Sunday, 20 August 2017

Correspondence catch up

I thought I would use a lazy Sunday morning to catch up on correspondence over the past week. Some of the questions suggested that the answers may be of more general interest, so I will put the answers in here.

I remain happy to give my thoughts on a range of Derbyshire cricket-related topics. I don't expect you to agree with all (any?) of them, but they are out there for the world to see!

Do you think that the quarter-final will be a sell-out?

It should be. It deserves to be. It would be a reward for the efforts of the Derbyshire side, which has been quite special this summer in this competition. The side is a work in progress and will continue to be for some time, but it has 'clicked' in this competition. Most of the time...

How come we once had eighteen thousand at Derby as a capacity, but now have much less than that?

Because health and safety legislation has changed, as has the ground. When that number attended the first day of the game against the Australians of 1948, the ground was a large open space, a racecourse. I have no idea how many of the crowd saw much of the match, but it is now an enclosed stadium and the capacity is set at 4999, above which different health and safety criteria come into play.

It is the same at Chesterfield. I was there for the Gillette Cup semi-final of 1969, when the crowd was reportedly 11,000 and packed like sardines. You simply cannot do that today.

Isn't our qualification in the T20 devalued because of 'all the Kolpaks'?

My parentheses. Point of reference: we have ONE Kolpak, Hardus Viljoen. Daryn Smit plays here on an ancestral visa, Wayne Madsen is English-qualified. We have the two permitted overseas players and six English players, four of them coming up through our academy and/or second team.

Personally I think that a good mix.

Wouldn't you sooner have seen an eleven of local Derbyshire-reared players?

In an ideal world, yes, but that is some time off. The days when we could do that (1936) are long gone and we need to catch players early, teach them the right habits and support them as they develop.

I think it will be the 'Qadri generation' where we get closer to that. Their fruition is some time off and, in the mean time, we are doing the right thing in being competitive. While the less knowledgeable will come out with the 'Kolpaks' slur, there is an even greater danger, at a time when the county game is changing, in being the perceived, expendable, weakest link.

How would you strengthen next season?

Wherever we can find players who are better than we have! I think most will accept that we need one seamer of quality at the very least and number three in the batting order has never been filled to satisfaction. Maybe someone will make that their own before the season ends, but they haven't as yet.
As I said before the season, if Davis and Viljoen stayed fit, we'd have a serious attack. They haven't, Tony Palladino isn't getting any younger and none of the others have staked a claim for a regular berth in the side.

With more South Africans reportedly considering a Kolpak deal before the end of the year (when the window is likely to close), would you consider another one?

In a heartbeat. I am plucking names out of the air here, but if one from Morne Morkel, JP Duminy, Chris Morris, Hashim Amla and one or two other rumoured names were desperate to join up with guys they know from back home and live in God's Own County, why would you say no?

As I have said before, good young players will still come through and will thrive in a competitive environment IF THEY ARE GOOD ENOUGH. There are no free meal tickets in life and to get to the standards set by the likes of Madsen, Tahir, Viljoen and Smit you have to work very, very hard.

To eventually replace them, you need to watch them and work with them, listen to their advice and try the things that they advise.  Eventually, if you are good enough, your time will come. Some won't make it and the county history is littered with good cricketers who dominated at club and second team level, but couldn't make that final step to first-class. It is the way of things, just as we are not all cut out to be managing director or chief executive of the company.

A question of my own to finish - do you think we would now be looking forward to a quarter-final without that quartet named above?

A little rhetorical, perhaps...

As always, your thoughts are most welcome.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Dare we dream?

One of the things that I really enjoyed last night, in the post-match glow of a Derbyshire triumph, was an excellent collection of photographs by David Griffin, which appositely recorded the evening and the end of a group stage that offered varied but ultimately successful cricket.

