Cricket: Adams enjoys cut and thrust

Kent 251 and 333 Derbyshire 248 and 248-3 Match drawn
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The Independent Online
If four-day cricket is to have any meaningful existence - let alone bring back the fans - it must be positive. Perhaps no side realise this more than Derbyshire, who are more willing to put theory into practice. Under the combative leadership of Dean Jones, who shared a double-century partnership for the third wicket with Chris Adams, they again demonstrated here yesterday that they will always try to carve something out in terms of a result.

Jones is of the school which understands that except in extremely special circumstances draws are no longer a draw. If Derbyshire win nothing this season, they will always be worth watching losing. Beginning the day on 59 for 2 and still requiring another 278 to win, they were perhaps second favourites. The day was overcast, there was bound to be some movement and the figures of the seam bowlers earlier in the match indicated that batting was never likely to be an especially pleasant occupation. Adding to which Kent, too, are up there with the fancied runners not least because of their bowling attack.

Jones and Adams immediately declared their intentions. In the day's first over Jones hit Martin McCague through the covers before, in the second, Adams did likewise to Dean Headley whose stiff back forced him to leave the field rendering Kent reliant largely on two seamers.

Still, when rain came after 15 overs, which had brought 68 runs, Derbyshire's task was further heightened. They were undeterred. The resolve which Jones and his fellow Australian, the coach Les Stillman, instilled into their charges last summer has not diminished. The break of 105 minutes, reducing the number of overs by 28, left them with 210 to acquire at four an over.

The pair easily maintained the rate, being especially harsh on McCague. There is nothing elegant about either of them but when they hit the ball it stays hit. Until the arrival of Jones, Adams was in danger of being an unfulfilled batsman. He scored six Championship hundreds in 1996 and although he can still occasionally be profligate in his selection of stroke, he was unlucky not to gain a place on England A's tour. Thus unsettled and apparently thinking Derbyshire batsmen do not find selectorial favour - Kim Barnett was the last - he asked the county to release him from his contract.

They refused and it was possible to wonder if his play would be affected. Not a bit of it yesterday. He was every bit as adventurous and audacious as his captain. His spirit, no doubt with Jones urging him on, was epitomised soon after the resumption when a short ball from McCague took a top edge and thudded into Adams' face.

The blood was stemmed, three butterfly stitches were applied to a one- inch cut above the batsman's right eye at the crease and he proceeded to bludgeon two fours off the remainder of an over which yielded 13 runs in all.

The 20th century of his career arrived soon after. It took precisely three hours but the more important figure was that he scored it from only 118 balls. Kent, wicketless by tea, were forlorn if not desperate. It is surprising how the cold appears to seep more deeply through the bones of those who are struggling. With the seamers lacking a cutting edge they were up against it, for these were not conditions for their overseas professional, Paul Strang, who awaits his first wicket in England. On the stroke of tea, the Jones-Adams partnership reached 200 - and then the rain closed in, frustrating the enterprise.