Durham 96 (Olivier 5-20, Viljoen 3-30)
Derbyshire 175-8 (Critchley 38, Madsen 36)
Derbyshire lead by 79 runs
A 5 o'clock rise and a departure at six got me to the delightful Riverside ground before 9am, time to drink in the atmosphere, enjoy the surroundings and catch up with a few friends before play got underway today.
The early news was that Ravi Rampaul was unwell and Harvey Hosein had a muscle strain, so with the pitch looking pretty green, the side largely picked itself. Callum Brodrick came in for his first county championship match, while Alfie Gleadall, at 18, made his first-class debut.
Four byes that swung horribly late from Hardus Viljoen were the only thing of note in the opening eight overs, when he and Duanne Olivier both beat the bat and gave nothing away. Olivier especially looked dangerous and had good rhythm and pace and each Durham opener had only a single to their name at that stage.
Olivier, as he has done so often this season, got the breakthrough with one that skipper Cameron Steel nicked through to Daryn Smit while trying to pull his bat away. Debutant Mike Jones played a couple of pleasing shots through the covers before being rapped on the helmet by Olivier. It was good, hostile stuff from the South African pair, but Jones was thankfully able to resume after a brief stoppage.
Tom Latham's tortured innings of six from 39 balls was ended by a fast yorker from Viljoen, who tore in from the press box end, then two balls later Olivier cartwheeled the off stump of Jones with a 'jaffa' to have the home side rocking on 23-3.
In the next over Viljoen's pace was too much for Smith and after a bump ball 'catch' to slip, the batsman's stumps were rearranged by a fast yorker. It was a pleasure to watch the opening pair this morning, quick bowling in the very best Derbyshire tradition.
Tony Palladino bowled in his usual metronomic style and I was impressed by my first sighting of Alfie Gleadall. He has a smooth, accelerating run and worked up good pace, though on the occasions he gave width he was punished. He beat the bat and found the edge enough to be encouraged. It was good to see Viljoen, Madsen and Godleman all having words of encouragement and the first ball of his fifth over ripped through Harte's defences for a comprehensively bowled first wicket.
Clark's resistance ended with the last ball before lunch, caught behind by a diving Smit and lunch came with Durham in disarray at 66-6. The number of the beast indeed...
The sun came out to welcome the afternoon session and the return of South African hostility. Davies was well caught above his head by Madsen at first slip from the excellent Olivier, before Rimmington went the same way, this time low to him, having never suggested permanence.
Josh Coughlin, younger brother of Paul who moved to Nottinghamshire in the winter, somehow got into the teens without locating the middle of the bat, but Olivier produced textbook stuff to remove Salisbury: three outswingers left with a degree of elan, then an inswinger that trapped him in front.
Coughlin's charmed life finally ended when Viljoen castled him and the innings came to a close on 96. It was a fine effort by Derbyshire and an excellent riposte to the debacle of Trent Bridge.
It was very much broadsword and rapier from the two quicks. Viljoen all power, pace and strength, Olivier not much slower but nipping it around and getting the greater reward on this occasion. It was great to watch from the boundary, undoubtedly less so from the heart of the action and twenty-two yards away.
The locals were vocal when the Derbyshire reply began and there was the biggest cheer of the day when local favourite Chris Rushworth took the new ball. Billy Godleman miscalculated the line and lost his off stump to one he left, but Ben Slater and Wayne Madsen, not without alarms, started to rebuild the innings.
As he always does, Slater played some classy shots, but as he seems too often to do he gave it away with a hook against Nathan Rimmington that ballooned to the wicket-keeper. Ben's RLODC average is over fifty and impressive, but he will be more frustrated than anyone that a flowering four-day innings was plucked from full bloom by a careless shot.
After tea Alex Hughes, in poor nick at present, didn't last long and Madsen was trapped in front by one from the excellent Rushworth that nipped back. Critchley was soon into gear and batting with seeming disregard for the conditions, while Brodrick, in at six, looked organised in defence until wafting at the impressive debutant, Matt Salisbury, and being brilliantly caught by Tom Latham at slip, who had put down Critchley in the previous over from a far easier chance.
Smit went the same way and to an equally fine catch, also for a duck, with the score on 122, at which score Critchley's merry innings ended on 38, clean bowled by Coughlin.
With fourteen overs to go it looked like both first innings would be completed on the first day and that I might see a finish in my weekend away. Viljoen played a nice shot through mid wicket and was then leg before, bringing in Gleadall. He was quickly off the mark with an off drive for three, but at the other end Tony Palladino was timing them well off his legs and took the lead past fifty, perhaps substantial in the context of this game.
Every run was greeted with warm applause from the Derbyshire balcony, suggesting a togetherness as well as an awareness of this. Palladino pushed a single to raise the 150, then clipped another through mid wicket for four as the day entered its closing six overs. Another followed, this time through the covers before Gleadall impressed with a couple of sweet cover drives.
The end came with the two batsmen still together, having added a priceless forty runs for the ninth wicket. Palladino has done this many times before, but Gleadall's contribution, together with a maiden first-class wicket, made it a great day for the youngster, and for his club, Eckington.
79 of a lead at the end of the first day.
We'll take that, I think.