Derbyshire have made progress in one-day cricket this season but just how far they have come will be measured over the next four days,
Starting at Durham tomorrow evening (Friday), the Falcons play three games that head coach John Sadler admits will define the rest of the season.
Victory over Durham will give Sadler’s team a chance of qualifying for the NatWest Blast t20 quarter-finals although they will still need other results to go their way and then they face two more must-win matches in the Royal London One-Day Cup.
Wednesday night’s defeat at home to Lancashire Lightning means the Falcons have to beat Northamptonshire away on Sunday and Leicestershire at the 3aaa County Ground the next day.
But at least Derbyshire are still in the mix and Sadler knows his players have delivered some impressive performances in limited-overs cricket this summer.
“We’ve played some fantastic cricket in the white ball formats this year,” he said.
“If we are being honest, we’ve probably shown a little bit of inconsistency throughout the tournaments.
“But the 10 and 20 per cent blocks are in place in the way we play and the personnel we’ve got, and with a bit of fine tuning and some improvements in certain areas I think that will make us from a good team into a very good team.”
Derbyshire have already beaten Durham in the One-Day Cup and now they must repeat that success in the shortest form of the game.
“We’ve got three games in five days and they are pretty much all knock-out games. We’ve got to win all three and it’s going to decide the last six weeks of our season,” Sadler said.
“We believe we can win all three. We go up to Durham for the t20 on Friday and we will try and treat it as any other game. We’ll prepare well and whatever happens somewhere else we can’t control so we’ll focus on what we can which is the game at Durham.
“It’s a huge game, we’ll dust ourselves down and we go there expecting to win. We almost put what happens in other games out of the equation until after the game.
“Whatever happens on Friday, we go again Sunday and Monday when we have to win both games and if we play to our best I’m sure we will get a good result.
“Anybody can beat anybody on the day, but if we execute our skills in the right way, hopefully we will get the right results.”
Sadler is still hopeful Harvey Hosein will be involved even though the young wicketkeeper suffered a small fracture down the side of his left thumb during the defeat to Lancashire.
It has come at a bad time for Derbyshire who last week lost their senior wicketkeeper Tom Poynton who was forced to quit the game because of an ankle problem.
They may have to look at the possibility of bringing someone in but will give Hosein every chance of playing at Durham.
“We’ve got three keepers on the staff effectively and they are all injured,” said Sadler.
“Hopefully, Harvey’s fit – if not we’ll have to see what our options are. If he can’t hold a bat, it’s not an option. If he can, we’ll have to decide.
“These are games we have to win now and if it means playing our best team with somebody not quite 100 per cent that’s something we have to decide on.”