Barnett is lost for words

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The Independent Online
Derbyshire 194 and 195

Durham 273 and 118-2

Durham won by 8 wickets

BEFORE their visit to the Riverside ground Derbyshire were in poor enough form to hold a crisis meeting. Whatever words were exchanged, they may not be used as a future model on how to talk things through and resolve your difficulties. The players responded to it by losing to Durham by eight wickets yesterday, a feat which would normally merit a crisis meeting of its own.

Kim Barnett, the Derbyshire captain, had no words left. He has always been candid with press and public; yesterday he was reluctant to comment. Perhaps the 93 minutes he had spent watching the dire performance of his bowlers had rendered him speechless.

Three of the Derbyshire attack have played for England this summer and between them Phillip DeFreitas, Devon Malcolm and Dominic Cork have taken 104 Championship wickets, but this was not evident yesterday. Cork, of course, was absent elsewhere, but when DeFreitas and Malcolm were not short, they were wide and sometimes they were both.

Here were a side in deep trouble. Having batted fairly indifferently throughout the match - and indeed the season - they were always likely to lose from the start of the third day, but they did not make Durham work for their runs on a pitch which is still some distance from being a stroke-player's delight.

The Durham opener, Jon Longley, perhaps struggling for his place with a previous top Championship score of 35, galloped to a half-century off 61 balls. He can rarely have been allowed such freedom to cut and pull. DeFreitas went for 17 runs off his first two overs and a change of ends did not have a similar effect on his fortunes.

When Derbyshire were not bowling well they were fielding badly too. The return of the English summer - bitterly cold, that is - cannot have helped, but apart from the one clear-cut chance that went begging at slip there was another just short which might have been taken in better times.

Longley and his captain Mike Roseberry had taken Durham to within 17 runs of their second victory of the season (they won their opening match) when Longley was out half forward to one which kept slightly low. There was just time for John Morris to steer obligingly to slips but Roseberry, desperately short of runs, remained to the end.

His side has now moved to the elevated heights of 17th in the table, exchanging places with Derbyshire. This does not make them a good side. There are still too many flaws, but this will have done their confidence an abundance of good. And it makes them better than Derbyshire, who may need more than a crisis meeting to get out of this.

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