There was a pumped-up Hardus Viljoen, screaming to the heavens, having beaten Brett D'Oliveira for pace and rearranged his stumps. Then a montage of Imran Tahir, celebrating his wickets with the enthusiasm of a teenager and becoming the highest wicket-taker in a T20 season by a Derbyshire bowler. Tahir again, leading the team off at the end, smiles as wide as the Mississippi on all of them. Then John Wright and Kim Barnett, smiling and doubtless acknowledging a job well done, one fashioned in the depths of a cold Derbyshire winter.

It was a magical evening and will be a similar weekend for Derbyshire fans. Some will not have known such a feeling, being new to supporting a county better known for its lows than highs. Others have supported them longer, but can still count such nights as out of the ordinary. I regard myself as lucky to have followed the club through fifty summers that, relatively speaking, count as our golden years. We've won trophies in that period and many supporters prior to that watched us play for decades without doing so.

It is easy to dismiss the 'hired hands' as simply that, but the excitement, passion and commitment shown by Hardus Viljoen, Imran Tahir and Daryn Smit couldn't have been greater had they just won a trophy with their native South Africa. They were up for a battle and, in the pressure cooker environment in which you hope they would stand their ground, they delivered.

So too did the younger players. For the likes of Matt Critchley, Alex Hughes, Ben Cotton and Callum Brodrick, this was a taste of a big occasion that they will want to repeat. For Wayne Madsen, who has been stellar in this season's competition, it was vindication for staying with the county that gave him opportunity, when many others would have moved elsewhere. Coming in his testimonial year, the timing is perfect, just as his has been with the bat. Having scored 500 runs, taken key wickets and bowled economically, as well as holding at times blinding catches, this was his, as much as Derbyshire's triumph.

Yet the job is not yet done and we must not look at this as the summit of our ambitions. Our quarter-final opponents are Hampshire, a side with talented players but now missing South African Rilee Rossouw for the summer after hand surgery.

Their key man is captain and opening bat James Vince, a batsman of class and poise who can quickly take a game away from you, while former Australian one-day skipper George Bailey has struggled this summer but is a big occasion player. South African Kyle Abbott leads the attack, which also features our one-time overseas player, Shahid Afridi.

It will be a terrific game and with Afridi and Mason Crane on their side, as well as Liam Dawson, their will be spinners a-plenty on view. Hampshire will be dangerous opponents and some of their supporters last night were crowing on Twitter about the 'plum draw' that they had secured after being thrashed by Somerset in their final game.

For all that our players have attracted criticism - rightly so, at the time - there will be the more discerning among their supporters who will see this as a banana skin. They will see a Derbyshire side that bats deep and offers plenty of bowling options. One that has three international bowlers in the attack and has already beaten Yorkshire twice and the reigning champions, as well as taking the tournament favourites, Nottinghamshire, very close twice. A side that came second in a strong group to one that has far greater resources.

When the big games come, the big names thrive. They are star men for a reason, to get you to big occasions and to deliver when you get there. After fourteen matches that offered more ups and downs than a theme park, Tuesday will be a night to savour. There will be finger nails chewed, balls watched through fingers and digits crossed. We need eleven men to step up to the mark and say 'we can do this' and show the cricketing world just that.

We made it and plenty of so-called bigger teams didn't. With Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire in the quarter-finals, the East Midlands is the power base of T20 in the north of England. Ironic, when the chances of two of those sides hosting an eleven in the ill-fated city-based competition are slightly lower than the chance of me being seen as the new Usain Bolt.

With Lancashire and Yorkshire out, together with Middlesex and Glamorgan and Somerset joining the Foxes and us in the knock out stage, it's not been a good competition for those who want to marginalise the smaller counties, has it?

Be proud folks.

Because our team has done us proud and may yet do even more.

Derbyshire v Worcestershire report by Huw Lloyd of Deep Extra Cover

Derbyshire set out this evening with their destiny in their own hands, knowing a victory would hand them a home quarter final. By the end of the evening it was still in their hands and they were celebrating a first ever home quarter final in the Natwest T20 Blast and their first since 2005, winning by 48 runs with 4.2 overs to spare. 

