Derbyshire v Northamptonshire RLODC
It was a day that kept on giving for Derbyshire fans today, after the frustrations of Bristol. Indeed, it ended in a win of some professionalism, as diametrically opposed to the other night as could be possible.
It was due to two performances, one a portent of things to come, the other indicative of the new-found confidence of a player who could easily have slipped from the county circuit a couple of year ago.
The first. of course, came from Matt Critchley, an all-rounder of great promises who took his first List A wicket today, then followed it with three more as the opposition went after him. He stood up to the test very well and, after the criticism of his captaincy the other night, Wes Durston deserves credit for having faith in a young bowler.
I have spoken to several very good judges in recent weeks and all have told me that we should treat anything positive that Matt does with the ball over the next five years as a bonus. Much as spinners, per se, take years to reach their peak, leg-spin is the most difficult of arts. By the same token, when it is bowled on a helpful wicket, it can be wonderfully effective and Matt will sleep well tonight, aware of the major role he played in restricting the total of our visitors.
Josh Cobb played the sort of innings that makes one wonder why he bats so low in other cricket and without him we would have had an easy task, but our batsmen set about the task well, with Billy Godleman leading the way with a fine, unbeaten century.
That's over 850 runs in all cricket this summer for Billy, who was well supported by Wayne Madsen after Wes Durston was adjudged leg before. There was even time for the exchange of some choice words with Rory Kleinveldt after a ball change and a claimed catch behind, something that often makes Billy all the more focused. He has had a very good summer so far and there should be more runs to come.
It is rare to be able to write off a Derbyshire run chase that was accomplished without alarm and with complete professionalism. Tonight they did that, so just as I was critical of Wednesday night, I am happy to praise a very good response today.
Equally good news came off the field, with the news that Hamish Rutherford has signed up for the whole of next season, aside from any international commitments. At this stage, his country don't have any in our domestic season, although late additions and training camps can never, of course, be discounted
What it does, of course, is give us consistency in our overseas role next season. Rutherford has shown himself already to be a player of some considerable talent, crucially a man with a reputation to build. A thousand championship runs next summer and another 500-plus in other cricket will be a strong argument towards inclusion in his national side, of course.
Perhaps equally important, however, is that it gives Graeme Welch the knowledge of how and where he can strengthen his squad. He now has a confirmed opening batsman, or first-wicket down, of class and with a thirst for runs for the whole of next summer.
If he is looking for a Kolpak, or someone with an English passport, he can look to other areas of the side with a degree of confidence. A good effort today. Fifth in the group at the halfway stage and everything to play for.