Derbyshire 153 (Anderson 5-18) and 19 for 4 (Onions 3-9) trail Lancashire 236 (Croft 53, Reece 6-58) by 64 runs

This grim start to the English summer makes old bones creak. Except if you are a pace bowler of advancing years. While those around them search the skies in the forlorn hope of sunshine, the Old Seamer wants nothing more than a lifetime of meteorological misery. While everybody else is glum, they are rubbing their hands with glee.

Jimmy Anderson and Graham Onions have 72 years between them - and by the end of the season they will have a couple more as both will be 37 - but Derbyshire have looked as awed in their presence on a green seamer as new students faced by a couple of senior professors bowling down a University corridor.

Derbyshire were 24 for 5 in the first innings and, when rain and bad light brought a premature end to the second day, they were 19 for 4 in the second. Even the loyalist Derbyshire diehard expected the worst and it duly happened. To follow Derbyshire you have to learn how to find joy in the flash of sunlight in a puddle.

Anderson's Championship average in Division Two this season is ridiculous. He has long been a world-class performer as 575 wickets in 148 Tests reminds us. But 30 wickets at eight runs apiece, in a season when his priority is not just to be true to Lancashire but to retain fitness for the Ashes, is not just proof of his ability, or an illustration of the lousy weather, but an indictment of Second Division batting standards.

Onions, with 26 wickets, is only four behind him, and his average is now below 18. It was Onions who took three of Derbyshire's four wickets on the second evening, passing 700 first-class wickets in the process.

Tom Lace, who made his maiden first-class hundred against Glamorgan last week, was promoted to open because of an injury to Luis Reece and was unfortunate to be strangled down the leg-side against Onions' first ball. Wayne Madsen missed a drive and was bowled for 9 and Leus du Plooy's promotion to No 4 failed to pay off when he was lbw on the back leg seeking a wary drive.

Derbyshire still trail by 64 and their best chance of an escape is that the County Ground catches one of those localised, violent thunderstorms that will add a little extra piquancy to the rain forecast for the third day.

Reece, who had one wicket overnight, had a satisfying time against his former county. He had dismissed Keaton Jennings on the first evening and took 6 for 58 with left-arm medium-pace largely delivered from around the wicket.

When Reece bowls against Lancashire, he has a point to prove. "My bowling opportunities were limited at Lancashire at times and I always wanted to become a genuine all-rounder so it's nice I'm taking steps in the right direction.

"When you are playing on a green seamer Jimmy Anderson is probably not the one you want to rock up against and Graham Onions is arguably one of the unluckiest bowlers in the last 10 years not to play 40 or 50 Tests for England."

He kept Derbyshire competitive before Steven Croft's unbeaten 53, his highest championship innings since April last year, steered Lancashire to 236 and a lead of 83. Derbyshire began in disciplined fashion, reducing Lancashire to 134 for 6, but once Lancashire took a lead on first innings with six down that control evaporated.

Sam Conners, who made his first-class debut against Leeds/Bradford UCCE in April, claimed his first championship wicket, on his debut, when Rob Jones was lbw to a full length swinging delivery from around the wicket.

He bowled with decent pace and direction in his first spell but lost direction as Lancashire began to take the initiative. For all that, it was a display of promise, one that Derbyshire supporters will have grasped with relief. Any number of young pace bowlers have carried Derbyshire hopes in the past decade, and few have delivered, but on this evidence Connors has a better chance than many.

David Hopps writes on county cricket for ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps