By Jake Needham
Northamptonshire have won the toss and will bat first on Day One of Derbyshire's LV=County Championship visit to Wantage Road.
Following Derbyshire’s escape from Headingley with an honourable draw, their attention turns immediately to another LV=County Championship encounter, against Northamptonshire at Wantage Road.
Karl Krikken’s men will have been relieved to have extricated themselves from a difficult position against the White Rose County, when Andrew Gale - the Yorkshire captain - enforced the follow on early on day four.
However the battling spirit shown by the likes of Ross Whiteley and Wes Durston were the perfect complements to the masterful innings played by Usman Khawaja; arguably his most important innings for the county.
To have only conceded five points to Yorkshire in the LV=CC Division Two table will have been seen as something of a positive within the context of four days, where Derbyshire were largely up against it.
However a trip to Wantage Road to face a Northamptonshire side who have been on the periphery of a promotion challenge, sitting 6th in the league so far and 40 points behind Wayne Madsen’s side, will prove anything but an easy examination.
Derbyshire will be all too aware of the threat posed by their hosts this week. David Sales is a hugely experienced player within the county game, and ‘Jumble’ will be hoping to notch up the 31 runs that he needs to pass the impressive milestone of 13,000 first class runs this week.
With first innings runs proving tough to come by in this dampest of summers, seam bowler Jack Brooks will be hoping to make inroads into the Derbyshire top order with the new ball.
With his shoulder length hair and Dennis Lillee style head band, you would be forgiven for thinking you were watching a re-run of World Series Cricket if you saw him on TV. However Brooks possesses enough pace, as well as unerring accuracy, and it is these attributes which have made him such a success at Wantage Road.
But with only four games remaining on the four day fixture list, Derbyshire will feel that a couple of wins may put them beyond reach of their chasing rivals. A replica of the resounding win that Madsen’s side enjoyed over Northants back in April would be the perfect result.
That match saw Dan Redfern make a sublime century - his first in LV=County Championship cricket - and winter recruit David Wainwright make an immediate impact when he spun the side to victory on the way to recording career best figures of 6 for 33.
A big week from someone, as well as the continuation of Durston’s prolific form with bat and ball, coupled with the sort of skill and application exemplified by Khawaja in Leeds, and Derbyshire may be one step closer to LV=CC Division One cricket.
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