Derbyshire 265-2 (Godleman 125 not, Slater 94, Wilson 28 not)
Northamptonshire 214 (Duckett 57, Olivier 3-31, Rampaul 3-36)
Derbyshire won by 51 runs
Now that was impressive.
From the moment that Billy Godleman, ably assisted by Ben Slater, steered Derbyshire past 250 runs today, I was confident that we would win this game. Especially when I saw how the ebullient and bucolic Gary Wilson could hardly time the ball. Gary was constantly looking at the bottom of his bat and only managed one trademark blow over mid-wicket in the final over.
Which made the efforts of the openers all the more impressive. Though the ball moved off the seam and the bounce was variable, the most obvious thing was the slow pace of the wicket. Godleman and Slater realised this, watched the ball onto the bat and played it late. They ran well and did their team proud.
The skipper has recovered from a sketchy start to the season in four-day cricket to be in prime nick right now. He is a functional player who knows what he can do and limits his game to just that - with great effect. Slater continues to look a real talent and it should not be overlooked that he, Critchley, Qadri, Hughes and Brodrick have come through the club system. That's one in the eye for those who say we are nothing but Kolpaks, but it is telling that they are all emerging with support from quality senior players. Just like the good old days, in fact.
By the time the openers were separated, in the 38th over, the score had reached 182 and a final onslaught was on the cards. It never became an avalanche of runs, as the home side bowled well and common sense saw the score to a more than respectable 265. A lesson learned from the last game, when we over-reached and under-achieved against Yorkshire.
I couldn't believe comments I saw on Twitter at the halfway stage, suggesting we had batted too slowly. I was quite confident that the home side would struggle and they never looked especially threatening, especially when the dangerous Ben Duckett holed out off Alex Hughes.
The senior group made a big call before the game and omitted Hardus Viljoen. It was a brave but one hundred per cent correct decision. I thought Hamidullah Qadri bowled beautifully and was rewarded with his first one-day wicket for us. Wayne Madsen was very accurate, Matt Critchley more expensive but was targeted by Duckett as a danger man. He took the key wicket of Wakely though and played his part.
Above all the two senior seamers bowled splendidly. Rampaul has rediscovered his mojo in the past two matches, while Olivier has done very well throughout this competition. He has run in hard, bowled accurately and done what you want your overseas seamer to do.
The team supported the bowlers well in the field and the win was achieved with plenty to spare. Once again I thought the skipper handled his attack very well and I continue to be impressed by the counsel of the leadership group between overs. There's a real brains trust going on out there and I would give a special shout out to Daryn Smit, who continually offered words of encouragement and advice to Hamidullah Qadri and ensured in doing so that the young player was fully integrated into the side.
In closing, we're top of the section with two games to go, at home to Lancashire on Sunday and then Nottinghamshire away next Thursday.
Both will be tough games against good sides, but we are playing some very good cricket at present and need fear no one.
Unless things go radically awry, if we win one of them, we will be in the quarter-finals and that would be a fine achievement. It would also be their just desserts for playing some very good, positive and aggressive cricket.
Well done gentlemen. Top effort today.