The celebrations had started in the crowd long before the final wicket fell, as the Worcestershire innings fell away in the face of a dominant Derbyshire bowling attack. It left Derbyshire on 17 points, one behind table toppers Nottinghamshire and ahead of Birmingham and Leicestershire on net run rate.

Daryn Smit, standing in for Gary Wilson, who was again away on international duty, lost his third consecutive toss and with the threat of rain about it was no surprise when Rapids captain Joe Leach invited his hosts to bat first. At the end of the third over, when Derbyshire had only managed ten runs for the loss of Billy Godleman, it looked an excellent decision. Three overs later, when they had only added 33 more and lost the wickets of Reece and Critchley, it still looked that way. 

On a pitch that always offered assistance to the bowlers, Derbyshire made steady progress throughout the innings, kept in check by the young pace attack of Worcestershire and the experienced overseas player Mitchell Santner. Derbyshire found boundaries hard to come by and from the ninth to the 15th over failed to cross the rope, but kept a steady scoring rate batting sensibly, looking for gaps and running hard for singles and twos. The innings was marshaled beautifully by the exceptional Wayne Madsen who became the second Derbyshire batsmen this season to score four fifties in a T20 season and took his season total past 500, the first time a batsmen has achieved this feat.

As Derbyshire moved towards a score which looked to be under par, strangled by some excellent bowling from D’Oliveira and Hepburn, it took an injection of impetus in the 18th over by Madsen and Matt Henry who both cleared the rope for six and pushed Derbyshire towards what looked like a defendable total. The last two overs reverted to type and saw singles and twos, but the damage was done and the total of 147 on a tricky pitch looked a reasonable total if not an imposing one.

If Joe Leach was happy with his decision to bowl first at the half way stage, six overs later, as his side finished the powerplay on 39 for 4 with Leach, Clarke, Cox and D’Oliveira all back in the changing rooms he may have begun to doubt his decision. A clearly fired-up Falcons bowling attack came out and blew away the top order, with Hardus Viljoen bowling fast and accurately and Wayne Madsen being his usual nagging self. It only got worse for Leach and his team as their batting order capitulated.

Wickets continued to fall at regular intervals realistically putting the game beyond them, as Imran Tahir did exactly what he was brought into the club to do, destroying the Rapids middle order, taking four wickets for just seventeen runs in a man of the match performance that bowled Derbyshire to victory. All the bowlers deserve praise though, as they all contributed to fine Derbyshire victory and one of the most impressive bowling displays I have seen from a Derbyshire bowling unit. 

Derbyshire now move onto their quarter final which will see Hampshire visit the 3aaa County Ground for the first time in T20 cricket.

Huw Lloyd writes for Deep Extra Cover

Friday, 18 August 2017

Derbyshire v Worcestershire T20

Derbyshire 146-8 (Madsen 55)

Worcestershire 98 (Tahir 4-17, Cotton 2-14, Viljoen 2-20)

Derbyshire won by 48 runs

Quarter finalists, for the first time since 2005.

It is apposite, on a day when one of television's great entertainers, Bruce Forsyth, passed away, to use one of his catch phrases tonight.

Didn't they do well?

In true Derbyshire style, they kept us worrying to the end of the group stage and at the half way point in this match there were a lot of barbed and premature comments flying around Twitter. Only a battling 55 from Wayne Madsen had given us any sort of total, aided in turn by Daryn Smit and Matt Henry. Yet only Wayne and Matt Critchley had managed any fluency on a wicket that appeared slow and offered turn, so perhaps the hard graft at the innings end would make the difference.

At least that's what I told myself between innings and so it transpired. Once again the magnificent Madsen took a wicket, this time the visitors skipper, Joe Leach, second ball. Yet we were all at the ground, listening to the radio or following on line and wondering if the back up bowling was going to let us down, with so few runs to play with.

