On the back of three wins Chris Adams would be well advised to stick with a winning formula, and for the Derbyshire game starting at the Oval tomorrow he has done just that.
The same twelve brave men have been named as those which defeated Essex, and barring injuries late in the day, the XI will be the same too:
12th man: Edwards
Of the top six batsmen Hamilton-Brown, Ramprakash, Roy and Maynard are all without big runs in recent weeks as Davies and de Bruyn have shouldered much of the burden. Given that we should be looking at full bonus points for our batting I think there is an argument for tweaking the batting order. I would like to see de Bruyn bumped up to the number three slot, where he scored a hundred and a fifty in five innings earlier in the season, with Ramprakash moving down to number four. I also think Maynard and Roy could switch places at five and six in the order. Earlier in the season Maynard recorded three fifties and two hundreds batting at number six and is to my mind a slightly better option to bat with the tail. These are of course just minor changes but I would certainly be considering them if I was Adams.
Despite Dernbach being dropped for the fourth ODI at Lord's today there was never any likelihood that he would be released to take up his place in our bowling attack. And in any case there is case for debate as to whether he'd get into the Championship side as it stands! Meaker, Linley and Ojha have taken hatfulls of wickets in recent weeks (32 between them in the last two games in fact) but it is the second innings return to form of Chris Jordan against Essex which was particularly pleasing.
Derbyshire have been something of a surprise package this season. They have a young and inexperienced side but one which has recorded five wins in the Championship. Their recent form has been a mixed bag though with a win, a draw and a defeat in their last three games. Wes Durston has been the key to their batting this season but Rob Whiteley, with a hundred against Kent last week, is also in good form. In Groenewald, Clare and Palladino they have three bowlers with almost 150 Championship wickets between them but they don't have a great deal in the spin department.
To keep it simple, we need a win with maximum bonus points to give ourselves the best hope of promotion - and as decent a side as Derbyshire are, on form and on paper we should be looking at beating them. The weather forecast is looking pretty friendly at the moment, as it is for Northampton who themselves can secure promotion with a win-plus-bonus - regardless of what we do. All the players can do is forget about what Northants are up to and focus on their own game. They are on the mother of all rolls at the moment and Derbyshire have nothing to play for, a win this week would cap a remarkable turnaround in the final month of the season.
Whatever happens I am sure there will be no lack of commitment on the part of our players, promotion would be a fine reward for a season which will have taken a lot out of them - mentally and physically. Once more unto the breach dear friends, once more!