By John Brown
The weather forecasters warned us that all four days were likely to be blighted by frequent rain showers, but, in the event, much more cricket was played than might have been expected. As it happened the start on the first day was delayed until 3.30pm: Derbyshire won the toss and asked the visitors to bat first. Rain came again after 10.5 overs had been bowled (Leicestershire 24 for one) and there was no more play that day.
Tony Palladino took his second wicket on the second morning, but Smith and Sarwan, Leicestershire’s stand-in overseas captain, stayed together in adding 82 for the third wicket. Cobb joined Sarwan and they added a further 139: both batsmen reached 105 before they were dismissed so the visitors were in a strong position. Two wickets fell just before the close, taken at 318 for seven.
Next morning Palladino and Mark Footitt finished off the innings in four overs, so the last five wickets had fallen while only seven runs were added, and these two bowlers had taken three wickets each. Derbyshire started badly as they lost two wickets in the first three overs, and all their batsmen were made to work hard. When the seventh wicket fell at 115, it seemed likely that Derbyshire would have to follow on, but David Wainwright, Jon Clare and Tom Poynton all battled hard in making double figures.
Even so, when the ninth wicket fell, they still needed twenty-four runs to avoid being asked to bat again. It took an excellent innings by Palladino who managed to keep the bowling and score freely in accumulating 38 from forty-five balls, the last twenty-nine from only sixteen balls. He hit four fours and a six in making top score and thus saved Derbyshire from the probable indignity of following on. Wayne White, once on the Derbyshire staff, recorded his career-best bowling analysis with five for 54.
Leicestershire had a lead of 144 on first innings, and they batted steadily for the rest of the third day – 76 for one, 220 runs ahead. On the last morning Derbyshire concentrated on keeping the scoring rate in check, knowing that Leicestershire would eventually declare. When Leicestershire did declare they left Derbyshire four overs to bat before lunch as they set off on their tough run-chase of 314 from a minimum of 69 overs.
Martin Guptill looked in fine form right from the start, and when the interval came he had already scored twenty. It rained heavily during the lunch interval, and more rain delayed the planned2.15pmrestart for another hour. Now Derbyshire’s target was a nigh-impossible 293 from only forty more overs. Paul Borrington concentrated almost entirely on defence while Guptill continued to hit any ball which was not right on the spot. Guptill reached his fifty from 62 balls and finished with an unbeaten 67 from 75 balls (8 fours and 1 six).
This pair stayed until the end which came at five o’clockwhen both teams agreed a drawn match. Derbyshire remain top of the Second Division although they have played one more match than most of the other teams. Their next championship match is not until the 1st May – against Gloucestershire at Derby – but Derbyshire will play host in the meantime to Cardiff MCCU next Friday, 27th April (a three-day match, but not first-class).
Leicestershire 324 (103.3 overs) (RR Sarwan 105, JJ Cobb 105, GP Smith 35; MHA Footitt 3 for 43, AP Palladino 3 for 66) and 169 for 4 dec (54 overs) (MAGBoyce 65, J du Toit 48, RR Sarwan 24; MHA Footitt 2 for 36)
Derbyshire 180 (60.4 overs) (AP Palladino 38, DJ Redfern 30, WL Madsen 24; WA White 5 for 54, RH Joseph 2 for 37, NM Malik 2 for 40) and 91 for 0 (25 overs) (MJ Guptill 67*)
Derbyshire (6 points) drew with Leicestershire (9)
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