To quote that great cricketing sage, Billy Ocean, when the going gets tough, the tough get going and this was a night when the South African influence was strong. Hardus Viljoen bowled fast and accurately, not always words used in the same sentence this summer, and key to the win was his removal of D'Oliveira and Cox in a four over spell in which three of those overs were consecutive. Maybe this is what he needed, a chance to get his rhythm and crank it up, rather than four spells of an over each.

Then came Imran Tahir (pictured), who once again bowled with superb control and followed his four overs for just thirteen at Leicester with four overs for only seventeen and four wickets tonight. I get the impression from many years of Tahir watching that there are days when the muse is with him and he is irresistible. There is a greater spring in his run up on such days, greater purpose in the run up and better returns as a result.

This was such a night and he blew the visitors middle order away. Once Ross Whiteley had been caught (much to his annoyance) the rest folded as befitted a side that has had a poor T20 summer. Due credit to the 'locally reared' wicket of the dangerous Joe Clarke, who was going like a train before being caught by Callum Brodrick from the bowling of Ben Cotton.

Ben later finished things when George Rhodes was caught by Matt Henry and Derbyshire could celebrate their first quarter-final since 2005 and only our second since the advent of the competition.

It is fair to mention the captaincy of Daryn Smit, who mixed things up well and saw his bowlers concede only three leg byes in the innings. Such discipline is key in this format, when you cannot afford to give free hits and extra balls to the opposition.

More than anything tonight I am pleased for John Wright and Kim Barnett. Kim had the foresight to bring in a man of proven international pedigree as coach and the quarter final berth is just reward for a summer where we have played some purposeful and entertaining cricket.

Wright has brought his international nous and IPL pedigree with him, been well assisted by Dominic Cork and has seen the players respond to his management style. Nor should Steve Stubbings be overlooked, batting coach at Northamptonshire last season, when they won the competition, now in the quarter-finals with his own county.

It hasn't been perfect, of course, as we all know, but there's time to discuss where we can improve before our now guaranteed home quarter final against Hampshire, next Tuesday. Gary Wilson will be back for that and, such is this Derbyshire side, we could either fall flat on our faces or reach the promised land of finals day.

Tonight, and all weekend, we can celebrate though.

Quarter-finalists. We got there, but the reigning champions didn't. Nor did Lancashire, nor Yorkshire. We won eight of our games in a very strong group and only played the worst side, Durham, once.

By heck, we'll take that, won't we?

At least for now...

Derbyshire v Worcestershire preview by Huw Lloyd

Worcestershire arrive in Derby on Friday for the last round of Natwest T20 Blast matches knowing no matter what the outcome, they will finish in eighth place in the North Group and cap off what will have been a disappointing season for them in the shortest format of the game.
Derbyshire however find themselves in unusual territory, they know that a win will guarantee them a quarter final place for the first time since 2005 and unless Birmingham (it never feels right calling them that) or Leicestershire win by a massive margin, a home one at that. Should they draw or be rained a point may also be enough for Derbyshire, however this will then leave them looking at other results around the grounds to see if sides or the weather have done them favours.
Both sides are coming off the back of losses and will want to finish the group stages on a high, Worcestershire for pride and Derbyshire to secure a place in the knockout stages. Derbyshire losing last night to the Leicestershire Foxes in a low scoring game and the Falcons will be hoping their batting line up can fire against the Rapids. Worcestershire lost last time to Lancashire again in a low scoring game they never looked like winning and will be looking to be far more competitive when visiting Derby. Derby have only lost once at home this season and will be hoping to keep that record intact.
The bookies make Derbyshire favourites and it’s easy to see why, they have an excellent record and Worcestershire do not, however all the pressure on Derbyshire and none is on their visitors and pressure can do funny things in cricket. I would imagine most of the Derbyshire fans will be watching this game through their fingers, but only when they aren’t biting their nails. It may though however all be academic as the weather may be the ultimate winner if the forecast is to be believed.
Key Men
Derbyshire Falcons: If you have more strings to your bow in modern day cricket then you are a very attractive player in the coach’s eyes, and in Matt Critchley That is exactly what Derbyshire have. Elevated this season to open the batting due to his ability to strike the ball cleanly and clear the ropes, he has been a success. Throw in his ability to bowl leg spin effectively, having spent time learning from Shane Warne, Jeevan Mendis and lastly Imran Tahir, his bowling has come on leaps and bounds and he can keep it tight whilst taking wickets. Finally add his superb fielding, it is clear to see why Critchley’s success is key to Derbyshire’s.

