Derbyshire 210 for 2 (Godleman 71, Madsen 60*) trail Kent 561 (Denly 106, Crawley 96, Stewart 85, Henry 81, Kuhn 51, Palladino 5-113) v Derbyshire
Having been limited to just 11 days of first-class cricket on this ground all summer, Derbyshire members will be grateful for this pitch on one level, even if the chances of a home win are fairly remote. At least, barring a collapse that would be spectacular even by Derbyshire standards, there is a better than even chance of cricket at the weekend.
What's more, there are worse places to be on a sunny September Saturday than on this ground. It has been a much maligned venue over the years, in common with its neighbour down the road in Leicester, but while there is no pretending it is the Tunbridge Wells of the East Midlands, the air of musty decline that used to hang around the place is a thing of the past.
Kent are enjoying being here for sure. For the first time this season, they picked up a full complement of batting bonus points, which may yet be invaluable as they seek to close the gap on the top two in what remains of the season.
From 365 for 6 overnight, they batted on until all out for 561, adding almost 200 runs at more than five an over. They passed the 400 mark in the 103rd over, only a few deliveries into a partnership between Matt Henry and Grant Stewart that added 119 for the eighth wicket in 20 overs.
Henry, whose return to the Kent side has been anticipated largely for his bowling, which yielded 49 wickets in six Championship matches in his first stint with the county earlier in the season, revealed that he can be a pretty useful asset with the bat when everything falls into place. Swinging his arms enthusiastically at anything there to be hit, turning only his fifth first-class fifty into a career-best 81.
There were four sixes to rouse spectators, one of which, off Matt Critchley's legspin, sailed high over the pavilion at deep midwicket, to be followed immediately by another, slightly squarer, into the adjoining car park. He looked good for a maiden hundred, even after Stewart's departure for a somewhat more measured and rather attractive 85, left him with only one more partner, until another attempt to threaten the pavilion glass off Tony Palladino instead flew off a thick edge to cover.
The willing workhorse Palladino dismissed Adam Riley to end the innings with two wickets in two balls and complete the 15th five-for of his first-class career. Remarkably, five of these have been against Kent, including his career-best 7 for 53 on this ground in August 2012. Only this one, though, had cost him more than 100 runs.
It left Derbyshire needing to score 412 merely to avoid the follow-on, a total they have reached only once this season. Kent's ambition was to bat only once and it still might be realised but Derbyshire are at least in a position from which it ought not to.
The unblooded Middlesex youngster, Tom Lace, whose arrival on loan as a replacement for Nottinghamshire-bound Ben Slater had some regulars chuntering about home-grown players not being given a chance, more than justified his selection with an eye-catching first-class debut.
The 20-year-old, a natural opener with a sound, classical technique - highly thought of by his home county, where he has played since he was 10 - was off the mark to his first ball from Henry and settled any nerves with a nice cut for four in Harry Podmore's opening over at the other end. He picked up half a dozen more boundaries, mainly off-drives or flicks off the legs, before Ivan Thomas nipped one back to have him leg before for a very promising 40.
Thomas consistently asked the most questions among the Kent bowlers, claiming the only other Derbyshire wicket to fall by bowling Billy Godleman for 71. Henry bowled quite full, looking for swing, and left himself open to be driven as a consequence. There was enough in the pitch late in the day for Riley to bowl unchanged for the last hour, joined by Denly's legspin at the end, but Wayne Madsen and Alex Hughes have so far emerged unscathed.