in this country.
It would be surprising for him to be playing for Derbyshire Seconds without being under consideration for a contract for another summer. It could be a left-field but very interesting move by the county and Smit did himself no harm with 59 in the first innings before seeing us home for a six-wicket win, in company with Clarke, who made an unbeaten 36 to go with his earlier century.
All this after a five-wicket haul by Greg Cork, which made for an interesting day all round.
More from me soon.