You know, I have been doing this blog for ten years and never once had the opportunity to write that. Derbyshire, in a quarter final. Oops, I did it again, said he in his best Britney Spears voice...
I started the blog in 2008 and it was three years prior to that when we were beaten in the competition's quarter final by Lancashire, at Old Trafford. Seventeen runs was the margin, but we never really looked like winning the game at any point.
Will 2017 be different?
It is division two versus division one. A county that struggles to make ends meet versus one that seems to have limitless pots of cash, liberally spent. Realistically and logically, it should be a one-sided contest.
We have turned the 3aaa County Ground into a mini fortress this summer, losing only one of our games and that narrowly. We have played some excellent cricket, as you have to do to get out of a very tough section, beating the reigning champions along the way and Yorkshire twice. To be fair, there have been occasions when the standard has dropped and we have bowled poorly, batted with less nous and fielded erratically. Yet every side does that and it now comes down to a knock out stage and who holds their nerve.
The game has big occasion players on each side and on such occasions you hope, as a supporter, that your heroes are the ones who produce their best and come out on top. Perhaps tomorrow one of our experienced players will produce a special performance. Then again, maybe a younger player will announce himself to the wider cricketing world, when the eyes of the county game are upon us, as being something special.
Can we win? Yes, most definitely. If we bowl as we did on Friday night and bat as we have on occasion in this competition, we can beat anyone. But we have to have eleven men on top of their game, because this is serious stuff. Proper, knock-out, winner takes all cricket. To the victor, the spoils. To the loser...a lower profile sequence of four-day cricket until Autumn ends it all for another year.
We welcome back Gary Wilson as skipper and middle order 'finisher' tomorrow and for me he will take his place in this team:
Callum Brodrick has done well in his appearances, especially in the field, but that's the eleven I expect to take the field tomorrow.
As for the visitors, they welcome back Michael Carberry and Jimmy Adams in a strong squad that reads:
Plenty of international experience there and the visitors will start favourites, despite our home advantage. With seven internationals that is understandable, but we know that we can hold our own and have to go in there and mix it with them.
Five summers ago, on a late summer afternoon, Derbyshire chased down a moderate total to beat Hampshire and clinch the division two title, amid scenes of great euphoria. There were grown men weeping that day, for the best of reasons, as a young side had defied critics and expectations to gain promotion.
There will be more tears tomorrow if they can pull off a similar heist. Not just in Derby, but everywhere the club's supporters live, the length and breadth of the country, across Europe, throughout the Americas and in both Australia and New Zealand. I know this, as I get regular messages from them. Their circumstances may not allow regular, or even infrequent attendance, but their interest and support is undiminished.
Make us proud lads. Go out, give it everything and let's make it a season to rank along the very best.
Go well, Derbyshire.
And good luck.