Derbyshire 368 and 214 (Hughes 108)
Durham 301 and 36-0
Durham require 246 more to win
Where's your money tonight, my friends?
Irrespective of the result, it cannot be denied that this has been an absorbing game of cricket on a very good cricket wicket, for which the staff at Chesterfield deserve every credit. It has been a track on which batsmen could score runs if they worked at it, but offered something to bowlers of all kinds, if they were skilled enough and put their backs into it.
My money is on Derbyshire, for the simple reason that a fourth day wicket should offer more turn and variable bounce on an out ground. When we signed Imran Tahir as overseas player, this was exactly the sort of scenario that we would have hoped for. 250 ahead on the last day and a leggie and off spinner to wheel away for, I would think, a large part of the final sessions of play.
I'll be disappointed if we don't win from here, but Durham are a good side and have fine players down the order. Paul Collingwood will be key, as he has been for so long, but we have to hold our catches, even though nine first innings wickets were taken without one.
Our second innings, after Gurjit Sandhu had reinforced a positive impression by taking the last two wickets, was something of a struggle. Only Alex Hughes and Matt Critchley really got going and, as Hughes said tonight, wickets can go down in clusters, because getting in is hard work.
His innings today was typical of a player for who I have the utmost respect. Once again, when the chips were down, he came up with a knock that made up just over half of the side's total. Without it, we would be in trouble; with it, we could just have enough runs in the bank to nick a win here, ahead of a last day where all three results are very possible.
There will, of course, be comments tonight following another failure for Daryn Smit with the bat and it is frustrating to see his current struggles. Undoubtedly, were there another four-day game coming up, the wicket-keeping role would be up for discussion. Yet realistically, assuming everyone was fit , the likely change, were there to be one, would be for Gary Wilson to take over.
Why? Because the two most vulnerable men in the team were Matt Critchley and Alex Hughes and they both responded with centuries in this match. Godleman has largely carried the batting, Wilson has done well and Madsen, for all the reduced output this summer, is still Madsen. With Reece or Slater to open, that would leave a place for a fit Shiv Thakor for your top seven.
That particular post bag will be closed after this piece and its responses, because there are clearly divided feelings among supporters and none of us are privy to selection meetings, training sessions and all performances of every side. Those that are have made decisions and they will stand or fall by those decisions. I also think it is counter-productive to continue.
Daryn Smit's ability as a wicket-keeper is beyond dispute, but so is a season batting average of just under 20. Nevertheless, that average is the highest by the regular county glove man since 2013, when Tom Poynton averaged 22. Between times, Poynton, Gareth Cross and Harvey Hosein have all had the majority of seasons, in which their averages were less, sometimes considerably so.
Broadly speaking, as I have said before, I don't get hung up on who plays for us. If Mickey Mouse and Pluto opened the batting and were a reliable pair, that would do me. As long as we get a combination of players out there that offer the best chance of winning games, I don't have favourites.
What I do have is respect for those who dig in when things are tough, as Matt Critchley and Alex Hughes did in this game. They saw opportunity and grasped it with both hands. Much the same as Smit has shown us a consistent level of wicket-keeping we have not seen for a few years. Every keeper lets byes and sometimes there's nothing they can do. All of them drop catches, and I include Bob Taylor and Jack Russell, the two best I have seen, in that.
Yet the better ones, and I would include Smit in that, having seen him half a dozen times this year, minimise mistakes, hold the tough ones and make those that are less so a formality.
If there's a better keeper/batsman in the club than Smit, on current form, they will play him. That might be Gary Wilson or it might be Harvey Hosein. Then again, it could be the current incumbent is still the right choice. As a supporter, whoever they pick will have my full support and I will hope for their success. I hope that you will too.
At the moment, the man in possession is Daryn Smit. The others need to make their case as better all-round options and I personally don't think, with the T20 coming up, that Gary, with a dodgy knee, will want to keep wicket AND skipper the side.
Which leaves a choice from two. Given that neither is likely to bat till eight or nine in the order, my guess is that the decision will go to the one who they expect to keep best, both to faster bowlers and, crucially, to Imran Tahir.
That is John Wright's call and it will be interesting to see his take on it.
Good luck tomorrow lads. Two on the bounce would be grand.