There were a lot of interesting things that made watching the second team at Belper an enjoyable experience today.
There was an opportunity to meet up with friends old and new, catch up on news, shoot the breeze and watch several hours of Derbyshire cricket.
Then there was a chance to see who is 'bubbling under' the current eleven and may be next in line should a vacancy occur in the side. There were impressive displays as Derbyshire tied the first game and won the second by ten runs against a strong Durham eleven.
Who impressed? For me, over two matches, an opening pairing of Ben Slater and Matt Critchley. I have suggested this in recent posts and today it worked. In the first innings, Ben looked scratchy, should have been stumped and more definitely run out, but he made forty-odd, while Matt looked a million dollars in making 37 from 19 balls. There were a couple of booming drives, a delightful cut and a pull of real severity. In the second game, he went more quickly, but not before depositing the opening bowler into the distant tennis courts. This time, Slater batted more fluently and looked classy through the off side, in making 60-odd runs of high class.
It was good to see Will Davis back and bowling again, working up a fair head of steam in doing so and troubling the batsmen, while in the second game Hamidullah Qadri looked every inch the supremely talented off spinner that he is. Don't be surprised to see him in the frame for T20 matches, because the batsmen tried to get after him and failed. If we can create a space at the top of the order for Critchley, a place lower down for a bowler will be there and for me, Qadri just shaded Davis as the day's most impressive bowler.
Ben Cotton bowled a decent over or two, Alex Hughes played some shots that left the ball ringing off the bat, while Callum Brodrick played a reverse sweep so deft, to help tie the first game, that it could have been caressed by Harry Potter's wand.
In short? Reece, Hughes, Critchley and Slater looked like first team players, Qadri and Davis looked to be on the verge of that.
It was good to see John Wright, Kim Barnett and Dominic Cork there today, sharing opinions and passing on ideas. They saw some pretty solid fielding, some variable bowling and steady batting, apart from one madcap over in the first game that saw Hughes daftly run out, Taylor brilliantly caught and Reece give it away with a hoik to long on.
For me, Critchley to open at Old Trafford and if they prepare the usual turning wicket, don't be surprised to see Qadri play. Irrespective of his tender years, the lad has just got it. His control of line and length is astonishing and he looks a genuine talent.
It was all watched by a decent crowd and with the weather decent, bar for one heavy shower, I'm sure they all went home happy.
Like me, really.
Thanks to all those whose company I shared today. You know who you are....