Another day another workout for Derbyshire yesterday. It was the same for me, because I was working until 7 and then had family commitments all evening, hence no blog until now...
Loughborough must be the strongest University side in a number of years and appear to have some good players. Certainly their top five is very good and the Canadian, Kumar, has a wide range of shots that he is unafraid to use. James Bracey, who is on Gloucestershire's staff, made a composed century and the attack had to work hard and what is obviously a decent batting track.
It was good to see Tom Taylor back in the wickets on his first-class return after missing most of last season and he now needs to get his line and length grooved, much as Tony Palladino did - indeeed, always does. The wickets were shared around fairly evenly, but the surprise for me, following play on my desktop scoreboard, was that Luis Reece wasn't introduced until the sixty-over mark.
If for no other reason than he offers a different angle, the left-arm Reece is always worth a spell, as he seems to be a 'golden arm' type of bowler. There is much to like in the option of a player who can open the innings for you AND bowl ten to fifteen overs, though Reece could equally slot into the lower middle order.
He will doubtless get another chance with the bat today, but a controlled spell of 2-18 in nine overs suggests he could be an important player for us this year. Last year our attack was largely a battery of feast medium right arm bowlers, but variety, especially on a moribund track, is the way to success.
It would be good to see those who missed out first time around get some time in the middle today and a good score for Reece will make him hard to omit from the season opener next weekend.
Also good to see was Hardus Viljoen making an appearance at Loughborough and supporters will be eager to see the powerfully built quick bowler in action as soon as he is able. I suspect he may be too quick for some, once he gets his rhythm back, much as Mark Footitt was for Warwickshire yesterday. His destruction of a pretty solid batting line up suggests that Surrey, after a busy winter, could be the team to beat this year.
Mind you, Leicestershire's inept effort against Nottinghamshire, after the deduction of points for repeatedly poor behaviour, confirms that Derbyshire will still be ahead of two teams (Durham being the other) before we have played a county match.
Bizarre eh? One for the quizzes in years to come...
I'll be back later with a round up of day 3.