Derbyshire 338 and 322-8 (Podmore 66 not, Hosein 52, Critchley 51, Slater 45, Whittingham 5-80)
Derbyshire lead by 389 runs
Based on their four-day form this season, I said that Derbyshire would lose this game. Yet I am pleased to say that they go into the final day in rude health, after an outstanding team display.
There was much to be proud of in the efforts of a young batting line-up yesterday, in which almost everyone batted time and made runs. With the home side needing a win to maintain their promotion aspirations, they will go for anything today and our task was to make their chase a challenge.
They could still get them, of course, against an attack that is some way removed from experienced. Sussex bat long and powerfully, but the crowd at Hove are set for an exciting last day with fair weather forecast.
The resilience of the young Derbyshire side was a joy to follow yesterday. Much seemed to depend on Wayne Madsen and when he went the likelihood of a collapse seemed high, Yet Alex Hughes batted time before being dismissed and Ben Slater did likewise, before being beaten by a terrific yorker from the Derby-born Stuart Whittingham.
Then came a partnership between Matt Critchley, who has grown considerably as a batsman this summer, and Harvey Hosein, who has spent most of it in the second team. I have previously written that Hosein had to bide his time then take his opportunity when it came, something he has done in this game. An unbeaten 38 in the first innings and 52 yesterday saw him do exactly that and he is hard to drop now, assuming his glove work is of a similar standard.
Both he and Critchley went after making their fifty, exposing a tail that suggested fragility and with the lead not yet conclusive. Yet Harry Podmore, with the career average of eight that I mentioned after the first day, confounded pundits with a career-best unbeaten 66 that was more than three times his personal best. With good support from Will Davis, who also made a career-best score, the lead approached 400 by the close, with a wicket in hand should we choose to bat on today.
The ease with which we made the runs suggested that the home side might do well in today's run chase, but I have nothing but respect for the way a young side went about its work here. With Billy Godleman unable to bat and out for the rest of the season, only Wayne Madsen, Hardus Viljoen and Luis Reece are over 27, with much of the side considerably younger.
Well done gentlemen, you have done us proud here.
Now finish the job today.