Hands up, we were just not good enough in the opener

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Derbyshire away was a fixture that most people involved in county cricket would have had down for an away win. This proved incorrect and massively so.

We were prepared for this fixture after plenty of good weather leading up to the game and many of us having some time overseas in the sunshine.

On Wednesday afternoon the ground was covered in snow and the thought of play starting at all, let alone on time, was far from my mind.

I was pleasantly surprised when myself and my driver James Middlebrook turned up and we were due to start on time.

To say it was cold would be a understatement and poor Chaminda Vaas was feeling especially cold having come from heats of 35 degrees in Colombo to this bleak climate.

Jumble (David Sales) won the toss and we stuck them in and all was going well when we had them 50 for 4 after the hour mark with Jack Brooks bowling especially well.

We were given the run around for most of the afternoon by youngsters Dan Redfern and Ross Whitely.

We ended up bowling them out for 284 which was more than we would have liked.

We were struggling at the close as well having lost three wickets.

On leaving the ground young Alex Wakely was unsure how to get to the hotel so James gestured to follow us.

When Alex thought he knew where he was heading he sped ahead.

So James and I played a trick and pulled into the left hand lane pretending to take exit 24A.

Ahead of us the kids saw this, panicked and got off at that junction – at which point we pulled out and drove on to the correct one.

We added a nice detour for the boys and were one up for the season.

Experience over youth.

Day two was one of the slowest going batting efforts I have been involved in.

But the fact that we managed to play with such control and discipline and batted for the entire day was excellent for our coach to see and great for the bowlers to rest up.

Alex played really well to get his season up and running and I was delighted to spend three hours at the crease myself as we both made 62.

Midders came in late and gave the innings some aggression as well which was good.

Day three is generally known as ‘moving day’ in cricket and is regarded as the most important in the game.

To say we had a poor one would be fair as we didn’t take a wicket for the entire day and let Derby take total command of the game.

I thought Martin Guptill played very well and continued his fine form over the last 18 months both for Derby and New Zealand.

He was supported by Paul Borrington who defended well and picked up anything loose.

We still came into day four with thoughts that a draw was very much within our grasp.

After their declaration we lost Stephen Peters last ball before the lunch break.

And as we tucked into our amazing homemade burgers there was never the thought that we would do anything but get the draw.

What happened for the rest of the day was disappointing.

Wickets tumbled in decent batting conditions.

Rob Newton showed his talent with a well-crafted 50 but we were bowled out 10 overs before the end of play.

Derbyshire let off roars of celebration as if they had won the Championship which shows how highly a victory over Northants is regarded.

Jack Brooks was his funny self during the opening game.

He was fielding at fine leg at one point and charged round the boundary.

When he got to the ball he did a Vinnie Jones like tackle on the ball and somehow managed to stop it.

But before throwing the ball in he did an imitation of a footballer heading a football which sent me and the lads into hysterics.

Jack bowled superbly yet again and really showed his England potential.

Dave Willey also bowled some excellent spells and showed what he can offer the club moving forward.

But the truth is we were outplayed in all departments and we are big enough to realise and accept it on the chin.

Our coach spoke to us after the game and we are all aware that we must do better against a much-improved Kent team from last year.

It is another chance for me to play against my old employers and I really do love playing against them.

They have made some excellent signings over the winter and won’t be the easy beats they were last year.

I am secretly hoping we can win in three days so I can go and watch my girlfriend’s brother at the point-to-point races at Guilsborough.

That will also please my Dad who is over with my Mum. My Dad enjoys a punt at the races.

Let’s hope for a better four days for Northamptonshire and I look forward to seeing many of you at the County Ground soon.

You can follow me on Twitter –my name is @niallnobiobrien.