By NIGEL GARDNER
DIRECTIONS: (Satnav - DE21 6DA) The ground is signposted from most approaches to the city and is situated off a large island called the Pentagon. Car parking is available on grass at the scoreboard end and behind the press box side of the ground. From the train station, a number 40, 44 and 45 bus run every 5 minutes to the bus station where a number 4 or 5 Trent bus leave every 10 minutes from bay 18 and 19 and stop near the ground in Nottingham Road.
CAR PARKING: There is plenty of car parking available near the box which has seating for eight journalists on the front row and room at the back for another four which photographers normally use for wiring. It could become cramped for a tourist game but the club have provided overspill facilities in the past and this is unlikely to be a problem.
FACILITIES: There is an imposing new structure at the County Ground which has undergone a considerable makeover since the end of the 2015 season.
The tiered stand at the Racecourse End has been moved across to the City End and in its place is the new media centre. You cannot fail to see the three storey building, in fact, you can see right through it because it is so far only a shell and is very much a work in progress. When it is completed, which the club hope will be by mid-July, the media will be housed on the second floor along with the scorers but until then, the written press have been moved to the old home dressing room which is at the opposite side of the ground to the scoreboard. The view is not great but the scoreboard can be seen which was not the case in the old media box which has now become the groundstaff's new home although the scorers are staying put. This means there will be no direct access to the chalkers although the club propose to provide a walkie-talkie link so any suggestions for call signs would be welcome. Dodo calling Fox perhaps?
Wi-Fi and catering facilities will be available in the temporary press area which was used last season for the game against the Australians. The written press will now park at the back of the 3aaa pavilion so when you drive into the main entrance of the ground, take the first right. This also applies to the broadcasters who will be in the same box as last season until the new centre is completed.
The club was hoping to book a celebrity to open the media centre but I understand this will now be John Brown, the world's oldest scorer, who will bring along his trusty ukulele and perform his take on the Beatles song When I'm One Hundred and Sixty Four.
ACCOMMODATION: For those without an invite to Chatsworth House, the Days Hotel (01332 363600) has the advantage of being on the doorstep and the top rooms at the back offer a view over the ground. There are 100 rooms, the rate is £67.50 Sunday to Thursday, £55 for Friday and Saturday, with breakfast £7.50. The rooms are en suite, have Broadband and the hotel also takes dogs providing they are with their owners. Because it is only yards from the ground, visiting teams often use the hotel and booking in advance is advisable. The European (01332 292000) in Midland Road, Derby, is close to the station and has 85 en suite rooms. The rate is £57.75, breakfast is £8.25 and the rooms also have Broadband. There are 80 car parking spaces at the rear and the on site restaurant Antibo serves Italian dishes. Outside of Derby, there is the Makeney Hall Hotel (01332 842999) which is at Milford, near Belper, a 20 minute drive out of the city on the A6. It is recommended by several members although whether this has anything to do with its previous function as a mental home or the proximity of the nearby Hollybush pub is hard to say. There are 46 rooms, the B&B rate is £99, £114 with dinner. The hotel has plenty of car parking space and the views are excellent, if a little hazy for those returning from the Hollybush. The Lathkil Hotel (01629 812501) at Over Haddon near Bakewell is a favourite haunt of Tim Wellock's. It only has four bedrooms and is about 28 miles out of Derby but the advantages are superb views of the Peak District, good food, good beer, and all this for £40 a night.
LEISURE: Finally, on the subject of good food and ale, the following pubs and restaurants are worth a visit, starting with the above mentioned Smithfield which has a beer garden close to the River Derwent. The Brunswick and the Alexandra are good watering holes, both close to each other near the station, while the Flowerpot, near Derby's Cathedral, also puts on live music. In the same area of the city is the Dolphin, an old coaching inn which dates back to 1530 and was recently voted CAMRA's Derby pub of the year. Like all old pubs, it is said to be haunted. The Caribbean (01332 385324) in Normanton Road, Derby, is highly recommended by Mark Eklid who rates it among his top restaurants. It has an excellent reputation but is not the biggest so advance booking is advisable. Mark also speaks highly of the Kam Hon Cantonese (01332 344828) in Friargate, while another Cantonese, the Excelsior (01332 291520) in Becket St, also gets a good ticket. Without wishing to give the impression that the Derby Evening Telegraph's cricket correspondent spends all his spare time eating out, he also recommends the Jewel of India (01332 370701) at Mickleover which is a couple of miles out of the city centre. It is worth noting that one of the Jewel's owners used to drive to work in a 20 tonne tank (yes, really) so it may not be wise to voice any complaints. The Pierre Victoire (01332 370470) in Friargate serves French cuisine while the Masa, a recently opened wine bar in a converted chapel in Brook St, is also said to be worth a visit. For the energetic, there is a Virgin Active health club next to the ground but it operates a members only policy although residents at the Days Inn Hotel can use it through a voucher system. It should be noted that sightings of local journalists entering the club or being helped out are unconfirmed.
Queen's Park, Chesterfield is probably one of the most picturesque grounds in the country and is owned and maintained by Chesterfield Borough Council. The ground is circular and was once surrounded by a banked cycle track. The pavilion, which is half timbered, was built in 1897 and with the scoreboard and press box are the only permanent buildings on the ground. There is a marked slope from south, the pavilion end to the north, lake end, as it is known to locals. The famous twisted spire of All Saints' Church, some 238 feet high, looks down upon Queen's Park where so much cricket history has been made. For a public park there are ample facilities and crowds have been known to be large for popular matches.
DIRECTIONS: Chesterfield Railway Station (B.R.) 0.75 mile. 25 minute walk or 5 minutes in a taxi. Bus: Chesterfield Transport 1 from B.R. Chesterfield Station to within 0.25 mile of ground also Trent Buses and South Yorkshire Traction services from surrounding areas to Chesterfield Bus Station thence 200m from ground (Telephone: 01246 76666). Car: From east: A632 or A617 signposted Chesterfield , then at roundabout take the 1st exit onto the A619 (signposted Bakewell, Buxton) north for Queen's Park. At West Bars Roundabout take the 1st exit on to Boythorpe Road (signposted Matlock A632). From south: M1 junction 29, then A617 to Chesterfield , then as above for Queen's Park or A61 signposted Chesterfield then as above for Queen's Park. From west: A619 or A632 signposted Chesterfield , then as above for Queen's Park.
FACILITIES: Derbyshire have now taken first-class cricket back to Queen's Park, Chesterfield and those fortunate to cover games at this splendid ground will find media facilities to the left of the pavilion in a two storey portacabin. The written press are at the top and there are plenty of power sockets in the box. Last season, there were a couple of phone lines as well and the hospitality provided by Chesterfield Cricket Club is superb.