By Jake Needham
There was a nice symmetry to Derbyshire taking on Lancashire in a three day fixture to conclude their season, having opened it with a one day match against the same opponents at Middlewich back in April.
The opening day was blessed with clear blue skies and the mercury touching 25 degrees, conditions scarcely experienced throughout this most bedraggled of summers.
They were conditions that the young Derbyshire captain Tom Knight could not resist batting in when he won the toss, despite the Derbyshire line being one of the youngest to be sent out in a second XI fixture, with ‘veteran’ seamer Alasdair Evans the team’s ‘Methuselah’ at 23 years of age!
Derbyshire’s top order were made to work hard against the skiddy pace bowling of the young Lancastrian Bailey, who trapped Chesney Hughes in front for five with only 21 on the board.
Tom Hamilton and Ben Slater both made useful starts without kicking on, Hamilton scoring 47 while Slater notched up a half century before falling for 57, both perishing to Bailey.
Bailey took his fourth wicket of an inspired new ball spell when Siddique feathered a viciously rising delivery through to wicket keeper Davies to leave Derbyshire 158 for 4.
Things weren’t to get any easier for the home side as Bailey gave way to Parry, bowling with all the experience and control that has seen him earn England Lions honours as well as take 122 wickets for the Red Rose County at first team level.
Manchester-born Parry ripped the heart out of the Derbyshire middle order capturing the wickets of Durham, Fletcher, Knight and Higgingbottom in a spell of 30 overs, broken only by the lunch interval. His figures of 4 for 39, including 13 maidens represented the stand out performance of the day.
There was some late order impetus provided by the uncompromising batting styles of Ben Cotton and Johnny Marsden who scored 14 each, but 239 all out would have been 50 or 60 shy of what appeared a par score on such a true batting wicket.
The headache for Coach AJ Harris and captain Knight will have been in seeing eight batsmen falling between 11 and 57 without anyone being able to make the sizable score needed to place them in a dominant position.
The Derbyshire quicks had the chance to make inroads into the Lancashire batting line up, and Evans set about his task well removing the destructive Stephen Moore and Sawaz. He also had a hand in the third wicket to fall, taking a smart catch off the bowling of Matt Higgingbottom, to leave Lancashire teetering at 78 for 3.
That was to be as good as it got for Knight’s men as Clark and Davies finished the day on 26 and 25 not out respectively to leave Lancashire in position of strength at 120 for 3, and crucially only 119 runs behind at the end of day one.
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