Lancashire v Derbyshire - day 3
Derbyshire 370 and 123-3 (Slater 58, Hughes 41)
Lancashire 551 (Prince 230, Taylor 4-113, Critchley 3-50)
Derbyshire trail by 58 runs
The romantic side of me sees tomorrow panning out thus: Hashim Amla plays the sort of innings that confirms why he is one of the world's greatest batsmen, while his young team mates battle around him to eke out a lead of 150-plus. Lancashire then collapse in the chase and either Derbyshire win or the game ends in a tense draw.
The realist sees it differently, with Lancashire easing to a win by perhaps nine wickets in the early afternoon.
Which one is the closer to the truth?
I think the latter, on balance, though if Hashim wanted to spend time in Derbyshire colours to prepare for Test cricket, he could do worse than produce one of his trademark innings as a signing-off. I wouldn't regard his time with us as a success, though if he produces something special tomorrow I would be happy to consider that opinion.
He is the main hope of anything special tomorrow, though there is enough talent in the young batting line-up to make a fist of things. Ben Slater and Chesney Hughes did well today, as they led off the reply for us, but both will be disappointed to go when well set for the second time in the game. Scores of thirty to seventy are all well and good, but they don't really prove anything and rarely represent a match-defining innings.Mind you, if three of the remaining batsmen make seventy tomorrow it would leave things quite interesting...
Earlier Matt Critchley took his first wickets in senior cricket, the first, that of Ashwell Prince, being a nice talking point in years to come. He will gladly settle for 3-50 in a total of 551 and it will serve as a confidence booster.
Slater and Hughes have proved that it is not impossible to bat on this and I would like to see us make them work for a win, before we welcome down at Derby on Friday night. Anything better than that would be special, but I'll wisely avoid getting worked up about that at this stage.
What I will do is express incredulity at 'Anon's' comment below last night's piece. "We can't continue to use the same excuse of injuries. There comes a point where people need deliver" ran his comment.
There is a point at which they need to deliver, of course. But have Critchley (3) Taylor (9) Elstone (8) Hosein (7), their appearances in brackets, reached that point? For that matter, have Slater (27) and Thakor (28)? I was a much better cricketer at 30 than 20, far better at my job at the same age too. Each of these players will have days they will do well, and others they will struggle. It goes with the territory until they get to know their games much better, their strengths and their weaknesses.
You take ten players from any side in the country and they will struggle to compete. We have, but the fight has remained evident. Until we get the key, senior men fit, we will continue to do so. Wouldn't Madsen, Durston and Palladino, if fit, make a difference? Of course they would, but they're not available, so we have to see what the young tyros are made of.
Two Test players scored 343 of Lancashire's 551.
That's the way of cricket, but we're a long way from disgraced.