Cricket: Cork shows his all-round aptitude

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The Independent Online
Derbyshire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .268

Leicestershire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29-1

THE RUTLAND ground, first used for a Championship game in 1925 but not in the past 12 years, has lost few of its time-honoured traits. Runs scored in the first innings were usually worth double as the pitch became a raging turner.

Traditonally, Derbyshire met Nottinghamshire here on August Bank Holiday weekend. Bob White, now a first-class umpire, twirled away with great relish more than once, but winning the toss and batting first was priceless.

Curiously, Nigel Briers took the opposite view, especially as the pitch had been considered unsuitable for first-class cricket twice in its latter days as a Championship venue.

Perhaps still shell-shocked from the innings defeat by Warwickshire and needing to pause for thought, Briers put in Derbyshire. They prospered despite suffering one of the day's two significant collapses, the first, pre-lunch, by a sightscreen.

Despite half-centuries from Dominic Cork and John Morris, Derbyshire's last four wickets fell for three runs, long after the tumble by a scaffolding and canvas structure prompted the interval to be taken 15 minutes early. It was the oddest lunchtime occurrence on a Derbyshire out-ground since Hampshire's players sent out for fish and chips at Heanor five years ago.

The sightscreen's crash in a high cross-wind enforced a repair job, which meant the loss of an over. It was the least of Leicestershire's problems. After clambering to second place in the table, Leicestershire were frustrated by the Derbyshire supporting cast of Cork, with his third Championship half-century this summer, and Frank Griffith, who scored a career-best 48.

They added 88 for the seventh wicket as Leicestershire's modest best of 12th in the table at any time last season looked more appropriate to their playing acumen. Robert Gofton, a 23-year-old medium- pace bowler from Scarborough, took his first Championship wickets, 4 for 81 in all, and Winston Benjamin returned 4 for 55 by evicting the tail on a slow, green- tinged pitch drying by the minute.

It had started damp and was bound together by some grass, but by tomorrow the surface could conspire with Richard Sladdin, Derbyshire's left-arm spinner. Championship cricket has returned here with financial assistance from Erewash Borough Council, and it allowed a reminder that the teas in the ladies' pavilion at Worcester are not the only culinary delights on the circuit. Carol's Kabin, run by a distant relative of Fred Trueman, dispenses hot food worthy of any gourmet's guide.

The tea queues were longer than at the gate, but Leicestershire's day did not turn into a procession, Peter Hepworth being caught off bat and pad to complete a satisfying afternoon for Cork all-round.