Derbyshire vs Northamptonshire day 4
At the end of it all it was a noble effort against a team that was in the top tier last season, but Derbyshire's young side narrowly failed to bowl out Northamptonshire.
I suggested as much last night. I was slightly sceptical of the 'deteriorating wicket' line, because we'd just scored 407-5 on it with a young batting side. Given an attack that was younger still, working our way through a long order was never going to be easy.
Yet we should have done it. Six catches were dropped and the brutal truth is that you cannot do that and expect to win a cricket match at any level. Full marks to the visitors and their battling efforts, especially by the injured Cobb and Wakely, but we should have had that in the bag and been up there on the shoulders of Lancashire.
Rob Keogh played a magnificent innings and didn't deserve to be on the losing side, but part of the learning curve for this talented bunch of players is to capitalise on errors by the other team. When you miss out on six such opportunities, a win is barely deserved.
It would have been a reward for a match of many positives, but a major negative was the final drop, which saw Wayne Madsen having to leave the field with what was later diagnosed as a broken finger. With the T20 starting on Friday, we look like having a very inexperienced side out against Yorkshire, hardly the side you want to face when you are almost a team of players short of your strongest eleven.
With captain-elect Wes Durston struggling, alongside other likely participants such as Tony Palladino, David Wainwright and Wayne White, we look like fielding the ones who are left standing at this stage. I'm also slightly concerned that overseas signing Nathan Rimmington has played no cricket for Plumtree for the past couple of weeks, hopefully not indicative of an injury.
As it stands, Hashim Amla and Mark Footitt look like being the creche supervisors of a very young squad on Friday, which doesn't suggest we are likely to get off to a flyer against the best team in the country. No disrespect intended, but more than a touch of realism.
More on that tomorrow, but for now, it is time to reflect on a job that was almost well done and be better prepared for the next championship match in just over a week, a very quick return fixture against Lancashire at Southport. There is a week after tomorrow's game for James Pipe to get revolving doors fitted on his office and a few people fit, but we are battling hard and that is something.
Special mention tonight, in closing, for Scott Elstone. He returned career-best bowling figures today and is a steadily improving cricketer. Mini-Wes, perhaps, but he did a good job today and can be proud of dismissing three good batsmen.
We are still in the mix and there's a lot of cricket to be played. With Lancashire losing to the Gloucestershire side that we hammered, it is a very open division.
We're fourth and with plenty of time to improve still further.
More from me on the T20 prospects tomorrow.