Dave Houghton knows his Derbyshire team have to take on board the harsh lessons from a first heavy defeat of the season as they prepare to return to Specsavers County Championship action this weekend.
Derbyshire were steamrollered by Division Two leaders Lancashire last time out in four-day cricket when the skills and experience of Jimmy Anderson and Graham Onions set up a 10-wicket victory.
It was a chastening experience for Derbyshire but one that Houghton believes could prove to be a valuable one going forward.
Derbyshire’s head of cricket said: “It’s the first time we’ve had a real drubbing by anybody and when you have a look at the pure statistics of the game, Anderson and Onions got 17 for 104 so that was a real tough experience for us.
“But also it’s something we can look at as a challenge for where we want to be in the future. If we want to compete at these levels and get up into the First Division, which we do, these are the sides we would play on a week-to-weeks basis so we have to make sure our game is better than that.
“It’s not pleasant for it happen to you but sometimes it’s quite good to get an experience of what it’s like. This is a side that came down last year and is fighting its way back up.
“Last year they were at the bottom of the First Division so we have to look at that and think if we are playing these sides on a week-to-week basis in these sort of conditions which you get a lot of in England then how better have we got to be.
“So for me it’s a good example for us, bowling and batting, of where we need to be if we want to be not only promoted but to be able to play First Division cricket.”
Houghton has experienced life in Division One having worked as batting coach at Middlesex, who are Derbyshire’s opponents in the match at Derby starting on Sunday.
“I’ve worked in both divisions over the last 10 years so I know the difference and the strengths but it’s something we need to take on board as we try and grow as a team,” he said.
“It might actually alarm one or two of the youngsters who might think, ‘I’m on a county contract, I’m here, I’m a professional cricketer’ but when you see the difference between the top of the profession and the other side it is quite a big gulf.”
Tony Palladino should return to the team after he was rested against Lancashire which gave 20-year-old Sam Conners the chance to make an impressive championship debut.
Houghton said: “He was outstanding and one of the nicest things we got from this game was when Jimmy Anderson walked past Kirbs (bowling coach Steve Kirby) and pointed at Sam and said, ‘I think he’s a good bowler, he did really well’.
“So that’s a nice accolade to have in your first championship game and I thought he held his own with both bat and ball.”