Not for the first time in recent seasons, Dominic Cork pulled the rug from beneath Lancashire's feet just when they probably felt they had matters firmly under control.
In 11 deliveries of hostile, late outswing yesterday, Cork took four wickets for nine runs and suddenly Derbyshire's total of 137, the product of decidedly undistinguished batting, seemed defendable. Lancashire need 68 with four wickets remaining, today's weather permitting.
Lancashire left out their overseas player, Steve Elworthy, who had been expensive in recent matches. Even more unusual, given the ground's reputation for helping seam bowling first thing, was Dean Jones's decision to bat.
The ball unsurprisingly zoomed around, often at varying heights. Once Kim Barnett and Tim Tweats had got themselves out to Ian Austin, the innings became a remarkable chapter of mishaps. The chief beneficiary was Mike Watkinson, who, despite not always getting his line right, somehow emerged with 5 for 44, his best figures in this competition.
When Lancashire's reply was launched with a flurry of half-volleys and other dross, batting seemed to be more straightforward. But Cork begged to differ and prised out Jason Gallian and Gary Yates in his second over.
Another perfectly pitched outswinger had John Crawley picked up at slip. Then Cork enjoyed his one slice of luck when Mike Atherton, admittedly going across his stumps, was adjudged leg before. It was a marginal decision which left Lancashire on 41 for 4.
It became 48 for 5 when Graham Lloyd left a lot of daylight between himself and a Devon Malcolm yorker. After a lengthy stoppage for rain, Derbyshire could hardly have fancied resuming with a wet ball. But Watkinson carved Cork's first delivery to slip to maintain the pattern of mediocre batsmanship.Reuse content