To quote the irrepressible David Lloyd, Derbyshire flippin' murdered Surrey over the past four days. In the battle of the Star Batsmen Carrying His Side's Hopes, Chris Rogers comprehensively outscored Mark Ramprakash 340-102. Not to say that Ramps wasn't brilliant, he was, but Rogers was brilliant-er.
Of the two bowling attacks, only a fool would look at the scorecard and suggest that Surrey had done a half decent job. The collective average of Surrey's bowlers? 43. Derbyshire's run rate across their two innings? 3.7, compared with Surrey's 2.8. We were comprehensively outplayed here, and Rogers fully deserved to come away on the winning side after a virtuoso performance with the bat.
Five of Surrey's top seven were clean bowled. I saw a hint of uneven bounce in the pitch yesterday, and that may have played a part, but it doesn't look good. You have to credit the Derbyshire attack, they bowled sensible lines and lengths, the spinners stopped the flow of runs (largely) and the wickets duly followed.
Surrey's bowlers on the other hand were woeful. Meaker and Dernbach in particular failed to keep the run rate down to any degree. The only bowlers to keep the run rate below three in their overs were Afzaal and Spriegel, and they only bowled 24 overs between them out of a total of just under 200 overs (taking four wickets in the process - only one fewer than Meaker, Linley and Dernbach combined).
This might seem like an odd proposal, but I would be tempted to go with a four man attack for the Sussex game, and it simply has to include Rao Ifthikar and Chris Tremlett. The reason for this? Well our top six isn't good enough to be picking up 400+ regularly. Aside from Ramps, and to a lesser extent Davies, no one looks like they're about to hang around, and let's face it even if Brown comes back in, he's not exactly Dravid-esque in his crease occupation. So an extra batsman is required. There might even be a case for Walters after Spriegel and Harinath's less than convincing performance. And I'd wager that Rao and Tremlett offer more of a wicket taking threat than Linley, Meaker and Dernbach combined - at least on the strength of this performance they do. I'm sure Dernbach will come back stronger, probably in the limited overs stuff.
I would suggest a top six of Brown, Harinath, Ramps, Afzaal, Hamilton-Brown and Spriegel. Davies slots in at seven which is where I've always liked to have the WK-bat, Batty is a very capable number 8, likewise Nel at number 9, Tremlett is no Chris Martin (not the Coldplay one) with the bat and then Rao.
There's a temptation to go right into the doldrums here and write off another season, and believe me I'm struggling to fight that temptation. Several of our players need to stand up and be counted at Hove - Ramps and Davies cannot be expected to carry this side all season.