Cricket: Batsmen lack application on 'interesting' pitch

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The Independent Online
Derbyshire v Leicestershire

THEY are celebrating 100 years of cricket here at the picturesque Queen's Park Ground. Among the anecdotes about Cliff Gladwin, Les Jackson and company at last night's banquet, everyone would have agreed that this is invariably an interesting pitch to bowl on first thing.

Darren Maddy now knows that to be true. Needing to play an innings to rubber-stamp his selection for next week's first Test, the Leicestershire opener met a good ball from Phillip DeFreitas which bounced and left him to have him caught at slip.

Though it all happened under the scrutiny of the England coach, David Lloyd, Maddy surely need not be unduly pessimistic; even in a stay of only 10 overs there was ample evidence of his composure and immaculate technique.

Dominic Cork, whose return to form and fitness Lloyd would have been monitoring, but nothing more, had a better day. Though struggling early on, he found some rhythm later and his five-wicket haul was his first in the championship since 1995.

His aggressive, wholehearted approach typified all Derbyshire's bowling in conditions where the old ball still bounced and moved around. Even so, Leicestershire will rue the lack of application that cost them their last seven wickets for only 74 runs.

All seemed serene when they lunched at 131 for 2. The left-handed Iain Sutcliffe demonstrated some of his qualities, especially his strength off his legs; a hundred seemed there for the taking when, gratifyingly, he walked for what must have been a very thin edge off Paul Aldred.

After that, only Aftab Habib got established or seemed to want to, and he survived a difficult one-handed chance to the wicketkeeper off DeFreitas at 27. He was left high and dry with an unbeaten 39 after Cork, helped by three leg-before decisions, took 5 for 32 in 16 overs.

The Derbyshire openers, Michael Slater and Adrian Rollins, found themselves exploring various edges against the new ball. The ball passed the outside edge more than once before Rollins dollied the ball up towards mid-wicket where Matthew Brimson held a spectacular, one-handed catch.

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