Worcestershire Rapids: Who doesn’t love a six being hit? Well apart from the bowler, and in T20 cricket the Rapids have one of the best in Ross Whiteley, as when Whiteley fires they show themselves to be a side who can score big runs. The pinnacle of Whiteley’s powers were shown earlier in the campaign when he achieved the dream of six sixes in an over off Karl Karver against Yorkshire. If he can do something similar against his old side then their chances of upsetting the Falcons will be greatly enhanced.

Team News

Derbyshire will again will again be without T20 skipper Gary Wilson who is away on international duty with Ireland, so Daryn Smit will again take on the role of understudy. Derbyshire are yet to announce their squad, however I would anticipate an unchanged squad and side from the one which played vs Leicestershire and throughout the majority of campaign.

Worcestershire are also yet to announce their squad, but suffered no injuries in their previous game, so I envisage the squad being very similar to last time out. Now qualification is beyond them they have chosen to play their youngsters and if you are down at the game, keep an eye out for young paceman Josh Tongue, he has genuine pace and a great future in the game.

Derbyshire Falcons squad: TBA
Worcestershire Rapids squad: TBA


Derbyshire Falcons: LWLWWA
Worcestershire Rapids: LLLLWW

Weather and conditions
The current forecast for Derby on Friday night shows rain for the duration of the match, so if they do get any cricket then Duckworth and Lewis may well be required. The last game at Derby produced a low scoring match, prior to this though Derby has seen high scoring games and batsmen really enjoying themselves. With there having been better weather around in the area in the last few days, the groundsman will have had more preparation time and hopefully if the precipitation stays away we will see a return to pitches more akin to runscoring.

Date: 18th August 2017
Time: 19:30pm
Ground: 3aaa County Ground, Derby
Umpires: TBC and TBC
Odds (SkyBet): Derbyshire Falcons 4/6 Worcestershire Rapids 6/5
Huw Lloyd writes for Deep Extra Cover

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Leicestershire v Derbyshire T20

Derbyshire 139-7 (Critchley 72 not)

Leicestershire 143-6 (Cosgrove 57 not, Critchley 2-28)

Leicestershire won by 4 wickets

A magnificent all round performance by Matt Critchley was not enough to prevent a battling Derbyshire side go down to defeat in their penultimate group match of this T20 campaign.

Whether tomorrow's game is our last, and we again fall short at the final hurdle only time will tell, but we at least still control our own destiny.

After Yorkshire's astonishing win against Northamptonshire tonight. largely down to an astonishing tour de force by Adam Lyth, they move to second in the table, with us third due to net run rate.

Tomorrow looks like a battle to get on the pitch around the country, with Nottinghamshire v Durham looking likely to fall the same way as our game to the weather. So too does Lancashire's game against Birmingham, while Northamptonshire look set for the best conditions, against Durham.

On that basis, we may yet still qualify, but not for a home tie and will need to play better than we did tonight, by all accounts.

The batting never got going, with the exception of Critchley, who showed the nous to stick in there and bat the overs. The others perished one by one on a pitch that was never easy and for us to win with 139, we needed early wickets and tight bowling.

We got wickets, thanks to a stunning catch by Wayne Madsen and good bowling by the spinners, but frustratingly 3.3 overs from Henry and Viljoen went for 40. It is hard to point the finger, but in matches where runs are tough to come by, ten an over from your main seamers simply isn't good enough. Slower bowlers got the most success and Madsen, Tahir and Critchley all did well, but on the night it wasn't enough. There were a couple of opportunities, but we needed to get Cosgrove and the perennial thorn in our side did his stuff once again.

