The second semi-final of the Big Bash was well worth getting up for, with Sydney Sixers justifying my pre-match prediction to win by seven runs, despite a late flurry from Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, one that took them closer than looked likely.
I've said it before and will do again - the Sixers play T20 in the way that Derbyshire can learn from and can succeed with. Steady, rather than spectacular batting on a slowish strip, followed up by tigerish fielding in which Steve O'Keefe was outstanding. Again, they had the brilliance of Brett Lee to top and tail the innings, bowling one over with blood streaming from his nose after a collision with the non-striker. Yet the major contributors were again the spinners, with McGill, Thorneley, McCullum and Smith bringing the scoring rate to a standstill. Until Naved's late onslaught - why was he left until number eight? - only Phil Jaques got going, with Travis Birt looking much more uncomfortable against spin than the pace he butchered throughout the tournament.
Derbyshire can learn from this. With Wainwright, Knight, Hughes and Durston potentially in the side, together with Burgoyne or Needham if required, we could adopt similar tactics, especially if the County Ground wickets remain as slow as they have been in recent seasons. It helps to have such a talisman as Lee to lead the attack, of course, a go to bowler par excellence, while a hard hitting batsman at the top of the order would ensure that we took advantage of the all-important powerplay.
Such a batsman would have been Martin Guptill, who last night produced another of hs trademark innings for Auckland as they won the HRV T20 final in style. Guptill made 70 from just 41 balls, with four sixes and four fours, as his side made 196-5 in their innings and won by 44 runs. Guptill has had a superb tournament and one can only fantasise about what a Derbyshire side with Guptill and, for example, Brett Lee might have been capable of.
Finally today, good luck to the Derbyshire young players who have headed out to India for some coaching and training. Messrs Poynton, Borrington, Redfern, Burgoyne, Needham and Lineker are those concerned and I'm especially pleased to see reference on the club side to Dan Redfern "honing his skills in both disciplines". I feel the lad has been under-utilised as a spinner and has a lot to offer with the ball, as well as with the bat. The experience can only serve them well, ahead of an arduous season.
Which is just 73 days away...