After an early start and a long, but untroubled drive, I returned to the bosom of my family at lunchtime today. I had a great 'road trip', even if the weather in Durham made it less memorable than it could have been. Yesterday's batting display by Derbyshire made up for it and I consider myself privileged to have watched and enjoyed such a professional effort.
Here's a trivia question for you...when did Derbyshire name a fourteen-man squad that includes four leg-spinners?
The answer is...tomorrow. Logic suggests that we will use the same wicket for the local derby against Nottinghamshire as we did yesterday. There wasn't a lot of turn in it then for Jeevan Mendis, but a day in drying winds and hopefully sunshine today might change that for tomorrow's match.
I am pleased to see Matt Critchley in the squad, a thoroughly deserved promotion after good figures with bat and ball in the seconds. He joins Mendis and possibly Daryn Smit in the leggie contingent, as does Hamidullah Qadri.
For those who don't know him, Qadri is a hugely talented young man of Afghan origin, who has scored runs and taken wickets in large quantities through age group cricket and is currently on the Derbyshire Academy.
I have spoken to very good judges who expect him to push for the first team inside the next couple of seasons. He was recently on tour in Sri Lanka with England under-16s and has turned in some excellent displays for Alvaston and Boulton with bat and ball.
He will be in tomorrow's squad for experience, of course, unless we go with one of the most left field of left field selections. He takes his place in this squad:
My guess would be that Luis Reece and Qadri miss out, together with one of Tom Milnes or Tom Taylor. Critchley is a good one day bowler and although he took a little stick last year at Welbeck, I think he might be a worthwhile option on a pitch that may offer a little turn. Neither Tom stood out against Northamptonshire, though Milnes looked better in his second spell from the Racecourse End and beat the bat on a couple of occasions.
Our opponents are choc-full of talent but have lost both their games so far.
Brendan Taylor, James Pattinson, Chris Read, Stuart Broad, Riki
Wessels, Alex Hales, Harry Gurney, Luke Fletcher, Samit Patel, Greg
Smith, Jake Ball, Michael Lumb, Billy Root.
Root and Smith are likely to miss out, leaving Derbyshire facing 'only' nine internationals, including a pace attack of Broad, Pattinson and Ball. Which makes a slow, hopefully turning wicket an even greater priority, don't you think?
Logic suggests that the visiting Goliaths should slay the home Davids, yet they have lost both games so far, while we have three points. A loss tomorrow would effectively end their interest in the competition, so they will undoubtedly be up for the challenge.
Yet don't discount home advantage, nor that old juggernaut of momentum. They have the stronger attack, but there's not that much between the batting sides, in my opinion. There are big names in their line-up, capable of 400-plus scores as we saw last year, but we have seen them under perform in the past and they are beatable. We need eleven players at their best, but bats and a ball will do fine, instead of the jawbone of an ass...
If we lose, we will still be able to benchmark ourselves against a good side.
If we win, we can perhaps start dreaming of what might be.
Postscript - thanks to everyone for smashing the previous record for the busiest April since the blog began, with a staggering increase of 40 per cent
It shows the huge interest in Derbyshire cricket, while yesterday was the biggest single day in the blog's history.
On a day where records were broken left, right and centre, that's another one for you!