So on to Derby, where the weather, rather than any individual performance, may decide the ending of a fascinating, absorbing and entertaining group competition.

Will it be ultimately successful?

We'll find out tomorrow.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

No bigger game than this: Leicestershire v Derbyshire T20 preview

Depending on results, Derbyshire may already have done enough to qualify for the T20 knockout stage. Yet professional pride and a desire for a home quarter-final should make them strive for at least one more win in the remaining two games.

Leicestershire, who we play tomorrow, have handed us some heavy and embarrassing defeats over the years. Hands up who still remembers a last ball 'catch' from Brad Hodge, or an inept batting effort that saw us rolled over by Josh Cobb when chasing only a modest victory target.

This year's model has been stronger, better organised, more resilient, more disciplined. Yes, there are still frailties and it is both ironic and impressive that the stand out performances have not come from the overseas roles. Imran Tahir has been tidy, but has not yet run through a side, while Matt Henry has bowled a couple of good spells yet been horribly expensive in others.

And yet, the whole is considerably more impressive than its constituent parts.The success has been the result of three of the top four being prolific, the fourth dynamic in the Power play. Then the middle order has come in and kicked on, chasing targets especially with a degree of composure (last night notwithstanding) that has rarely been the preserve of Derbyshire elevens in T20 cricket.

Can we qualify? I think so, from here, though this is no time for resting on laurels. Can we make finals day? I think we could, because I think the northern group the stronger of the two. As I have written before, if someone produces something special on a given night, anyone can beat anyone. Luis Reece did that last night, Billy Godleman at Worcester, Wayne Madsen's brilliance nearly beat Nottinghamshire, a team effort beat Yorkshire - twice.

If we keep that discipline, retain focus and - crucially - keep people fit, then we will be celebrating this weekend.

Tomorrow will be tough, with Cosgrove, Ronchi, Ackermann and company a far better side than they looked at Derby. Clint Mckay remains a key man with the ball and we will need to be at our best, or near it, once more.

I think we can do it, while wary of a side that has historically been strong in the format.

What about you?

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Derbyshire v Durham T20 - match report by Huw Lloyd

Derbyshire set out tonight looking for a win that would all but guarantee them a place in the top four of the North group and a quarter final berth for the first time since 2005. Durham set out to add more respectability to their points total which has been blighted by the deduction of four points for financial issues last season. By the end of the night the hosts needed to look no more, winning and moving them to 15 points and second place in the Northern Group of the T20 Blast and edging them closer to that precious quarter final berth.

With the quarter final qualification left in the hands of stand in captain Daryn Smit, he would have wanted a good start and despite losing the toss in his first game in charge, that’s exactly what he got. His bowlers and fielders restricting Durham to 42 for 4 in the powerplay, which included two run outs, one by Critchley in the first over, dispatching outgoing England opener Keaton Jennings with a superb direct hit and the second with Hardus Viljoen running out Michael Richardson without scoring in his follow through using fancy footwork, not his hands. 

The other two wickets fell to the excellent Wayne Madsen and overseas player Matt Henry, Madsen really put the breaks on the Jets, with his tight nagging off spin limiting the scoring options for the Jets batsmen. Henry saw the back of danger man Tom Latham off the last ball of the Power play, when he picked out Alex Hughes on the deep mid wicket boundary for a well made 28 of 23 balls.

Smit’s spinners continued to give him control with the ball in the middle overs, restricting the flow of boundaries, with the Jets failing to find the boundary for a period of five overs and at that point it looked like Durham were going to struggle to post a really competitive total, not helped by the loss of two further wickets with Coughlin and Burnham both departing. This brought Poynter to the crease and this gave Durham the impetus the innings needed, scoring a magnificent 61 not out off 40 balls. 

Durham still looked to be well short of a competitive total, but 35 off the final two overs with Cotton and Henry both losing their control of length, allowing the Jets to post 161 for 7 and setting the Falcons 162 for victory.

