UNTIL the weather closed in at tea yesterday, Derbyshire batted in much the same forthright way they had in winning the Benson and Hedges Cup. It was all richly entertaining unless you happen to be a second-line Australian bowler hoping to book a place in next week's Headingley Test.
The sight of an apparently lushly grassed pitch tempted Allan Border to bowl first, but Kim Barnett and Peter Bowler cruised past 60 off 12 overs from Brendon Julian and Wayne Holdsworth, whose lack of control suggested that if English bowlers are 'pie throwers' they must have been coached by Buster Keaton.
Holdsworth is certainly sharp but there was no pace to speak of in this pitch for him; Julian found the ball would not swing and, in over-compensating for drifting down the leg side, was often square cut with strokes that rang out like rifle shots from both batsmen.
Not until Paul Reiffel appeared did it become a contest. It may have been sheer coincidence, but the watery sun disappeared as he came on and suddenly the tourists had a bowler who could find bounce and movement off the seam from a tight off-stump line.
Immediately, a degree of extra bounce helped to account for Bowler and the middle order then fell away with John Morris, not for the first time, attempting too much too soon, Chris Adams betrayed by negligible movement of the feet, and Tim O'Gorman well picked up off one that left him.
The Aussies at least held most of their catches, though their peace of mind would not have been helped by another over- generous helping of no-balls. Not that Barnett and the current golden boy Dominic Cork needed any benevolence as they punched and drove a highly authoritative 98 together from the next 22 overs.
Life in the second XI, page 32
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