By Jake Needham
The Derbyshire players reconvened for the final day of the four day fixture against Essex with no sign of the heavy rain and leaden skies that marred the third day’s proceedings to such an extent that only a third of the overs scheduled were bowled.
With the first three days being characterized by high quality batting and heavy rain, a result by organic means was always going to be hard to obtain. However as is often the case in second XI cricket the captains and coaches were able to agree on a total that offered both sides a chance of victory, as well as the prospect of some meaningful cricket.
A Derbyshire declaration first thing in the morning was the first port of call, with Essex then setting about the task of quick runs. This they achieved, totalling 88 for the loss of one wicket scored at over six runs per over.
This left Derbyshire a tantalising 285 to chase from a minimum of 80 overs. However, the wicket had remained true, and despite the heavy rain fall less than 24 hours prior, the outfield was quick.
The Derbyshire run chase could not have got off to a worse start however with Ben Slater, falling victim to the Essex speedster Tymal Mills for no score.
Borrington and Hughes were able to take the score to 50 at lunch for the loss of just Slater. Borrington, playing maturely, as is benefiting of a man with seven years first class experience, complementing Hughes ably.
However, post lunch, Hughes’ feet move a little more sluggishly, as he was trapped LBW by the skiddy seam bowling of Greg Smith in the first over after the resumption.
With Mills and Smith smelling blood after lunch, it was imperative that Derbyshire consolidated, and it was the two batsman to pass 50 in the first innings Borrington and Hamilton who managed this taking the score to 79 for 2 before the familiar sight of players and officials scurrying from the middle as the rain began to lash the county ground once again during a brief shower that saw 15 minutes lost.
Following the rain delay, Borrington notched up his second 50 of the match. But it was the introduction of Craddock’s leg spin that accounted for Hamilton, when the London Mayor look-a-like chipped a tame return catch back to the bowler.
Chris Durham managed to survive until the tea break, with a further 143 required to win from the final session, with 7 wickets in hand.
Craddock continued to operate with good control, eventually enticing Durham into an ill-advised drive, which he could only spoon into the point fielder’s hands. But Borrington was playing Craddock with ease, pulling and cutting successive deliveries for boundaries to bring up his century.
From that point on, the impressive Borrington and Peter Burgoyne guided Derbyshire towards their target; the pair eventually finishing unbeaten on 136 and 57 – the latter from just 66 balls – respectively as the hosts won an enthralling game by six wickets.
The four day fixture between the second XI’s of Derbyshire and Essex at the County Ground was marred on day three with the kind of inclement weather that has come to be expected during this wettest of county cricket seasons.
The game was finely poised at the halfway stage with the young Derbyshire side having fought back well on Day Two to take the last six Essex wickets for just over a hundred, while building a strong foundation with the bat with contributions from Slater, Hughes and an accomplished half century from the Derbyshire captain Borrington.
Runs were the order of the day for the Derbyshire outfit on Day Three and young academy graduate Tom Hamilton provided the perfect blend of stoic defensive play with belligerent cuts and drives in order to take his total onto 55, compiled from 166 deliveries.
However just as Derbyshire were beginning to make hay against an experienced Essex attack with Hamilton and Burgoyne combining in an unbroken 6th wicket stand of 51, the heavens opened.
The rain was sufficiently heavy and prolonged to render the outfield unplayable for the remainder of the day’s scheduled play.
With the home having passed their follow on target, and sitting handsomely at 248 for 5, the captains and coaches will have to get together in order to manufacture a target for Derbyshire to chase on day four if there is to be any chance of a result.
Derbyshire showed character and resilience on Day Two of their four day fixture against Essex at the County Ground.
With Essex beginning the day in the ascendancy at 335 for 4, early wickets were the order of the day for the hosts; however with Greg Smith resuming the day unbeaten on 118, this was going to be easier said than done.
Both sides will have been reasonably pleased with proceedings throughout the morning session, with Essex eventually dismissed five minutes before the luncheon interval for 444; Greg Smith the stand out performer taking his overnight score past 150.
There were good returns for the Derbyshire seam bowling duo of Higgingbottom and Baker, who each finished with three wickets a piece.
The Derbyshire reply began in assured manner with Ben Slater and Paul Borrington progressing the score past 50, before Slater found his off stump bouncing somewhere near the Essex slip cordon after missing a Comber inswinger.
But Borrington was holding firm and, in partnership with Chesney Hughes, took the score past the hundred mark for the loss of only Slater at Tea.
The introduction of Tim Phillips’ left arm spin saw an upsurge in the drama, with Borrington, nimble on his feet, cutting ably whenever the bowler strayed in length, combining excellently with Hughes, whose muscular blows down the ground saw one Phillip’s delivery deposited halfway up the Falcons stand.
However, Philips is a wily customer and a well-disguised arm ball saw Borrington offer no stroke, and the Academy graduate could only lean disconsolately on his bat, as the dreaded death rattle rang in his ears.
But Hughes was holding firm, and in combination with the pugnacious stroke play of local batsman Tom Hamilton, they weathered a particularly hostile spell of fast bowling from the young Essex firebrand Tymal Mills.
Hughes, however, fell, caught Das and bowled Smith for 45, with Chris Durham (4) trapped LBW to Phillips shortly before the close.
Derbyshire resume Day Three 182-4 with Hamilton unbeaten on 18 with Baker not out without scoring.
The Derbyshire bowlers were made to toil on the opening day.
With Essex winning the toss and ellecting to bat under clear skies on what appeared a flat wicket, Derbyshire’s seamers would have known they were going to be made to work hard for their wickets, and so it proved as Essex finished the day in a position of strength at 335 for 4.
The Derbyshire attack would have been encouraged when they reduced the visitors to 57 for 2 with two wickets in two balls from Gavin Baker, who is currently on a trial at the County Ground.
However that would prove to be the last bit of encouragement that the home side would enjoy for the best part of 70 overs, with the experienced duo of Billy Godleman and Greg Smith combining in a stand of 249.
Smith departed the County Ground last term, however he has found difficulties in securing a regular middle order berth in a side packed with quality all-rounders. He will have been pleased to show his old employers just what has made him such a success at First-Class level, and he resumes his innings on day two 118 not out.
His partnership throughout the afternoon and most of the evening session with Godleman, himself an experienced First-Class campaigner who boasts five first class centuries over a 69 match career, has left the southern county in the ascendancy moving into Day Two.
The young Derbyshire bowlers stuck to their task well throughout the trying day, and there were rewards for Alasdair Evans (1 for 54) and Johnny Marsden (1 for 81) to go with the early double strike for Baker who ended the day the pick of the bowlers with figures of 2 for 59.
Derbyshire will be hoping for quick and significant breakthroughs early on day two, and then for some of their batsman to show the same skill and application as their opponents in attempting to reach parity at the end of the first innings.
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