That chase got off to a steady start with Critchley and Godleman nudging singles and finding the boundary once anover, until Godleman was caught off what looked to be a no ball but the third umpire saw some part of Weighell’s boot behind the line and he had to go. The Falcons reached the end of the powerplay with 44 runs to their name and the further loss of Critchley. 

Madsen and Reece then set about building an innings and moving Derbyshire towards their victory total. When Madsen fell in the 11th over they had moved the score to 76 for 3 and looked relatively comfortable, although not guaranteed that win. The man who took them there was Luis Reece, who scored a beautifully crafted 66 of 49 balls, including five 4s and two 6s and in the process became the first Derbyshire batsman to make four scores of 50 or more in a T20 season. 

It could have been very different however had Paul Coughlin held on to a relatively simple catch offered to him on the deep mid-wicket boundary when he was just on 21. This was a running theme for the Jets fielders throughout the innings, with mis-fields and dropped catches the norm and when they did hold a catch it was off a no ball.

While Reece quite rightly named man of the match a special mention must go to Matt Henry, who came in and scored a quick fire 20 off 10 balls and allowed Derbyshire to have a stuttering finish, before captain Smit hit the winning runs with three balls and three wickets to spare.

On the victory Smit said “I’d have taken 161 at half time, I thought it was below par looking at the batting side and If you’d told me at 15 overs we would’ve won with three balls to spare I’d have taken that, we were under pressure at one stage, before Luis Reece and Matt Henry changed the momentum of the innings.” 

Derbyshire now move on to play Leicestershire on Thursday knowing a win will guarantee them a place in the quarter finals and, barring a set of results which would challenge even the loftiest of maths professors, a home one to boot. Durham however move on to Northampton on Friday certain of finishing bottom of the group.

Huw Lloyd writes for Deep Extra Cover

Derbyshire v Durham T20

Durham 161-7 (Poynter 61 not, Henry 3-42)

Derbyshire 164-7  (Reece 66)

Derbyshire won by 3 wickets

My evening was spent on a delightful coastal walk in Berwick-on-Tweed, after a lovely meal at the local golf club. We finished, as Derbyshire rather stumbled across the line, as the only people (and dog!) on an otherwise deserted beach.

Every 'beep' of my phone saw it eagerly checked for a score update, the signal remarkably good for a remote area, though there were way too many irrelevant ones - in other words, on a night such as this, from the football updates at Pride Park.

Yet we got there, crossing the line with a fine cover drive from the skipper (thanks Twitter) after three wickets went down in ten balls. Once again Luis Reece played a key innings after Billy Godleman was given out to what looked like, from the pictures I was sent, a no ball. There were contributions down the line, none more valuable than that of Matt Henry, after the equation came down to fifty from five overs.

More than that I cannot really comment, so I do hope you all come on later tonight or tomorrow to share your thoughts on things.

Thank you to those who kept me updated as the evening went on, which was really appreciated.

The commentators still appear to know as much about Derbyshire as I do about Peruvian pottery dynasties. Rob Key apparently referring to Wayne Madsen's 'leg spin' and Nick Knight referring to our having 'found a good one in Luis Reece'. Yes we did, at Old Trafford...

Still, second in the league, two games to go and we have won more this season than in any previous T20 campaign.

The sea air, a Derbyshire win  - and one for the Rams, because I do care really - means I will sleep well tonight.

Great stuff lads - and well done to Daryn Smit on his captaincy debut.

It's within touching distance now...

Polite request

Regulars will know that I am in Northumberland right now, with Mrs P, our daughter and Wallace.

That being the case, I cannot watch the Sky coverage tonight, but if anyone is able to record the highlights for me from Sky late tonight, I'd be very grateful.

More than happy to pay for a disk and postage, if anyone can get in touch to the usual address.

Mind you, if we have a nightmare, I might revise that...

I will, of course, look forward to all of your comments, on a day that has already broken the blog record for most visits in 24 hours.

That's before we play, and shows the level of interest in this match.

Go well, boys!