Roll up, roll up! Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen, on the winners of this absorbing game of cricket.
Somerset lead by 36 runs and will probably, with Piyush Chawla in their ranks, fancy the chance of a win if they can set as much over 150 in the final innings. As for Derbyshire, with six wickets still to take, we will entertain hopes of early inroads tomorrow if we can get past Nick Compton early on. On both days so far, there has been movement for the seam bowlers in the first hour, and we have a new ball coming up tomorrow morning.
While there is plenty of batting to come tomorrow, we just need one of our bowlers to pull something special out of the fire, then the batting to show composure in pursuit of whatever total we are set. The odds would have been long on Wayne Madsen and Shivnarine Chanderpaul taking a wicket each today, but the last ball dismissal of Craig Kieswetter by Shiv, could yet prove to be the pivotal moment of the game.
I’m not sure when Chanderpaul took his last first-class wicket, but we must have to go back a few years, as I can’t recall him turning his arm over recently, despite being a useful leggie in his youth. I suspect he won’t run through Somerset tomorrow, but if you’re going to turn your arm over, a wicket on the last ball of the day is pretty good timing. Full marks to the skipper for bringing him on.
We did well to add more runs this morning, though there will be disappointment at missing an extra bonus point by two runs. There were more good runs from Tim Groenewald, who has rediscovered his batting mojo in recent weeks. I hope that we don’t need his trusty blade in the final innings, or things will be much closer than would be comfortable.
The bottom line? If we’re genuinely a first division side, we will win this game. If we’re just a decent division two outfit with lofty aspirations alone at this stage, we won’t. It’s as simple as that. A first innings lead of 195 should win you most games and Derbyshire will prove their credentials for the top tier tomorrow. It is another of those pivotal sessions that we lost too many of in the early part of the season. Have we learned from them?
Meanwhile, over at The Oval, Surrey look like losing to Middlesex after Ollie Rayner took eight wickets today. 282 runs behind on a spinning track, their chances of salvaging a win to boost hopes of avoiding relegation look remote.
All of which makes tomorrow a massive day for Derbyshire. No points penalty for Somerset (there’s a surprise…), but a win for us will take us a point ahead of them and out of the relegation places.
If that’s not an incentive, I don’t know what is.