I think it a sign of the progress we are making at Derbyshire that we are disappointed that we couldn't chase nearly 250-plus to beat Lancashire, and then lost narrowly to Yorkshire. Equally so that we went to Birmingham and beat Warwickshire, the only team to do so, thus far.
I have watched us for long enough to remember times when a run chase over 175 was comfortably beyond our compass, and it is not that long since we fielded first-class attacks that re-defined the term 'pop gun'.
We won't always get it right and we must remember that we have the second lowest playing budget in the country, so its use has always to err on the side of canny, rather than profligate. Take a look at Lancashire, who cannot qualify today, and Surrey, who might, but really should be doing with the size of their playing budget and those at their disposal. Middlesex too, are another side with far greater resources than us, but looking like winning nothing anytime soon.
We are punching above our weight and I hope will continue to do so. It is a tribute to canny recruitment that you look at our squad in most matches and think we might just beat a strong-looking opposition.
The squad size is the dilemma and yet, what can you do? We either go with a small, but perfectly-formed squad as at present, or throw in a few others as contingencies. The loss of Luis Reece has proved pivotal to our RLODC fortunes, because he has become such a key player in all formats, but we can't carry a similar player outside of the strongest squad.
We released several players over the winter, one or two of them 'perhaps' too soon, but none have shipped up elsewhere to great effect and our embarrassment. Tom Taylor can't get into a very average Leicestershire attack, Ben Cotton is in the Northamptonshire squad today but hasn't played any senior cricket, while others have appeared in second teams around the country. Which all suggests that Kim Barnett got it right.
With such a small squad, injuries cause major issues. We took Mark Footitt on loan, then he went back, injured, after one match. Safyaan Sharif has come in, but also, I understand, has a niggle, hence Alfie Gleadall at eighteen being in today's squad, alongside Dan Wheeldon, who is the club's Cricket and Commercial Operations Manager, though a very good club cricketer. Another couple of injuries would have a severe impact on our T20 fortunes, but we must hope for sustained fitness and good luck from here.
At least we have Wahab Riaz coming in soon. I just wonder if the injury to Reece has meant a rethink on the second overseas role, or if he should be fit by then? That foot will have a lot of work to do in the T20, for sure.
In closing, I am excited at the coming weekend, when I travel to Chester-le-Street and the first two days against Durham. The forecast is set fair and I hope to see Derbyshire resume four-day cricket in the same frame of mind that got them into fourth place before the RLODC took over.
Let me know if you're planning a trip up. It's under three hours for me, so a stroll in the park compared to a trip to Derby. Mrs P suggested I should maybe follow them instead and be able to go more often, but that's not how it works, is it?
I'll be back later, or tomorrow morning, after the Nottinghamshire match.